the prophet Nahum delivered a message that he called “The burden of Nineveh” (Nahum 1:1, KJV, Tyndale 1987). this “burden” was not your typical prophecy; Nahum would not be preaching repentance. this foretelling was a message of irreversible doom. some 100 to 120 years earlier, God had sent Jonah with a well-received Word and a stayed fate by way of a great fish. perhaps one of the most extraordinary acts of mercy in scripture, next to Calvary. that moment of divine compassion was lost to history, and Nineveh “repented of their repentance,” becoming “worse than ever, a bloody city, and full of lies and robbery.” (Matthew Henry Complete Commentary, Verse 1, https://www.christianity.com/bible/commentary/mh/nahum/1). this prophecy was a decree of judgment against a people who had tasted the Lord’s salvation and then returned, like dogs, to their vomit.
Nahum, himself, remains somewhat of a mystery. his self-titled book declares him to be from Elkosh, a settlement reestablished in 1949 near the present-day Israeli-Lebanese border (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elkosh). there is some disagreement about the original location here, in southern Judah, or closer to Nineveh in northern Iraq. the book of Nahum mentions the fall of Thebes, but not its reconstruction, which places his writing between the years of 663 and 654 BC (Nahum 3:8). the Assyrian Empire, which had its capital at Nineveh, had a stranglehold on Judah during King Manasseh’s reign (2 Chronicles 33:10–13) (The Bible-Teaching Ministry of Chuck Swindol, https://insight.org/resources/bible/the-minor-prophets/nahum). Nahum’s name means “comforter,” which is highly ironic for Nineveh or maybe a prelude of things to come for ten tribes of Israel, already in Assyrian captivity. this meaning could also have prophetic implications for The Comforter and Jesus’ final victory over all the kingdoms of this world.
the prophet begins with a descriptive passage of Jehovah and His attributes. these are great and terrible metaphors of an all-powerful being that has reached His limit with the idolatrous, murderous, deceitful citizens of this once repented city. then right in the middle of telling of this vengeful sovereign, verse 7 happens. “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and he knoweth them that trust in him.” the Lord will destroy His enemies and restore the faithful; let those that trust in God be triumphant! let them keep their feasts and perform their vows!
chapter 2 begins the uprising against Nineveh by combined military forces, the Babylonians and the Medes. Nahum speaks of the ultimate destruction of the city and the capture of her queen. as mentioned here, all preparations for war will be in vain. there will be no victory for Assyria, for “I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts” (Nahum 2:13). God’s inflexible justice has squared off against insignificant idol worship. the Pulpit Commentary breaks down the complete emptying of Assyrian forces: I will burn her chariots in the smoke. “Chariots” stand for the whole apparatus of war and military power. Thy young lions refer to the fighting men. Cut off thy prey; they will no longer be able to pillage other countries. Thy messengers are the heralds who carried the king’s commands to his lieutenants or those who summoned nations to surrender and imposed tributes.
among many other destructive metaphors, chapter 3 outlines the sins of Nineveh. lies and robbery (verse 1), whoredom and witchcraft (verse 4), and continual wickedness (verse 19) are listed as their transgressions. God dealt with similar offenses in the countries of Ethiopia, Egypt, Arabia, and Libya (Nahum 3:9). verses 17 and 18 are two of the most revealing passages, in my opinion. “Thy crowned are as the locusts, and thy captains as the great grasshoppers, which camp in the hedges in the cold day, but when the sun ariseth they flee away, and their place is not known where they are. Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria: thy nobles shall dwell in the dust: thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them.” the population of Nineveh trusted their false gods, and here they find themselves facing destruction. they mistakenly placed their only hope in their leadership. the nobility, guardians, scribes, and captains; these all compared to insects in the presence of the Almighty. the faith they had in their fellow citizen is crushed, and those they looked up to “shall dwell in the dust” of death. so lonely a place, separated from everything you held to be true, and facing the wrath of a jealous God. the book of Nahum closes with the oppressed standing in ovation over the news of defeated brutes, rejoicing in the cleansing of such tyranny.
i can take several examples from Nahum as lessons to apply to my life and share them with others. primarily, keep God first in everything you do! God knows those that trust Him and is a stronghold in the day of trouble. bring good tidings, publish peace, keep the ordinances of the Lord, and remember your commitment to Him. next, stop trying to fight against God. you are only going to wear yourself out or destroy any resemblance to a repented state. when God confronts your iniquity, submit to His authority and surrender in humility. thankfully, we find ourselves in the dispensation of Grace with the ability to tap into rivers of mercy. mercy that is new every morning. lastly, we cannot place our trust in politicians or leadership apart from Godly counsel. agendas lead us down trails that God never intended us to go. a quick look at the headlines reveals sanctioned atrocities and immorality, disgusting acts that were inconceivable 50 years ago. now, we call evil good and good evil. all under the protection of various laws and litigation aimed to promote the satanic ideology.
God did not send another Jonah. He saw the city fall from the Grace afforded them. He allowed them to sink deeper in their transgressions. maybe another preacher feared to speak out, just as Jonah did before his trip to the deep. we will never know. how long will God allow the sins of this nation to continue before executing judgment? if we do not stand against immorality in these days of so great a harvest, will we ever make a stand? put your trust in Him. stand boldly on the mountain while the world caves in around you. one day you will rejoice in Jesus’ victory over the kingdoms of this world. the brutality will cease. the oppressors will no longer rule. oh, what a glorious day that will be!