The Lord is a jealous God, filled with vengeance and rage. He takes revenge on all who oppose him and continues to rage against his enemies! The Lord is slow to get angry, but his power is great, and he never lets the guilty go unpunished. He displays his power in the whirlwind and the storm. The billowing clouds are the dust beneath his feet.
At his command the oceans dry up, and the rivers disappear. The lush pastures of Bashan and Carmel fade, and the green forests of Lebanon wither. In his presence the mountains quake, and the hills melt away; the earth trembles, and its people are destroyed.
Who can stand before his fierce anger? Who can survive his burning fury? His rage blazes forth like fire, and the mountains crumble to dust in his presence. 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 in an overwhelming flood. He will pursue his foes into the darkness of night. (Nahum 1:2-8)
In his prediction of Nineveh’s destruction—a destruction also predicted by the prophet Jonah, Nahum discusses God’s jealousy and vengeance—two surprising terms to associate with God. When humans are jealous and take vengeance, they are usually acting in a spirit of selfishness. But it is appropriate for God to insist on our complete allegiance, and it is just for him to punish unrepentant evildoers. His jealousy and vengeance are not mixed with selfishness. Their purpose is to remove sin and restore peace to the world (Deuteronomy 4:24; 5:9).
God is slow to get angry, but when he is ready to punish, even the earth trembles. Often people avoid God because they see evildoers in the world and hypocrites in the church. They don’t realize that because God is slow to anger, he gives his true followers time to share his love and truth with evildoers. But judgment will come; God will not allow sin to go unchecked forever. When people wonder why God doesn’t punish evil immediately, help them remember that if he did, none of us would be here. We can all be thankful that God gives people time to turn to him.
How about you? Are you slow to anger or quick on the draw? Talk with God about any feelings of jealousy, anger, or resentment you might feel. If you know someone who simmers in these feelings, pray for that person.