Tag: Nahum

Nineveh’s Destruction Deserved

Nahum 3:1-19

Poisoning former spy and daughter in England; selling children to circus in Nepal; Russian military action against targets in Syria; Boko Haram kidnapping 110 schoolgirls in Nigeria; former president of South Africa charged with corruption; Rio city councilor assassinated. Patterns of oppression, slavery, violence, corruption sanctioned or practiced by governments around the world. Not on their reading list for sure, but everyone involved should read and heed Nahum’s prophecy in light of current events from Nahum’s day and their own.

Names / faces change, basic issues do not – reason… sin-corrupted hearts of men, women, boys, girls are problem. Anti-trafficking laws, more comprehensive monetary policies, improvements in national economies and the like are not solutions. Are only feeble attempts to deal with symptoms. Does not mean situation is hopeless… far from it. Nahum very good news for those who love God, desire justice. God by no means unaware of the facts, not powerless or disinterested… in fact, quite the opposite.

Remember: what we see taking place all around only portion of the whole. Another entire dimension where battle is raging between forces of good and evil, God and Satan. Yes, Satan was defeated at the Cross, but is only cornered not neutralized. Satan’s intent: do all he can to take everything he can away from Christ and bring under his control. Includes preventing growth of Christ’s kingdom, iow continued progress of God’s plan of redemption. Satan does not want people saved, does not want saved people to be effective or persevere.

Assyrian agenda to end worship of true God, divert all that worship to idols. Also intended to destroy Jewish identity, assimilating Jews into surrounding cultures. Samaritans to some degree result of that strategy. God did not intend for that to happen – God’s plan for Messiah to be born to Jewish mother and step-father who would save his people from their sins would take place. God would also use other agents of Satan to bring about the result God intended.

Same is happening on world stage in our day – God using all sorts of resources to remove hindrances to spread of Gospel, advance of Christ’s kingdom. May be moving in slow motion so we don’t recognize it, may not have (accurate) news about what is going on. God hasn’t changed, still carrying out his plan A. Here in Nahum, God graciously reveals details he could have kept to himself. Explains specifically why this level of judgment warranted by Assyrian history. Makes clear from Assyrian personal experience that what Nahum prophesied would indeed occur and that God will be ultimately responsible agent. Since fall of Nineveh an act of God’s judgment, not merely Babylonian expansionism, Assyria would not be able to mount successful defense. Should not hold out hope for reprieve, future rebuilding – destruction would be complete.

A. judgment is just v.1-4

violence

not just military that engaged in violence – had become characteristic of culture as a whole, default way of achieving goals

gun issues big in news now, but what about Brazil? “Brazil sees a 10th of the world’s homicides. The toll rose to 61,600 in 2016; police killed more than 4,200 people”, deadliest police force numerically in world

callous disregard for life and bloodshed is abhorrent to God, should be to those charged with maintaining law and order

bloodshed and the gain from it a mark of city of Nineveh itself, Assyria as a nation – would soon become their lot at hands of invading forces

deception

art of deceiving as widely practiced as violence – go-to tool Assyrian political and military leaders used with neighbors

negotiations commonly a sham, favorable treaty terms used to lull governments into complacency, as worthless to Assyrians as papyrus written on

too many examples in current events to pick from – individuals, business leaders, national governments with history of deception – most disturbing… gov’ts that deceive own people

this, too, behavior despised by God – the one who is light, truth hates deception and those who deceive… mark of Satan

brutality

known throughout their part of world for brutal treatment of captives / subjected peoples, barbaric practices to the extreme

bad enough to do it, add to that boasting about it… in stone… in both pictures and words, over several generations

Ashurbanipal, (r. 668-627 BC), practice of flaying displayed and commemorated in both carvings and official royal edicts

“I have made a pillar facing the city gate, and have flayed all the rebel leaders; I have clad the pillar in the flayed skins. I let the leaders of the conquered cities be flayed, and clad the city walls with their skins. The captives I have killed by the sword and flung on the dung heap, the little boys and girls were burnt.”

