Scriptures

Nahum 1

Introduction

Whilst Jeremiah and Zephaniah were preaching judgment against Judah, the prophet Nahum was preaching judgment against Nineveh who were one of Judah’s enemies.

The northern kingdom of Israel was already in Assyrian captivity and Assyria itself was still a world dominating power. And so, Nahum preaches a very straightforward message which is, ‘the fall of Nineveh’.

Most commentators date his message to around 630-612 B.C, this is because in Nahum 3:8 he mentions Thebes which is in Egypt, and we know that Thebes was destroyed around 663 B.C. by Ashurbanipal.

You will notice that when Nahum speaks about Thebes, he writes about it in the past tense. In other words, it’s already been destroyed and so, he uses their example was a warning for the Assyrians.

We also know that Nineveh itself was destroyed in 612 B.C. and you will notice that Nahum writes about it in the future tense.

Nahum

The name Nahum, means, ‘God consoles,’ or ‘comforter’ which in a sense is very appropriate, yes it was bad news for Assyria but his message was intended to bring comfort to all those who were oppressed and afflicted by them, the people of Judah.

We also know that he was a prophet from Elkosh, which is situated in Galilee, we know that he died at the age of forty-five and was buried in his native land. Other than that information, we know nothing else about the Nahum.

Background

Back in Genesis 10:12-22 tells us about Assyria but during the time of writing, the Assyrians had become the world power of the day. Historians tell us that they were the most cruel and brutal, nation around at the time.

There have been many inscriptions found, which boast about a lot of kings who filled lands with the bodies of dead people and how they killed so many soldiers. In these inscriptions you can clearly see that they tossed their enemies aside like lumps of clay. They had pyramids which were made from human heads. The kings cut off people’s hands and nailed them to the wall, they fed dead bodies to the wild dogs. and used human flesh to cover their walls. Historians tells us that Ashurbanipal enjoyed ripping off people’s lips. G. L. Robinson. The Minor Prophets.

As with most world powers, they got to the stage where they thought they were invincible, especially the capital city of Nineveh. The city was surrounded on three sides by water and was built on top of the Tigris River-water way. The walls were 7 ½ miles in circumference and were thick enough for three chariots to go along side by side. It was professor Layard in 1845 who discovered the ancient ruins of Nineveh, now Iran.

We mustn’t lose sight of the fact that God actually cared for the Assyrians, God actually used the Assyrians to correct His own people, Isaiah 10:15. At one time they actually repented of their ways, Jonah 3, and slowly but surely, they had fallen back to their old ways.

The book itself is written like a poem or psalm and when we read through it, we see a great battleground between Assyria and God.

The message in the book is for and all about Assyria.

Outline

Nahum 1 speaks of God’s majesty.

Nahum 2 speaks of the city falling.

Nahum 3 speaks of the cause of its fall.

‘A prophecy concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite. The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and vents his wrath against his enemies. The LORD is slow to anger but great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebukes the sea and dries it up; he makes all the rivers run dry. Bashan and Carmel wither and the blossoms of Lebanon fade. The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it. Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him.’ Nahum 1:1-6

There’s no doubt who Nahum’s message was concerning, it’s all about doom and gloom for Nineveh, and God was using His prophet to deliver His message.

The KJV begins with the words, ‘The burden of Nineveh,’ which carries with it the idea of a heavy load. It’s the idea that Nineveh’s sins have now become such a heavy load that God will no longer allow the city to stand.

‘The LORD is jealous’ in the sense that He doesn’t want to compete with those imaginary gods, who people have created in their own minds so that they can fulfil their own desires. People today still want to worship the created instead of the Creator, Romans 1:25, but if we want to know God and His Word, then we must read His Word and closely listen to what He says.

God is the One who is going to take vengeance against the Assyrians, Romans 12:19. Yes, He used them to discipline His own people, the Northern Kingdom, at one time, Habakkuk 1:12-2:1, the problem was, the Assyrians just saw this as another group of people who they could destroy.

