THE GOD OF MERCY – THE GOD OF JUSTICE

by | Mar 12, 2022 | Prophetic | 1 comment

When we read the story of Jonah it’s easy to focus only on the image of a large fish swallowing a reluctant preacher and the resulting national revival that took place. If we leave the story there and fail to connect the message of the two prophets, Jonah and Nahum, we will fail to see that a hundred years after the nation of Assyria was revived it would slip back once again into their previous evil by rejecting the very God who mercifully revived them. It is worth the read because the messages of these two prophets are like bookends defining the nature of God.

Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria. It was the most powerful empire of its day. When the revival took place after Jonah preached repentance in the streets of Nineveh, the king of Assyria stepped down from his throne to join the repenting masses. It was a profound move of God.  As a result, the Lord spared the nation. But then a hundred years later the prophet Nahum spoke of Assyria’s demise.

“The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him. But he will sweep away his enemies” (Nahum 1: 7-8). The God of mercy is also the God of justice who will not allow sin to run rampant forever, especially after people have tasted the goodness of His mercy.

When the collapse of the nation began, Nahum describes the invading armies as “glittering chariots…with a forest of spears waving above them” (2:3.) Nineveh, the seat of government, had been weakened “Nineveh is like a leaking water reservoir!” (vs. 8). As all the horror of invasion and plunder advanced across the nation “The people stand aghast, their faces pale and trembling” (vs10). When the attack is complete and Nineveh is finally conquered, a sad commentary is offered, “Your shepherds are asleep” (3:18).

What makes reading both Jonah and Nahum a challenge for some is the spectrum it reveals about the nature of God. In Jonah, the Lord is merciful saving a repentant nation. In Nahum, He brings judgment by the execution of justice on an unrepentant nation. The latter image can make us uncomfortable if our understanding of God’s nature has been disassembled by lesser theologies, theologies that do not fully represent the full nature of God.  

Over time, the Lord has remained unchanged in His nature. The greatest challenge to our understanding of Him is the filter of interpretation we apply to Scripture hoping to align God with a predetermined bias of either extreme – mercy or judgment. What we must come to realize is God’s love can be expressed in both mercy and justice expressed in judgment. To create an image of God to our liking, leaning to either extreme and calling that extreme the full expression of His nature, is to form an idol in the image of our liking and limited understanding – a god we can comfortably worship without the consequence for our actions. 

1 Comment

  1. Jonathan Khan

    Understanding the full spectrum of God is vitally important. It is more than a theological assent, as you pointed out a holistic knowledge of God allows us to sincerely serve Him and appreciate His dynamic movements. It prevents us from creating an idol. May the present day church be rid of imbalances in our perspective of God. May we experience Him in His fullness.

    Yours in Christ,
    Apostle Jonathan Khan.

    Reply

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