By Barnabas Piper
Taunting God is a bad idea. No, taunting an MMA fighter is a bad idea; taunting God is blasphemous and deadly. In our modern age, we have so distanced ourselves from the reality of God and turned Him into a spiritual figment that the idea of bothering to taunt Him seems absurd. Our mockery of God comes as we passively ignore His lordship of the universe. In the Old Testament, taunting God looked entirely different.
Second Chronicles 32:9-22 describes the invasion of Judah by the Assyrians, who were led by Sennacherib. They surrounded Jerusalem, the holy city of Israel and the home of God’s temple. They began to taunt, but they did not merely taunt the people or King Hezekiah—they hurled insults at God. “No god of any nation or kingdom has been able to rescue his people from my power or the power of my father. How much less will your God rescue you from my power!” (2 Chronicles 32:15). And they escalated their mockery from there.
Sennacherib thought he could rattle the faith of Judah by undermining their confidence in God. He thought he could bring God’s people to their knees. Well, he was right. Hezekiah, king of Judah, did indeed fall to his knees. He prayed for deliverance, and God acted. That day, an angel of the Lord killed every Assyrian warrior and sent the shamed Sennacherib home to his own demise. Jerusalem was rescued.
The prophecies of Nahum, given a few years after Sennacherib’s attack on Jerusalem, speak directly to the pride of the Assyrians, specifically Nineveh. And if the people of Nineveh had any doubt about whether the God who defeated Sennacherib’s army would again act to bring this defiant city to justice, the Lord makes it perfectly clear: “I am against you. This is the declaration of the Lord of Armies” (Nahum 2:13). Nahum 2 tells of the armies of God rising up fierce and strong with blood-red shields and chariots of fire to devastate Nineveh. Chapter 3 tells of the shaming of the city for its pride, prostitution, and sorcery—all acts of defiance against God. It ends by saying the city’s people would be scattered into exile, a just retribution in line with how they had treated nations they’d once conquered.
These are hard verses and harsh prophecies. Our instinct might be to ignore them or explain them away, but we cannot. In these verses we see the reality of a God who will not be mocked or rejected or reviled. He is not petty or spiteful; He is perfect and glorious, making such acts infinitely condemnable. We also see a God who rescues His people, who achieves justice and doesn’t let evil stand. In God’s infinite power, holiness, justice, and kindness we find comfort.
Written by Barnabas Piper
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