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Old Testament Overview - Nahum

God's judgment on Niveveh

Key EventsIntroduction (1:1)  (Nahum the man: All we know about Him is that he came from Elkosh and that he wrote this book.  Elkosh? "even its general location is uncertain." NIV Study Bible introduction to Nahum.)  (The name of the city of Capernaum may mean city of Nahum, and it was from this region that he preached of Nineveh's judgment over 100 years after Jonah's preaching led to revival in that city.  So, here we have Nahum, a relatively unknown man from an unknown city declaring God's judgment on one of the most powerful cities of all time.  And he tells them that their city is about to vanish from the face of the earth because of their sins.  One man plus God certainly is a majority.  Need we be any less bold in our day as we face our modern-day Ninevehs and Babylons?)

Nineveh will fall because they have chosen to be enemies of God (1:2-15)
(1) God will take vengeance on His foes and nothing can stand against His vengeance (1:2-6)  (Even the mountains and the earth tremble before Him.)  (Though God is slow to anger, that should not cause us to think that His power and anger against sin is not great.  We can see His strength and fury in nature—in storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and droughts.  We should not mistake God's patience for weakness or tolerance of sin. See Rom. 2:4-9)  ("Bashan and Carmel wither and the blossoms of Lebanon fade." 1:4a  "Bashan," "Carmel" and "Lebanon" were all known for their lush vegetation.)  (2) Though God is good to His friends, He will strike out against Nineveh for they have plotted against Him. (1:7-11)  (1:7 is one of the most comforting verses in the Bible for God's friends.  "The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him."  It is a good verse to memorize.)  (Nineveh, though, is God's enemy.  Her plight is compared to being overwhelmed by a flood, 1:8; and it is compared to being entangled with thorns so completely that she cannot be untangled.  So, it is necessary for her to be burned up with the dry and useless thorns. 1:10 See II Sam. 23:6-7)  (The one "who plots evil against the Lord" in 1:11 is probably one of the evil kings of Assyria.)  (3) Justice will prevail: God will free Judah from Assyria's cruel enslavement and He will replace Assyria's prosperity with the grave. (1:12-15)  (1:14 was fulfilled, for the "Medes under Cyaxares . . . who destroyed Nineveh together with the Babylonians, despised idolatry and were glad to destroy the idols of the Assyrians." Feinberg, The Minor Prophets See also II Kings 19:35-37  Compare 1:15 and Isa. 52:7)

The fall of Nineveh described (2)  (Assyria's attackers are described. 2:1-4)  (In 2:3 and 2:4, Nahum describes a fearsome spectacle of chariots with flashing swords and of soldiers with their spears waving in front of them as they storm into and through Nineveh in an unstoppable and endless attack.)  (The Babylonians who attacked Nineveh and replaced the Assyrian Empire with their own empire were fond of red. 2:3 See Ezek. 23:15-16) (Vines are often used to symbolize Israel. 2:2 See Isa. 5:1-7)  ("Jacob" and "Israel" here refer to both the northern and the southern countries—Israel and Judah.)  (2) Nineveh's defenders are weak and helpless and unable to hold off their attackers. (2:5)  (This verse reminds us of the helplessness we feel in a nightmare.)  (3) The city collapses. (2:6-10)  (Babylon conquered Nineveh in precisely the way that Nahum predicted.  "In the third year of the siege, however, heavy rains brought on a flood which broke down the walls about the city.  This is exactly the picture given by the prophet.  The canals of the great Tigris were opened and the palace was destroyed.  Such an end was decreed for by God Himself." Feinberg, The Minor Prophets.)  (4) The city ceases to exist. (2:11-13)  ("Where now is the lions' den?" 2:11)  (Statues of every kind of lion are found on Assyrian sculptors.  Nahum taunts the once fierce lion-like Assyrians.  The once-feared Assyrians are now in fear.)  ("In the later part of chapter 2 the prophet predicts that Nineveh's destruction would bring about total desolation and this was fulfilled so completely that when Alexander the Great marched across the site of Nineveh's in 331 B.C., he did not know that a great city had once stood there.  It was not until [A.D.] 1845 that the site of Nineveh was indentified and its ruins uncovered." Stedman, Highlights of the Bible.")

