One point I’d like to mention with regard to Jonah and Nahum is their relevance to the Israelites/Jews. Jonah and Nahum were prophesies about the city of Nineveh. Jonah specifically was told to go into Nineveh and preach to them. But why the record of that event? Who received that written record and why? Same for Nahum?
The answer is, of course, that God’s people, the descendants of Abraham, the Jews received these texts and by divine inspiration included them in their scriptures. Jesus quoted from them as divinely inspired books. So while the city of Nineveh was the target of Jonah’s preaching, the subject of Nahum’s vision, the target audience for the writings themselves are the Jews. Nineveh is therefore held up as a lesson to the Jews on two premises.
1) That God is also the God of the Gentiles. He cares about them as He cares about the Israelites, even though He chose the Israelite nation for a special, specific purpose.
2) As an example to what happens to those nations who would come against God’s people. Looking forward to the time of Christ, specifically, the Jews should have recalled the example of Assyria (Nineveh is the capital of that nation) when they sought to destroy the church. It is in this vein that Nineveh is a type, a spiritual comparison to Jerusalem.
1The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite. 2God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.
First Nahum sets the context. He is receiving a vision concerning the capital of a foreign nation with false gods. So he repeatedly identifies the God who will take vengeance on Nineveh, Assyria as Jehovah (translated at “the LORD” in the KJV). Second, this is the burden, the woe, the prophetic pronouncement against Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria in a time before the captivity of Judah. It has no relationship whatsoever to the end of the kosmos.
3The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.
Through the vivid images of the air and sky, Jehovah is seen to be longsuffering, powerful, and just. These images are representative of that power which Jehovah wields through the armies of the nations of the world. Whirlwinds and clouds especially are associated with chariots (e.g. Elijah’s ascension) and vast armies (covered numerous times in this blog already).
4He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth.
Nahum continues his description of the power of Jehovah through His command of water. Seas and rivers are seen as armies either as attackers (e.g. Isa. 8:7) or barriers to attack (Isa. 11:15; 19:5-6). Herein the army of Assyria is laid waste by God’s will. This is a prediction that Assyria will loose the battle of defending itself from invaders.
5The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.
Uh oh, melting things and the whole earth/world being on fired and burned up. Must be about the end of the kosmos, right? Not contextually! Mountains are seen as domains (Isa. 2:2; Jer. 4:24), the earth are the people of the land or nation (Isa. 1:2,10). In this particular instance all of the domains, all of the people of Assyria would be conquered and their nation ended. The contrast here with 2 Pet. 3 is that there is no new earth/land and no new heavens/sky (from vs. 3). Assyria would end completely.
6Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.
Fire is judgment again.
7The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him. 8But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies.
The flood is the enemy army that will overwhelm Nineveh and the Assyrians.
9What do ye imagine against the LORD? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time. 10For while they be folden together as thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry. 11There is one come out of thee, that imagineth evil against the LORD, a wicked counsellor. 12Thus saith the LORD; Though they be quiet, and likewise many, yet thus shall they be cut down, when he shall pass through. Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more. 13For now will I break his yoke from off thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder. 14And the LORD hath given a commandment concerning thee, that no more of thy name be sown: out of the house of thy gods will I cut off the graven image and the molten image: I will make thy grave; for thou art vile. 15Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.
As Nahum pronounces judgment against Nineveh, we see the true target of the message, Judah. To this target of Nahum’s writing, the warning is given that Jehovah is a stronghold in times of trouble and knows who trusts in Him, therefore Judah should remain faithfully obedient to God as God will utterly end their aggressors, the Assyrians (who will have already taken the Northern Tribes captive).
1He that dasheth in pieces is come up before thy face: keep the munition, watch the way, make thy loins strong, fortify thy power mightily. 2For the LORD hath turned away the excellency of Jacob, as the excellency of Israel: for the emptiers have emptied them out, and marred their vine branches. 3The shield of his mighty men is made red, the valiant men are in scarlet: the chariots shall be with flaming torches in the day of his preparation, and the fir trees shall be terribly shaken. 4The chariots shall rage in the streets, they shall justle one against another in the broad ways: they shall seem like torches, they shall run like the lightnings. 5He shall recount his worthies: they shall stumble in their walk; they shall make haste to the wall thereof, and the defence shall be prepared. 6The gates of the rivers shall be opened, and the palace shall be dissolved.
