In the mid 7th century B.C., Jonah reluctantly went to Nineveh (the capital city of Assyria) and warned them of God’s coming judgment if they did not repent of their heinous cruelty and off-the-chart depravity.
Fast-forward one hundred years.
By this time, Nineveh had systematically declined as a city right back into the proverbial gutter they had created a century earlier.
God could have just killed them.
But, because God longs to forgive more than punish, he sent yet another prophet to warn them of God’s coming judgment if they did not repent.
This time they didn’t listen.
So Nahum opens up with this foreboding announcement:
The Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath… The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. (1:2-3)
They still didn’t listen.
This reminded me of a story of a similar time in history, albeit more recent. Travel with me back to 18th century, picturesque New England.
During the Great (Spiritual) Awakening of 1734-35, thousands of people were coming to Christ and getting right with God. Nonetheless, there was one church, in Enfield, Connecticut, that had no interest in repenting. Due to deeply-rooted spiritual complacency, they were far too comfortable with the lifestyles they had chosen – void of biblical truth. They had a good thing going (so they believed.) And, just like ancient Nineveh, they had no interest in God interfering.
Since God had used Jonathan Edwards, a graduate of Yale, so mightily to spark this Great Awakening, the pastor of the Enfield church invited Edwards to come preach, hoping and praying God would use Edwards’ preaching to wake the church up out of their spiritual slumber.
So, on July 8, 1741, Jonathan Edwards stood in front of those unsuspecting people and preached America’s most famous sermon: “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”
Edwards passionately preached:
“Below you is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; hell’s mouth is wide open;… You deserve the fiery pit;… The Devil is waiting… hell is gaping;… The pit is prepared, the fire is made ready; the furnace is now hot, ready to receive you. The glittering sword is whetted and held over you,…
The bow of God’s arrow is bent; the arrow is made ready; and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow…
You have no refuge, no security, nothing to take hold of.
All that preserves you is the sovereign forbearance of an angry God.”
Testimony of the event bears witness that “Edwards was interrupted many times before he finished his sermon by people moaning and crying out, ‘What shall I do to be saved?”
We don’t hear sermons like that anymore.
But, we should.
The author of Hebrews warned,
It is a fearful and terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God [incurring His judgment and wrath]. (10:31)
God tried to get, both, Nineveh’s and the Enfield church’s attention by sending prophets.
Enfield listened. Nineveh didn’t.
As a result, in 612 B.C., God used Babylon to wipe Nineveh off the face of the earth. So decimated was the city that the site was not rediscovered until 1842 A.D.
Do you find yourself complacent about your faith? Has God been trying to get your attention?
Heed his warnings before it’s too late.
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick