Affirm Godís Justice
Explore the Bible Series
June 17, 2007
Background Passage: Nahum
Lesson Passage: Nahum
1:1-3, 7-8; 3:1-7, 19
is the second prophetic message that God sent to the Assyrian city of Nineveh.† Approximately a century before Nahumís
prophecy, God sent Jonah to preach to the Assyrians, and, on that earlier
occasion, the Ninevites repented and received Godís mercy. Nahum, however,
offered little hope for the Assyrians.†
Aside from a few gracious comments in the first chapter, Nahumís
prophecy reflects the gloom of Godís impending destruction of Assyria.
Authorship: The Bible provides little biographical
information about this prophet.† He came
from the city of Elkosh,
but the location of this town remains a mystery. The Reformation Study Bible suggests that the town may have existed
near the location of the New Testament city of Capernaum
(perhaps a derivative of ďCity of NahumĒ).† Edward J. Young suggests that Nahum may have
come from Judah,
and, given the historical setting of the book, this seems the best hypothesis
of the prophetís origins.
Recipients: Thereís a sense, of course, in which Nahum aimed
this message at the citizens of Assyrian; however, the prophet addressed Judah.† For more than a century the intrepid,
malicious people of Assyria had threatened the
people of God. They were known for their unbounded cruelty, and the Assyrian
Army, under the command of Shalmaneser, besieged Israel,
thus the northern kingdom came under the brutal oppression of Assyria.
Unsatisfied with the domination of Israel,
the Assyrian troops also assailed Judah. In addition to their
military aggression, the Assyrians worshipped as extensive pantheon of pagan
gods.† Asshur, in Assyrian understanding,
governed the gods and initiated their military campaigns.
as we have said, suffered from years of Assyrian tyranny.† God had not forgotten his covenant with Judah, and, as
he decreed, the Assyrian ascendancy neared its end.† Nahum predicted that a shift, decisive end
would come on this impetuous people.† In
605 B.C. the Babylonians defeated Assyria at the Battle of Carchemish, and Assyria passed into the pages of history. As he had
mortal enemy was defeated, and Jehovah demonstrated his sovereign control over
Date: Conservative scholars date this prophecy between 662
(the Assyrian military victory at Thebes) and
the 612 (the Babylonian destruction of Nineveh).† Young points out that it is impossible to
settle on a more accurate date.† G.
Campbell Morgan dated the prophecy during the reign of King Hezekiah who
governed Judah at the height
of Assyriaís strength; however, the historical
date seems to point to the period following the evil reign of King Manasseh and
during the reforms of King Josiah (c. 640-609 B.C.).† Please recall the Assyrians had defeated Israel in 722
B.C., and the northern kingdom was in complete ruin long before Nahum wrote
Outline of the
The Jealously of God and the Destruction of Assyria (1:1-15)
introduction to the prophecy (v. 1): The text describes Nahumís message as a
ďburdenĒ (NASV translates ďoracleĒ). The prophet found no delight in delivering
a message of judgment, even against a formidable enemy like Assyria.† Like the other prophets, Nahum claimed that
he received his message from God, in this case, in the form of a vision.
summary of divine attributes (vv. 2-3)
1. jealously: Godís protects and preserves his glory, and his
glory is bound up in his covenant relations with Judah.† Impetuous nations may arise to threaten Godís
people, but Jehovah will honor his pledge and, in doing so, demonstrate his
God will repay the wicked for their disobedience. In Scripture, vengeance is
reserved for God alone.
Godís wrath relates to his perfect, appropriate judgment on the wicked.† His retributive justice always metes out
judgment with the exact payment for the sins committed.
to anger: Jehovah is always patient with sinners.† He takes no delight in judgment and exercises
great longsuffering toward the disobedient.
No sinner can resist Godís judgment, and his redemptive purposes cannot be
irresistible power of God (vv. 4-13): Nahum evoked images of Godís power over
creation to illustrate the Lordís boundless power to execute judgment.† No one can withstand Jehovahís justice (v.
6), and nobody can assail those who have taken refuge in his goodness. Assyria, despite her great strength, will not stand
against the justice of God (See vv. 9-13). Godís wrath will devour them like a
fire consumes dried thorns.
final vindication of Judah
(vv. 14-15): God promised to cut off Assyria and restore the celebrative joy of
Judah.† Never again would Assyria
threaten the Lordís people.
Images of Godís Judgment (2:1-13)
call to manly resistance (vv. 1-12): God called Nineveh to prepare herself for war, a war she
would certainly lose.† Soon, Jehovah
would turn Assyriaís glory to ruin, and all of
their imperial forces could not resist the hand of the Lord.† As the Assyrians had scattered and terrorized
their opponents, so they would now suffer a similar fate. This threat refers to
the Babylonians who would soon bring Nineveh
to her knees.† The prideful, opulent
city, by Godís decree, stood at the threshold of ruin and plunder.† Like lions in the lair, Assyria once had torn
her prey and fed it to the cubs, but now, the previously boastful nation will
find no place of refuge and safety.
opposition to Assyria (v. 13):† It may
appear that some foreign nation (such as the Babylonians) served as Ninevehís nemesis but, in
this case, the ultimate enemy is Jehovah.†
They might have successfully repulsed the onslaught of an enemy nation,
but God had set himself against the hasty and presumptuous people.
The Coming Demise and Shame of Nineveh (3:1-19)
lament for Nineveh
(vv. 1-4): The sights and sounds of destruction await this bloody, greedy,
lying nation.† Nahum compared Nineveh to a beautiful
prostitute. Lust, greed and power had seduced the Assyrians, and they had given
themselves to the whoredom of idolatry.
shame of Nineveh
(vv. 4-13): The prophet revealed that Jehovah would expose the nakedness of the
Assyrian prostitute, and, in the aftermath of their exposure, no one would
grieve for the disgraced nation.
recourse for the condemned nation (vv. 14-19):†
Again, Jehovah mocked the Assyrian impotence before him.† He prodded them to prepare themselves for
war, but their preparations will prove fruitless.† Ninevehís
intellectuals and religious leaders will become like grasshoppers before God,
and he pledged to turn their schemes to folly.†
The people will be scattered and wounded with no one to rally or heal
them.† The nations will rejoice at the
disgraceful injury to this conceited nation.
Questions for Discussion:
does the message of Nahum relate to Romans 12:14-21 and Hebrews 10:30-34?† Can Christians trust God to vindicate you
when ungodly people mistreat you?
in your informed judgment, did God wait so long to vindicate his people under
the oppression of the Assyrians?
responsibility do modern Christians have to preach both the mercy and judgment
of God?† How will the ungodly respond to
doctrines does this book reinforce about Godís providence over human history?