Read: Nahum 1 – 2:13
2 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 vents his wrath against his enemies.
The Lord is slow to anger but great in power;
the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.
His way is in the whirlwind and the storm,
and clouds are the dust of his feet.
And Nahum 1:7-8
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 the realm of darkness.
If you have been around church for a while or have read any children’s Bibles, you probably recognize the name Nineveh. Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria and it was where God sent Jonah. You know, Jonah and the big fish? Nineveh was the place Jonah refused to go. When he finally went to Nineveh all the nasty people living there repented and turned toward the Lord. (If you aren’t familiar with the story you can read it in the book of Jonah in the Old Testament.)
Anyways, about 100 years had passed. And like many of the other stories we have read in the Old Testament, the people of Nineveh turned their backs on God and were worshipping idols and gods of other religions. Also, at this point, the Assyrians had over taken the northern kingdom (Israel) and had deported all of the people. They had attacked the southern kingdom (here called Jacob but also called Judah) and forced them to pay tribute while controlling them with a puppet king named Manasseh.
The Assyrians were nasty people. They were brutal and known for killing massive amounts of people and piling the bodies in huge mounds. They previously repented, but eventually went back to their sinful ways. God had been betrayed.
The people of Judah hated the Assyrians and were probably very pleased with this message. God was going to get ’em! And He did. Nineveh was so badly destroyed that no ruins were found until 1845.
I remember being a young Christian and hearing sermons and reading devotionals about God and wondering, “how do these people know all of this stuff about God?” I have since learned that they gleaned it all from reading His word. In these two simple prophetic chapters we learn a lot about who God is and what He is like.
We learn just from reading the focus verses that He is: Jealous, actively involved, just, patient, powerful, good, a refuge, available to us, caring, and trustworthy.
I don’t have time in this devotional to focus on all of the characteristics we see of God in these 2 chapters, but I want to spend a little time talking about the term jealous.
Often when we hear the word jealous, we think of it in a sinful context. If we do that when reading of God’s jealousy, it can be a bit confusing. But not all jealousy is sin.
My Quest NIV Bible commentary says this:
“Jealousy is in its usual sense a sinful trait (Gal. 5:20), but the word can also denote a godly quality (2 Cor. 11:2). In this way God is ‘jealous’ (the word related to the word zealous) for people’s faithfulness. God’s jealousy shows his love, not selfishness or lack of control. This righteous jealousy takes vengeance on those who hurt his children.”
And Matthew Henry’s Concise commentary says this:
“Jealously is called the rage of a man, Proverbs 6:34; but in God it is holy and just displeasure. Those cannot worship God aright, who do not worship him only.”
Jealousy is not a sin if you are jealous for what is rightfully yours. God is the one and only God. He is the only one who deserves our worship. God likens our relationship with Him, as one between a husband and wife (2 Cor. 11:2). The church is His bride and He is our husband. He is righteously jealous for our love, affection, and worship because it is rightfully only His. Idolatry is spiritual adultery.
You might find it strange, but I like that God is jealous. Because it shows me He cares. The term “jealous” helps me to realize that there are feelings behind God’s love. His love is not just an obligation or a fulfillment of a promise He made long ago. We could tell ourselves, mistakenly, that God loves us only because He said He would. Like a man who stays married, not because he still loves his wife, but because he is a man of his word and he has determined to fulfill his commitment.
While God’s characteristic of faithfulness compels Him to keep His promises, the term jealousy shows me that His love is more than just a fulfillment of a contractual agreement. He isn’t just stuck in a marriage he committed to before we made mistakes.
God FEELS love for you. He has passion for you. Even after all of your failings and mess-ups, God still has feelings for you. Yes, He is committed because of His promises, so He will continue to love you, but He doesn’t love you begrudgingly.
He feels His love for you today!
Take a moment to enjoy it and bask in the truth of His feelings for you. If you have time, please take a moment to worship the God who loves you today and tell Him you love him back. Here is a song that can help you do that.
Father, thank you that even in a prophetic section of scripture about your wrath, I can still see your love. Thank you that you are all the things you are; patient, good, a refuge, faithful, trustworthy, and even jealous. I don’t deserve your love, but I will humbly accept it and take pleasure in it, because you want that for me. Help me to love you back well. You deserve all my praise and worship. May my life today be a love offering back to you. To you be the glory, Amen.