Voices for Revival – Study of Minor Prophets (Pre-Exilic Period)
Book of Nahum
The author of this book was Nahum himself. We know little about Nahum except he was from town of Elkosh. The period of Nahum ministry was dated between 663 – 612 BC. In versed 3:8 -10, Nahum spoke to the Assyrian in 663 BC of the fall of Thebes, a major city in Egypt as an event already past. With the fall of Nineveh in 612 BC, this would place him during time of King Josiah and make him a contemporary of Zephaniah and Jeremiah.
The setting of prophecy of Nahum is the long and painful oppression of Israel by Assyria. Assyria had been central in God’s affliction of His people for their sins. Samaria fell after a long siege and the Northern kingdom was destroyed and the people deported. ( 2 King 17: 3 – 6). Assyria then threatened Jerusalem causing terrible distress preceding the deliverance.( 2 Chron 32: 1 – 31). Judah was threatened and the disrupted the nation’s worship of God. The prophecy is meant for the people of Judah during this difficult times to encourage the people about God’ deliverances from this seemly invincible nation during this period. The name Nahum means comforter and applied to the people of Judah while for Nineveh which is the capital of Assyrian empire, God pronounced judgement for their sin. It is worthy to note that God had sent Jonah to preach the message of repentance to Nineveh some hundred years earlier. But the people had turned away from God and continued to sin and faced the wrath of God’s judgement.
The first 2 book of Nahum pronounced God’s judgement by the key word: “Fire, consume, devour , destroy ” indicating the end of Nineveh’s destruction. The prophecy is structured around the manner
(Flooding and Fire ) and set forth the causes ( Na 1: 4 – 10 ) and manner ( Na 1: 5 – 9 ) of Nineveh downfall. With the destruction of Nineveh in 618 BC together with the downfall of the Assyrians, God has vindicated Judah and fulfilled the prophecy of deliverance via Nahum. Nahum’s words have been noted to be precise in their fulfilment regarding the siege and fall of Nineveh and will stand as a remarkable example of fulfilled prophecy. based on historical and archaeological evidence. In Na 3:19, Nineveh was so totally destroyed in 612 BC that it was never rebuilt again, all in fulfilment of God’s word through his prophet Nahum.
– God’s Judgment and destruction against Nineveh
– Comfort to Judah
– God’s justice against sinners and care for “those who seek refuge in him” ( 1:7).
– Assyria was the most powerful nation during the period of Nahum’s prophetic ministry probably between 663 to 612 BC. Proud of their self sufficiency and military might, they plundered , oppressed and slaughtered their victims. For over 500 yrs, Nineveh and the Assyrians were feared as the terror of West Asia. But while God’s patience is infinite and deep, it did not preclude God’s judgment on this wicked city.
– The good news for Judah who were afflicted by the Assyrians, was the prophecy that they would be destroyed and would never rise to torment again. In fact, Nineveh was so completely wiped out that its ruins were not identified till 1845.
– Judah would be comforted to know that God had not forgotten about them and was in control. God was judging a sinful world. The message is clear: disobedience, rebellion, injustice will not prevail. It will be punished by a righteous , holy and sovereign God who rules over all the earth.
Na 1:7 – assurance reinforces twin truth of God’ s judgment against sinners and his cares for “those who trust in him”.
Na 1: 15 – A similar message is found in Isaiah 52:7 in the OT. Promise of the message of good news as the wicked Nineveh have been judged , a repentant Judah may once again worship God in peace. Not only will there be a relief from warfare for Judah, glad tidings of peace but also restoration of its people and resumption of Judah’s sacrifices and feast. Thanksgiving also to God for the Assyrian invaders have been destroyed and never again a threat to God’s people. Judah is called to celebration as God’s people inevitably are. Nahum reminds us that God is the ultimate ruler.