Scripture reading – Nahum 1-3
Our Scripture reading today is the Book of Nahum. Only three chapters long and authored by the man whose name it bears, it is a book easily overlooked. Numbered among the minor prophets, Nahum was a servant and prophet of God of whom little is known. Because the prophetic content of the book is the destruction of Nineveh (Nahum 1:1), the ancient capital of the Assyrian empire, we can place the date of Nahum’s ministry in the 7th century B.C.
A century earlier, when Jonah was God’s prophet, Nineveh had been spared destruction when the king and the citizens of that city repented of their sins, but now for its abuses of Israel, Nineveh would not be spared. Nahum warned of imminent destruction of Nineveh, and the overthrow of the Assyrian empire by a coalition of the Medes and Babylon.
Nahum declared God’s holy nature (1:2-3) and warned the people that the LORD whom the prophet described as “jealous…furious… slow to anger (meaning, patient and longsuffering), and great in power, and [Just] will not at all acquit the wicked” (1:2-3).
In the midst of his prophecies against Nineveh (1:4-6, 8-14), Nahum reminded the people of Judah, “The LORD is good [altogether good; right], a strong hold [fortress; rock; place of safety] in the day of trouble [distress; affliction]; and he knoweth [perceive; understands; cares for] them that trust [confide; hope; flee to for protection] in Him” (1:7).
The Assyrian empire seemed invincible in Nahum’s day. Its borders encompassed Palestine and reached as far south as Egypt. Easton’s Illustrated Dictionary describes Nineveh, the Assyrian capital city:
This “exceeding great city” lay on the eastern or left bank of the river Tigris, along which it stretched for some 30 miles, having an average breadth of 10 miles or more from the river back toward the eastern hills. This whole extensive space is now one immense area of ruins. Occupying a central position on the great highway between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, thus uniting the East and the West, wealth flowed into it from many sources, so that it became the greatest of all ancient cities. (1) Illustrated Bible Dictionary: And Treasury of Biblical History, Biography, Geography, Doctrine, and Literature.
Nahum 2 describes the armies that God would draw upon to fulfill His judgment against Nineveh and the Assyrian empire. The prophet describes the invasion of Assyria (2:1-4) and the capture of the city and its leaders (2:5-13).
Nahum 3 gives us a vivid picture of Nineveh’s destruction and the slaughter of its inhabitants. Nahum 3:8-19 reminds us no nation, city, or people are too big, great or powerful to escape God’s judgment. Nahum ends with a question our own nation and leaders would be wise to ponder:
Nahum 3:19 – “There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?”
Nineveh’s wickedness, its idolatry and immorality, moved it beyond God’s patience and the city and nation were doomed. The evil the nation had committed against others would now fall upon that great city.
May that truth serve as a warning to our nation, institutions, churches and homes. Solomon writes the same truth in a proverb he taught his son.
Proverbs 14:34 – “Righteousness [moral uprightness] exalteth [elevates] a nation: but sin is a reproach[shame] to any people.”
Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith