The Lord is a jealous God, filled with vengeance and rage. He takes revenge on all who oppose him and continues to rage against his enemies! The Lord is slow to get angry, but his power is great, and he never lets the guilty go unpunished. [Nahum 1:2-3 (NLT)]
When God sent Jonah to Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire, it was to warn the people that they would be destroyed for their sins. While we tend to focus on the miracle of Jonah and the sea creature, the real miracle in the Book of Jonah is the city’s response to the prophet’s message—Nineveh immediately repented of its sinful ways. One hundred years later, however, the Assyrians were back to their old behavior: rejecting God’s authority and worshipping idols. Another Judean prophet by the name of Nahum again pronounced God’s anger against the evil city. God had given them a chance, but now God’s patience was exhausted. He was not about to allow Nineveh’s disobedience to continue. The people would be punished for their cruelty, deceit, social injustice, treachery and idolatry. “What sorrow awaits Nineveh, the city of murder and lies!” declared Naham. [3:1]
The city of Nineveh was considered impregnable. It had over 1,500 towers and both an inner and outer wall. The inner wall was over one hundred feet high and thirty feet wide—wide enough for three chariots to ride abreast. The people of Nineveh put their faith in the city’s walls instead of God. Believing themselves invulnerable, they did not repent their sinful ways. Within fifty years of Nahum’s prophecy, Assyria, the most powerful nation of the time, was crushed by the Babylonians, Medes, and Scythians. In fact, Nineveh was so thoroughly destroyed in 612 BC that it never rose from its ruins. Archeologists didn’t even discover and identify the remains of Nineveh until the 1840s. Indeed, Naham’s prophetic words that, “You will have no more children to carry your name. … There is no healing for your wound; your injury is fatal,” were true. [1:14,3:19]
The Bible promises us that God is slow to get angry and will always give His people a chance to repent and change. The Bible also tells us that God will not let evil go unpunished. Nothing can protect us from His judgment. As Jonah learned, there is no place we can hide from the Lord and, as the people of Nineveh eventually learned, God will settle all accounts. Sin will not go unchecked forever and judgment will come. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather learn God’s lessons from Biblical history than from personal experience!