Nineveh, which was founded by Nimrod, was famous for centuries. They’d responded to the Prophet Jonah’s message about 200 years before. Sin abounded again, however, and therefore, the commandments of God were forgotten. Nineveh had walls up to 100 feet high, 7 ½ miles around, and wide enough for three chariots to drive abreast on the wall. The city presented a formidable front to any invader. It had boasted 1200 defense towers and a moat outside the walls up to 140 feet wide and 60 feet deep.
Anyway, in Jerusalem, Manasseh reigned; then his son Amon ruled, and finally, youthful Josiah began his eventful reign. The reformation under Josiah’s leadership caused a great change in the life of the nation. When the Book of the Law was found and read to the people, they had set out to clean up the land, and then set up the worship that was described in the book.
It was written to the Ninevites (who Jonah had a mission to 200 years prior to this). It seems they were back to their old sins again, so God sent another to take care of them. Christ is seen in this book as “The Stronghold.” Man is pictured as an “Apostate.” Nahum 2:2, “For the LORD hath turned away the excellency of Jacob, as the excellency of Israel: for the emptiers have emptied them out, and marred their vine branches.” Verse five, “He shall recount his worthies: they shall stumble in their walk; they shall make haste to the wall thereof, and the defence shall be prepared.”
The destruction of Nineveh was the theme of the book along with vengeance is God’s! Nineveh had repented in Jonah’s day, but apostasizing had set in against the compassionate God. The period of this Book is about 610-620 BC, which was about 200 years after Jonah’s prophecy warning Nineveh, and a little less than a hundred years when the Temple was restored by King Hezekiah. The other prophets near this era was very limited – it was only Nahum and Zephaniah until about 590 BC when Jeremiah came… Soon, there would be numerous prophets due to the state of the fallen world, especially with the trouble caused by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon – it was literally an “end of the world scenario” at that time.
On every page, we see a vivid picture of Nineveh’s doom, as the judgment of the Lord loomed near, and it is sure and final for vengeance is the Lord’s. Its style was great beauty, especially in poetic imagery, dramatic descriptions, and vivid imagination. Nahum describes the swift and relentless sweep of the enemy with great vividness and color. The teaching value of the book includes that it teaches most convincingly that we reap what we sow, whether as a man or as a nation. It is similar in style to Paul’s warning to the Galatians (6:7-8), for Paul said, “Be not deceived” – which compares to Nahum 1:2-3. There is a limit to God’s patience with sin and unrepentance. God is in control throughout the world. The arrogance that indulges in senseless destruction of life and property angers God. We see seven attributes of God, which include, longsuffering, justice, omnipotence, holiness, goodness, omniscience, and His vengeance.
The portions of utter significance
- 1:2, “God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.” This displays attributes of God; what He’s feeling as this book opens, so that people are well aware of what is going on from the start. This is a sharp exposition to begin with, and shows that God is not happy.
- 1:3, “The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.” Having this verse follow the previous verse shows simply that God doesn’t usually get angry, and it seems His anger is fueled at the troublesome ways of the wicked.
- 1:6, “Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.” This again describes vividly the imagery of His anger. The countering verse follows:
- 1:7, “The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” This speaks that the Lord is good overall, and a stronghold in the day of trouble. It speaks for itself and is a good verse. It also said that the Lord knows who trusts in Him, and therefore, it can be said that the Lord does love His People, but just not some of the things they do.
- 1:15, “Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.” God shall be victorious, and soon a messenger will bring them good news of the overthrow of Assyria – therefore, they can worship God in thanksgiving, sincerity, and joy!
- 2:3, “The shield of his mighty men is made red, the valiant men are in scarlet: the chariots shall be with flaming torches in the day of his preparation, and the fir trees shall be terribly shaken.” This is very vivid imagery of the uniformed soldiers with their chariots as the enemies approach the city walls – things begin heating up, and this shows something big is coming.
- 2:10: “She is empty, and void, and waste: and the heart melteth, and the knees smite together, and much pain is in all loins, and the faces of them all gather blackness.” This shows simply the aftermath of this destruction, as the Assyrians were quite cruel and ruthless in their treatment of the nations that they attacked. People just look with horror at the destroyed city.
- 3:18-19, “Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria: thy nobles shall dwell in the dust: thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them. There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?” We see that Assyria’s leaders will be killed, which leaves those people without a leader and an easy prey for attackers. Therefore, Assyria will fall for the last time, and those who suffered from their cruelty will rejoice headstrong!
People have been plenty warned of God’s Vengeance. This is not the only time when He had to escalate measures to bring His People back into alignment. Here are the other instances (not exhaustive list):
- Nahum 1:2, “God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.”
- Psalm 94:1, “O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself.”
- Exodus 20:5, “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.”
- Deuteronomy 4:24, “For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.”
- Deuteronomy 7:10, “And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face.”
- Zechariah 1:14, “So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy.”
- Romans 12:19, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
- Hebrews 10:30, “For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.”
- Deuteronomy 32:35, “To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.”
This may seem like a grim book, but that’s the way it was at this state. It’s important to evaluate the cause and effect of pre-salvation. This book sure revealed the state of the world before it was about to go through an extraordinary judgment.