November 13, 2015.
Daily Reading: Nahum 1-3.
Background: Nineveh, the capitol city of Assyria, was a particularly cruel enemy to the children of Israel. Nahum is given an oracle from God against Nineveh here that foretells of their destruction and devastation, which would be at the hands of the Medes and Babylonians in 612 B.C. Using this and the mention of the Assyrian destruction of the Egyptian city of Thebes in Nahum 3:8-10 which happened in 663 B.C., the consensus for dating the book of Nahum is just before the fall of Nineveh, perhaps around 615 B.C. Nahum is not the only book that is dedicated to the city of Nineveh, as Jonah was sent to the wicked city years earlier to warn them of the wrath of God. However, the book of Jonah had a very different outcome than what would come after Nahum’s message of the city’s coming destruction brought on by their wickedness towards the children of Israel. We see the mercy of God through the book of Jonah when the people of Nineveh humble themselves before the Lord, but Nahum teaches us that the long-suffering and patience of God does in no way clear the guilty when they do not come to this repentance. Though little is known about the prophet himself, Nahum teaches us much about the righteousness of God.
Concepts and Connections.
Who can stand before the Lord? The oracle against Nineveh begins with an assertion of the Lord’s sovereignty over all the earth, showing His character and righteousness. He is revealed as a jealous and avenging God, taking vengeance on His enemies for their iniquity. His long-suffering is highlighted, but it is said that this should not be seen as an acquittal of the guilty. The land and see obey His voice and quake before Him, and none can stand in light of His wrath. Though His enemies plot against Him, they will not stand. Their pride is not based in reality. They had troubled Israel for too long, and the Lord was bringing punishment on them. Their army would be cut down and the perpetuation of their name quenched. Then Nahum turns to Israel as on who brings good news (see Isaiah 52:7), for the enemy of the children of Israel was soon to be brought low
The fall of Nineveh: Nahum turns back to Nineveh in this chapter to describe in beautiful poetry the destruction of the city of Nineveh. He does so from the point of view of the Assyrian army as they are falling before their enemies. He calls battle commands in the opening verse in irony of their impending doom, for the Lord was set against them to bring up His people once again. Then destroyer of Nineveh is then seen, clothed in scarlet, coming in to conquer. His army is ready, and Nineveh doesn’t stand a chance as the army floods in, rushing through the squares of the city. Nineveh melts away and is completely plundered, becoming desolation and ruin. Nahum uses some irony at the end of this chapter, describing Nineveh being torn by lions, which was the symbol of Assyria’s strength. The final verse states the Lord’s position against the city of Nineveh, which seals the wrath that was set upon them.
Woe to Nineveh: Nahum ends with a strong woe to Nineveh, continuing the description of their downfall and punishment. The chapter opens with a great confusion and slaughter of the people of Nineveh because of their bloody hands and prostitution amongst the nations. The Lord was set against them and would humiliate them before the nations, making them a spectacle that could find no comfort or grievers. Nahum ironically points to the great Egyptian city of Thebes, which was strong and mighty, but still fell to the Assyrians. He reminds them that they are no better than the ones they destroyed. Just as they did, so would the Lord do to them. A great scene of destruction is painted here for the city of Nineveh as the prophet warns of the things to come. Assyria would suffer grievous wounds as they would be scattered among the nations. The final verse implies the reason these things were being brought upon them by the Lord- their unceasing evil that they had had on all the nations around them. The Lord is a righteous God, and He will see that righteousness is served in the end.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Acts 7-8.
Heed the warning of the Lord.