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Nahum

June 3, 2009

Background

I. Introduction Nahum 1:1

II. Nahum Reveals God Nahum 1:2-15

III. Nahum Describes the Fall of Nineveh Nahum 2:1-13

IV. Nahum Describes the State of Nineveh Nahum 3:1-19

Background

We know only three facts concerning Nahum; his name, where he was from [Elkosh],
and the subject of his prophecy [Nineveh]. Anything else is speculation. It
is believed Elkosh was in Judah because he predicted the destruction of Nineveh
[Assyria] which happened in 612 BC. Assyria was the nation who conquered the
northern kingdom, Israel, exiled them, and backfilled with their own people.
Assyria was a nemesis to Judah, attacking them and causing disruptions since
the days of King Hezekiah. In many ways, Mannasseh, caused Judah to be subject
to Assyria through the paying of tribute. Nahum tells of the fall of No-Amon
[Thebes] in 663-661 BC. Therefore, most scholars date this oracle between 661
BC and 611 BC [the fall of Assyria] or about 620 BC. Assuming this is reasonably
correct, Nahum prophesied during the reign of King Josiah and was a contemporary
of Zephaniah and Jeremiah.

Nahum means “consolation” or “full of comfort”. Nahum’s
message is one of consoling and comforting hope. Nahum prophesied to Judah but
his subject was Nineveh. God is going to deal with Nineveh. Jonah went to Nineveh
about 150 years earlier and they repented. It took them only one generation
to return to their sinful ways and God is going to deal with them after approximately
three generations. Asshurbanipal was Assyria’s king during the years 669-627
BC and was responsible for oppressing those less powerful than he during this
period in Judah’s history.

Introduction                                                       Nahum 1:1

Nahum sees a vision from God, not specific words from God. It may not have
been a vivid dream but certainly is was an understanding and envisioning of
what will happen because Nahum is intimately familiar with God and with God’s
character. The translation of this Hebrew word, chazown, meaning “vision”
is likened to that of Paul’s calling from the man of Macedonia in Acts 16:9.
Nahum is sensitized to the Will of God and prophesies accordingly. He knows
what is to happen because he knows the character of God.

Nahum Reveals God                                                Nahum 1:2-15

Nahum writes/prophesies very efficiently and effectively. He makes his point
and moves on. He begins by describing God’s character, God’s principles, and
God’s purpose. After all it is God’s character that moves God to accomplish
His Will.

Summarizing, we are told the following:

God’s Character:
  • Jealous, avenging, wrath directed toward enemies [vs. 2]
  • Patient, powerful, decisive, action-oriented [vs. 3][This is a perfect definition of meekness]
  • Sovereign over nature and its’ inhabitants [vs. 4-5]
  • Holy and righteous [vs. 6]
  • Good, steadfast, offers refuge, all-knowing [vs. 7
God’s Operating Principles:
  • Confronts and conquers enemies, finishes what He starts [vs. 8-10]
  • Considers the pursuit of evil as a personal attack against Him;
    Prefers to conquer evil on a person to person basis [vs. 11-12]
  • Sins of omission are just as great as sins of commission;
    All are accountable to Him and subject to His justice [vs. 13-14
God’s Purpose:
  • God is the bearer of good news including victory over evil;
  • God brings peace [vs. 15]

It’s important that we go back to verses 7-15 and consider them as an overview
of Nahum’s prophecy. What is prophesied for Nineveh and Judah is based on the
principle that God is good, that God cares for those who trust Him, and that
God pursues His enemies to the end. God promises Judah that He will pursue Nineveh
and bring about the end of Assyria.

God promises this for two reasons. The first; God is good and a refuge in
times of trouble for those who trust Him. God initiates His action because King
Josiah of Judah has implemented a program to return Judah to worshipping the
Lord God. He is promoting the reading of God’s Word. He is promoting the worship
of God instead of idols. He is tearing down and destroying the idolatrous places
of worship. He is trusting God and desires Judah to return to God and place
their trust in Him. See II Kings 22:1-23:25.

The second reason God makes these promises to Judah is that the King of Assyria,
Asshurbanipal, is wicked and plots evil against the Lord [vs. 11]. Assyria has
been oppressive toward Judah and now God promises to break that oppression.
Assyria will disappear from the face of the earth along with their idols and
temples.

Verse 15 draws attention to the temple mount in Jerusalem. Josiah has implemented
the reading of God’s Word [II Kings 23:1-2] and he renewed the Passover Celebration
[II Kings 23:21-22]. This is the good news which brings peace. Obeying the Word
of God and trusting in Him for our salvation brings peace. God is indeed the
only One worthy of our worship. Therefore, worship Him.

