Today you should read: Nahum 1
Did you forget what you were reading today? When I opened up to Nahum 1, I thought I was reading directly from the Psalms! It’s amazing how poetic this prophet was in his first section. Verses 1-8 are focused on praising the Lord, and are nearly identical to how David wrote most of Israel’s songs. I would contend that this is one of the strongest descriptions in all of the Bible of God’s sovereignty and power. These are breathtaking verses:
The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies. The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebukes the sea and makes it dry; he dries up all the rivers; Bashan and Carmel wither; the bloom of Lebanon withers. The mountains quake before him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it. (Nahum 1:2-5 ESV)
When I got farther into the chapter, I remembered where I was :-). Verses 9-15 are all about God’s forthcoming judgment on Ninevah, a stark contrast to the message of the book of Jonah. These verses also highlight the deliverance that awaited the people of Judah. In other words, the prophet got… well… prophetic.
In the comments section below, I would love for you to share what you thought of today’s chapter. But specifically, let’s all highlight how the opening 8 verses spoke to us. What attribute of God were you reminded of? How did this description bless you? Did you learn something new? How did it challenge your faith? How did it change the way you approached the Lord today?
If you are new to this prophet, as was I until a few years ago, this might help you. It is the “Introduction to Nahum” and “Key Themes” from one of my favorite tools, the ESV Study Bible. You’ll appreciate it if you are either (a) unfamiliar with the book, (b) a history buff, or (c) desire to know the overarching ideas that are prevalent in the text. Check out these excerpts:
Nahum was God’s messenger to announce the fall of Nineveh and the complete overthrow of Assyria. This coming judgment from the Lord was certain and irrevocable, as was Obadiah’s message concerning Edom. Nahum’s book is a sequel to, and a dramatic contrast with, the book of Jonah. Jonah’s mission to Nineveh was probably sometime in the first half of the eighth century b.c. He was to warn that large city of God’s impending judgment because of Nineveh’s wickedness. To Jonah’s dismay, the Ninevites heeded his message, repented, and were spared God’s judgment.
This repentance, however, did not last beyond 745 b.c., when Tiglath-pileser III (745–728/727) made his people the leading military power in the Near East. The vast Assyrian Empire was established by bloodshed and massacre, cruelty and torture, destruction, plundering, and exiling such as has seldom been seen in history. After several campaigns, Tiglath-pileser greatly enlarged the territory paying him homage with annexed land and vassal kingdoms, including the northern kingdom of Israel (reduced in size by the Assyrians) and the southern kingdom of Judah. Succeeding rulers maintained and expanded this empire. In 722 b.c. the Assyrians brought to an end the northern kingdom of Israel.
Sennacherib (reigned 704–681 b.c.) made Nineveh the capital of his kingdom (c. 700). His energetic building program included a splendid palace, water-supply and water-control projects, and a massive wall to surround the expanded city. Nineveh was destroyed in 612 b.c., never to be restored, marking the end of Assyria. A small remnant of Assyrians did escape the city, fleeing to Haran and making Ashur-uballit II “king of Assyria.” In 610 b.c., though, Haran fell to the Babylonians and their allies. Ashur-uballit retreated, but in 609 b.c., with Egyptian help, he tried to recapture Haran. That attempt failed, and Ashur-uballit and the Assyrians disappeared from history.
1. Nahum proclaims that the Lord is slow to anger and long-suffering, a jealous God (for his own honor, and for his people), wrathful and avenging (against his enemies), the one who controls nations and history, just, righteous, the majestic ruler of nature, good, merciful, gracious, loving, faithful, and the deliverer and protector of those who trust in him.
2. God had used Assyria as his scourge on unfaithful Israel (both northern and southern kingdoms), but he in turn brought well-deserved judgment on Assyria, according to his timetable and method.
3. Nineveh fell not because it was a large, wealthy, Gentile commercial city, but because it was a godless and idolatrous city, a city of violence, lust, greed.
4. The Lord of history is a “stronghold” for “those who take refuge in him” (1:7). He can handle any and all problems in their individual lives. He has defeated powers far greater than Assyria. He grants to his own the ultimate deliverance and vindication.
Posted by: Todd Thomas