Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Nahum: A Prophet of Doom (Nahum 1:6) - Who Can Stand?

Who can stand before his indignation?
    Who can endure the heat of his anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire,
    and the rocks are broken into pieces by him.

While playing baseball in my early high school days, there were times where it was apparent early in the game that this would not be our team’s day. The pitcher was on, throwing fast balls we couldn’t hit or breaking balls completing fooling us. At the same time, their offense was hitting our pitchers all over the field. Perhaps athletes should remain optimistic until the end of the game, but most of us were very realistic. The differences between our athletic ability and our opponents made it clear we would lose the game that day.

Far too many of us go through this life doing whatever we want to do, whatever we believe is right. Perhaps we sense a twinge of guilt over our actions; perhaps not. Those who do not believe there is a God have little worries. But, unfortunately, there are many who do believe in a God and, yet, believe that somehow they will escape His judgment. They will answer God’s charges cleverly, and they will avoid the punishment. Perhaps they think they can lie to God and escape. In some ways, when Judgment Day arrives, they will slip by the judge and into the heavenly kingdom. They are the athletes who are totally outclassed and outplayed  by their opponent.

I have no idea how many of those living in Nineveh during Nahum’s day still believed in the God proclaimed by Jonah. But, assuming there were some, I suspect a few believed they would get away with their sinful deeds. Besides, they weren’t nearly as bad as that neighbor of theirs. God would punish the neighbor but permit them to go free. They would find some way to escape this Sovereign opponent.

However, Nahum informs these deluded individuals that will not be the case and he does so with two rhetorical questions. “Who can stand before His indignation?” God’s fury rages over the sins of His creatures. No one escapes, no one gets by. Sin demands punishment and someone must pay. “Who can endure the heat of His anger?” And when that judgment is pronounced and punishment delivered, no one will remain standing. You in Nineveh: you will NOT escape God’s hand.

Neither will any sinner including those living in the twenty-first century. Do not fool yourself. You cannot outwit God and you cannot outplay God. If we sin, we will be judged. And when we are judged, God will “pour out” His wrath upon us as His punishment against our sin. There will be no escape. Those who are clever with their words will not fool this judge. When you stand before God, you will stand only long enough to hear your punishment. Sin must be punished; you will pay.

But there will be some to whom the judge will proclaim, “not guilty”. Their acquittal will not be the result of any clever trick or for living a perfect life. Their acquittal is the result of the work of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life and then died an obedient death, taking the punishment for His people. If you are one of God’s chosen ones, your punishment has already been endured for every sin you have (and will) commit! Praise the Lord!

But, are you one of God’s chosen ones? You can know. God’s Word calls upon you to turn from your sins (repent) and believe (trust) Christ alone for your salvation. The chosen of God will obey His saving call. Have you? Or will you suffer the wrath of God on that Judgment day?

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