‘’ ‘’I am against you,’’ declares the LORD Almighty.’’ (5a)
‘’What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?’’ (Romans 8:31).
We can know God as our enemy, as this chapter (and book in general) shows. Or we can have Him as our Friend. It is a terrible thing to have God be ‘’against’’ you; but it is wonderful to know that He is ‘’for’’ you. God is always ‘for’ Jesus, His perfect Son, and He is ‘for’ all who are in Jesus by trust in Him (See Nahum 1:7, 8).
The vivid picture of the judgment of Nineveh continues (1-4). You can hear the noise of the battle as well as see it. It is a portrait of shame and disgrace as well as one of death (5-7). The punishment described in (5) was a common one for prostitutes and adulteresses in Bible times. Such women were publicly put to shame. Did the Ninevites (Assyrians) have any true friends anywhere in the world? If they did, they were ‘conspicuous by their absence’. There was no queue to comfort this once brutal, now fallen, people (7). The Assyrians were among the cruellest people of their time and there was applause all round when they went down (19). They didn’t just spill copious amounts of blood, but also tortured people before killing them. Pride is a perennial problem of the human condition. The people of Nineveh were full of it. They thought they were standing, but they were going to have a great fall. They were not better than ‘’Thebes’’, another great city swept away in a tide of divine judgment (8-11). They had not learned the lesson of this disaster. Thebes was the chief city of Upper (southern) Egypt. For centuries it was one of the leading cities of the Middle East. But it was eventually captured and came to ruin. Its magnificent ruins can still be seen today. The Babylonians were going to find a vulnerable, wide-open people (12, 13), ‘’ripe’’ for the picking. Work as they might (14-17) the Assyrians will not be able to protect themselves. Their ‘’merchants’’ and ‘’guards’’ will let them down, making off with whatever they can take. When the time for judgment comes there is no adequate defence that can be constructed. You can’t keep God out! Here was a nation that was past the point of no return. It was too late for healing (18, 19). Her condition was terminal, and everyone standing round the ‘bedside’ was uproariously happy.
‘’When the story of your fate gets out, the whole world will applaud and cry ‘’Encore!’’ Your cruel evil has seeped into every nook and cranny of the world. Everyone has felt it and suffered.’’ The Message. When you watch the news this week, you may well hear disturbing things; alarming things – similar to the atrocities carried out by the Assyrians. I’m sure you don’t need me to make the connections between Nahum’s world and ours. The message remains the same. God will have the final say.
‘’Nahum’s message to Nineveh has been proven true by history: evil will be punished. But Nahum’s message to Judah (and to us) has also been proven true: The LORD is …a refuge in times of trouble (Nahum 1:7). The book of Nahum is thus a book of judgment and of comfort – judgment for the wicked and comfort for the righteous. For us, may Nahum be a prophet of comfort.’’ Tom Hale: ‘The Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.1275.
Prayer: ‘’Rock of Ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.’’