It appears we, as a culture and a nation, may have tested the patience of God one time too many. We have, for example, murdered over 60 million innocent, unborn children in their mother’s womb while the church has basically remained silent. As Ruth Graham once said, “If God doesn’t judge America, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.” And just this week, after the Supreme Court ruling regarding Roe v. Wade, President Biden signed an Executive Order basically promoting abortion in our nation. So the killing will continue, and God’s judgment is sure to come.
As a nation, we have asked, and are still asking with even a louder voice, for the Lord’s judgment. How? By killing more babies and shaking our fist in His face in open, blatant defiance. And when the judgment falls (and I believe we are now under His judgment), the church is not immune. Again, why? Because we have remained silent while His little ones die in agony. And God is not blind to our sin.
Remember this truth:
For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? – 1 Peter 4:17.
So the question is this: When God judges a nation, what happens to the people in that nation that love Him and live righteously? Are they swept away with the unrighteous? Or does God preserve them, like He did His children during the plagues of Egypt, by sequestering them in the land of Goshen?
Does judgment, like rain, fall on the just and the unjust at the same time?
That is a great question, and only God knows the answer. But we can get some insight and encouragement by looking at the first chapter of the small book of Nahum.
In Nahum, God is proclaiming His judgment on the city of Nineveh. As you will recall, Nineveh was the city to which Jonah went to preach judgment, leading to repentance, although reluctantly. And one of the greatest miracles in all the Old Testament happened after the hapless preaching of Jonah. That evil fortress of a city repented and a great revival broke out at the preaching of God’s Word. Child sacrifices ceased, the king called the city to repentance, and God forestalled His hand of judgment and offered Nineveh His grace.
But by the time of Nahum, over a hundred years had passed and Nineveh had gone back to their sinful ways. The city was awash in idolatry and God, once again, was bringing judgment on those who had rejected His ways.
The first chapter of Nahum comprises 15 verses of railing judgment against the citizens of that great city. Nahum uses phrases like “the Lord avenges” and the “Lord will take vengeance” (1:2). He talks about the Lord’s “indignation” and the “fierceness of His anger” (1:6). Nahum describes the coming judgment as “they shall be devoured like stubble fully dried” (1:10), and he records God saying, “I will dig your grave, for you are vile” (1:14). Needless to say, God is not pleased with the people of Nineveh who have spurned His grace and spit in the face of His mercy.
So judgment is on its way, and it will come swiftly.
But the encouraging word for us, who also face the judgment of God, is found in verse 7. It is the only positive verse in this chapter. In this statement, God lets us know what He does with those who still love Him yet live among those He judges. Nahum 1:7 reads:
The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows (yāḏaʿ) those who trust in Him – Nahum 1:7.
Or, to define some terms:
The LORD is good (of moral excellence), a stronghold (refuge, fortress, shelter, a place where one turns for assistance or protection) in the day of trouble (distress, anguish, an oppressive state of physical, mental, social, or economic adversity); and He knows (yāḏaʿ) those who trust in Him – Nahum 1:7.
What does it mean, “He knows those who trust in Him”? The Hebrew word translated know is yāḏaʿ and is translated in the Septuagint as ginōskō. So what does this passage say now? And what are the implications for you and me in the times in which we live? Remember how Jesus used that word to describe His relationship with His sheep?
“I am the good shepherd; and I know (ginōskō) My sheep, and am known (ginōskō) by My own. As the Father knows (ginōskō) Me, even so I know (ginōskō) the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep” – John 10:14-15.
Note the qualifier: “those who trust in Him.” The word trust means “to seek, to take refuge. Literally, the word is used in reference to seeking a tree’s shade or protection from the heat.” Elsewhere in the Old Testament it is translated as “take refuge, put their trust, put my trust, sought refuge, take shelter, and trust or trusts.”
Now, read the promise in context. Note the judgments of God on a former repentant city that returned to idolatry, violence, and sin (3:1). But also note how God promises His love and attention to those who trust Him, even while living in a nation/city under judgment. Can you see any parallels to our situation today? Do you see how our Lord can rescue the righteous from His judgment even though they live in a culture under His judgment? Do you believe that is true, even today?
I sure hope so. So join us as we discover how to rest in His love, even while our culture falls in around our ears as we learn how to leave Laodicea behind.