The Lord is slow to anger - Nahum takes up the words of Jonah Jonah 4:2 as he spoke of God‘s attributes toward Nineveh, but only to show the opposite side of them. Jonah declares how God is “slow to anger,” giving men time of repentance, and if they do repent, “repenting Him also of the evil;” Nahum, that the long-suffering of God is not “slackness,” that “He is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
And strong in power - Divine long-suffering gees along with Divine power. God can be long-suffering, because He can, whenever He sees good, punish. His long-suffering is a token, not of weakness, but of power. He can allow persons the whole extent of trial, because, when they are past cure, He can end it at once. “God is a righteous judge, strong and patient, and God wraths every day” Psalm 7:11. The wrath comes only at the last, but it is ever present with God. He cannot but be displeased with the sin; and so the Psalmist describes in the manner of men the gradual approximation to its discharge. “If he (the sinner) will not return (from evil or to God), He will whet His sword; He hath trodden His bow and directed it: He hath prepared for him instruments of death; He hath made his arrows burning” Psalm 7:12-13. We see the arrow with unextinguishable fire, ready to be discharged, waiting for the final decision of the wicked, whether he will repent or not, but that still “the Day of the Lord will come” 2 Peter 3:9-10. “He will not at all acquit.”
The words occur originally in the great declaration of God‘s attributes of mercy by Moses, as a necessary limitation of them; they are continued to God‘s people, yet with the side of mercy predominant Jeremiah 30:11; Jeremiah 46:28; they are pleaded to Himself Numbers 14:18; they are the sanction of the third commandment Exodus 20:7; Deuteronomy 5:11. He “will not acquit” of His own will, apart from His justice. So He saith, “I can of Mine own self do nothing” John 5:30, i. e., (in part), not as unjust judges, who “call good evil and evil good,” following their own will, not the merits of the case; but, “as I hear, I judge, and My judgment is just.” He cannot even have mercy and spare unjustly, nor without the lowliness of penitence. Even if it is Jerusalem, over which He wept, or His “companion, His own familiar friend” Psalm 55:14, He, who is no “accepter of persons,” cannot of mere favor forgive the impenitent.
The Lord hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm - The vengeance of God comes at last swiftly, vehemently, fearfully, irresistibly. “When they say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them” 1 Thessalonians 5:3, and all creation stands at the command of the Creator against His enemies. “He shall take to Him His jealousy for complete armor, and make the creature His weapon, for the revenge of His enemies” (Wisd. 5:17).
And the clouds are the dust of His feet - Perhaps the imagery is from the light dust raised by an earthly army, of which Nahum‘s word is used Ezekiel 26:10. The powers of heaven are arrayed against the might of earth. On earth a little dust, soon to subside; in heaven, the whirlwind and the storm, which sweep away what does not bow before them. The vapors, slight on outward seeming, but formed of countless multitudes of mist-drops, are yet dark and lowering, as they burst, and resistless. “The Feet of God are that power whereby He trampleth upon the ungodly.” So it is said to the Son, “Sit Thou on My Right Hand until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.” Tempests have also, without figure, been used to overthrow God‘s enemies (Exodus 14:27; Joshua 10:11; Judges 5:20; 1 Samuel 2:10; and 1 Samuel 7:10; 2 Samuel 22:15).
The Lord is slow to anger - He exercises much longsuffering towards his enemies, that this may lead them to repentance. And it is because of this longsuffering that vengeance is not speedily executed on every evil work.
Great in power - Able at all times to save or to destroy.
The Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm - These are the effects of his power; and when they appear unusual, they may be considered as the immediate effects of his power: and although he be in them to punish and destroy, he is in them to direct their course, to determine their operations, and to defend his followers from being injured by their violence. The pestilential wind which slew one hundred and eighty-five thousand of the Assyrians did not injure one Israelite. See 2 Kings 19:35.
The clouds are the dust of his feet - This is spoken in allusion to a chariot and horses going on with extreme rapidity: they are all enveloped in a cloud of dust. So Jehovah is represented as coming through the circuit of the heavens as rapidly as lightning; the clouds surrounding him as the dust does the chariot and horses.
