A Christian Perspective on the Book of Nahum: “Comfort” and “Vengeance”


The Nergal Gate seen guarding the ancient city of Nineveh
Restored by Saddam Hussein and Destroyed in by ISIL in 2016 (Credit: Lachicaphoto/WikiCommons)

Prophecy of God’s Just Judgment against Nineveh, the capital of Assyria (and its king Sennacherib?); Comfort for Those Who Trust in God, but Vengeance for God’s Enemies

The Book of Nahum begins with these words, “The burden of Nineveh.” And we next read that it is a book of the “vision” provided by God to Nahum (meaning “Comfort”) the Elkoshite (meaning “gathered” or “ensnared” by God). The “burden” of the “vision” is that the book is a prophesy of judgment against Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, in punishment for its destruction of Israel and all of Judah except Jerusalem. But it is also a book of “Comfort” to all those whom God “gathers” or “ensnares”. Remember that Jesus said in John 6:44, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” And in Ephesians 1:10, “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; [even] in him:” or in Matthew 3:12 where we read of John the Baptist talking about Jesus coming on Judgment Day, “Whose fan [is] in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garnerbut he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And as we will see, Nineveh is an historical allegorical “type” representing all of God’s enemies, the unsaved, who will be destroyed by fire on Judgment Day.

Historical Context of Nahum:

The Book of Nahum is from approximately 700 BC, or perhaps around one hundred years or more after Jonah (When Nineveh was first spared by God, by His Grace, when the people repented upon hearing the preaching of God’s Word by Jonah His prophet…please see: https://bereansearching.com/2009/09/19/a-christian-study-of-the-book-of-jonah/). However, the more recent pronouncements of God against Nineveh via Nahum are entirely judgmental, foretelling only destruction.

1) Isaiah chapter 10 (about the same time as Nahum, ~ 700 BC) describes how God used Assyria as an instrument of Judgment in his hand. Verse 5, “O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation.” Isaiah 10:15 also tells us why God would violently remove Sennacherib…because Sennacherib was like an axe boasting against the Hewer Who used it, as opposed to God raising up Sennacherib and using Assyria as an axe to punish Israel and the majority of all of Judah, except Jerusalem (for apostasy) “Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? [or] shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake [itself] against them that lift it up, [or] as if the staff should lift up [itself, as if it were] no wood.” The book also pronounces the just judgment and the related destruction of Nineveh (and it being forever only as a place of only beasts grazing (which is still the case today) and as later also foretold in Zephaniah 2:13-1).  King Sennecherib, the King of Assyria, was defeated upon besieging Jerusalem by the Angel of the LORD during the reign of King Hezekiah (2Ki 19:35-39, Isa 37:36–382Ch 32:20–23 ). The Bible tells us in those passages that Sennecherib subsequently returned to Nineveh and was murdered by two of his sons. The timing is not entirely clear, but it was roughly around 700 BC more or less. Later, in complete fulfillment of Nahum’s prophecy, Nineveh was ultimately completely sacked and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar around 612 BC.

Inside the Old Walls of Nineveh in 2019, currently occupied by squatters, no paved roads north of the Korsr River (Credit: Levi Clancy/WikiCommons)

However, Jeremiah 50:17 & 18 tells us of the latter’s (Babylon’s) fate as well, “Israel [is] a scattered sheep; the lions have driven [him] away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones. Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria.

Note also that just as God raised up Sennacherib in Assyria to bring judgment/punishment to Israel and Judah, and then later disposes of that ruler, it is consistent with God raising up Pharaoh in Moses day to serve God’s purposes (Romans 9:17 & 18, “For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.”), and then later similarly with Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. The Bible student should in particular note the clear comparison with what we read in Isaiah 14 we read in verse 4, “That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar), and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!” and then in verses 12-15, that the king of Babylon is likened to the devil because we read, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! [how] art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” The devil in his pride sought to be like God, yet we know from Proverbs 16:18 that, “Pride [goeth] before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

God states that it is a “proverb” because in all three cases, all three of these rulers were used of God, and were full of pride, and then were brought low, and, ultimately, they and their kingdoms were destroyed. Isaiah 14 teaches us that God was using them as allegorical lessons to show us what God has done with the devil and what God will do to the devil on Judgment Day. This is the comfort and consolation. There is mercy to God’s chosen people, and also judgment and justice brought upon God’s (and the believers’) enemies on Judgment Day.

2) 2 Kings 19:5-7, “So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah. And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say to your master, Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and shall return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.” Please also note that this wording is identical (word for word) to what we read in Isaiah 37:5-7, “So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah. And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say unto your master, Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard, wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.

