No Nation is Too Big to Fail (Nahum 1)

Scripture reading – Nahum 1

Our chronological Scripture reading brings us to the Book of Nahum. Only three chapters in length, it is a book easily overlooked. The superscription to the book, Nahum 1:1, identified both the subject and the author: “1The burden [judgment] of Nineveh. The book of the vision [prophecy] of Nahum the Elkoshite [meaning the prophet was a citizen of Elkosh] (1:1).

Nahum is considered a minor prophet, indicating the book that bears his name is brief, but no less inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). While little is known of Nahum, much is known concerning the subject of his prophecy; Nineveh, the ancient capital city of the Assyrian empire (1:1). Because the prophetic content of the book is the destruction of Nineveh (Nahum 1:1), we can place the date of Nahum’s ministry in the 7th century B.C.

You may remember how the LORD had sent His prophet Jonah to Nineveh, nearly a century before Nahum (Jonah 1:2). Jonah, knowing the wickedness of Nineveh, longed to see the people of that city judged. Nevertheless, God spared Nineveh when the king and people of the city repented of their sins (Jonah 3:4-10).

A century later, Nineveh would not be spared God’s judgment. The prophet Nahum declared the imminent destruction of Nineveh, and the overthrow of the Assyrian empire by a coalition of the Medes and Babylon.

The Nature and Sovereignty of God (1:2-8)

Preaching with the authority of a man whose confidence was in the LORD, Nahum proclaimed the divine nature of God, saying: “2God is jealous, and the Lord revengeth[takes revenge], and is furious [rages]…He reserveth wrath for his enemies” (1:2).

“The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power [Almighty; great in power][He is Creator] The Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm [symbols of judgment], And the clouds are the dust of his feet. [He walks and rides upon the clouds; Psalm 68:4; Isaiah 19:1] 4He [rules] rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, And drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, And the flower of Lebanon languisheth. [Bashan, Carmel, and Lebanon were known for their fertile soils] [God is the sustainer of creation, and] 5The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, And the earth is burned at his presence, Yea, the world, and all that dwell therein” (1:3-5).

The LORD is Just and Good (1:6-7)

No man “can stand before [God’s] indignation” (1:6). “The Lord is good [altogether good; right], a strong hold [fortress; rock; place of safety] in the day of trouble; and he knoweth [cares for and understands] them that trust [confide; hope; flee to for protection] in him. (1:7).

Prophecy of Nineveh’s Destruction (1:8-11)

Nahum declared Nineveh’s destruction would be like “an overrunning flood” (1:8). History affirms Nahum’s prophecy was fulfilled literally and figuratively. That great city was destroyed by a flood of waters, when the Tigris River overflowed its banks and eroded the city’s foundations. The prophecy was also fulfilled figuratively, for the army of Babylon flowed into the city like a flood, and leveled it.

As prophesied, it was the “utter end” of Nineveh, for it would never be rebuilt (1:8-9). Verse 11 may be a reference to king Sennacherib, whose army destroyed Israel, but he was sorely defeated by God when he laid siege to Jerusalem (1:10-11).

Prophecy Concerning Judah (1:12-13)

God had used Assyria to afflict Israel and Judah for their disobedience; however, Nahum prophesied that nation would “be cut down” (1:12), and God’s people would no longer be afflicted by them. The LORD declared, “I break his [Assyria’s] yoke from off thee [Judah], And will burst thy bonds [chains] in sunder” (1:13).

Closing thoughts – Nineveh and Assyria would be destroyed, and there would be “no more of thy name be sown [no heirs]: Out of the house of thy gods will I cut off the graven image and the molten image [idols and gods destroyed]: I will make thy grave; for thou art vile” (1:14).

The people of Judah were promised the day would come when they would receive “good tidings, that publisheth peace!” (1:15a) Assyria would be no more, and Judah would be at peace. Once again, the people would enjoy their feast days, and worship the LORD freely (1:15b). “The wicked [would] no more pass through thee; He [Assyria] is utterly cut off” (1:15c).

Today, more than 2700 years later, the ruins of Nineveh lie as a testament to the judgment of God (lying across the river from the ruins of Nineveh, is the city of Mosul in today’s Iraq). The boundaries of that great city are estimated to have been some 30 miles in length, and 10 miles deep, serving a reminder to all people and nations who reject God:

No nation or people are too big to fail.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith