A Voice in the
" Grace and Wrath "
"and should I not have -PITY- on Nineveh, the great city in which are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between the right and the left hand, and many cattle?" (Jo4:11)
Both Jonah and Nahum are prophets against Nineveh. For purposes of this study it is enough to know that they were separated by something like 120-130 years. In both cases God's message was of impending judgment. Jonah had proclaimed...
"The burden -AGAINST- Nineveh: The Mighty God is jealous, and Jehovah avenges, Jehovah avenges and is a possessor of wrath. Jehovah takes vengeance against His foes, and He maintains wrath against His enemies.
Jehovah is slow to anger, and great of power, and He does not by any means acquit the guilty. Jehovah has His way in the tempest and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet... Who can stand before His indignation? And who can endure His burning anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken down because of Him. Jehovah is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him. But with an overrunning flood He will make a complete end of its place, and darkness shall pursue His enemies." (Nah1:1,3,6-8)
"Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" (Jo3:4)
But the two books end differently. In Jonah we see Nineveh spared and God does not judge, even though that was the original message. In Nahum, there is no such reprieve. Jonah ends with Grace. Nahum in wrath:
"There is no healing for your fracture; your wound is severe. All who hear the report of you shall clap their hands over you" (3:19).
What happened during the intervening century? About a generation after Jonah, Assyria began taking the northern tribes of Israel captive. And by the time of Nahum, the deed had been finished for around 20 years.
One thing many people don't recognize about God is that His Grace and Wrath are -reactive- and -conditional-.
"With the faithful You show Yourself kind; with a mighty man of integrity You show Yourself upright; with the pure You show Yourself pure; and with the perverse You show Yourself twisted." (2Sa22:26-27)
God does not extend His grace "just -because-" He is a God of Luuuuuv. Just because He loves, -everybody- feels His love, because He (allegedly) accepts everybody "just as we are". As if to say: He does not require any (so-called) preconditions for His Grace. No!
There is a false doctrine that takes Jn3:16 and proclaims the "good news" that -EVERYBODY- is 'already' saved, because Jesus died on the cross so that "everyone" might be "saved". They receive or reject Jesus? It doesn't matter. He saves everyone alike. They conveniently omit the qualifier...
"...everyone BELIEVING INTO HIM..."
There is also the qualifier that...
"The one believing into the Son has eternal life; -BUT- the one disobeying the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (Jn3:36)
To anyone who reads the Bible for what God -says- it is plain to understand that God accepts those who trust in Him, and rejects those who reject Him. He blesses the faithful, and judges disobedience.
But why did Nineveh one time experience grace, but another time wrath?
First time when judgment was proclaimed, they REPENTED. (The book is short, you can read it) The king got down off his throne and put on sackcloth. The edict to not satisfy the cravings for food and water extended even to the animals. They humbled themselves. They did as is written:
"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to shame. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will exalt you." (Ja4:8-10)
As God also proclaimed through Ezekiel:
"Again, when I say to the wicked, You shall die the death; if he turns from his sin and does justice and righteousness, if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life, not committing iniquity, he shall live life; he shall not die. None of all his sins which he has sinned shall be remembered against him; he has done justice and righteousness; he shall live life." (Ezk33:14-16)
But then Assyria exalted itself. God needed a nation to punish His wayward people Israel. But they went beyond God's authority. They meted out to Israel more than God's wrath required. So, whereas they had repented at the preaching of Jonah, they reverted to their sinful ways.
"When I say to the righteous that he shall live life, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of all his righteousness shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that he has done, he shall die." (Ezk33:13)
There are several aspects to God's wrath that we can look at briefly. First of all, God is not -eager- to punish. When Adam and Eve sinned, He did not simply zap a bolt of lightning down and wipe them out of existence. He came calling, "Adam, where are you?" (Gen3:9)
"The Lord is not slow concerning His promise, as some count slowness, but is longsuffering toward us, not purposing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (2Pt3:9)
When God does not immediately 'zap' the sinner, some people get it into their skulls that God either 'doesn't care' about their sin; or that He 'doesn't exist'. That God "does not see" (Ezk8:12,9:9, Ps94:7)
God is not "slow". He is not procrastinating. He "does not by any means acquit the guilty". But He is LONGSUFFERING.
Longsuffering: what an interesting word. Does God -enjoy- watching sinners rebel against Him? But on the other hand, does He take pleasure in meting out judgment?
"Do I delight with pleasure in the death of the wicked? says the Lord Jehovah, and not that he should turn back from his ways and live?" (Ezk18:23)
So God (as the saying goes) bends over backwards and gives the sinner -time-. AMPLE OPPORTUNITY to hear the Message, to think-it-over and -decide-; to "choose life". (De30:19) But while God is giving all this latitude, waiting, it pains the heart of God to observe all the wickedness. Long (time) suffering (pain/grief).
Some from the so-called Calvinistic persuasion say that God destines some to life, and others to wrath. But they miss where it says...
"What if God, determining to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with MUCH LONGSUFFERING the vessels of wrath rendered fit unto destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand unto glory, whom He also called, not only of us Jews, but also of the Gentiles?" (Rom9:22-24)
God predestined the vessels of "wrath" and "mercy" in "foreknowledge" (Rom8:29) He did not create the vessels in two piles, -planning- that: You I 'want' to bless, and you I 'want' to judge. He -wants- "all" to come to repentance. And so, those that His foreknowledge knows will be judged, He -waits-. He gives time. Gives ample opportunity with "much longsuffering", until eventually the time comes...
"...the time is at hand. He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to what his work shall be." (Rev22:10-12)
But sometimes God also must discipline His children. That wrath is different than His wrath against the sinner.
"As a father has compassion on his children, so Jehovah has compassion on those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust." (Ps103:13-14)
He had to discipline Israel. But then restores again:
"In overflowing wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; but with everlasting kindness I will have mercy upon you, says Jehovah your Redeemer." (Is54:8)
That discipline took Israel into exile. As a nation, uniquely, they are known for the term Diaspora. And so, from that exile, God has been, and will complete their restoration:
"And the sons of foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall serve you; for in My wrath I struck you, but in My favor I have had mercy upon you." (Is60:10)
Those who hate God, God will obliterate. But His own nation, Israel, He restores:
"Do not fear, O Jacob My servant, says Jehovah, for I am with you. For I will make a full end of all the nations where I have driven you. But I will not make a complete end of you, but will correct you in justice; and I will not leave you acquitted nor unpunished." (Jer46:28)
Earthly fathers discipline their children, often with lack of proper judgment.
"For they indeed for a few days disciplined us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness." (Heb12:10)
Thus the prophet's prayer:
"Jehovah, I have heard the report of You, and am afraid. Jehovah, preserve Your work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember compassion." (Hab3:2)
The wicked get thrown into the Lake of Fire. They are destroyed for everlasting punishment. But for His own children, those who have humbled themselves in repentance and received (Jn1:12) the Salvation Jesus provided with His own shed blood (Re1:5); when we wander God corrects us; but with mercy.
When we suffer adversity...
"Through Jehovah’s kindness we are not consumed, because His compassions never fail." (Lam3:22)
Wrath -with- Grace.