As mentioned above, not only was the king of Assyria, Sennacherib to be eliminated, but the capital of Assyria, Nineveh, would also be laid completely waste as we read in Zephaniah 2:13-15, (about 70 years later in ~630 BC) “And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, [and] dry like a wilderness”. And flocks shall lie down in the midst of her, all the beasts of the nations: both the cormorant and the bittern shall lodge in the upper lintels of it; their voice shall sing in the windows; desolation shall be in the thresholds: for he shall uncover the cedar work. This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passeth by her shall hiss, and wag his hand.”

Chapter 1: It begins with “The burden of Nineveh”

The “Burden of Nineveh” is a sign that God is about to pronounce a judgment against Nineveh. However, Nahum, means “Comfort” or “Consolation” and he is an Elkoshite (meaning “Gathered” or “Ensnared” by God). Nahum was from an area that is not specifically known. However, Capernaum, which literally means “Nahum’s village”, is located on the northwest shore of Galilee. Capernaum was the home of Peter, Andrew, and Matthew and Jesus moved there after leaving Nazareth. We read in Matthew 4:13, “And leaving Nazareth, he (Jesus) came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:

(SIDE NOTE: Jesus pronounced a judgment against Capernaum later in Matthew 11:23, “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.“)

God’s Vengeance Against His Enemies

Next we read in verse 2 that God is “jealous” and “furious” and that God will “take vengeance”(נָקַם) against His adversaries/enemies. We know that this is consistent with what we read in many places in the Bible such as Deuteronomy 32:35, “To me belongeth vengeance (Naqam נָקָם), and recompence; their foot shall slide in [due] time: for the day of their calamity [is] at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.” and 32:41, “If I whet my glittering sword (Barak H1300 For more on Barak, please see: https://bereansearching.com/2009/09/19/the-battle-of-armageddon-the-earthly-version-already-happened/), and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance (Naqam נָקָם) to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me.” and 32:43, “Rejoice, O ye nations, [with] his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance (Naqam נָקָם) to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, [and] to his people.” Next in Isaiah 34:8, similarly we read where in the context of the end of the world and Judgment Day, “For [it is] the day of the LORD’S vengeance (Naqam נָקָם), [and] the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion.” Also in Isiah 63:4, “For the day of vengeance (Naqam נָקָם) is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.” Micah 5:15 also says, “And I will execute vengeance (Naqam נָקָם) in anger and fury upon the heathen, such as they have not heard.”

In the New Testament, in Luke 21:22, we read that Jesus said just before the end, during the great tribulation in the advent to Judgment Day, “For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” We are reminded of this in Romans 12:19, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” We get a little more insight on this in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9, “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

And we can derive additional confirmation when we look at these verses speaking prophetically of Jesus Christ coming as Judge on Judgment Day in Isaiah 59:17&18, “For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance (Naqam נָקָם) [for] clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke. According to [their] deeds, accordingly he will repayfury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompence.” This is corroborated in Jeremiah 46:10, “For this [is] the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance (Naqam נָקָם), that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord GOD of hosts hath a sacrifice* in the north country by the river Euphrates.

* The reference to the LORD’s sacrifice is interesting because we also see in Zephaniah 1:7&8 that there is similar wording, “Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD [is] at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests. And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD’S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.” It appears very likely that God is declaring that Judgment Day will also be to Him “the day of the LORD’S sacrifice“. Other verses that support that view can be found in Ezekiel 39:17-19, “And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field,Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, [even] a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood. Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan. And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you.” But the reader should read on the end of the chapter to see that the eternal Israel of God will nonetheless be fully restored as we read in the last verse, Eze 39:29, “Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.

We also know from Revelation 14:10&11 that the wicked, who worship the beast rather than God, will burn forever at Judgment Day like a sacrifice on an alter, “The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

God’s Comfort to His Church

However, we are also reminded in verse 3, and provided this “comfort” and “consolation“, that “The LORD [is] slow to anger, and great in power,” and that God is just because He, “will not at all acquit [the wicked]:” Interestingly, God tells us in Isaiah 35:4 that, “Say to them [that are] of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come [with] vengeance (Naqam נָקָם), [even] God [with] a recompence; he will come and save you.” So then, we again see here how God promises and provides comfort and salvation to His people, the believing Christians, because God will utterly destroy His enemies with a recompensing “vengeance.”