The other problem was that God was going to use Israel to bring about the Saviour of the world and so, He was now going to punish Assyria because of the way they treated His people, and so, still be able to bring the Messiah through Israel.

Oh, if only we can be as slow to anger as God is! God wasn’t acting out of impulse, He’s been patient with the Assyrians, He’s been patient to bring out His eternal plans and purpose with His people, 2 Peter 3:9.

Just because He’s patient doesn’t mean He becomes powerless, when God decided to act, He does so with His eternal plan in mind, Romans 2:3-5. Here, He’s working in the affairs of Assyrian nation. And make no mistake about it, when God decides to pour out His wrath upon His enemies, His enemies will suffer the consequences and there’s no escaping His judgment, Hebrews 9:27-28.

Nahum pulls no punches here as He glorifies God’s power to avenge. The Assyrians had pride in themselves and thought they were invincible. So, they are being reminded that Someone is stronger than they are and it’s Them who is and has control. They’re dealing with a God who has power over nature, He had rebuked the seas and the earth trembles at His presence.

No one can withstand His power, God was bringing destruction on them, Isaiah 10:5ff. Later we’ll read that this is exactly how they treated others, Nahum 3:10, and so, now it’s time to reap what they have sown. Bashan and Carmel were beautiful, Lebanon was known for strong trees, but Nahum speaks of it as being a wilderness and it’s all God’s doing.

We know that Nineveh was guilty because God says so on many occasions throughout this book. Coffman writes the following.

‘The guilty’. Nahum 1:3, are the ones God knows to be guilty.

‘God’s enemies.’ Nahum 1:8, are those who have revolted from him.

‘Plotters of evil.’ Nahum 1:9 / Nahum 1:11, are those who plan and execute evil.

‘The vile’. Nahum 1:14, are they who have sunken into bestiality.

‘The wicked,’ Nahum 1:15, are the vicious and reprobate.

‘The plunderers.’ Nahum 2:2, are the cruel, heartless spoilers.

‘The dishonest,’ Nahum 3:1, are the covenant breakers and thieves.

‘The rapacious,’ Nahum 3:1, are destroyers and exploiters of the innocent.

‘The insatiable seekers of gain’, Nahum 3:1, are grabbers and graspers.

‘The harlots.’ Nahum 3:4, are the pagans, the sensualists, those who will prostitute anything for wicked purposes.

‘The betrayers of weaker nations.’ Nahum 3:4, are the traitors, double-crossers, and deceitful liars.

‘The despicable.’ Nahum 3:5ff, are all of those mentioned above, plus any others of similar character.

‘The presumptuous.’ Nahum 3:8, are they who revel in the conceit that God will not punish them.

‘The disseminators of evil’. Nahum 3:19, are all of those who form a part of the cancer of wickedness eating at the vitals of the human race.

‘The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness.’ Nahum 1:7-8

Amidst all the doom and doom there is a message of hope for the individual, it’s a message of mercy. God really does care for those who put their trust in Him.

If Nahum’s message was heard by the Jews, this would certainly be reminding them not to worry because God always takes care of His own, Romans 8:28. He knows who trust Him and those who don’t, John 10:27.

The reference to ‘an overwhelming flood’, could be relating to one of two things.

1. It be could relating to the time when Sennacherib’s army surrounded Jerusalem and tried to conquer the city.

It was during this time that 185,000 of his soldiers died, 2 Kings 19:35, and so his plans to conquer the city came to a rapid end, Nahum 2:5-7 / Isaiah 37:33-34.

2. Another possibility and probably more accurate is that it’s a reference to the wave of armies that were led by the Babylonians that brought an end to Nineveh in 612 B.C.

In all of this we must remember that Nineveh was the world power house, they were filled with themselves, brutal towards their enemies and thought nobody could bring them down.

The Israelites on the other hand were a very small nation and would have stood absolutely no chance against them, but God was with them and if anyone could and would wipe them off the face of the planet, it was Him.

And when your up against the God of the universe you can be sure there is no hiding place, Psalm 139:7-8, nowhere to run from His wrath, Jeremiah 23:24.

