The Principle of Divine Patience
Posted by Pastor Szekely on October 26, 2007
“The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite. God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies. The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.” Nahum 1:1-3
Nahum is an interesting character. Not much is known about him except that he was an Elkoshite, which most likely refers to his home. There is much conjecture as to where Nahum lived…among them is the belief that the town of Capernaum [meaning, the village of Nahum] echoes his residence in that area.
What is also known of Nahum is that he was given the assignment by God to preach the downfall of that great city, Nineveh. During Nahum’s time the Assyrian city of Nineveh had been the capital and curse of western Asia. The rulers of Nineveh and their armies were exceptionally cruel and committed unspeakable atrocities.
In the prophet Jonah’s time, the Ninevites had actually been God’s chosen instrument to siege and sack Samaria…but now, they had gone too far and God was angry. Jonah preached revival; Nahum proclaimed ruin. If you remember, Jonah would have gladly given his life to preach Nineveh’s downfall…but this was the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.
Now there are many noteworthy items that can be gathered and gleaned from “the burden of Nineveh”, but I want to draw your attention to what is found in Nahum 1:3, “The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked…” In this verse we find the very important principle of Divine Patience.
For about two and a half centuries the Assyrian rulers were connected with Bible history. Mostly all of them were cruel and allowed no considerations of pity to interfere with government policy. Perhaps at the time God had Nahum pen His Word the armies of Assyria still ravaged the land, putting a vivid picture of their atrocities in the prophet’s mind. Nahum wrote, “God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.” The Assyrians provoked God’s jealousy and wrath because it was HIS land that they were ravaging and it was HIS Name that they were despising…but God’s wrath DID NOT come immediately and Nineveh WAS NOT destroyed at once, although Nineveh WAS, in finality, wiped off the map by God’s wrath!
Through Nahum we find that God WARNS and WAITS: “God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies. The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked”. When Nineveh heard the message, I have to believe that many [if not all] misinterpreted God’s patience. They were getting away with their sin [so they thought], so therefore, God must not really care OR even exist! God’s patience with Nineveh was misconstrued. His patience was read as passivity, or it just wasn’t read at all. But Nineveh DID experience the wrath of God, whether they read His patience or not.
I truly believe, “So it is today“. People think that they’re “getting away with something” before God. They think that just because they don’t see God rain down fire from Heaven that God doesn’t care or that He doesn’t even exist. Just because the atheist stands boldly and says, “If God is real, then may He strike me down with lightning right now“, and nothing happens, doesn’t mean that nothing is happening!!!
God warns and God waits in Divine patience for that atheist…and also for His children who think that He does not see or does not care what they do. People can go on rejecting the Saviour and rejoicing in their sin; God’s children can go on living like the world and loving unrighteousness…but just like in Nahum’s day – God warns and God waits in Divine patience…but even Divine patience runs out.