this horrible disregard for life offensive in extreme to God the author of life – practice of abortion no less disgusting to God

enslavement

more than once seen in other prophets place enslavement, called human trafficking today, had in Assyrian practice

not necessarily in it for money like Judah at times and some of her neighbors, more interested in free slave labor

families uprooted from homeland, resettled in places strange and far from home, expected in case of Jews to worship strange gods – spiritual enslavement bigger issue than physical

in recent past greatly disturbed by ISIS’ practices (Boko Haram a branch) – not so much indignation over their real agenda: enslavement to god and false worship of Islam

are presently nations where speaking against leader treated as blasphemy, a capital offense – God not pleased

since Adam and Eve first enslaved by sin, God has been about setting people free, giving only Son for that purpose

B. judgment is certain v.5-11

again… “I am against you”

God’s response then the same as now – he is against those who behave as Assyrians did, will actively oppose their agenda

God’s holy character will not permit him to ignore / overlook “in your face” rebellion like theirs – has perfect time to respond

God himself Assyria’s mortal enemy

not the Babylonians, God who through their agency will humble and ultimately destroy Assyrians – no chance he will fail

important encouraging reminder – we don’t need to look for particular human agents to take down repressive gov’t, God uses who he chooses

destruction as certain as Thebes’

one of greatest cities in Egypt, center of religious worship, national capital for a time – overthrown by Ashurbanipal 663 BC

Nineveh thought itself safe from overthrow as Thebes had… previously – God through Nahum assures Nineveh its turn coming

C. resistance is useless v.12-17

defenses without strength

Nineveh / Assyria would try to defend, would not be able to withstand good shaking – would fall from their place

would behave in uncharacteristic ways for number of reasons – bully doesn’t know how to respond to resistance, aggressors not skilled as defenders

most important reason: God’s strength aligned with opposing side – fiercest soldier powerless against fury of God

without courage

incapable of fighting against determined enemy – instead of fighting, will run and hide, looking for refuge in other city

pictured as stumbling around with no coherent plan of defense, without hope, no courage only fear that in their case was fully justified – their enemy was God

really doesn’t matter what Russia has for new invincible missile (NATO’s nicnkame for it: Satan 2) – if God ever tells Russia “I am against you”, their weapons will not make up for lack of courage

without supplies

locusts devastate large area in little time – Nineveh’s supply line would be cut off, available resources consumed quickly

everything they depended on for protection and provision would fail them – would run out of food and water, all they had acquired by evil ways would not meet their needs

without leadership

even military leaders would have no plan, no strength, no courage – at time of greatest need will not be anywhere in sight

D. destruction is complete v.18-19

an incurable wound

Nineveh pictured as devastated city – walls destroyed, gates burned, no defenses, no people, no supplies no hope

some things destroyed then rebuilt, come back better / stronger – not to be Nineveh’s future, destruction would not be reversed

we take it hard when doctor says no cure for what you have – for Nineveh, is God giving diagnosis, no need for 2nd opinion

a fatal injury

hard enough to hear no cure, then given word “it’s terminal” – this too from God himself, waste of time to look for options

God is longsuffering, has his limits – Assyria had reached limit God had set, just like Canaanites (Gen. 15:16), time God purposed to bring judgment on evil people

that limit: in part, their degree of evil and harm it was doing to innocent people; in part, how far agenda against plan of redemption had progressed

all will rejoice at her defeat

is genuine rejoicing at progress and promotion of evil by an evil government brought to an end – is right to be joyful when God brings about justice

as our world gets smaller, fewer players have larger roles, will be good for prudent national leaders to remember Nineveh

the church rejoices

we can rejoice now at what God did regarding Nineveh – it has direct bearing on us and our eternal future given their agenda

we should rejoice to know God not only has plan of redemption, plan includes how / when he will deal with enemies

if God didn’t do that, church would have been destroyed generations ago – we do not have necessary resources to overpower Satan and his agents — only way we can resist the devil is with God’s continual help and our dependence on him

“Nahum emphasizes the same truth that was declared by the prophet Amos: God punishes cruel nations that follow inhumane policies and brutal practices (Amos 1—2). Whether it’s practicing genocide, exploiting the poor, supporting slavery, or failing to provide people with the necessities of life, the sins of national leaders are known by God, and He eventually judges. If you question that fact, go and search for Nineveh.” Wiersbe

So… that means for us… Christ is building his church. His kingdom will eventually include those redeemed by his blood “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation”. (Rev. 5:9) Proclaiming Gospel will be effective.

