“Nahum is a book of prophecy against Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. The prophet describes the cruelty of the Assyrians as they conquered nation after nation. He predicts the siege and destruction of Nineveh and the end of the kingdom of Assryia”–Taken from Introduction to Nahum, NIV Bible.
Comment: “At the height of Nineveh’s power, on the eve of its sudden overthrow, Nahum appeared with this prophecy, called by some, “Nineveh’s Death-Song,” a “Cry of Humanity for Justice.” – Halley’s Bible Handbook
“Nahum” means “Comfort.” The message of this book is also comforting to the people of Judah. The highlight of this comfort is found in Nahum 1:7 which reads, “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him” (NIV). It is interesting to note that “Capernaum” the city where Jesus did many miracles, means “village of Nahum (comfort).” Very near this place was Elkosh where Nahum was born.
I The Context
God had sent Jonah 150 years before the time of Nahum to Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire with a message to repent. The people repented and God relented from the disaster He had planned to bring on them. Yet it is evident that their repentance did not last long. They continued their cruel ways. So now God was proclaiming through Nahum judgement upon Nineveh. Remember that when people continue to reject God’s mercy, then judgement is sure to come.
II The Structure of the Book
Dr. Henrietta C. Mears divides the Book of Nahum into three easy-to -understand segments. We will try to follow this train of thought. She says that Micah first of all presents God as The Judge and in the next segment talks about The Verdict and in the final section talks about The Execution of that Verdict.
II A. The Judge (Nahum 1:1—7)
“In Nahum 1, we see God the holy Judge on the bench of the court of heaven judging the wicked city of Nineveh. The case is presented. This God is a just God, therefore He must avenge all crimes . . . There is a two-fold revelation of the character of this Judge of all the world . . . This lesson gives us an excellent opportunity of presenting the attributes of God.”
“As Judge, God:
1. Is jealous
2. Is avenging
3. Is filled with wrath at evildoers
4. Maintains wrath against His enemies
5. Is great in power
6. Will not leave the guilty unpunished
7. Is indignant.
As Father, He is:
1. Slow to anger
2. Good 3.
A stronghold in the day of trouble
4. Knowing them that trust Him.”
“The first eight words of the vision are awe-inspiring, `The Lord is a jealous and avenging God.’ To think of God like this makes us examine ourselves. We will find that there is no righteousness in us”
II B. The Verdict (Nahum 1:8—14)
1. Condemned to utter destruction—1:8, 9
2. Captured while defenders were drunk—1:10
3. Name blotted out—1:14 4. God to dig her grave—1:14
“Nahum told of this destruction as prophecy. We look at today as history. Yes, the Judge brought everything to pass. Today the traveller finds this great city Nineveh of the past still lying in ruins.”
II C. The Execution (Nahum 2—3)
“The picture of the siege and fall of Nineveh and the desolation that followed are described with graphic eloquence in Nahum 2—3. God would make an end of her with an overrunning flood, her name would be utterly cut off and He would dig her grave.”
“The Medes and Babylonians completely destroyed Nineveh in 612 B.C. It occurred at the zenith of her power. According to Nahum’s prophecy, it came true—a sudden rise of the Tigris, carrying away a great part of the wall, assisted the attacking army of the Medes and Babylonians in its overthrow (Nahum 2:6). The city was partly destroyed by fire (Nahum 3:13, 15).”
–Taken from What the Bible Is All About by Dr. Henrietta C. Mears.
III Life Application
● Nineveh sowed cruelty. They refused to accept God’s offer of mercy. In the end they reaped the fruit of their wickedness. To those who continue in wickedness God has appointed a harvest of judgement. It is sure to come. Pride always leads to a fall.
● God is patient. He did not overthrow Nineveh without warning. He gave nearly 150 years for the people to turn to good ways. But they did not heed. So finally God brought judgement. There is a time when God’s patient dealing with a person will be over and He will act in wrath.
● God’s absolute power is seen in the destruction of Nineveh. For 300 years Assyria was a world empire with Nineveh as its capital. “At the time of Nahum’s prophecy, Nineveh was queen city of the earth, mighty and brutal beyond imagination, head of a warrior state built on the loot of nations. Limitless wealth from the ends of the earth poured into its coffers [coffer refers to large strong boxes which were used to store money in the past]. Nahum likens it to a den of ravaging lions, feeding on the blood of nations, 2:11—13. . . . The inner city of Nineveh proper, about 3 miles long, and 1 1⁄2 miles wide, built at the junction of the Tigris and Khoser rivers, was protected by walls 100 feet high and broad enough at the top to hold 4 chariots driven abreast, 8 miles in ciruit.” — Taken from Halley’s Bible Handbook. Though God is slow to anger, He is great in power (see 1:3).