Posts Tagged ‘dual nature’

Nahum thoughts

August 17, 2010

I was reading through Nahum not too long ago–one of the so-called “lesser prophets”–and one wonderful thing struck me.  Nahum gets it…and this particular “it” is the dual nature of God’s character. 

Two spots in the beginning of the book illustrate Nahum’s clarity, both in Chapter 1.  First in verses 2 and 3 it reads, “The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath.  The Lord takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies.  The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.”             Then, in verses 6-8:  “Who can withstand his indignation?  Who can endure his fierce anger?  His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him.  The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in him, but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into darkness.”                I love how, in both passages, there is no break between what you would think would be two different lines of thought.  He just flows directly from one into the other and back again.  Because these are not mutually exclusive ideas/characteristics.

 This is something that I think a lot of people struggle with (I have no idea why I do not but I feel blessed that that is the case) and I understand why–especially in today’s culture.  How can someone be capable of love and adoration and peace, patience, and generosity also be worthy of fear?  How can someone so forgiving be full of wrath?  How can someone slow to anger then also be one that pursues his foes into destruction?  These are the kinds of questions that people have floating around in their heads nowadays.  Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot more people decide to just choose one side of that character breakdown instead of taking the time and emotional/mental/spiritual effort to understand how both can exist.  There are people (typically more “religous”/rules oriented) that are really comfortable with right and wrong and those doing wrong being punished.  In fact, that’s really all they want to see is God’s wrath being poured out over evil doers with no chance for forgiveness, salvation, and acceptance (Jonah is an obvious biblical example of this).  Then there are those (quite a bit more popular today) who are not at all comfortable with that side of God but really like the idea of forgiveness, acceptance, tolerance and just want all of us to dole that out to each other at all times.  They typically only speak to others about this side of Jesus and His willingness and ability to forgive anyone…which is awesome but can sometimes bleed into a “you’re fine, I’m fine, everybody’s fine” mentality that can be a big step away from Christ.  Both sides can be dangerous.  God wishes all would come to Him.  He is slow to anger.  He is more forgiving than any person could hope to be.  He is a refuge from the storm and a loving Father who adores His children.  He is beautiful and thinks YOU are beautiful.  I fear, though, for the hearts of those who limit their gaze to this side alone.  There will be a time (I believe soon), that will precede the more hyped rapture and tribulation, when God will take out exclusively those that have cursed Him and His Word and rise up against Israel.  In the prophecy of Ezekiel, we are told of the War of Gog and Magog where Israel is surrounded by armies and looks to have no chance and no allies.  On the eve of Israel’s expected destruction, a divine intervention will occur.  The Lord will brutally destroy those armies while leaving Israel untouched.  It will be in a way that there will be no rational way to explain it outside of God Himself taking action.  Now this will lead to a great many unbelievers turning to Him but I’m afraid for those who choose not to see God as one capable of such horrific bloodshed–and it will be horrific.  I fear they will turn their backs because they will not understand how their soft, cuddly God could do such a thing…an act that almost certainly will be seen as divine genocide. 

I don’t have a clue on how one goes about understanding this (which is why I’m so grateful that it is not one of my many struggles) other than a lot of prayer teamed with Bible-reading.  But I know it’s true.  Our Father in heaven is consumed with vengeance and holy justice and will have it…someday soon.  Our Father in heaven is in love with His creation and is obsessed with you climbing into His lap each and every day and bringing as many with you as possible.  There are no (solely) human examples of this impossible balance–if you can call it that.  So how can we believe it?  As far as I can see, just add it to the list of amazing things that you/we will not understand in this life.  I don’t know how it works…but I know it’s true.