I Am Against You

Nahum 2:1-13

What is pictured here ultimately war between God and Satan, didn’t end with overthrow of Nineveh / Assyria. (cf. Dan. 10:13) No hint anywhere in Bible of end to this conflict… before the end. Consistent portrayal in Bible opposite of that – spiritual conflict will increase in intensity as time passes, especially as approach end of this age. Satan certainly powerful being, access to many resources – fallen angels / demons, human agents, temporal resources. At same time, available resources are finite, further limited by God’s sovereign rule.

Both comfort and warning – comfort to know, be frequently reminded: God rules. Warning that as frustrations, reversals, limitations mount up day by day, intensity of Satan’s anger and opposition builds. One reason Paul told saints in Ephesus:

Eph. 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Judah’s struggle against harassment of superpower Assyria, later Babylon. But was not only against those earthly powers – was struggle between people of God and spiritual forces of wickedness, the power behind the superpower. Same conflict continues today, manifested in numerous ways: ISIS, Boko Haram, nation states of North Korea and others. What we have in Nahum relevant reminder – God does not react to circumstances. God does not react to anything, has no need to do so – omniscient sovereign God knows all things and simply carries out his eternal plan in time and space. Didn’t decide on particular day that Assyria had crossed some sort of line and he needed to respond. Had his plan from before creation (Eph. 1:4), is completely comprehensive one. God here informing Nahum and audience about some of details of that plan that would surely be implemented in near future.

Fast-paced, intense, graphic description of what God has decreed will occur when Babylon makes its move on Nineveh.

A. Man the fort! v.1-2

totally unprecedented / unexpected

empire actually collection of smaller kingdoms mostly kept under control by resettlement, intimidation, burdensome taxation

no one had mounted serious military offensive against Assyria yet – most armies not capable of it, designed for defense – Assyria first to use army to enlarge territory

had their sources of information – remember Rehum and Shimshai, what they tried to achieve by feeding disinformation back to King Artaxerxes, stopped work on the temple

many reasons to think were basically invulnerable to attack… besides, gods were on their side, their king was king of world

credible and serious threat

watchmen not prepared at all for what they saw – did respond correctly, sounded alarm calling to battle stations

would take everything they had nearby to effectively defend city – probably only relatively small portion of army there, rest out on different deployments

seems attacking forces came from multiple directions, had to be alert to several dangers at different locations

not only danger from those approaching by several different roads, also risk from Tigris River and tributary Khosr River

Tigris along western side of city, Khosr at right angles, dividing city in two; Sennacherib had walls built to contain Khosr, keep from flooding parts of the city

watchmen’s tone of voice intended to get immediate attention – delay would only further endanger city, residents

needed reminder

v.2 primarily for benefit of Judah, poke in eye of any Assyrians listening – not only would Assyrian threat be removed, what they damaged would be restored

God has power to undo harm enemies do to his people – as expected with God, restored to better than before

God would return to Israel the things that made her great, incl. what would be necessary for comfortable daily life

any legacy Assyrians might hope to leave would be erased – record of their exploits buried under rubble of destroyed capitol

God’s purpose to protect his people from harm while dealing with their enemies – no unnecessary collateral damage

even when situation looks impossible, God can change hardest of hearts, move friend or enemy to do his bidding – no idea where will end up but… appearance of positive movement in NKorea

pray diligently is genuine, opportunity not squandered on trivial things, results in God’s glory and good for NK Christians

