The book of Jonah has the makings of a great movie plot. It contains a runaway prophet, a terrible storm at sea, the prophet swallowed by a great fish, God sparing the prophet’s life, and the repentance of a pagan city.
But Jonah’s sequel—the book of Nahum—might not be so popular. Nahum ministered in Nineveh just as Jonah had, but about 100 years later. This time, the Ninevites had no interest in repentance. Because of this, Nahum condemns Nineveh and proclaims judgment on the people.
To unrepentant Nineveh, the prophet preached: “The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked” (Nah. 1:3). But Nahum also had a message of mercy. To comfort the people of Judah, he proclaimed: “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him” (v.7).
We see in the stories of Jonah and Nahum that with every new generation comes the necessity of an individual response to God. No one’s spiritual life can be handed off to another; we must each choose to serve the Lord from our own heart. God’s message is as fresh today as it was hundreds of years ago: judgment for the unrepentant but mercy for the repentant. How will you respond?