Saturday, April 14, 2012

Misplaced? Verse

When last I "visited" Ninevah, the people had received the news from Jonah of God's pending judgment and had donned sackcloth and ashes, repenting of their ways.  God relented of His anger and compassionately granted a reprieve.  

But alas, the Ninevites' change of ways didn't last and 160 years later, the prophet Nahum delivers the message of God's judgment once again.  However, this time there will be no relenting from God.  He is "slow to anger" as Nahum states in verse 2 of chapter 1 but He is also "great in power" as the verse also states.  

Nahum begins his book telling of the wrath of God that was coming down upon Ninevah.  This rebellious people would experience whirlwind and storm, drought and withered crops, quaking mountains and dissolving hills.  God's wrath would be poured out like fire and the rocks would be broken up.  An overflowing flood and darkness would consume the land.  Distress would not rise up twice because the first round of destruction would be complete.  

Not a pleasant picture.

But wait!

What is this little verse 7 doing in the midst of all this talk of destruction and wrath?

The Lord is good,
a stronghold in the day of trouble, 
and He knows those who take refuge in Him.

A comment about God's goodness and protection from trouble seems very out of place right in the middle of this passage. It is as though the one who received God's inspired message made a "cut and paste" mistake.  Surely these words don't belong here, in Chapter One of Nahum?  Don't they seem more appropriate somewhere else? 

Wrath.  Vengeance.  Whirlwind.  Storm.  Drought.  Quakes. Desolation.  Upheaval.  Indignation.  Burning anger. Fire. Brokenness.
Goodness.  Stronghold.  Refuge.
Flood.  Complete end.  Darkness.
Isn't this bad editing, Nahum?

I think not.  This small, three line verse nestled here in the description of calamity and judgment offers a reminder of God's goodness, of God's protection in the midst of trials.  He is my safe place, my refuge when life causes the mountains to quake and the hills to dissolve around me.  This verse offers a respite from the heaviness of the verses that surround it.  It acts as a "word from our Sponsor" to interrupt the drama of life.  

And that is what God does for me.  He gives me a safe place, a respite, a refuge.  The calamity may rage on around me but just as verse 7 in Nahum Chapter 1 breaks into the heaviness of God's judgment of Ninivah, God offers me a break in the action, too.

"Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28      

Perfect editing, God!

No comments:

Post a Comment