B. They’re here! v.3-10

intensity

has more the flavor of blitzkrieg than military engagements from earlier in our history – “military tactic calculated to create psychological shock and resultant disorganization in enemy forces through the employment of surprise, speed, and superiority in matériel or firepower”

little concern about civilian casualties – battle in streets of the city, horses and chariots mowing down anything in the way

high speed action, compared to lightning bolts, flashes of lightning – not simple intimidation, backed by real force intent on doing real damage to gain the day

urgency

commander of defending forces calls up every available resource, any person and weapon that can be used against enemy

officers aren’t as much help as should be – were asleep / partying / unprepared for quick action, unsure of how to act

had been trained, were experienced as aggressors not defenders – now gaining firsthand experience, treated like they had done to others

here’s the kicker… the river, being diverted / used to damage protective wall – both diversion, strategic opportunity

everything Assyrians had trusted in either failed them or used against them – guaranteed outcome by God’s design… for all mankind who reject true God

utter defeat

Nineveh, once a peaceful city, turned into place of total chaos – everyone running for their lives, including perhaps military

attackers turned loose, given “permission” to strip city of its wealth – everything Assyria had gained illicitly taken away

if drone with camera to fly over Nineveh would see only “destruction, devastation, and desolation” (v.10, NET) – what conquering army left behind soon obliterated by natural forces

throughout city see those unable to escape – “​​​​​​​​​​​​​Their hearts faint, ​​​​​​their knees tremble, ​​​​​​each stomach churns, each face turns pale!” – all-encompassing hopelessness and fear

a circumstance that can result from things other than military action – people we encounter in daily life in similar situation

turn to variety of solutions, most common being substances and suicide – should be prepared to recognize and offer hope

C. It’s over v.11-13

no remnant for Assyria

the place where superpower’s capitol, center of authority located… empty – how can that be, who could have done this

for certain, God used human agents… in this case, Babylonian army to overthrow Assyrians not once but twice – 2nd time at Carchemish, trounced Assyrian / Egyptian combined army – still studied in military schools

yet full explanation of what took place mandates inclusion of God in picture – more than military defeat, was complete removal of Assyrian identity from world stage

God repeatedly promised Israel a remnant – no matter what else might happen to them as a people, he would preserve some

opposite is indicated for Assyria – survivors would be assimilated into neighboring cultures, influence would cease

lex talionis

Assyrians not only first military superpower, had maintained their position by intimidation and fear – most cruel, barbaric, brutal of any toward peoples they subdued

also required huge payments of tribute, payment for protection – in reality designed to oppress subjects so they could not assert independence, mount opposition

“the principle or law of retaliation that a punishment inflicted should correspond in degree and kind to the offense of the wrongdoer, as an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”

Assyrians would experience firsthand similar treatment to what they had dished out to others – lose possessions, homes, freedom

instead would live in fear of what might come next, destitute of all possessions, no glimmer of possible change for better

sentence of doom

more in final chapter – God determined to stop Assyria in tracks because their agenda directly opposed his plan of redemption

declares his purpose through Nahum – destroy Assyrian military might, end their ability to intimidate including next generation of leaders, silence those who would speak on their behalf

what an awful statement: when God of armies says “I am against you” – final sentence against nation of Assyria

necessary because God intended his redemptive purpose to continue unhindered – included continuation of proper worship

Good to remember: although God’s plan sounds harsh and excessive, he is never unjust. No Assyrian man, woman, boy or girl went to Christ-less eternity by accident. God deals with nations, at same time he deals with individuals – never mixes things up, never misses carrying out his purpose.

Not popular sentiment in many circles, but truth is God is against his enemies and the enemies of Christ’s church. God knows their plans, will use their actions ultimately for his glory and the good of his church. For that we should rejoice. Not because we are somehow special or smart. Just as deserving of judgment as Assyrians… until God by his grace changed us. Yet even most determined enemy of Christ and his church has fixed limits on what he can achieve, enforced by God himself. Christ will continue to build his church, advance his kingdom until day he returns.

