The power of God to accomplish all that he purposes lands as a good news to those who believingly "take refuge" in him.

Staying on Course: Happy New Year from Ninevah

When the clock ticks down to midnight and the calendar hangs fresh and unsullied, we resolve to do great things. We’ll drop ten pounds, eat our veggies, and work out. We’ll crack open a new journal and read through the Old Testament by June. With iron in our soul, we’ll begin a new year, a bright, shiny, new decade, focused on new habits, right relationships, and the audacity of optimism.

And then comes February.

Because Scripture is rooted in real life and stars a cast of fallible human beings, the opening verse to the book of Nahum comes as no surprise.

An oracle concerning Nineveh…”

As it happens, Jonah did not get the last word on that great Assyrian city.  In the 800’s B.C. when the Ninevites renounced their violence and idolatry as an outcome of Jonah’s reluctant revival, life went on for them as it does for us. People went to work and paid their bills. Children were born who had never laid eyes on Jonah or heard his fiery proclamations of judgment. Old habits have a way of returning with subtle ferocity.

Assyria went on to conquer Israel’s Northern Kingdom in 722 B.C., obliterating their heritage and scrubbing away their political existence, so it’s no surprise to find that by the time the Holy Spirit tapped Nahum on the shoulder, the nation of Assyria had forgotten all about its bygone revival. Babylon stood ready to gobble them up as they had so recently swallowed others.  As Qui-Gon Jinn aptly observed, “There’s always a bigger fish.”

One man’s warning is another man’s comfort, and Nahum’s mother spoke more truly than she knew when she named her baby boy.  More than just the meaning of his name, the promised “comfort” comes in Nahum’s message of God’s wrath against Ninevah because of the implied message to God’s people revealing God as…

  • jealous (1:2)
  • furious (1:2)
  • great in power (1:3)
  • in charge of the whirlwind, the storm, the sea, the mountains (1:3-5)

The God of Heaven is not to be trifled with, and he will punish the guilty.

And We Are All Guilty

So where is this promised comfort for nations–and people like us–whose good intentions for revival and renewal have lost steam and sputtered out?

Awareness of my own dalliances with the sin God hates lands with stifling weight in the aftermath of this proclamation of wrath. “‘Behold, I am against you,’ says the Lord of hosts,” (2:13), and “Who can endure the fierceness of his anger?” (1:6)

Good question, and one worthy of a lifetime of terror if it were not for the tension-breaking truth of Nahum 1:7:

The Lord is good,
a stronghold in the day of trouble;
he knows those who take refuge in him.

The Bible Is a Book About God

There is hope in the truth about who God is. The power of God to accomplish all that he purposes is good news to those who believingly “take refuge” in him, because our all-powerful God is also good.  While he has made it clear that sin will be judged, his goodness led him to absorb the judgment in the body and blood of his own Son.

The terrifying reality of God “against you” has been swallowed up in the incredibly good news of God “for you!”

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  (Romans 8:31-36)

More than merely an escape hatch from our bad habits and our lazy tendency to relapse into sin, God’s good news is an invitation into his kindgom, flowing from the pen of an obscure prophet whose message of comfort for a new year comes on the other side of a message of judgment:
He is good.
He is strong when you are weak.
Trust his goodness and his resolve to help you stay on course in 2020.
He will hold you close:

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8:38, 39)

Trusting in his goodness,

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50 thoughts on “Staying on Course: Happy New Year from Ninevah”

  1. Such encouragement found in that one verse in Nahum. God is good, He is our refuge when difficulties arise, and He will be close to us as we trust in Him. Such a beautiful reminder!

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  2. This will keep us reading: “More than merely an escape hatch from our bad habits and our lazy tendency to relapse into sin, God’s good news is an invitation into his kindgom.” So thankful our God is good and that he wants us to participate in his kingdom!

    I read this morning that Jan 17 is the day most people break their New Year’s Resolutions. 🙂

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  3. I love that verse 1:7 from Nahum! So beautiful. Thanks for writing about this lesser-known prophet. ❤ I am currently reading Ezekial and Job, and I’m so moved by the nuggets of truth I am finding. (And yes, may He keep us steady all year long.)

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  4. Oh Michele, thank you for these strong words. A good Stronghold in time of trouble, One who knows my desire to rest in His Providence and believe He is in control in the midst of intractable craziness I can’t control… Yes. I need these truths so much today, this week, this month… Thank you for faithfully bringing God’s truth to bear on life!

