Reading: 2 Kings 21; Nahum 1-3
Summary: It very well may be said that Manasseh was to Judah, what Ahab had been to Israel. Hezekiah’s wicked son undid so much of what his good father had done. It is during his reign that God determines that Judah, too, will be punished as had Israel. Also, like Ahab, Manasseh does repent and by the end of his reign he “knew that the Lord was God” (2 Chron. 33:12-13). Unfortunately, his son, Amon, broke the pattern of alternating good and wicked kings by following in the evil ways of his father.
It is interesting that three of the Old Testament (literary) prophets’ messages were directed toward a foreign power; and two of them to the same people. The first writing prophet, Jonah, had great success—to his own consternation—in his preaching to the city of Nineveh. Nahum addresses the same people about a century later, but without his predecessor’s results. The third prophet is Obadiah (see May 30 reading introduction).
It should be remembered that Nineveh is the capital of the Assyrian empire, which had taken the nation of Israel captive. Now, their own demise is immanent. Babylon would replace Assyria in world domination and would soon also play a major role in Judah’s future.
God is Not Simple
He cannot be understood, simply. That’s not to say God cannot be understood. And there are critically important things about God that are simple—radically simple; like the fact that He loves us. The simplest mind can fully grasp that powerful reality. He also is patient and kind and good, plus a whole lot more.
The problem comes when we begin to define His love and patience and goodness in ways that are quite human, not divine.
A case in point is His description in Nahum. “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him” (Nah. 1:7). In the verse immediately prior to that statement, the prophet speaks of God’s indignation, anger, and wrath (v. 6).
It’s not a contradiction, though it may appear to be a great inconsistency. But that’s just it; it only appears that way. Our trouble is that we cannot envision ourselves as both loving and good and patient while at the same time having great indignation, anger, and wrath.
Because I can’t, does not mean God can’t. He’s not that simple.