Nineveh’s Destruction Decreed

Nahum 1:1-15

“God’s not mad at you, He’s madly in love with you. There’s nothing you can do to change His love for you. If you’ve been away from God, turn to Him & receive His love today!” 10K Likes, Victoria Osteen, Facebook

Not a message that would have met credibility requirements for giving to Assyria. God was justly angry with Assyrians, intended that they should know it. Had already sent Jonah to them, that time heard warning and repented. This time a different story – at least on national level would be no repentance, no deliverance from God’s judgment. Important to note: rise and fall of empires part of God’s plan, using sinful desires of pagan kings and military leaders to bring about his purpose. Was not popular rebellion or revolution but national armies as ultimately overseen by God that brought end to repressive governments.

Is also important message for today’s world: God has not mellowed with age, has not become more tolerant with passage of time. Those who stake out position of hostility against God are at great risk of his wrath. 2x in 1 John (4:8, 16) “God is love” – “liberals” like to focus on that, minimize or ignore other facets of God’s character. John not kidding, exaggerating, but must be understood in light of all of Bible… includes plain truth about God’s vengeance and wrath directed toward his enemies.

Think about it this way: if you are committed enemy of God and “He’s madly in love with you”, what do you have to fear? Why should you change, why repent if no risks to continued hostility? God’s wrath toward those who plot against him and God’s loving care of his people feature prominently in Nahum’s burden. Both should be part our conversations with lost people too.

A. burden v.1

big deal, big principles

not clear just how much Nahum understood of world affairs, how God’s plan for Nineveh / Assyria would shake things up

probably seemed to him / countrymen that nothing could stop Assyria, superpower of ancient world – was precisely what God had in mind… and more

not only would God orchestrate end to Assyrian expansion, a different nation all together would take its place at the top

principles involved far more significant than simply politics or economics or military superiority – contest for world domination

was going to be a “big” response by God – destruction of capitol city, overthrow of empire, end to way of life – Nahum’s job to announce that

religious war

report from 2014, findings at Sennacherib’s palace in Nineveh

At the beginning of the canal system are giant stone wall carvings in which Sennacherib brags about his invention and equates himself with the gods. The aqueduct features similar notations, with Sennacherib essentially signing his name to the achievement like a painter would sign his canvas, along with the not so humble descriptor, “the king of the world, the king of the land of Assyria.”

report from 02/23/2018 describing aftermath of fighting/occupation in Mosul area of Iraq:

Seven clay tablets, found in a palace hidden under the Tomb of Jonah (blown up by ISIS) in the northern city of Mosul, describe the rule of a king named Esarhaddon.

“The palace of Esarhaddon, strong king, king of the world, king of Assyria, governor of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the kings of lower Egypt, upper Egypt and Kush”

Another of the tablets says that Esarhaddon ‘reconstructed the temple of the god Aššur [the chief god of the Assyrians],’ rebuilt the ancient cities of Babylon and Esagil, and ‘renewed the statues of the great gods’.

The texts say Esarhaddon is the son of Sennacherib, who reigned over Assyria from 704–681 B.C, and a descendent of Sargon II, who was also ‘king of the world, king of Assyria’

this kind of conflict a heavy burden for prophet of God – not just him and his friends under attack, God he loved also

desire for justice

Nahum would want his God vindicated, his God’s enemies dealt with, iow wanting justice to prevail… which would be good for Israel – provide relief from harassment

Nahum well aware of potential human cost – many lives lost however God chose to stop Assyrian advances, could include some of his own people

hard spot to be – heavy burden for sensitive prophet, wanting justice and right but not desiring lost people to die lost

B. display of God’s character v.2-8

actively jealous

the fierce determination of God to tolerate no rival whatsoever” Renn – Assyrians setting up / promoting rivals to God

“determination of God” accompanied by commitment to action – not hasty in response, not frustrated or paralyzed either

intervenes / directs affairs of men toward two possible outcomes – become friends, further hardened enemies… no middle ground… ultimately heaven or hell

furiously angry

not an “over the top” out of control anger like people exhibit – this a measured just response to willful sin against holy God

sinful people tend to overreact, hence lex talionisonly eye for eye, not arm and leg, too – we are to respond as God would

