The Lord is Jealous and Good (Sermon Recap)
THE LORD IS JEALOUS AND GOOD
In our most recent sermon, we reflected on Nahum 1:1-8, which sets forth both the judgment of God upon unrepentant sinners and the goodness of God toward His own believing people. Here is a recap:
1) The Lord is a jealous, avenging, and wrathful God who will vindicate His honor and punish the wicked (v. 2-3a). The Lord is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, and the universe owes everything to Him. He is altogether lovely in His perfections, and all human beings ought to recognize His worth with gladness of heart. But alas, there is high treason, spiritual revolt, and moral filth on all sides. Instead of rendering praise, thanksgiving, and morally beautiful lives to the Lord, we have been proud, ungrateful, and unkind. And while our sins pile up, God's wrath is stored up against us – and when His righteous anger has reached its fullness, then His great power will be poured out in the just condemnation of sinners.
2) The whole world trembles before the powerful Lord and Judge (v. 3b-6). "His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet" (Nahum 1:3 ESV). Of course, God is spirit and doesn't have feet, but the metaphor drives us to consider the bigness of God: if "the clouds are the dust of his feet," then how big the feet, and how tall the body and legs, and how strong the arms, and how massive the sword of judgment in His hand? One strike of the divine sword turns heaven and earth upside down, breaks "the rocks... into pieces" (Nahum 1:6 ESV), and topples any nation with which God is not pleased. "The mountains quake before him" and "the earth heaves before him" (Nahum 1:5 ESV) and guilty sinners cannot endure and escape His wrath (v. 6).
3) The historical judgment of the city of Nineveh in 612BC, prophesied beforehand by Nahum in the book that bears his name, is ultimately a preview of the final judgment described in Revelation 20:11-15. Except for those who have entered the safety of Jesus' salvation, no one will be able to endure the penetrazing gaze and perfect judgment of the Holy One. On that day "His wrath [will be] poured out like fire" (Nahum 1:6 ESV) in "the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:15 ESV), and "with an overwhelming flood he will make a complete end of the adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into darkness" (Nahum 1:8 ESV).
4) The reality of divine judgment is the context of the church's evangelistic mission. Pointing to the ruins of Nineveh or of any other historical judgment, we say: "... unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3 ESV). The promise of future judgment is part of our evangelistic message (e.g., Acts 17:30-31, 24:25).
5) Moreover, this reality of divine judgment is the context in which we must understand the cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter declared, "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree...." (1 Peter 2:24) Do you know what happened to Jesus while our sins were laid upon Him? God's avenging wrath is what happened! With our guilt transferred to the sinless Son of God, the judgment of God was poured out upon Him. Jesus died as the sacrificial sin-bearer in order to demonstrate both God's righteousness (Romans 3:21-26) and God's love (Romans 5:6-11). With respect to righteousness, God is determined to vindicate the honor of His holy name. With respect to love, God is willing to pardon sinners if they would turn away from their sins and entrust themselves to Him, thereafter following Him in a humble and sincere faith.
6) The good news of the gospel is that Jesus died and rose again so that repentant sinners might live in the blessedness of God's goodness: "The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him" (Nahum 1:7 ESV). Although most of the world abides under God's wrath and this world is faltering in a thousand ways, we have a stronghold! What is our stronghold? Not our goodness, not our ability to rise above the idolatries of Assyria or America, not our religiosity, but the Lord Himself is our stronghold and refuge! The Lord is good and kind to His people! He doesn't simply have information about us in His head, but He lovingly cares for us and never forgets to watch over us. We glorify our stronghold by running into it, resting there, and urging others to join us.
7) So then, let us go forth with this complete message: the Lord is jealous, avenging, and wrathful to all who continue in their sin; and the same Lord is good, forgiving, and kind – the Savior and stronghold of all who turn away from their sin and "take refuge in him." Brothers and sisters, live soberly and joyfully in accordance with this message, and proclaim the glory of the Lord wherever you go.