“God is jealous, and the LORD avenges; The LORD avenges and is furious. The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries and He reserves wrath for His enemies; The LORD is slow to anger and great in power and will not at all acquit the wicked. The LORD has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet” (Nahum 1:2-3).
Five things are about the LORD in these two verses. Let’s notice: (1) “God is jealous, and the LORD avenges.” The word “jealous” refers to passion. He is not dispassionate or disinterested. He would punish Assyria (Nahum 1:1; 3:1; Isaiah 10:5-7, 12-14; Jeremiah 50:18). (2) “The LORD avenges and is furious.” This is synonymous with the first point. (3) “The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries and He reserves wrath for His enemies.” The coming wrath on Nineveh (Assyria) was not without reason. They were His enemies. The E.S.V. Study Bible comments, “God’s holy anger is righteous and just in defense of his word and his people.” (4) “The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked.” He had been patient, and had given them time. However, the time was up. This ancient city, which dated to shortly after the flood (Genesis 10:8-10), and which served as the capital city of Assyria for many years (c. 1100 – 612 B.C.) would be looted (Nahum 2:9), and burned (Nahum 2:13; 3:13). It would be made desolate (Zephaniah 2:13-15), and have no healing (Nahum 3:9). (5) “The LORD has his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.” He is powerful.
Let’s consider more closely the fourth point and make application for us. (1) The LORD is slow to anger. The destruction of Nineveh was slow in coming. Approximately 100 years earlier God had sent the prophet Jonah to them, and they repented (See: book of Jonah). However, this change was short-lived. They had become morally corrupt (Nahum 3:1), idolatrous (Nahum 1:14; 3:4), prideful and without respect for the LORD (2 Kings 18:28-35). Judgement would come. Application for us – God’s patient should not be viewed as dispassion or disinterest. Wayne Jackson comments, “It may superficially appear that God ignores evil, but this is not the case. His delay in dealing with such is due to His great patience; He is ‘slow to anger’ (1:3)” (Jackson, Notes From The Margin Of My Bible, vol.1, p.155). Peter warned, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
(2) The LORD is great in power. He can control nature (Nahum 1:3b-5). The point: “Who can stand before His indignation? And who can endure the fierceness of His anger?” (Nahum 1:6). Wayne Jackson comments, “Nahum introduces examples of Jehovah’s power, as reflected in nature, as an argument for the fact that He is able to deal with man wickedness – in this case that of Nineveh” (Jackson, p. 156). Application for us – we should respect God. He is the Creator and the Sustainer of this universe. If tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanoes, earthquakes, fire, thunder and lightning should be feared and respected, then how much more should God, the Creator of all things?
(3) The LORD will not acquit the wicked. He punishes sin. Application for us – Judgment is coming (2 Corinthians 5:10; Hebrews 9:27). “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the spirit will of the spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:7-9).