Nahum pictures God as letting loose his righteous anger against enemies who would topple God from throne if possible

actively in charge

sovereign in more than name – God himself goes to war against those who were warring against his church… and will win

two accounts in OT and NT – Josh. 5:14, “Commander of th earmy of the Lord”; Rev. 19:11ff ” He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. …the armies in heaven …followed him”

able to do all his pleasure because all nature willingly subject to his rule… earth itself shakes at his approach – imagery of tornado, drought, earthquake, mudslides, volcanic eruption

perhaps not strictly imagery to make a point – probably is more of God’s hand directly at work in natural catastrophes than even Christians readily admit… because fail to recognize sinfulness of sin

good

Nahum makes sure to give “balanced” presentation of God – yes, all this true about wrath/judgment, will come back to that, but….

for those who trust God, needed reminder – don’t forget even when things look hopeless, looks like maybe even God is against you, he is good

God is good and he does good – all he does is for own glory and good of his church… those he knows who trust in him

at same time, keep in mind he is not indulgent grandfather type – God quite capable of wrath to enemies, goodness to friends

C. display of God’s power v.9-12a

completely stopped

whatever Assyria is plotting will be stopped, completely neutralized – important detail: plotting really against God, not just national enemies

really Psalm 2 in action: read v.1-6

even world superpowers not above God’s control, his judgment when they get too far out of line… toward God and his church

consumed

will not satisfy God’s just anger to simply confine these enemies within boundaries – will be removed, lose their identity

whether they object or not, will be assimilated into other surrounding people groups, no longer identified as independent nation

will not be long drawn-out process – drunkard doesn’t take long to get drunk, dried stubble burns almost instantly – think CA wildfires, how rapidly they advanced

cut down

ones at the top – Sargon, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, etc – believed were above harm, advance of armies could not be stopped

God would show them otherwise – in fact, top conspirators would be “cut down”, iow, one way or other die unexpectedly

Putin announced new nuclear ICBM claimed travels 20x speed of sound, unlimited range, cannot be intercepted or shot down – may think that makes him invulnerable… not from God’s vantage point

D. display of God’s mercy v.12b-15

afflicted no more

hugely important message of hope for those in seemingly hopeless situation like Judah – troubles not going to last forever

God gives reason why: his disciplinary action will have achieved purpose – is God who has afflicted them, he will bring to end

freed from bondage

God looking at temporal circumstances of his people, takes pity on them – declares his purpose to free from slavery

as at time of Exodus, God’s purpose not only to relieve physical suffering – intends his people to give over idolatry

expects them when freed from God-denying Assyrian threat to return to true worship of true God – encouragement to do that whole purpose of their “affliction”

aside to Sennacherib

another reminder to Assyrian king of who really is King of kings, God over all gods… and it’s not him

God’s intentions both individual and national – nation/empire of Assyria will come to end, so will godless line of kings

reassurance for Judah

all this action on God’s part another incident when he shows faithfulness to Old Covenant made with the fathers

dealing with Assyria purposeful action by God so that at same time could show favor and kindness to Judah

shows triumph of Gospel over slavery in sin, too – is the good tidings that bring peace, that declares our enemy the wicked one is defeated enemy

just as surely as Assyrian empire came to end by God’s decree, so Satan’s kingdom will come to an end and he will be utterly cut off, able to cause harm no more

God is still on his throne today, watching over his people, aware of their fears and frustrations. Same warnings to godless people apply, so does same gospel. God will be “a stronghold in the day of trouble” for all who trust in him. He can be counted on to deal with various world powers who would try to set themselves in God’s place. In way of his choosing, God will make clear who is really in charge, he will not tolerate conspiracy against him or harassment of his people forever. Means we can sleep nights knowing God is wide awake and on duty.