A vivid description of the utter inability of Nineveh to protect itself.
7And Huzzab shall be led away captive, she shall be brought up, and her maids shall lead her as with the voice of doves, tabering upon their breasts. 8But Nineveh is of old like a pool of water: yet they shall flee away. Stand, stand, shall they cry; but none shall look back. 9Take ye the spoil of silver, take the spoil of gold: for there is none end of the store and glory out of all the pleasant furniture. 10She is empty, and void, and waste: and the heart melteth, and the knees smite together, and much pain is in all loins, and the faces of them all gather blackness.
Nineveh is compared to a virgin captured with her maids. She will be made captive, a spoil of war and despoiled of all that is pleasant about her, left to be a used and empty waste in pain and great fear.
11Where is the dwelling of the lions, and the feedingplace of the young lions, where the lion, even the old lion, walked, and the lion's whelp, and none made them afraid? 12The lion did tear in pieces enough for his whelps, and strangled for his lionesses, and filled his holes with prey, and his dens with ravin. 13Behold, I am against thee, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will burn her chariots in the smoke, and the sword shall devour thy young lions: and I will cut off thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard.
All the great might of Assyria will be destroyed, all of the economic provender that Assyria had will be gone, all her leaders (king, queens, princes, generals, etc.) will be destroyed.
1Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not; 2The noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the pransing horses, and of the jumping chariots. 3The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear: and there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcases; and there is none end of their corpses; they stumble upon their corpses:
Because of Nineveh’s depredations the army of he enemy will breach her walls and fill the city with bloodshed.
4Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the wellfavoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts. 5Behold, I am against thee, saith the LORD of hosts; and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will shew the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame. 6And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a gazingstock. 7And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her? whence shall I seek comforters for thee?
The only other city beside Samaria and Jerusalem and the only city not of God’s people ever referred to explicitly (by name) as a whore in scripture is Nineveh. In this we get a precise definition of what whoredom is, a city selling itself to other nations through economic, political, and religious avenues.
Nineveh will be stripped bare in front of and by the other nations of the world (mainly Persia) and made into nothing of any use to anyone.
It is important to reiterate the point that Nineveh is being held up as an example to Judah in this book of prophecy.
8Art thou better than populous No, that was situate among the rivers, that had the waters round about it, whose rampart was the sea, and her wall was from the sea? 9Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite; Put and Lubim were thy helpers.
No was a city with rivers on two sides and the sea on a third. It was a city in Egypt and located in the delta of the Nile. Defendable by its geography and wealthy because of the same.
10Yet was she carried away, she went into captivity: her young children also were dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets: and they cast lots for her honourable men, and all her great men were bound in chains.
Yet No was sacked.
11Thou also shalt be drunken: thou shalt be hid, thou also shalt seek strength because of the enemy. 12All thy strong holds shall be like fig trees with the firstripe figs: if they be shaken, they shall even fall into the mouth of the eater. 13Behold, thy people in the midst of thee are women: the gates of thy land shall be set wide open unto thine enemies: the fire shall devour thy bars.
Like No, Nineveh will be sacked by her enemies even though it is powerful and well defended.
14Draw thee waters for the siege, fortify thy strong holds: go into clay, and tread the morter, make strong the brickkiln.
Nahum says to go ahead and build up your defenses, Nineveh. It will not avail you anything.
15There shall the fire devour thee; the sword shall cut thee off, it shall eat thee up like the cankerworm: make thyself many as the cankerworm, make thyself many as the locusts.
Fire and locusts, the symbols of the conquering army. Locusts specifically are representative of a swarm or great number.
16Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven: the cankerworm spoileth, and fleeth away. 17Thy crowned are as the locusts, and thy captains as the great grasshoppers, which camp in the hedges in the cold day, but when the sun ariseth they flee away, and their place is not known where they are. 18Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria: thy nobles shall dwell in the dust: thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them. 19There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?
The trade which made Assyria great will leave Nineveh. Assyrias generals which number as locusts will abandon the king. All of Assyria will suffer as the nation is destroyed completely and forever.
In Truth and Love,