Nahum 1:3 – The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.
The Lord had done miraculous things for his people and performed wonders before their eyes. He was their strength when their own waned, their protector from those who would hurt them, their provider for all of their needs and their hope of a promised future. They were blessed beyond measure and because of their union with Yahweh, they were the strongest nation of the face of the earth.
The Lord made a covenant with them and commanded them, “You shall not fear other gods or bow yourselves to them to serve them or sacrifice to them, but you shall fear the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm. You shall bow yourselves to him, and to him you shall sacrifice.” (2Kings17)
God’s commands were clear and his commitment was clear. He would be their right hand if they stayed obedient to his ways; He would be their faithful avenger. The people had seen his power in action and there was no ruler or king or nation that could stand against him. If this power was by your side, why would you walk away from it? Over time, that’s exactly what God’s people did. Assimilating with those nations around them, they conformed to different customs and attitudes and adapted their behaviour to incorporate new gods and forms of worship.
They made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal, and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. (2Kings17)
Obadiah, Amos and Hosea had all been sent by God to warn of the consequences of turning their backs on his word and not remaining faithful to the covenant. They had an opportunity to return to God’s keeping but they chose their own ways. The Lord then used Assyria to punish the unfaithfulness of Israel.
The king of Assyria carried the Israelites away to Assyria… because they did not obey the voice of the Lord their God but transgressed his covenant, even all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded. They neither listened nor obeyed. (2Kings18).
Even as children of God we are still prone to transgress and we are always in danger of conforming to the ways of those around us. We don’t have to look too far to see those who have adapted their behaviour and attitude to fit it with social norms and become acceptable within society. Priorities shift slowly and gradually and before you realise it the Church’s focus is being influenced more by man than by God.
The Lord needs to be our standard bearer in all things and we navigate the battle by keeping our focus on him only. When we listen and obey, He will not fail to be our strength, our protector, our provider and our hope.