A Burdened Prophet

Nahum 1:1-15

Are told very little about author of present book #7 in collection of Twelve minor prophets. Are some important clues found in 47 verses, help us understand some about devoted servant of God. Discovering some details about writer helps understanding of his writing… even though guided by Holy Spirit. Like remaining authors of Book of the Twelve, Nahum lived in troublous times – surrounded by violence, flagrant disregard for true God, widespread uncertainty. Had spent much of his life under rule of Manasseh, king for 45 years (687-642) and evil son of Hezekiah. Manasseh’s legacy so offensive to God he declared: “I will hand them over to trouble, to all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem.” Jer. 15:4

Sound like maybe Nahum a man with message for today? As bad as Manasseh, and he was evil, somewhat paled in comparison to Assyrian counterparts – Sargon, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, Ashurbanipal some of most notorious. Had agenda to show Israel futility of staying loyal to their God – anti-theistic worldview major incentive behind their military activity. Also significant factor legitimizing atrocities perpetrated as part of warfare. During time of Nahum’s ministry Assyria the world’s superpower – first one to use military force to acquire territory, expand their empire. Capital of Assyria at that time: Nineveh… Nahum given task of prophesying Nineveh’s downfall and complete destruction. Not just the city on opposite bank of Tigris from Mosul, Iraq that would cease to exist. Downfall of Nineveh to be followed soon after by Assyrian Empire… succeeded by Babylonians.

So what can we learn about Nahum and short book he has left to us?

A. introduction

who – Nahum, “comfort”

like number of Bible names, is shortened form of familiar other name – Nehemiah (comfort of Yahweh) – Nahum would both receive and give comfort

was man given hard message to declare, one that would be hard for many to hear – life going to get real different soon

at same time, message would bring comfort to both Nahum and faithful believers in his audience – God’s gracious, yet just character on display

when – 7th cent. BC

Jonah – first half 8th c.; Isaiah – second half 8th c.; Nahum – between fall of Thebes 663 BC, fall of Assyria 612 BC

refers to fall of Egyptian city Thebes (No Amon) as something from recent past – Nah. 3:8ff – all hearers should remember

speaks to King of Assyria as facing end of his rule, something that has not yet occurred, yet what is sure to take place

Nahum speaks like one who has clear grasp of current events – in touch with his culture, also informed of things taking place 500 mi. away in Egypt

Isaiah a great influence

numerous parallel expressions of thought between Nahum and Isaiah – for example: Nah. 1:15 and Isa. 52:7

Nahum very familiar with content of Isaiah’s prophecy – not likely he went to a church where preacher got sermon material from Reader’s Digest or Guideposts

either had direct access to Isaiah scroll… or heard it read and expounded regularly… and remembered well enough to repeat it

Nahum had own message to declare different from Isaiah’s – not simply copying to fill up time, instead using properly in proper context as part of his own teaching

for Nahum to quote scripture that readily and freely, he had to possess good knowledge base and spiritual understanding

Isaiah most Gospel-oriented of major prophets – no surprise redemption features prominently in Nahum’s message

focus: “burden against Nineveh”

by no means a “feel good” message Nahum given to deliver – for conscientious servant of God, this kind of message truly heavy one to carry

Nahum had pretty good idea what would mean – great loss of life, further barbaric behavior, loss of possessions / livelihood – his countrymen object of at least some, Assyrians would be devastated

Nineveh capital of Assyrian super-power empire – huge city, populated suburbs, tens of thousands of people, lose everything

in one way great relief to know Israel’s tormentors would receive their due – yet daunting task to be the guy in front, telling the enemy of his total defeat

no way for Nahum to know – would message move Assyrians to further ridicule, attempts at revenge, maybe both… and he is first in line to take an arrow

B. complement and supplement to Jonah

significant theme – rebellion vs redemption

Jonah’s rebellious intention to thwart God’s redemptive purpose for Nineveh (individual) – God made perfectly clear: no dice

God committed to carrying out his purpose for Nineveh, not only in spite of Jonah’s reluctance, actually overcoming it

plainly God not only can, he will use his choice of instrument to do his work whether they agree with God’s purpose or not

in fact, God used instrument deserving judgment for rebellion to warn Ninevites, turn them to repentance / redemption

Judah’s rebellious intention to thwart God’s redemptive purpose for them (national) – as w/Jonah, God gets his way

no matter what children of Israel thought about Assyria, Judah just as lost as Nineveh and as deserving of God’s wrath

