THE SHRILL whistle pierces the air, and all action on the field abruptly stops. Pointing to the offending player, the referee shouts, “Foul!”
Rules, fouls, and penalties are part of any game and are regulated and enforced rigorously by referees, umpires, judges, and other officials. Every participant knows that boundaries must be set and behaviour monitored, or the game will degenerate into chaos.
There are laws in the world as well – boundaries and rules for living established by God. But men and women regularly flaunt these regulations, hiding their infractions or overpowering others and declaring that might makes right. God calls this sin – wilful disobedience, rebellion against his control, or apathy. And at times it seems as though the violators succeed – no whistles blow, no fouls are called, and individual dictators rule. The truth is, however, that ultimately justice will be served in the world. God will settle all accounts.
Assyria was the most powerful nation on earth. Proud in their self-sufficiency and military might, they plundered, oppressed, and slaughtered their victims. One hundred years earlier, Jonah had preached in the streets of the great city Nineveh; the people had heard God’s message and had turned from their evil. But generations later, evil was again reigning, and the prophet Nahum pronounced judgment on this wicked nation. Nineveh is called a “city of blood” (3:1), a city of cruelty (3:19), and the Assyrians are judged for their arrogance (1:11), idolatry (1:14), murder, lies, treachery, and social injustice (3:1-19). Because of their sins, Nahum predicted that this proud and powerful nation would be utterly destroyed. The end came within 50 years.
In this judgment of Assyria and its capital city, Nineveh, God is judging a sinful world. And the message is clear – disobedience, rebellion, and injustice will not prevail but will be punished severely by a righteous and holy God who rules over all the earth.
As you read Nahum, sense God’s wrath as he avenges sin and brings about justice. Then decide to live under his guidance and within his rules, commands, and guidelines for life.
PURPOSE: To pronounce God’s judgment on Assyria and to comfort Judah with this truth
TO WHOM WRITTEN: The people of Nineveh and Judah
DATE WRITTEN: Some time during Nahum’s prophetic ministry (probably between 663 and 612 B.C.)
SETTING: This particular prophecy took place after the fall of Thebes in 663 B.C. (see 3:8-10)
KEY VERSES : “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into darkness. Whatever they plot against the LORD he will bring to an end; trouble will not come a second time” (1:7-9).
KEY PLACE: Nineveh
Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire, is the subject of Nahum’s prophecy. The news of its coming destruction was a relief for Judah, which was subject to Assyrian domination. No longer would Judah be forced to pay tribute as insurance against invasions. Judah was comforted to know that God was still in control. Nineveh is an example to all rulers and nations of the world today. God is sovereign over even those who are seemingly invincible. We can be confident that God’s power and justice will one day conquer all evil.
- Nineveh’s judge (1:1-15)
- Nineveh’s judgement (2:1-3:19)
EXPLANATION: God would judge the city of Nineveh for its idolatry, arrogance, and oppression. Although Assyria was the leading military power in the world, God would completely destroy this “invincible” nation. God allows no person or power to usurp or scoff at his authority.
IMPORTANCE: Anyone who remains arrogant and resists God’s authority will face his anger. No ruler or nation will get away with rejecting him. No individual will be able to hide from his judgment. Yet those who keep trusting God will be kept safe for ever.
EXPLANATION: God rules over all the earth, even over those who don’t acknowledge him. God is all-powerful, and no-one can thwart his plans. God will overcome any who attempt to defy him. Human power is futile against God.
IMPORTANCE: If you are impressed by or afraid of any weapon, armies, or powerful people, remember that God alone can truly rescue you from fear or oppression. We must place our confidence in God because he alone rules all of history, all the earth, and our lives.
©Kingsway International Church, 1973.