What do ye imagine against the Lord ? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time. – Nahum 1:9 KJV
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The Israelites in general and the ten tribes that comprised the Northern kingdom in particular were really a disobedient people. They took the Almighty God for granted so much that his several warnings to them and his punishments to bring them back to him became a routine, and a cycle for them. Several prophets ranging from Isaiah to Micah, Joel, Amos and many more were sent to them but they refused to change permanently. God withheld blessings occasionally to further demonstrate His anger, but all these merely made them change for a while and as soon as relief was provided, after a show of remorse, they quickly reverted to their ways that showed no respect for God and his laws.
It seems the Almighty God had gotten to the limits of His patience regarding the on and off conduct of the Israelites in the Northern kingdom with regards to their living style as it relates to His instructions and this time, He meted on them a judgement that seemed irreversible. In 721BC, the Almighty God empowered the Assyrians to lay a siege against the Northern kingdom, which eventually led to the fall of Samaria. However, unlike previous punishments of God, done to bring the people back to repentance, this was different. They were not just defeated and treated as slaves, they were taken as captives back to Assyria, that had its capital in Nineveh. In Assyria, they were not just slaves, they were exiles.
The life of a slave in exile is indeed a very painful one. Whereas a slave, especially one within his/her own country still has consolation that he/she is still a citizen despite his/her humble state and still has some amount of rights as a citizen, the case of the slaves in exile is completely different as not only are they badly treated, they have no hope of ever seeing their country again. They were forever going to be foreigners in a strange land. They had no rights to do things the way they were traditionally used to doing them. No matter how much hard work they got themselves involved with, they were never going to be able to own properties like land or houses. They were going to remain second class citizens for the rest of their lives with no hope of that changing with their generations unborn. This definitely brought them lots of emotional and psychological pain as it was a hopeless situation. People who had grown used to being independent suddenly found themselves as slaves. House owners became, not just tenants but living a life that was really low. In this state, and with God no longer listening to them, they were really frustrated and any negative news about their slave masters was positive news for them as they saw the destruction of their conquerors as the only way out of their predicament.
Prophecies about God’s planned anger and revenge on the Assyrians became the best news for them as they remained their only hope for freedom and relief. Even their prophets who gave these messages were deeply involved in this silent wish of evil for their enemies and that probably explains the reluctance of Jonah in going to warn Nineveh of an impending destruction as directed by God. As far as he was probably concerned, no one was more deserving of destruction than the Assyrians.
Nahum was also one of those prophets who had such expectations of destruction for the Assyrians and today’s scripture was a message of hope to the exiles in Assyria. He had made the Israelites in exile realise that the oppressive actions of the Assyrians against them was an action against the Lord and God was preparing a revenge act against those oppressors. It is in the cause of that message that he consoled them that such a situation will not arise again. Of course, it was very soothing to them, just as several Christians today are quick to also reference this scripture, but the relevance of this scripture without meeting some conditions remains doubtful.
There are so many beloved of God today, Christians included, who are under very oppressive acts of those that can be classed as enemies and so are groaning, waiting seriously for their comfort from the Lord. Wishing for death or misfortune for those oppressors, just as quoting relevant scriptures, may not be the way out of that pain and discomfort, rather, such should look back at how they got themselves in to that mess in the first place. In that state, there may be the need to look back at those many times when either through a dream, prophecy or similar routes, the Almighty God had cautioned and advised that you repent from your evil ways, but you ignored Him. You took Him for granted thinking after all, He is in heaven and until you go to Him, if at all He exists, you will want to live this life the way you so desire. Christians need to realise that the Lord is slow to anger but will definitely pay back – Ps. 145:8. His patience with a sinner is not a sign of weakness or a tolerance for sin, it is simply an expectation of repentance which the arrogant and unrepentant person will decide to take for granted – 2Pet. 3:9; Rom. 2:4.
Your situation may not have gotten to the point of being given the exiled slave treatment, but it is an opportunity to prevent things from getting there. Let all those communications of His to you change you from that path of destruction before it is too late. You may however, be in that situation right now. Quoting that scripture will not save you because affliction will remain or arrive for as many times as the instruction of Almighty God is being ignored or taken for granted. Learn to diligently hear is instructions today as that remains the only way you can prevent your being afflicted either once or any number of times.
May God grant us all the spirit of obedience in Jesus name. Amen.