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    1. God’s goodness and his sovereignty are Sunday school basic, and yet we seem to let go of them first when God acts in ways we did not expect. I write about the things that I’m learning, and this one keeps circling around for another refresher. I’m grateful that it has also been of help to you, Linda. It’s always SO good to hear from you.

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  5. What a beautiful post! God’s Word, an invitation into His kingdom! I love that! I am so glad the invitations keep coming each time we pick up this ancient book of Truth. His Words keep calling us, His love reaching to draw us near. Thank you for sharing!!

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  6. As a regular at the gym, I am counting on most people breaking their fitness resolutions by next week or at least the beginning of February. The classes are too crowded right now!

    What a thoughtful and beautiful post you have written here, Michele. I love the way you weave these selections from the Old Testament and the New. Thank goodness God is merciful and good. I too, tend to backslide into sin and forgetfulness.

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    1. Isn’t it fascinating how we devolve every year?That movement from order to disorder seems to be inherent in our cells, and God is the outside force who keeps us on course.
      My son is a lifeguard and he’s counting the days until the resolution breakers leave the pool!

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  7. Thank God that he does comfort and forgive. I’m so glad that He can help us avoid the very things that would bring judgement on us. Thanks for the reminder and the encouragement to stay on track (it’s hard to believe that half of January has already passed).

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  8. Beautiful encouragement, Michele. Praise God for his mercy and grace toward those who take refuge in Him. “He knows what we are made of, remembering that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14 HCSB)!

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  9. Michele, this is such a great post! One of my students is always making much of the fact God is a god of judgment. And of course, I agree. But she seems to have a faint air about her that we talk about His grace, mercy and forgiveness too much! I love what you said:
    “He is good.
    He is strong when you are weak.
    Trust his goodness and his resolve to help you stay on course in 2020.
    He will hold you close:”
    Yes, if you reject His Son, you will experience judgment. But if your heart is for Him, when you mess up, He will help you!

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    1. I wonder if she is reacting to a prevailing thought that sin need not be taken seriously. Very sad, though to carry the weight of judgment on ourselves when it’s been taken by Christ. I’m sure you are very good for her in providing truth and balance.

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      1. I do think that is what she thinks…
        I’m always examining myself when with her, wondering if I have went too far in the other direction!
        Sin IS grave, but grace is greater!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. No matter how much we fall off course despite our best intentions, God is always there for those who seek Him. Thankfully His mercies are new every morning so we can always begin again

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  11. God’s invitation to join Him in His kingdom comes with no expiration date. We continue to make mistakes in our weaknesses even though we have good intentions and start off well. Just like the way we faithfully make resolutions at the beginning of each new year. Thank you for ending with Romans 8:38-39. Those verses have been very present in my mind the last week or so.

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  12. LOVE THIS Michele! “Happy New Year from Ninevah” for sure caught my attention. Great title! This IS real life and so appropriate to our day, just as it was Jonah’s.

    Pinned, tweeted and will share to the InstaEncouragements Facebook.

    Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Naham 1:7 is a scripture I taught my children when they were young. I love repeating it. “One man’s warning is another man’s comfort,” is so true. Michele, as always, I enjoy your insights.

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  14. He is good.
    He is strong when you are weak.
    Trust his goodness and his resolve to help you stay on course in 2020.
    He will hold you close:

    AMEN!

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  15. Michele,
    As the gleam on the newness of 2020 begins to fade already, what an awesome reminder of God’s furious love for us. i needed this reminder that if God is for me, who can be against me. No weapon formed against me shall prosper. I loved this little known verse in Nahum! What a blessing!
    Bev xx

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    1. Oh, that’s good news, Bethany. I happen to love the Old Testament prophets (and wonder what that says about me??), because their messages of judgment and God’s grief remind me of the importance of avoiding a repeat performance in my own time.

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  16. It is always surprising to me that we fail within a month of our resolutions – imperfect beings, all of us. This year I resolved to make no resolutions except to try to be a better human that I was last year. #DreamTeam 

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  17. Trust and faith go hand in hand. I set goals for the whole year with little ‘failures’ built in so that I can easily get back on track if I have a wobble. Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

    Like

  18. So sad that Blue Monday is a thing, when most of us have quit our good intentions and don’t return to them. Thanks for linking up with #dreamteam

    Like

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