Nahum 1:2 A jealous and avenging God is the LORD, the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries and rages against his enemies. 3 The LORD is slow to anger but great in power, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty.
Here the prophet Nahum describes God in stark, scary terms. God is “avenging and wrathful” who “will by no means clear the guilty”. In other words, while God may be merciful, God is also just. That means sin must be punished. Since we are all sinners, this is bad news.
Then in Revelation we get a different picture:
Revelation 14:12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and hold fast to the faith of Jesus. 13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who from now on die in the Lord.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.”
In the time Revelation was written there was much persecution happening toward Christians. People were imprisoned and even put to death for their faith. Here the writer offers a word of encouragement to those suffering for the name of Jesus. The “saints” (v.12) are not simply forgotten, and their sacrifices with them. Their “deeds follow them”. They, and their good deeds, are remembered in the life to come. How different than the Nahum passage, right?
The wonderful thing to consider is that these saints mentioned in Revelation were as we are – flawed, broken, sinful. They weren’t saints because of their perfection in the Lord, but because they had been redeemed and claimed as children of God through Christ Jesus. It is by grace that they have been saved, as is true of you and me.
Their sins and mistakes were forgiven and forgotten – while their acts of sacrifice for the gospel “follow them” into eternal life. As I think about my life I remember so many mistakes and struggles and acts against the will of God. They are too many to possibly number. If all these were counted against me I would be utterly without hope. I expect the same is true of you.
And yet by the grace of God in Christ Jesus we have hope. Our sin, confessed and laid bare before the Lord, is forgiven and remembered no more. We are made clean in the blood of Jesus. Thanks be to God! Amen.