The Book of Nahum presents a sobering graphical depiction of the unleashing of God’s wrath against the wickedness of Nineveh. Just 100 years earlier, the prophet Jonah had been instructed to warn Nineveh to repent. Apparently, their reform had only been short-lived and now God was going to visit upon them utter humiliation and devastation for their unrestrained wickedness. This message proved to be a comfort for God’s people who had suffered much abuse from the cruel Assyrians.
The historical outworking of the details of this prophecy demonstrate once again the authenticity of the Word of God. Nineveh was truly destroyed in the fashion described and forgotten about for centuries, despite her place of prominence in the ancient world.
THE COMFORTING EXAMPLE OF NINEVEH: WHEN YOUR ENEMIES HAVE GOD AS THEIR ENEMY, HIS WRATH BRINGS SWIFT AND TERRIBLE HUMILIATION AND DEVASTATION
Nahum 2:13; 3:5 “Behold, I am against you”
I. (1:1-5) THE INTENSITY AND FINALITY OF GOD’S AWESOME WRATH —
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE AWESOME ALL-CONSUMING WRATH OF THE ANGRY AVENGING GOD (WHO PROVIDES SECURITY ONLY TO HIS OWN PEOPLE)
II. (2:1-13) THE DIVINE SACKING OF NINEVEH —
WHEN THE SOVEREIGN LORD TARGETS NINEVEH FOR DESTRUCTION, THE DEVASTATION IS SWIFT AND TERRIFYING
III. (3:1-19) GOD IS A DEVASTATING ENEMY —
THE DIVINE HUMILIATON AND DEVASTATION OF NINEVEH IS DESERVED, INEVITABLE AND UNAVOIDABLE
WHY STUDY THIS BOOK?
• To encourage comfort in the hearts of God’s people – that their affliction at the hands of the wicked has not gone unnoticed by their God; there will be a final accounting.
• To instill a proper fear of God in the hearts of those who have presumed against God’s patience — demonstrating to them that the temporary withholding of His wrath should not be misunderstood as the laying aside of that wrath.
• To have people examine their hearts to see whether God is their friend or their enemy. It will be a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the wrathful, avenging God when He unleashes His fury.
• To remind us that God is still in control of the destiny of all nations; that no matter how powerful and untouchable the wicked might seem, they are like fruit to be plucked by God whenever He desires.
David Malick: Assyrian Nineveh’s destruction by the mighty warrior-judge, YAHWEH, is imminent because of her self-serving evil and YAHWEH’s intent to deliver His people, Judah.
James Boice: Babylon emerged as the archetypal secular city. Nineveh became the embodiment of human violence and conquest. Babylon stands for the warfare of man against God. Nineveh stands for the warfare of man against his fellow human beings.
John MacArthur: Nahum forms a sequel to the book of Jonah, who prophesied over a century earlier. Jonah recounts the remission of God’s promised judgment toward Nineveh, while Nahum depicts the later execution of God’s judgment. Nineveh was proud of her invulnerable city, with her walls reaching 100 ft. high and with a moat 150 ft. wide and 60 ft deep; but Nahum established the fact that the sovereign God (1:2-5) would bring vengeance upon those who violated His law (1:8, 14; 3:5-7). The same God had a retributive judgment against evil which is also redemptive, bestowing His loving kindnesses upon the faithful (cf. 1:7, 12, 13, 15; 2:2). The prophecy brought comfort to Judah and all who feared the cruel Assyrians.
J. Sidlow Baxter: Practically throughout it is poetic in form, and it is poetry unsurpassed for power of description. It opens with a description of the attributes and operations of God, and runs in three strophes, answering to the three chapters in our English version. Chapter i. asserts the certainty of Nineveh’s overthrow. Chapter ii. depicts the siege and capture of the city. Chapter iii. tells of the wickedness which provoked the retribution, ending with the words, “Upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?”
Hampton Keathley: Nineveh was the capitol of Assyria. The destruction of Nineveh and Assyria would be a message of consolation for the nations Assyria had oppressed. Israel and Judah were two of those nations. Israel had been destroyed in 722 BC by the Assyrians, but Judah was still around. We need to remember what the Assyrians were like. They burned cities, cut off heads and stuck people on poles.