Nineveh's "endless cruelty" led to their terrible end. (3)  (1) Woe to the "city of blood." (3:1-4)  (These verses describe Assyria's wickedness, their atrocities, and their "lust" for "witchcraft.")  (2) "I am against you" and will expose your shame. (3:5-7)  (In Romans 8:31, it says "if God is for us, who can be against us?"  It is equally true that if God is against us, who can be for us?  And God was "against" Assyria!)  (God will bring them to shame in front of all of the other nations.  In these verses, God uses the most shameful acts that a person of that time could imagine to describe what their shame would be like. See also Isa. 47:3 and Ezek. 16:37-41(3) Can you stand when the mighty Thebes fell? (3:8-11)  ("No-Amon or Thebes was the greatest capital of Upper Egypt.  Students of Egyptian history consider it the first great city of the Near East, describing its ruins as the most magnificent of any ancient civilization anywhere in the world.  It was the capital city of the Pharaohs of the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Dynasties, and boasted such architecture as the Greeks and Romans admired.  The Greeks called it Diospolis, because the Egyptian counterpart of Jupiter was worshiped there.  It was located on both banks of the river Nile.  On the eastern bank was the famous temples at Karnack and Luxor.  Homer, the first Greek poet spoke of it as having one hundred gates.  Its ruins cover an area of some twenty-seven miles.  Amon, the chief God of the Egyptians, was shown on Egyptian relics as a figure with a human body and a ram's head.  The judgment of this godless and idolatrous city was foretold by Jeremiah (46.25) and Ezekiel (30:14-16). Feinberg, The Minor Prophets.)  (4) Nineveh's soldiers will be like helpless grasshoppers trying to fight a fire. (3:12-18)  (Nahum uses locusts to describe the helplessness of Nineveh against their attackers—the warriors are easily burnt up as locusts in a fire are burnt up, 3:15; their merchants are like locusts and strip the land clean, 3:16; and their guards are like locusts in the cold who cannot get their wings going, 3:17)  (Scholars differ on whether the attackers are like grasshoppers or whether the ones being attacked are like grasshoppers.  Whichever is the case, Nahum is describing Nineveh as being unable to defend itself as it stands helpless before an overwhelming army that is attacking it.)

Conclusion: "Nothing can heal your wound. (3:19)  ("After the destruction of Nineveh, it disappeared completely from history." Feinberg, The Minor Prophets.)

Key Verses: 1:7, 8, 15, 2:11, 12, 13, 3:1-4, 19

Key Teachings:  Evil will not prevail.  God will win in the end in every case. (3:19)  "The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him." 1:7)

Old Testament Overview Studies

Old Testament Overview
Table of Contents
Old Testament Overview Outline
Old Testament Overview Genesis
Old Testament Overview Exodus to Deuteronomy
Old Testament Overview Furniture of the Tabernacle
Old Testament Overview Dress of Priests and High Priest
Old Testament Overview Dress of High Priest
Old Testament Overview Canaan: What Can it Teach Us?
Old Testament Overview Israel, God's Kingdom
Old Testament Overview Moses—Failure the Backdoor to Success
Old Testament Overview The Mosaic Covenant
Old Testament Overview The Ten Commandments
Old Testament Overview The Offerings
Old Testament Overview Uncleanness
Old Testament Overview The Priesthood
Old Testament Overview The Festivals
Old Testament Overview The Nazirite Vow
Old Testament Overview Joshua to Ruth
Old Testament Overview Prophecies of the Redeemer—Genesis to Ruth
Old Testament Overview I and II Samuel
Old Testament Overview Saul and David Compared
Old Testament Overview Jonathan and David Compared
Old Testament Overview The Davidic Covenant
Old Testament Overview I And II Kings
Old Testament Overview Israel's and Judah's Kings
Old Testament Overview Divided Kings who Divided
Old Testament Overview Criticisms of God's Actions in the Old Testament
Old Testament Overview Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther
Old Testament Overview Ruth and Esther Compared
Old Testament Overview Job to Song of Solomon
Old Testament Overview Proverbs: Wise Man or Fool?
Old Testament Overview Isaiah
Old Testament Overview Jeremiah
Old Testament Overview Daniel
Old Testament Overview Hosea
Old Testament Overview Joel
Old Testament Overview Amos
Old Testament Overview Obadiah
Old Testament Overview Jonah
Old Testament Overview Micah
Old Testament Overview Nahum
Old Testament Overview Habakkuk
Old Testament Overview Zephaniah
Old Testament Overview Haggai
Old Testament Overview Zechariah
Old Testament Overview Malachi