Grace, mercy, and love. We love to talk about and think about God in these terms, and for good reason! Without these aspects of the character and nature of God, we would be dead in our sins (Eph. 2:1), and eternally without hope (Eph. 2:12). Therefore, we should soak in these great truths of God’s grace, mercy, and love toward those of us who have been rescued and redeemed by Him.
However, in our Bible highlights, memory verses, daily devotionals, worship songs, and sermons, we can tend to ignore or neglect other passages of Scripture - those that talk about God’s holy and righteous anger and wrath against sin. There are many dangers and consequences for doing so.
First, we can begin to have a distorted view of the nature of God. We can begin to see in God only the things we want to see, as we ignore the aspects of God that we are uncomfortable with (this is huge in our American christian culture right now). In so doing, we end up worshipping gods that are figments of our imaginations, and not the eternal God of the universe.
Second, to our peril, we deemphasize the awesome holiness of God and the reverential fear and awe of God’s holy majesty as King and Judge. Scripture is full of examples where this type of attitude toward God does not end well for those that do so.
Third, when we only emphasize grace, mercy, and love, we actually miss the beauty and depth of God’s grace, mercy, and love. The goodness of the gospel is only as good as the bad news is bad. If we see in Scripture just how bad the bad news is, and if we preach about the depth of our depravity and God’s righteous wrath against sin, then we will be overwhelmed by the amazing grace, mercy, and love we do not deserve.
Thus, enter the book of Nahum. The three short chapters of Nahum deal entirely with God’s coming wrath against that idolatrous and wicked people known as the Ninevites, the coming destruction of Nineveh, and a “woe” to Nineveh. Yet in the midst of all of this, the prophet declares, “The LORD is good (v. 1:7a).” In this context, why is the LORD good? Because the LORD is a God of perfect justice. The good news from Nahum is that there are no injustices that will not one day meet God’s righteous justice. The problem is, in and of ourselves, we all have committed injustices before a holy God.
Thus, enter Jesus. On the cross he bore the just penalty of my sin in my place. A day is coming when Jesus will make a final judgment on every nation and every person who has ever lived (Rev. 19:11-16). But praise be to Him, that He who judges with perfect justice is also, as the prophet Nahum says, “A stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in Him (Nahum 1:7b).” Or consider these verses, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:17).” And, “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us... (1 Thess. 5:9-10).”
Saints rejoice, “The LORD is good...”
If you want to, you can listen to my whole sermon on Nahum here: