God's Long Fuse

Bible Reading: 2 Kings 21:17-25; 22:1-2; 23:25-27; 2 Chronicles 33:18-23

"Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned" was the proclamation that God, through Jonah, had delivered to the Ninevites more than a century ago (Jonah 3:4). The Ninevites, in response, had called urgently on God and had given up their violence and evil ways (Jonah 3:8). "When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened" (Jonah 3:10).

Forty days have stretched into 125 years. Ninevah has returned to her evil ways and "endless cruelty" (3:19). God, once again, delivers his proclamation of destruction to Ninevah, now speaking through the prophet, Nahum. This time, however, the warning goes unheeded and God's wrath will finally be carried out on his enemies. "The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished" (1:3). God delayed his punishment in Jonah's day, just as he patiently delays his final judgment on the world today, "not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).

While God waited for the Ninevites to come to repentance, he used them as a tool of judgment to encourage the obedience of his own people, Judah. Now, while the repentant and reformed king, Manasseh, is trying to lead Judah back to following the Lord, God promises to avenge the suffering of Judah and free them from Ninevah's bondage. "This is what the Lord says, '…Although I have afflicted you, O Judah, I will afflict you no more. Now I will break their yoke from your neck and tear your shackles away'" (1:12-13). Just as God had demonstrated his love and grace to Manasseh when he sought God's favor and forgiveness in his distress, God promises to show favor to his people if they will turn to him in their distress and trust him. "The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him" (1:7).

Lord, thank you for the goodness and grace that you pour out on me. You are a safe refuge in my times of trouble. Whenever I run to you, you tenderly comfort and care for me. You patiently teach me your ways and wait for me to absorb and apply your truth. When I stubbornly walk in my own way, you urgently warn me of the danger ahead and gently nudge me onto the path of repentance and trust. In your own time and in your own way, you lead me out of affliction, break the shackles that weigh me down, and set me free. Thank you for the many ways you demonstrate your love to me.