By these angel messengers a faithful record is kept of the words and deeds of the children of men. Every act of cruelty or injustice toward God's people, all they are caused to suffer through the power of evil workers, is registered in heaven. COL 177.1
“Shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.” COL 177.2
“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” Hebrews 10:35-37. “Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” James 5:7, 8. COL 177.3Read in context »
Many are better prepared, have more spiritual discrimination and knowledge of God, and know more of His requirements, when they enter upon their course of study than when they are graduated. They become inspired with an ambition to become learned men and are encouraged to add to their studies until they become infatuated. They make their books their idol and are willing to sacrifice health and spirituality in order to obtain an education. They limit the time which they should devote to prayer and fail to improve the opportunities which they have to do good. They fail to put to use the knowledge which they have already obtained and do not advance in the science of winning souls. Missionary work becomes less and less desirable, while the passion to excel in book knowledge increases abnormally. In pursuing their studies they separate from the God of wisdom. Some congratulate them on their advancement and encourage them to take degree after degree.... CT 415.1
The question was asked, “Do you believe the truth? do you believe the third angel's message? If you do believe, then act your faith.” ... Probationary time will not permit of long-protracted years of drill. God calls; hear His voice as He says, “Go work today in My vineyard.” Matthew 21:28. Now, just now, is the time to work.... CT 415.2
“The Lord hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.” Nahum 1:3. O that men might understand the patience and long-suffering of God! He is putting under restraint His own attributes. His omnipotent power is under the control of Omnipotence. O that men would understand that God refuses to be wearied out with the world's perversity and still holds out the hope of forgiveness even to the most undeserving! But His forbearance will not always continue. Who is prepared for the sudden change that will take place in God's dealing with sinful men? Who will be prepared to escape the punishment that will certainly fall upon transgressors? ... CT 415.3Read in context »
Though enemies may thrust them into prison, yet dungeon walls cannot cut off the communication between their souls and Christ. One who sees their every weakness, who is acquainted with every trial, is above all earthly powers; and angels will come to them in lonely cells, bringing light and peace from heaven. The prison will be as a palace; for the rich in faith dwell there, and the gloomy walls will be lighted up with heavenly light as when Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises at midnight in the Philippian dungeon. GC 627.1
God's judgments will be visited upon those who are seeking to oppress and destroy His people. His long forbearance with the wicked emboldens men in transgression, but their punishment is nonetheless certain and terrible because it is long delayed. “The Lord shall rise up as in Mount Perazim, He shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that He may do His work, His strange work; and bring to pass His act, His strange act.” Isaiah 28:21. To our merciful God the act of punishment is a strange act. “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” Ezekiel 33:11. The Lord is “merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, ... forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” Yet He will “by no means clear the guilty.” “The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked.” Exodus 34:6, 7; Nahum 1:3. By terrible things in righteousness He will vindicate the authority of His downtrodden law. The severity of the retribution awaiting the transgressor may be judged by the Lord's reluctance to execute justice. The nation with which He bears long, and which He will not smite until it has filled up the measure of its iniquity in God's account, will finally drink the cup of wrath unmixed with mercy. GC 627.2
When Christ ceases His intercession in the sanctuary, the unmingled wrath threatened against those who worship the beast and his image and receive his mark (Revelation 14:9, 10), will be poured out. The plagues upon Egypt when God was about to deliver Israel were similar in character to those more terrible and extensive judgments which are to fall upon the world just before the final deliverance of God's people. Says the revelator, in describing those terrific scourges: “There fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshiped his image.” The sea “became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.” And “the rivers and fountains of waters ... became blood.” Terrible as these inflictions are, God's justice stands fully vindicated. The angel of God declares: “Thou art righteous, O Lord, ... because Thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and Thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.” Revelation 16:2-6. By condemning the people of God to death, they have as truly incurred the guilt of their blood as if it had been shed by their hands. In like manner Christ declared the Jews of His time guilty of all the blood of holy men which had been shed since the days of Abel; for they possessed the same spirit and were seeking to do the same work with these murderers of the prophets. GC 627.3Read in context »
“For there is not a word in my tongue,
But, lo, O Jehovah, Thou knowest it altogether.
Thou hast beset me behind and before,
And laid Thy hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain unto it.” 8T 282.1
Psalm 139:1-6, A. R. V. 8T 282
“Great is our Lord, and of great power:
His understanding is infinite.” 8T 282.2
The forbearance that God has exercised toward the wicked, emboldens men in transgression; but their punishment will be none the less certain and terrible for being long delayed. “The Lord shall rise up as in Mount Perazim, He shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that He may do His work, His strange work; and bring to pass His act, His strange act.” Isaiah 28:21. To our merciful God the act of punishment is a strange act. “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” Ezekiel 33:11. The Lord is “merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, ... forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” Yet He will “by no means clear the guilty.” Exodus 34:6, 7. While He does not delight in vengeance, He will execute judgment upon the transgressors of His law. He is forced to do this, to preserve the inhabitants of the earth from utter depravity and ruin. In order to save some He must cut off those who have become hardened in sin. “The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked.” Nahum 1:3. By terrible things in righteousness He will vindicate the authority of His downtrodden law. And the very fact of His reluctance to execute justice testifies to the enormity of the sins that call forth His judgments and to the severity of the retribution awaiting the transgressor. PP 628.1
But while inflicting judgment, God remembered mercy. The Amalekites were to be destroyed, but the Kenites, who dwelt among them, were spared. This people, though not wholly free from idolatry, were worshipers of God and were friendly to Israel. Of this tribe was the brother-in-law of Moses, Hobab, who had accompanied the Israelites in their travels through the wilderness, and by his knowledge of the country had rendered them valuable assistance. PP 628.2
Since the defeat of the Philistines at Michmash, Saul had made war against Moab, Ammon, and Edom, and against the Amalekites and the Philistines; and wherever he turned his arms, he gained fresh victories. On receiving the commission against the Amalekites, he at once proclaimed war. To his own authority was added that of the prophet, and at the call to battle the men of Israel flocked to his standard. The expedition was not to be entered upon for the purpose of self-aggrandizement; the Israelites were not to receive either the honor of the conquest or the spoils of their enemies. They were to engage in the war solely as an act of obedience to God, for the purpose of executing His judgment upon the Amalekites. God intended that all nations should behold the doom of that people that had defied His sovereignty, and should mark that they were destroyed by the very people whom they had despised. PP 628.3Read in context »