THE DIVINE HUMILIATON AND DEVASTATION OF NINEVEH IS DESERVED, INEVITABLE AND UNAVOIDABLE
We like to encourage believers with the assurance that “God is on our side” – with the corresponding benefits of peace and security and blessing. However, we need to be just as diligent to warn unbelievers about the terrible wrath of God. When God stands against you, the ultimate humiliation and devastation will be severe. God is a devastating enemy – as the City of Nineveh can testify.
(Cf. description of the fall of Babylon in Rev. 18)
Key Verse: (:5a) “‘Behold, I am against you,’ declares the Lord of hosts.”
I. (:1-7) NINEVEH DESERVES TO BE COMPLETELY HUMILIATED AND TOTALLY DEVASTATED
A. (:1-4) Her Crimes
1. (:1-3) Wicked Cruelty
a. (:1) The Denunciation
“Woe to the bloody city, completely full of lies and pillage;
Her prey never departs.”
b. (:2-3) The Devastation
“The noise of the whip,
The noise of the rattling of the wheel,
Galloping horses and bounding chariots!
Horsemen charging, swords flashing, spears gleaming,
Many slain, a mass of corpses, and countless dead bodies –
They stumble over the dead bodies.”
Chisholm: Nahum emphasized the reversal in Nineveh’s fortunes through three subtle wordplays, which are apparent only in the Hebrew text. While Nineveh contained a seemingly “endless” supply of gold and silver (2:9), she would soon be covered with bodies “without number” (3:3). “Piles” of corpses (3:3) would replace her abundant “wealth” (2:9). Because of her “wanton lust,” literally “many harlotries” (3:4; cf. NASB), Nineveh would be filled with “many casualties” (3:3).
2. (:4) Seducing Harlotry
“All because of the many harlotries of the harlot,
The charming one, the mistress of sorceries,
Who sells nations by her harlotries and families by her sorceries.”
MacArthur: The nation was likened to a beautiful prostitute who seduced the nations with her illicit enticements.
Boice: Archaeologists have confirmed that the people of Nineveh practiced witchcraft. . . The pantheon of hideous, destructive deities was similar to today’s Hindu pantheon. Most of these were imagined to hate and persecute human beings.
B. (:5-6) Her Disgrace
1. The Ultimate Enemy = the Lord of Hosts – God is a Devastating Enemy
“’Behold, I am against you,’ declares the Lord of hosts;”
2. The Ultimate Humiliation
“And I will lift up your skirts over your face,
And show to the nations your nakedness
And to the kingdoms your disgrace.”
3. The Ultimate Desecration
“I will throw filth on you
And make you vile,
And set you up as a spectacle.”
Boice: No doubt Nineveh had actually treated others in this fashion: exposing their nakedness, pelting them with filth, mocking them in great public spectacle. Now she is to be treated in like fashion. And none will grieve for her, so great have her atrocities been! She is to vanish from history – friendless and unmourned.
C. (:7) Her Rejection
“And it will come about that all who see you
Will shrink from you and say,
‘Nineveh is devastated!
Who will grieve for her?”
Where will I seek comforters for you?”
II. (:8-10) NINEVEH WILL SUFFER THE SAME FATE AS THE SEEMINGLY INVINCIBLE FORMER CAPITAL CITY OF EGYPT = NO-AMON
A. (:8-9) Seemingly Impregnable Defenses of No-Amon
1. Argument from the Greater to the Lesser
“Are you better than No-amon,”
MacArthur: Also known as Thebes, No-amon was the great capital of southern Egypt, 400 mi. S of Cairo. One of the most magnificent ancient civilizations of the world, it was renowned for its 100 gates, a temple measuring 330 ft. long and 170 ft. wide, and its network of canals. It fell to Ashurbanipal of Assyria in 663 B.C. Like No-amon by the Nile, Nineveh was situated by the Tigris River, enjoying the security of conquered nations around her. However, the end would be like that of No-amon.”
2. Geographical Defenses
“Which was situated by the waters of the Nile,
With water surrounding her,
Whose rampart was the sea,
Whose wall consisted of the sea?”
3. Political Alliances
“Ethiopia was her might,
And Egypt too, without limits.
Put and Lubim were among her helpers.”
B. (:10) Surprising Humiliation and Devastation
“Yet she became an exile,
She went into captivity;”
“Also her small children were dashed to pieces at the head of every street;”
“They cast lots for her honorable men,
And all her great men were bound with fetters.”
III. (:11-19) NINEVEH HAS NO DEFENSE AGAINST THE OUTPOURING OF THE WRATH OF GOD
A. (:11-13) Easy Target — Ripe for Plundering
1. (:11a) Drunk and Defenseless
“You too will become drunk,”
2. (:11b) Destined for Oblivion
“You too will be hidden.”
Feinberg: The prophecy that the city would be hidden has been remarkably fulfilled, as is well known. After the destruction of Nineveh it disappeared completely from history. From 1842 on, the Frenchman Botta and the Englishmen Layard and Rawlinson excavated on the site and uncovered remains of this one time magnificent city.
3. (:11c) Vulnerable and Exposed — No Place to Hide
“You too will search for a refuge from the enemy.”
4. (:12) Inviting Fortifications
“All your fortifications are fig trees with ripe fruit –
When shaken, they fall into the eater’s mouth.”
5. (:13a) Powerless Defenders – No Strength, No Courage
“Behold, your people are women in your midst!”
6. (:13b) Open Gates
“The gates of your land are opened wide to your enemies;
Fire consumes your gate bars.”
B. (:14-15a) Futile Defense
1. (:14) Sarcastic Pleas for Preparation
a. Gather Provisions
“Draw for yourself water for the siege!”
b. Strengthen the Fortifications
“Strengthen your fortifications!
Go into the clay and tread the mortar!
Take hold of the brick mold!”
2. (:15a) Scathing Prophecy of Devastation
“There fire will consume you,
The sword will cut you down;
It will consume you as the locust does.”
C. (15b:-18) Collapse of Leadership
1. (:15b) No Safety in Numbers
“Multiply yourself like the creeping locust,
Multiply yourself like the swarming locust.”
Kohlenberger: Nineveh cannot escape locust-like devastation even if they “multiply like grasshoppers!”
2. (:16) No Security in Commerce
“You have increased your traders more than the stars of heaven –
The creeping locust strips and flies away.”
3. (:17) No Salvation in Government
“Your guardsmen are like the swarming locust.
Your marshals are like hordes of grasshoppers
Settling in the stone walls on a cold day.
The sun rises and they flee,
And the place where they are is not known.”
4. (:18) Sad Summary: No One Left to Rescue the City
“Your shepherds are sleeping, O king of Assyria;
Your nobles are lying down.
Your people are scattered on the mountains.
And there is no one to regather them.”
D. (:19) Inevitable and Deserved Humiliation and Devastation
“There is no relief for your breakdown,
Your wound is incurable.
All who hear about you will clap their hands over you,
For on whom has not your evil passed continually?”