3 The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty.
His way is in whirlwind and storm,
and the clouds are the dust of his feet.
As a young child who has done something wrong, you realize your father has enough power to punish you with some serious discipline. However, you hope he takes his time in exacting judgment and, in doing so, might just forget about your offense altogether! Unfortunately, that is usually not the case. Father responds quickly and judgment is delivered with appropriate force.
To Nineveh, Nahum has predicted the coming wrath of the Almighty against them. Between the time of his prophecy until the great city fell to the Babylonians, over thirty years would pass. I suspect many of those living in the city believed they had escaped the judgment. Nahum must have been a false prophet. Nineveh continued to exist, and the Assyrians continued to dominate the area.
But Yahweh had not forgotten the judgment due. He “by no means clear the guilty”. All offenses must be paid by someone. And so, Nineveh was destroyed.
When the judgment fell, it came with great power. Virtually overnight, Assyria tumbled from the dominant power of the Middle East to nothing. Over the next three verses, Nahum will illustrate the power of the omnipotent God.
Thankfully, our God is also a patient God, one who is “long in the nose”. The guilty will be punished, that’s a certainty. But God will deliver that punishment in His way and in His time. For Nineveh, he waited thirty years. Yet, His judgment did fall upon the city.
God’s judgment will fall upon you as well. For now, you may feel invincible living in your rebellion against God. Nothing bad is happening to you. Perhaps God has forgotten your sin or maybe He doesn’t even know you’re a sinner. You get the idea that you have, in your superiority, fooled God and gotten away with your wicked acts. Be warned, sinner! You have not escaped the eye of the Almighty. He is fully aware of your sinful nature, your sinful ways, and your sinful deeds. Nothing you think, do, or say escapes His eye. You will not be forgotten, and your sin will not be acquitted. SOMEONE must make restitution for that sin. One day, your end WILL come, and you WILL stand before God, and you WILL give an account for each sinful act. Then God, in His omnipotent power, WILL bring His judgment. You WILL pay for your sin.
Unless, of course, you permit someone else to provide that redemption. This someone must be a human. This someone must be a human who has never, ever rebelled or sinned against our God. And there is only ONE someone who meats such a criterion: Jesus Christ. Jesus lived a sinless life and died on the cross for sinners. His life and death accomplished redemption for the sinner. He bears the punishment for the sinner’s sins. He takes the guilt for the sinner and God clears the guilty by punishing His Son in the sinner’s stead.
You ask, “When Jesus died on the cross, did He die for MY sins? Has God punished Him in my stead? How can I know?” Well, have you cried out to Jesus for that provision? Have you repented of your sins? Are you trusting Christ and Christ alone for the salvation of your soul?
God will not clear the guilty. He will punish in His power. Either Christ takes that punishment for you or you must bear it alone. Turn from your sins and turn to Christ today. Now is the day of salvation!