God intended to bring about justice in destruction of Nineveh – time for mercy earlier, God not longsuffering indefinitely… esp. when nation in active and worsening rebellion

surely things like size, power, international importance no concern or hindrance to God and his eternal purpose

hint to Judah – no reason to doubt God both could and would do similar to Israel as to Assyria if persist in willful rebellion

God both merciful and just

in Jonah’s day and for while after God showed great mercy to Nineveh – they repented, God took as sincere, held judgment

was only temporary change of direction – returned to former ways of believing and living, now determined to overthrow not just nations but God himself (Nah. 1:11)

at point where God needed to act so as to preserve his reputation – would deliver justice to Assyria, using Babylon as agent

war against Assyria for wrongs they had committed not unjust – means God used to relieve the oppressed, bring about justice

prophet’s task easy and hard

v.1-2 vs v.15 – got to deliver complex message of both doom and glory – depended on which side of obedience to God

good reason to rejoice God would deal with his adversaries – means superpower harassing children of Israel would receive justice, Jews would experience relief from tormentors

great comfort when faced with seemingly invincible enemy – even Assyrians no match for God and his power

Israel’s trip to exile not end of story – would be time of eventual restoration, peace – both parts of message easy to give

at same time were those within Israel to whom message of judgment should apply – is a hard one to tell family and friends

C. call to repentance

Jonah called Nineveh to repent

was not explicitly stated but know from results was what God had in mind – intended Jonah’s warning to be wake-up call

certainly not what Jonah wanted – his desire for Gentile dogs to experience God’s wrath in full, not a hint of mercy, but God overruled… for their good and his glory

Nineveh “calls” Judah to repent

Nineveh and Assyrians one more object lesson for people of Israel – God is longsuffering, yet won’t put up w/ Israel endlessly

God making clear if they refused to repent, they would likewise receive justice from him, no longer mercy and grace

God had not in Nahum’s day reached point of no return for Israel – door to repentance still open, they should take it, quickly

God commands everyone to repent – Acts 17:30-31

call to repentance is ongoing… since the Garden: “Adam, where are you? what have you done?” – continues today, will until moment Lord Jesus appears

Paul’s declaration had urgency to it, 2000 years ago – God’s appointed day that much closer, our sense of urgency should be even greater

passage of time compounded by humanity’s pursuit of evil, ease by which multitudes declare atheism or idolatry

many seem to take Israel’s position: we’re Christians, God won’t hurt us… while they disobey him, chase after other gods

whether Jesus comes back or God uses some other means, should impress on all we can: “Today is the day of salvation”

D. Nahum’s “sermon text”Revelation 19:6

“And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!”

comfort

for child of God, circumstances are secondary – God rules; true whether a superpower or teen w/assault rifle threatens

not talking about that fact making us feel better (consolation) – truth that strengthens, gives hope, invigorates, encourages

spurs people of God on to greater faithfulness, devotion, confidence, commitment to doing what advances Christ’s kingdom

conviction

knowledge of God’s absolute power and authority along with knowing how he treats adversaries should have prompted soul-searching among Israelites

all of that plus further knowledge we have about Jesus’ return should do same for us… individually and nationally

can and should pray that people in other places where governments are even more evil, bent on atheism would be convicted of their sin

correction

change of behavior for Israel from bottom to top Nahum’s desire, what earnestly hopes prophetic message will achieve

knowledge that God who has all power rules over his creatures and their actions should cause his professed friends to turn from rebellion, submit to God’s authority

for that to occur… must be change of heart – one who has all power must take away “burden” of sin and sinfulness

“It is only within the precincts of God’s eternal redemptive purposes in Christ that there is the power necessary to tame the desperately wicked heart of man, whether individually or nationally.” Charles Parker

The only solution for evil people and the evil things they do is found in power of Gospel applied by Holy Spirit, converting sinners to saints, enemies to friends. By God’s grace we can be instruments of his actively involved in spreading good news of hope and comfort through faith in Christ.