Reading For Friday Nahum 1:1-15
Nahum is the servant of God used to announce the destruction of Nineveh. Nahum is identified by his hometown Elkosh. The vision begins with a description of the sovereign Ruler of the world. Nahum stresses that God is jealous, echoing the description of Moses in Exodus 34. Jealousy causes God to act by pouring out his wrath which results in judicial reparation. Make no mistake, God is patient and slow to anger. He is not capricious, arbitrary, nor impetuous in the exercise of his wrath. His wrath is thoroughly planned and carefully placed. God is powerful, able to execute any threat no matter how unlikely or difficult. God is just, and he will not clear the guilty. He cannot exonerate the wicked. God is often depicted in the Old Testament as attended by a storm or whirlwind. Nahum sees him traveling across the clouds as though they were dust beneath his feet. God rebukes the sea and makes it dry. God dries up rivers while hills and mountains wither at his touch. Mountains quake and melt before the creator.
Two rhetorical questions press the truth that no man can stand before God when he comes for judgment. The fierceness of his anger is irresistible. The fire he pours out from on high smashes massive rocks. No mortal can stand before his wrath. God is a refuge and stronghold for the day of trouble, and he knows those who take refuge in him. The word know tells us that God is imminently personal. God is for his people. God’s power will be demonstrated in the total overthrow of the greatest power of that day. He will make a complete end of his adversaries. Nineveh would be destroyed, never to be reoccupied. To plot against Judah was in effect to plot against God. The Lord would “make a full end” of any nation which had the audacity to engage in such plotting. The Assyrians cannot successfully withstand the God of Israel. Nineveh would never again be able to oppress the people of God. One blow would forever seal the doom of Nineveh.
Nineveh would be cut down and disappear from the stage of world history. God had used Assyria as a tool to discipline his people. Now, however, the affliction of Judah by Nineveh would cease forever. God would break the yoke of oppression which had rested so heavily upon the shoulders of his people for more than a hundred years. The graven and molten images worshiped by the Assyrians would not be able to save themselves, let alone the shrines where they were housed. The judgment on Nineveh would expose the inability of the gods of the Assyrians, and God would dig the grave for the king. The news of Nineveh’s fall would be relayed toward Judah by messengers. The news of Nineveh’s fall in 612 B.C. would truly be good news. Paul would later use this to describe Gospel preachers (Rom 10:15). The faithful are exhorted to keep their feasts and fulfill their vows. Perhaps restrictions on temple worship during the Assyrian period made holding feasts and the fulfillment of vows virtually impossible. Nahum is not just gloating over the destruction of the enemy; he is rejoicing over the restoration of the pure worship of God. God’s honor, not Israel’s national pride, is the issue in this book. Assyrian armies would never again march through Judah, for the enemy of God’s people had been destroyed.
Things To Consider:
- Today, the remains of ancient Nineveh are located across the River Tigris, opposite Mosul in Northern Iraq. Does this fact have any effect on the book of Nahum? Why or why not?
- Why do you think people neglect to think about God's jealousy and wrath?
- How does our corrupted experience of jealousy and wrath make it difficult to apply this to God?
- How did God's judgment bring comfort to God's people? How does God's judgment bring comfort to you?
- Do you think God acts in the same way toward the nations today?
- What makes the gospel good news? What enemy was defeated? How do we have peace?