In our study, we look at God's justice being poured out on the city of Nineveh and the Assyrians. Although this prophecy has already been fulfilled, there are still lessons in it for us today. We will see how the United States of today is in danger of the same type of judgment that was carried out on the Assyrian empire. In the book of Jonah, we saw that the prophet presented the Word of God to the city of Nineveh and the entire city repented and turned to God. The sad fact is that it did not last long and so we see what happens to a people that turn their backs on God.
An oracle concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.
We remember that the word oracle actually means "burden" and "judgment" and so we know that this book is going to be a judgment from God on the city of Nineveh. We are introduced to the prophet but there is actually little that is known about him. He was evidently born in the northern kingdom of Israel but moved to Judah at an early age where he evidently lived in the city of Elkosh. The prophet's name actually means "comforter" and that might seem strange but we must understand that he was sent to give this message of judgment not to the Assyrians but to the people of Judah. They were afraid of the Assyrians because of their reputation for brutality and oppression. So, Nahum brings comfort in the fact that God is going to deal with the Assyrians, therefore there is no need to fear.
The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The Lord takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies.
The prophet begins by reminding the people of Judah about the nature of God and the fact that He is a jealous God. The way to make an enemy out of God is to put anything before or above Him and that is exactly what the Assyrians had done. For too long, we have only heard about the fact that God loves us and have forgotten that, with that love, comes jealousy. That jealousy is the fact that God desires a people that is devoted exclusively to Him. Just as a man/woman would not like their boyfriend/girlfriend to date other men/women, God does not want a people that "plays the field" of belief. We either trust in Jesus or trust in something else. Those who trust in something else will surely face the coming wrath of God.
The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.
Nahum reminds the people that God is merciful and patient because that is His nature but he is also just and righteous. Because He is just, He will not let sin (disobedience) go unpunished forever. At the appointed time, God will unleash His judgment just like a storm from nature. This is a good lesson for us as well in that we have heard of God's love for a long time but that love does not cause Him to overlook sin. Jesus Christ paid for all of the sin of the world and, if we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, then our sin has been punished. If we do not accept Him, we will face the punishment ourselves. The wrath that is poured out will once again look like a storm of nature (see Revelation 16).
He rebukes the sea and dries it up; he makes all the rivers run dry. Bashan and Carmel wither and the blossoms of Lebanon fade.
The punishment begins when God removes His provision from a people. As we see here, when God removes His hand from the land, it cannot sustain itself. God's will has always been to sustain us (see Genesis 1:11-13) but, when we decide that we no longer need Him, as the city of Nineveh had, then He allows us to make that choice. Sadly, the USA of today is much like the city of Nineveh in that we were founded as a nation under God but for the most part have decided that we no longer need Him. We were once the richest nation in the world and everyone could see that we were blessed by God but now we are the biggest debtor nation and are like puppets on a string. Unlike Nineveh, there is still time for the USA to repent and turn back to God.
The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it. Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him.
All of creation (even the natural forces) are under God's control and even the forces of nature respond to the glory (presence) of God. The Ninevites had decided that they were powerful enough to stand in the presence of God instead of bowing in worship as even nature does. The same could be said of many nations today (including the USA) but, as we shall see, all people will bow when Jesus returns.
The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into darkness.
God is good and He takes care of His own but He is also a jealous god. Those who turn their backs on Him, like the Ninevites did, will be judged and, though they may try to hide, God will pursue them and justice will be done.
Whatever they plot against the Lord he will bring to an end; trouble will not come a second time.
God is patient and allows us time to make a decision. But, at some point, He will hold us accountable for our decision. God had given the Ninevites a chance to make the right decision and, for a time, it seemed like they had but really they had not.
They will be entangled among thorns and drunk from their wine; they will be consumed like dry stubble.
They chose to turn their backs on God and so they were controlled by their sinful natures. The result for them, as well as for those of us who do not trust in Jesus, is that they were overtaken by their sin and will be judged for it on the last day.
From you, O Nineveh, has one come forth who plots evil against the Lord and counsels wickedness.
As we saw in Jonah, repentance started with the king; now we see that the return to disobedience began with the leadership as well. They simply got tired of waiting and trusting in God. The same thing happened during the early days of the "church" (see 2 Peter 2) and even more today.
This is what the Lord says: 'Although they have allies and are numerous, they will be cut off and pass away. Although I have afflicted you, O Judah, I will afflict you no more.'
The comfort for Judah is that, even though the Assyrians are a mighty nation, they will be dealt with by the very hand of God. That same God is on our side and, no matter what comes against us, He is able to handle it. Even today, as the nation of Israel is under attack, God is standing ready to handle those who come against His people.
'Now I will break their yoke from your neck and tear your shackles away.'
God used the Assyrians to discipline His people and bring them to repentance. Afterwards, He freed the people and judged the people of Nineveh. God does the same thing for us when we repent as we are released into the freedom of Christ.
The Lord has given a command concerning you, Nineveh: 'You will have no descendants to bear your name. I will destroy the carved images and cast idols that are in the temple of your gods. I will prepare your grave for you are vile.'
Because of their pride and idolatry, God removed the city of Nineveh from existence. The site which is only ruins is located in northern Iraq but there is no city there today. The city has, in fact, been put in the grave. This is also a picture of what is coming as we see, in Revelation 18, God deals with another center of pride and idolatry.
Look, there on the mountains, the feet of one who brings good news, who proclaims peace! Celebrate your festivals, O Judah, and fulfill your vows. No more will the wicked invade you; they will be completely destroyed.
This verse speaks of the future and the second coming of Jesus Christ. We know this because it promises that Judah will not be invaded again. This was a comfort to the people of Nahum's day as they were told to hold on and trust in God because their Deliverer was coming. Even today, Jerusalem waits for the peace promised in this verse and, though men try to produce a peace, it will only come when Jesus returns.