Nahum 1:2 “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!” (NLT)
We don’t know much about Nahum. He’s another minor prophet, but like all minor prophets he has a major message. His book sits chronologically in order between the prophecies and events of Micah and Habakkuk. The entire book is a poem about the destruction of the the nation of Assyria and the release of the Jewish people from Assyrian captivity.
The first half of chapter one seems to describe a side of God we don’t like to talk about much in this New Testament age of grace. Verse 2 proclaims that God is jealous, filled with vengeance and rage. That doesn’t sound like the kindly old man people like to think of when they envision God. But it’s true.
Our God is a jealous God.
Jealousy is a word that’s gotten a bad wrap. Mostly because we often confuse jealousy with envy. Envy is wanting what someone else has. Jealousy is wanting what rightfully belongs to you.
My wife can be jealous for my attention and not really cross any boundaries. If I demonstrate that I prefer another woman, person or activity over her jealousy is an appropriate response. We are married. I committed my life to her. In my vows I said, “All that I am, all that I ever will be I give to you.” It’s a covenant relationship and by that covenant I belong to her and she belongs to me. This is the kind of relationship God has with his children. Jealousy is wanting what’s rightfully yours. And in that context jealousy can be an admirable quality.
Envy is another thing all together. Envy is wanting something that doesn’t belong to you. Couples that are dating don’t suffer from jealousy – that may be the word they use to describe it, but what they really mean is envy. The relationship isn’t yet established by covenant. They’re dating. They may want their significant other to be exclusively theirs, but until the covenant is made all they can do is envy the kind of relationship they don’t yet have.
We can envy other people’s things. We can envy their influence, position or power. But as long as it’s not rightfully ours it will never be jealousy. It will always be envy.
Nahum 1 says that God’s people, by covenant, rightfully belong to him and he is jealous for them. His rage and vengeance are fierce. His protection for his people certain.
Again we see prophecies similar to the ones made in the other minor prophets we’ve read so far. Israel will stand. The other nation will fall and be wiped from the map. This is what happened to Assyria. To this day Israel is a nation, yet the people and culture of Assyria are long gone, fit only for the pages of history and the dust of an archeologists foot.
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God.
There’s a friendship and a fear here, an awesome realization that his jealousy for me causes his rage to confront all who intend harm for me or who would stand between me and him. It’s jealousy so strong he is willing to do anything to remove that which separates me from him.
Let’s take this thought further. He has forgiven me of the worst thing I’ve ever done. More than that – he’s forgiven me of the worst thing I will ever do – that thing I’ve not yet even considered. It’s forgiven.
Now consider this – in order to secure that salvation he did the most horrifying and terrible thing one could imagine. He exhausted his rage over me by crushing his only son.
No wonder he is jealous for me.
Are you jealous or envious of other people? What are you doing right now that makes God jealous for you? How can you influence your world so they don’t experience the same fate as the people of Assyria?
Nahum 1:7 says, “The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him.”
With what will you trust him today?
Thank you for your deep love for me. Thanks that your love produces such a strong and passionate reaction in you when I am unfaithful and when others threaten me or my family. Thank you for the words of the David Crowder song, “How He Loves” – they are the cry of my heart today.
He is jealous for me.
Love’s like a hurricane I am a tree.
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory.
And I realize just how beautiful you are and how great your affections are for me.
And we are His portion and He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking
And heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way…
He loves us, oh
Oh, how He loves us
How He loves all
How He loves
I love you, in Jesus name –