Last week during my devotional reading I came across this statement in Nahum:
Behold, I am against you, declares the LORD of hosts, and will lift up your skirts over your face; and I will make nations look at your nakedness and kingdoms at your shame. I will throw filth at you and treat you with contempt and make you a spectacle. (Nah. 3:5-6 ESV)
I can’t honestly say I’ve considered God lifting skirts over heads and throwing poo at those who would prostitute themselves (in this context the Assyrians specifically of Ninevah). What a strange description, but the punishment is really akin to the way the Assyrians treated Israel and the cities of Judah that were conquered and taken into captivity. Exposure of nakedness while being paraded down the street is something no one (unless they are out of their mind) wants done to them. To be defiled with poo is to be treated like garbage and made incapable of worship (not to mention relationships with those who have to see and smell you :-).
Once we remember that the prophet Jonah had already preached the judgment of God against Ninevah (not too many years before the prophet Nahum) and they had repented…then we understand that when they returned again to their whoring idolatry and defiling abuse of the nations (particularly the people of Israel and Judah) that God will judge them as they have judged others. This is something true of all of us and reminds me that in the same way I treat others I will indeed be treated (Luke 6:37-38). This is why we seek mercy rather than judgment (James 2:12-13 — not that judgment is absolutely excluded — 1 Cor. 6:1-3 — but it is always given in mercy). We must indeed pray: Father, forgive us our debts as we forgive others their debts against us (Matt. 6:12, 14-15)…