The rest of the Nahum 1 basically says, to Nineveh, you had your first warning from Jonah and although you repented, after time, you turned back to your old ways and now it’s time for judgment.

‘Whatever they plot against the LORD he will bring to an end; trouble will not come a second time. They will be entangled among thorns and drunk from their wine; they will be consumed like dry stubble. From you, Nineveh, has one come forth who plots evil against the LORD and devises wicked plans.’ Nahum 1:9-11

Nahum’s message to the Ninevites is getting more personal for them, they obviously thought they could change their ways like they did the first time, they thought that it would happen again, but that simply wasn’t going to happen. God’s judgement is coming and there’s nothing they can do to stop it from happening.

The Ninevites have absolutely no chance of escaping God’s wrath, despite them thinking life will go on as normal, Jeremiah 13:9 / Jeremiah 13:13-14 / Habakkuk 2:5. Despite their strength and their fortified city and walls, God will burn them up like dry stubble.

Who is the one who will come forth?

Most commentators believe this to be Sennacherib who wanted to conquer Jerusalem and that’s simply because the Assyrians saw him as the most powerful king they had. When Sennacherib wanted to destroy Jerusalem during the reign of Hezekiah, Isaiah 36:16-20.

God’s power over the Assyrian army was too much for them and it only took one angel to kill 185,000 Assyrians in one night, 2 Kings 19:35. What happened back then was going to happen again to the Assyrians, God will judge them.

‘This is what the LORD says: ‘Although they have allies and are numerous, they will be destroyed and pass away. Although I have afflicted you, Judah, I will afflict you no more. Now I will break their yoke from your neck and tear your shackles away.’ Nahum 1:12-13

Here again we find a message of hope for Judah, the Assyrians won’t be able to control you any longer. 2 Kings 18:29-35 tells us that when God passed through the enemy’s camp, He destroyed them. Yes, the Israelites would be taken into captivity as slaves, but God over a period of time, will destroy their captors.

‘The LORD has given a command concerning you, Nineveh: ‘You will have no descendants to bear your name. I will destroy the images and idols that are in the temple of your gods. I will prepare your grave, for you are vile.’ Look, there on the mountains, the feet of one who brings good news, who proclaims peace! Celebrate your festivals, Judah, and fulfil your vows. No more will the wicked invade you; they will be completely destroyed.’ Nahum 1:14-15

Although Nineveh was a great city, their end was coming, as God is going to destroy the city, everything in it and its inhabitants completely. He basically tells them I’m going to be your undertaker, I’m going to the One who will bury you.

There’s no doubt, that there was good news bring proclaimed when Sennacherib’s army were destroyed, 2 Kings 18, but here, God is speaking about the destruction of Nineveh in 612 B.C.

Even today, when world leaders who are dictators, fall in war, the whole world celebrates as another ruthless leader becomes no more.

In other words, God’s strength is His enemies and they will lose, God will be doing it all through Babylon, 2 Kings 23:29-35.

It will be time to rejoice when the good news about Nineveh’s fall spreads, for Judah it was time to get back to following God and fully committing to His commands.

Paul speaks about the good news in Romans 10:15 and we find Paul quoting Isaiah 52:17 and Isaiah 40:52, that’s the text from which Nahum is quoting.

When Paul quotes this good news, he uses it to speak of our spiritual deliverance from Satan by Jesus, which really is the Gospel, the good news.

Application

There’s good news to be found in the fact that God cares for His people, especially from those who oppose His children. God loves us and knows us, Ephesians 2:4-7. He knows what’s going on all around us but more importantly, He is in control, 1 Timothy 1:17.

Nineveh once repented but went back to their old ways, and although God was patient with them, His patience finally ran out.

We must remember that God’s grace won’t last forever, we must act now in order to saved, 2 Corinthians 6:2. However, we too, like the Assyrians, must be careful not to let our pride get the better of us, James 4:6-7.

There are times when we’re tempted to become self-sufficient, when we look to ourselves for strength and wisdom, Revelation 3:17.

Go To Nahum 2

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus."

Philippians 4:19

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