Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him. The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. But with an overflowing flood he will make a complete end of the adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into darkness. —Nahum 1:6–8 (ESV)
Nahum is a prophet whose message concerns the fall of the city of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire. We perhaps know that city better as the city to which Jonah reluctantly preached after being swallowed and spit up by a great fish.
Nahum’s message is one of judgment: “Woe to the bloody city, all full of lies and plunder— no end to the prey! …Behold, I am against you, declares the Lord of hosts.” But right out of the gate, notice the juxtaposition of both the Lord’s ‘indignation’ and ‘wrath’ and his goodness. On one hand, “Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire,” and on the other, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.” There is no contradiction. This is the character of God. He is just, and his wrath is just. But as Nahum says elsewhere, “The Lord is slow to anger and great in power.”
Throughout Scripture we’re reminded that the Lord is a just God, whose wrath is kindled and poured out on sin. But He is equally good, a refuge for all who will trust in Him. He sent His Son, after all, and on Him poured out his wrath that those who trust in Him for salvation would be saved. Remember the Lord’s character this week, not just His love and goodness, but His justice. Remind those under your care of who God is. Let us worship Him for who He is.