Looking at the big picture, God is indeed sovereign over all things. He is
the only One powerful enough to defeat evil. He is the only One able to deliver
Good News.
He will defeat evil for all time through the death and resurrection
of His Son, the Messiah. He will destroy evil and be the King bringing peace
to the nations through His righteousness and justice [the Millennium]. Verse
15 describes the results in our lives when we yield to God and live according
to His Will. It describes the life available to the believer in times past,
now, in the Millennium, and in heaven. It describes the life we live in Him
and through Him. It describes the life of Nahum. “Behold the Lamb of God
who takes away the sin of the world” [John 1:29]. Perhaps Nahum envisioned
our Savior Jesus Christ, exhorting us to worship Him.

Our God is an awesome God. Do you recognize Him? Do you recognize His character
traits in your life? Does He know your name? Do you know His Name? Have you
experienced His patience, His confrontation of evil, His discipline, His protection,
His love, His Good News? Bow before Him and let Him be who He is in your life.
Let Him be God. Let Him be your Lord and Savior. Let Him cleanse you from sin
and make you like Him, holy and righteous. Let Him give you His Peace.

Nahum Describes the Fall of                              Nineveh Nahum 2:1-13

If you didn’t note the poetic style in Chapter 1 you can’t miss it in Chapters
2 and 3. The collapse of Nineveh is clearly described as follows:

What is Coming:

  • Be on guard because you [Nineveh] will be attacked. [vs. 1]

Why it is Coming:

  • Nineveh’s destruction is a result of their destruction and oppression of Israel and Judah respectively and God wants to lay the foundation for the restoration of His people. [vs. 2]
  • The Lord is against them. [vs.12]

How it is Coming:

  • An army attacks the city with great speed and quickness. [vs. 3-4]
  • The Assyrian army has failed to heed the warning [vs. 1] and is rushed into battle unprepared. [vs. 5]
  • The gates controlling the flow of water from the rivers into the city are opened. The waters flood the city and the palace collapses. [vs.6]
  • The attackers [Babylon] announce the exile of all the inhabitants which causes fear in the hearts of those enslaved by Assyria. [vs. 7]
  • The rush of people out of the city and into exile is like receding flood waters. [vs. 8]
  • The attackers plunder the city of all its’ accumulated wealth including the hope of its inhabitants. [vs. 9-10]
  • The attackers seek out any hidden garrisons and troops making sure nobody can mount a counter attack. [vs. 11-12]

We can not win if the Lord is against us. However, we can not lose if Christ
is for us [see Romans 8:28-39]. Our hearts govern whether or not the Lord is
for us. The Lord is always for His children, those who place their faith in
Him. We can obey Him or ignore Him but the choice we make determines our future.
Nineveh and its’ people ignored God and His statutes and practiced what God
defined as wicked and evil. We are to love God and love our fellowman. Do not
ignore God and oppress your fellowman. Deny yourself, take up your cross, and
follow Jesus. You will have hope and a future of blessings and joy. You will
possess the abundant life now and forever.

Nahum Describes the State of Nineveh                                          Nahum 3:1-19

Nineveh is a city of blood. lies, plunder, and victims [POWs] They had one
purpose, to enslave nations through war, deceit, and witchcraft [false religion].
They were powerful and used their power to oppress others [see vs. 1, 4]. But
that will change. Nineveh will still be filled with blood, the blood of their
own citizens [vs. 2-3]. Nineveh’s lust for blood is the main reason God will
act against them. God is destroying them to show other nations the extent of
Assyria’s plundering and oppression of other nations and to let other nations
know that God does not tolerate such evil behavior [vs. 5-8].

God compares Nineveh to another city, Thebes, who was also subject to His
judgment by Assyria. They had water in defensive positions too and strong allies
in Cush and Egypt but they were conquered and exiled. The same thing that happened
to Thebes will happen to Nineveh [vs. 10-11]. Nineveh has a false sense of security
[vs. 12]. Assyria’s armies are fighting on other fronts leaving only the women
to defend the city [vs. 13]. The people of Nineveh keep their walls in good
repair and their water supply topped off but it is not a strong defense when
the attack does come. Nineveh is more interested in their economic condition
than in their defensive condition [vs. 15-16]. Those who guard the walls are
cowards and flee at the first sign of trouble [vs. 17]. As stated earlier, they
have a false sense of security, believing no one will attempt to conquer them.
That attitude exists throughout their citizenry, with their farmers and with
their government officials. That attitude guarantees their fall from power.
All will cheer when they are conquered because of Assyria’s ruthlessness and
cruelty. The world will be a better place when Assyria is no more.

This chapter makes a strong case for us Christians, God’s people, to be active
in the affairs of government and politics. We have the responsibility to assess
our own nations’ attitudes and actions, comparing them to the Will of God. Wicked,
oppressive, and cruel action by any nation is not tolerated by God. We can be
used by God to punish other misbehaving nations and we can be subject to God’s
punishment because of our own misbehavior. May we know God, know God’s Will,
obey His statutes, and boldly proclaim truth and denounce wrong. Discerning
Christians are valuable citizens. We are to promote God’s righteousness and
justice in all that we say and do and, thereby, fight evil and prevent our being
a recipient of God’s wrath. In all things, we are called to be faithful, faithful
to Him.

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