Welcome to our Bible Study Series on the Minor Prophets.
This is – Nahum, Nineveh’s Judgement:
Click on the link above for the study session. Find the notes below.
Nahum, Nineveh’s Judgement:
- Jonah and Nahum ultimately go together. Nahum’s predecessor, Jonah, was sent to the city of Nineveh to call them to repentance, but a 150 years later, Nahum was called to prophecy against the same city and announced its downfall.
- So Nahum’s preaching is not a call to repentance but it was a decree of death for an evil people who have worn out the patience of God. Yes, God is slow to anger, but Nahum sets forth the basis of God’s judgment against Nineveh as vengeance of a Holy God who is also great in power and reserves wrath for His enemies.
1. Nahum’s Setting:
- The Nineveh was a very big and fortified city. Its citizens believed that it was invincible. It had high walls with two hundred towers and encircled by a deep trench surrounding it. According to the prophet Nahum the city of Nineveh was powerless to stand before the wrath of Almighty God.
- The people of Nineveh have forgotten their revival and returned to their old habits of cruelty, violence, idolatry and arrogance. As a result, Babylon will so destroy the city of Nineveh that no trace of it will remain – a prophecy fulfilled in painful detail.
- Yet, the name Nahum means “comfort” or “consolation.” And his message of doom and destruction on Nineveh was undoubtedly a source of comfort to the people of Judah who had suffered at the hands of the Assyrians.
- According to 1:1, the prophet was called the “Elkoshite.” The precise location of Elkosh is unknown to us today but many scholars believe that Elkosh was a town in Southern Judah, between Jerusalem and Gaza. This would make Nahum a prophet of the Southern Kingdom and may explain his interest in the triumph of Judah, according to 1:15; 2:2.
- Now remember, if Nahum’s ministry took place 150 years after Jonah’s, Nahum’s prediction of the fall and destruction of Nineveh must have been delivered sometime before 612 BC, the year the Babylonians destroyed it.
2. Nahum’s Purpose:
- Now Nahum single-mindedly proclaims the doom of the Assyrian capitol of Nineveh. Among the reasons for the condemnation of the city are the cruelties of the Assyrian army – 2:12 – and the sins of the city – 3:4.
- The concern is this, the nature of God, specifically His wrath, His holiness, His justice and His power, makes it inevitable that His enemies will perish – 1:2-10.
- And with that, the single thrust of Nahum’s prophecy – 1:9 – the vengeance of God against the wickedness of Nineveh, their judgement cannot be reversed because the righteousness of God decreed it and He would not delay it any longer.
- See, Assyria’s cruelty and arrogance to other nations will come to a sudden end – their power will be useless against the mighty hand of JHWH.
- Now remember, the fall of the Northern kingdom is 722, so although this book deals with the downfall of Assyria it is also written to benefit the surviving Kingdom of Judah. The Northern Kingdom of Israel had long been destroyed by the Assyrians. The people in Judah who trusted in the Lord would be comforted to hear of God’s judgement upon the proud and brutal Assyrians – 1:15; 2:2. So it is both a book that declares judgement but it also testifies of hope.
3. Nahum’s Message:
- Nahum’s message is to proclaim God’s sovereignty in judgement and salvation – 1:7-8. The fact that JHWH is over the affairs of the world and its inhabitants clearly expresses the essence of His being. He is the universal God who relates judicially to those who oppose Him and He is merciful to those who seek refuge in Him.
- Nahum understood the theological issue that preoccupied his message. He points out clearly God’s wrath against the cruelty and wickedness of Assyria, but the prophet himself was never vindictive.
- Listen, God hates sin but He also loves His people. It is therefore the interpreter’s responsibility to accept the God Nahum brings to us in his book. No man dare to change God the way man would like Him to be but to accept God as He is.
- Now on a side note, Nahum and Jonah have much in common. Both were concerned with the city of Nineveh and its people. Both strongly believed in the sovereignty of God over the nations and nature. Both knew Him as a God “gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger.”
- Yet Jonah’s message highlighted the need for repentance, although he did not design it that way. But Nahum’s message did not call for repentance, it announced judgement.
4. The Book’s Application:
- Like Micah, Nahum can be divided into three sections:
- The Destruction of Nineveh decreed – chapter 1
- The Destruction of Nineveh described – chapter 2
- The Destruction of Nineveh deserved – chapter 3
- See, Nahum is one of three prophets who primarily focused on the judgement of Judah’s enemies, where Obadiah was focused on Edom, and Habakkuk (our next prophet) was focused on Babylonia.
- None the less, the book’s application message is as follows: The Christian can be sure that the wicked will not go unpunished and that vengeance belongs to God.
- Furthermore, our book teaches that:
- The Holy God will not let sin go unpunished
- We can leave vengeance to God
- God is good, slow to anger and great in power
- God is jealous, avenging and wrathful
- No wicked kingdom on earth can stand against God’s judgement
- Wrath is as much a part of God’s justice as is His mercy