Many of our spiritual struggles stem from holding wrong views of God. When we don’t see God as He is, as He has revealed Himself in Scripture, spiritual dysfunction is sure to follow. I know when I lose sight of God’s goodness and doubt His faithfulness to me, my desire to obey God plummets along with my peace and joy.
The spiritual dysfunction of God’s people, the Israelites, is frequently on display in the books of the Minor Prophets. The Israelites would trust and obey the Lord for a time, but then would fall headlong into rebellion and idolatry. They seemed to forget who God is and who they were as God’s people. Their struggle to remain faithful to the covenant God had made with them through Moses resulted in God sending prophets to warn them of the consequences of their disobedience.
But not every message from the prophets is a warning to Israel. Sometimes the prophets announce God’s blessing upon them and judgment upon their enemies. That’s what we see happening in the book of Nahum. The prophet Nahum announces God’s impending judgment upon Assyria. About 150 years prior, God relented from destroying Assyria and its capital Nineveh, much to the chagrin of the prophet Jonah. But now God’s patience has run out with this arrogant, cruel nation. Assyria’s comeuppance has finally arrived. God’s people, despite their many failings, would soon be avenged.
Though the book of Nahum highlights God’s grace toward Israel, chapter 1 reveals much about the Lord’s character that, had the Israelites consistently believed it, they might not have drifted from Him so often. Consider the first part of verse 3: “The LORD is slow to anger but great in power; the LORD will never leave the guilty unpunished.” From this verse we see that God is patient and merciful, and He is holy and just. He is a gracious God, and He is not to be trifled with.
Seeing God as He is remains a challenge for us, too, but Jesus has made the Father known in a way the old covenant never could. God’s character is perfectly revealed in His Son, who is the “exact expression of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3). When we see Jesus in the pages of Scripture, we see the Father as well (John 14:9). Jesus corrects our faulty views of God. He is the “true light that gives light to everyone” (John 1:9).
As Christians we are invited to read the Minor Prophets, indeed all of Scripture, in light of the revelation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. All Scripture points to Him (John 5:39). While the prophets spoke to the issues of the day, and we should work hard to understand the original context of their words, many of their prophecies have a later, larger fulfillment as well. They point to the new covenant age and the kingdom of God inaugurated by Jesus and later to be consummated upon His return at the end of the age. These small books at the end of the Old Testament are sometimes overlooked, but they form a key chapter in God’s great story of redemption.
Written by Matt Erickson