We’re also going to take a brief pause from our summer books (1 & 2 Chronicles) to read from some of the minor prophets that are either directly mentioned in 1 & 2 Chronicles or that lived and prophesied within the time frames of those books.
These short prophetical books help us understand what God’s people would have been hearing (and feeling) as they lived through some tumultuous times and help add color to the historical books we’re reading over the next couple of months!
There are 17 prophetic books in the Old Testament—five major prophets and twelve minor prophets. These twelve minor prophet books are no less important than the major prophets (like Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.), they are merely shorter and their scope is more focused. Nahum is one of those short, more focused books.
Scholars place Nahum’s prophecy between 663 and 654 B.C. Nahum was a prophet who, like Jonah about a century before him, had a message for Nineveh. While we know from Jonah 4 that there had been repentance from the Ninevites, a hundred years had passed and they had returned to their evil ways. Not only that, but now on the throne was King Manesseh, one of the most evil and depraved kings to ever rule over Judah.
While King Manasseh eventually repented a few years before his death, the years prior to that were some of the darkest and most wicked in Judah’s history. It was in that era that God (in His kindness) appointed Nahum, whose name means “comfort”, to speak on His behalf. His message was simple: God was going to judge the people of Nineveh for their sin and wickedness. While this message was dark for the Ninevites, it was hopeful for the faithful remnant who had been holding on to the truth (even in the midst of chaos all around them).
Pastor and former seminary professor Chuck Swindoll says this about how we can apply Nahum’s message in our own lives today:
“No doubt we all have felt overwhelmed by the darkness both within ourselves and in our world. Nahum lived in a dark time, a time in which the faithful few must have wondered how long they would have to resist cultural and spiritual compromise…The prophet Nahum reminds us of God’s active hand, working even in the darkest of times to bring justice and hope throughout the world.”
As we read this short book over the coming days, let’s collectively ask God to show us how we can live faithfully, even in the midst of increasing idolatry and chaos around us.
Read Nahum 1
1 A prophecy concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.
The Lord’s Anger Against Nineveh
2 The Lord is a jealous and avenging God;
the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath.
The Lord takes vengeance on his foes
and vents his wrath against his enemies.
3 The Lord is slow to anger but great in power;
the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.
His way is in the whirlwind and the storm,
and clouds are the dust of his feet.
4 He rebukes the sea and dries it up;
he makes all the rivers run dry.
Bashan and Carmel wither
and the blossoms of Lebanon fade.
5 The mountains quake before him
and the hills melt away.
The earth trembles at his presence,
the world and all who live in it.
6 Who can withstand his indignation?
Who can endure his fierce anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire;
the rocks are shattered before him.
7 The Lord is good,
a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him,
8 but with an overwhelming flood
he will make an end of Nineveh;
he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness.
9 Whatever they plot against the Lord
he will bring to an end;
trouble will not come a second time.
10 They will be entangled among thorns
and drunk from their wine;
they will be consumed like dry stubble.
11 From you, Nineveh, has one come forth
who plots evil against the Lord
and devises wicked plans.
12 This is what the Lord says:
“Although they have allies and are numerous,
they will be destroyed and pass away.
Although I have afflicted you, Judah,
I will afflict you no more.
13 Now I will break their yoke from your neck
and tear your shackles away.”
14 The Lord has given a command concerning you, Nineveh:
“You will have no descendants to bear your name.
I will destroy the images and idols
that are in the temple of your gods.
I will prepare your grave,
for you are vile.”
15 Look, there on the mountains,
the feet of one who brings good news,
who proclaims peace!
Celebrate your festivals, Judah,
and fulfill your vows.
No more will the wicked invade you;
they will be completely destroyed.
The vision of Nahum in this opening chapter displays a God who is willing to protect the people that He has made a covenant with–the people that trust in Him. Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, is a people who have been oppressing the Israelites. This is paralleled to the Egyptians, who oppressed the Israelites centuries earlier. In Nahum’s vision, we hear a parallel from the time of Exodus, “The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are dust of his feet” (Exodus 34:6-7). God is not slow to directly handle the enemies of His people because He is incapable or distant. God is slow to anger, because He has a love that is hopeful for hearts to be softened and turned back towards Him.
We’re reminded of another aspect of the the powerful nature of God’s love in v. 7-8:
“The Lord is good,
a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him.”
Even in the face of wickedness and judgment for the evildoers surrounding God’s people, there’s a reminder that He preserves and protects the faithful remaining remnant who trust in Him. A refuge is a safe place, where we find safety and security. In a confused and broken world, we are often tempted to seek refuge in possessions, substances, or anything else that might bring temporary relief. This truth that Nahum shared almost three thousand years ago is equally true and applicable to us today.
Just like the picture of the running father in the story of the prodigal son, we have a credulous Father in heaven, who is ready to welcome home those that He has created. We are called to trust Him that He is protecting us from evil. We are called to hope in Him as we persevere through trials and tribulations. We are called to these things because we have seen the same God do that over and over again, with the Israelties in Egypt and Nineveh, and even with us today. He is the same God with the same love that always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
- How has God protected you in the past from something difficult in your life?
- Do you remember that God is the same and faithful when He is just (like in this chapter) and when allows the wicked to prosper?
- Have you processed that God’s wrath for others does not mean He is evil? Instead, He is protecting those that He loves?
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