Judgment and Grace Pt 2: The Grace of God
Judgment and Grace Pt 2: The Grace of God.
“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in him.”
The opening lines of Nahum present the terror and totality of God’s judgment. The words are a stark reminder that God is a just and holy God who will by no means allow sin to go unpunished (vs. 3, see also Exodus 34:7). The revelation of the devastation of God’s judgment is fully revealed in the book of Revelation, in which Christ returns to bring judgment upon a world that has rejected him and rejected his law. The onslaught of God’s wrath against sin is so terrible and extensive that all creation and all the inhabitants in the world or “Upheaved by his presence?” No one can stand in his presence when his wrath is poured out.
Amidst this, there is a sudden pause of tranquility and hope. As the fear of his wrath grips the heart of those facing his judgment, God pauses in his announcement to assure his people. His goodness and grace completely protect those who have placed their faith and trust in him. While those who reject God should fear, those who trust in God have the assurance of God's protective calm in the outbreak of his unrelenting wrath. In this verse, there are three essential statements that give confidence to those who trust in God. First, God is good. This is not abstract goodness but personal. Second, God is good in his dealing with people. The sin of Adam and Eve, and every sin we commit, involves the rejection of the goodness of God’s moral law. In our sinful attitudes and actions, we affirm that God does not have our best interests in mind. But God is always driven by what is good, and his law is perfect.
Second, God is a stronghold for those who trust him. He is a source of protection and defense for those who seek him. While he brings judgment and destruction upon those who reject him, he places his omnipotent arm around those who trust him so that we are entirely protected in the onslaught of the outpour of his wrath. While the world shrinks in terror, those who trust him rest in complete repose.
Third, God knows his people. His judgment and grace are personal, not generic. He knows every person who trusts in him, so no one is caught up in the judgment of God undeservedly. This brings us to the heart of God. The word “know” is not just an intellectual word but a relational one. It is to know his people in a personal and intimate way. God has a personal relationship with his people, in which we know him not as an abstract philosophical idea but as a person who knows everything about us. Therefore we do not need to fear that we will be accidentally caught up in the net of his judgment.
In these verses, we are confronted with two individuals. The first are those who have rejected God and refused to obey him as they pursue their own agenda in complete disregard and rebellion against God’s law. For them, the end will be one of severe wrath and judgment. The second person is the one who trusts in God and surrenders their life to God. For them, God becomes a source of protection and peace. For the former, they face the infinite hatred of God against sin. For the latter, they encounter God's endless love and protection for his people. One experiences terror; the other experiences tranquility and joy. For the former, their only hope is to seek the salvation of God through the offer of his Grace in Christ. For the latter, their only fear is that they fail to grasp the true extent of God’s love and desire for us. The former only have a future of terror; the latter only have a future of eternal joy. The question is, which are we?