So then, regardless or where we look in the Bible, we continue to see this amazing consistency with what we know is true for the enemies of God (the unsaved of the world), whereby their recompense is eternal death in Hell, while the comfort for the believers is the promise of eternal life in Heaven with God as we are told in Romans 6:3, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Although much of the rest of Chapter 1 is more about God’s wrath and judgment, God also makes clear by Nahum that the only place of safety from that wrath and judgment is with Him. In verse 7, we read more comfort and consolation, “The LORD [is] good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” It is also useful to go back to read Psalm 103, all of it, but verse 8 reminds us again that, “The LORD [is] merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.

Breaking the Yoke of Bondage

Note however that God seems to indirectly mention the King of Assyria, Sennacherib (and therefore allegorically the devil) because we read in verse 11, “There is [one] come out of thee, that imagineth evil against the LORD, a wicked counsellor.” and later in verse 13 is the comfort (historically to Israel and Judah, and spiritually to all believers in Jesus) that, “For now will I break his yoke from off thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder.” Jesus Is the Only One to break our bonds to sin, death, and the devil, and to plunder the devil’s house of bondage, as we read where Jesus, reading from Isaiah 61:1-2 in the synagogue in Luke 4:18-21, said, “The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave [it] again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Isaiah 61:2 is the Book of Nahum in a Nutshell

Very interestingly what was not mentioned in the Luke account, but is at the end of Isaiah 61:2, “To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance (Naqam נָקָם) of our God; to comfort (Nahum נָחַם) all that mourn;” There it is!… just like we are learning about the Book of Nahum, it is a book of God’s “comfort” (Nahum נָחַם) to the believers and God’s “vengeance” (Naqam נָקָם) to the unbelieving world.

NOTE TO THE READER: We should all pay close attention to three things…

1) In the Luke account, It was Jesus Who “opened the book” of Isaiah in verse 17, because it is really only Jesus, as the Son of God, Who can “open” “the book” (as we also read in Revelation, chapter 5);

2) and it was Jesus Who “closed the book half way through the second verse of Isaiah 61:2, after which Jesus said “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”; and

3) The reason that Jesus “closed the book” at that point is because the rest of the verse is pointing directly to Judgment Day, at which time Jesus will bring vengeance for God’s enemies and comfort to the believers.  Jesus had to “close the book” if He was going to say the prophesy was “fulfilled” in their ears that day! Jesus could not go any further in the text, and had to stop mid-verse, because Judgment Day is only going to be fulfilled at the “end of the world”!  That is pretty amazing when you stop to think about it!

Remember also that in Revelation 3:7 we read that only Jesus has the “key of David” and only Jesus Is The One Who “openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;” and in Revelation 5:5, that Only Jesus “the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book“. What is also a comfort, is that Jesus said that He would send the “Comforter” the “Spirit of Truth” Who would lead His sheep into “all Truth” and He would speak of Jesus (John 15:26, and John 16:13). Believers are given the promise that Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, would open the book (the Bible) for us to see Jesus.  In Luke 4, Jesus specifically said that He would open the eyes of the blind…”recovering of sight to the blind.” See also:   Pro 25:2Pro 20:12Psa 119:18

Lastly, it is most interesting that in Isaiah 34:16 God tells us directly to read “the book” (the Bible), “Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them.

Bringing the Gospel of Peace and Comfort to a Sin Darkened World

Finally there is the promise of comfort and consolation for the believers who are used by God to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ in verse 15, the last verse of Nahum, Chapter 1, “Behold 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.” Note how God cross-references to this in Isaiah 52:7-10, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion. Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

Finally, in Romans 10:15, we are provided additional spiritual context with regard to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

Chapters 2 and 3: Prophesies that Focus on Nineveh’s Judgment and Destruction

Verse 1, of Chapter 2, says “He that dasheth in pieces is come up before thy face…” but it can also be translated as a hammer that dashes in pieces. This seems to suggest, correctly that God would use Babylon to means by which God would destroy Nineveh (and hence Assyria) as we read how Babylon is called the “hammer of the whole earth” in Jeremiah 50:23, “How is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken! how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations!” The prophesy was fulfilled when Nebuchadnezzar, in the first year of his reign in Babylon, in conjunction with Cyaxares, or Ahasuerus, king of the Medes, conquered Nineveh, and made himself master of the Assyrian monarchy. Nonetheless, we should also remember Jeremiah 23:29, “[Is] not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer [that] breaketh the rock in pieces?” that Jesus is the “Word made flesh” and He is like a consuming fire and a hammer that will smash God’s enemies into dust. And more corroboration can be found in Exodus 15: 6 we read, “Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. Jesus Is frequently described as Being the “Right Hand” of God the Father, and there are many verses that show this, but these help to clarify…Psalm 118:16, “The right hand of the LORD is exalted: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly.”; Psalm 138:7, “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.”; and Psalm 139:10, “Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” And we also know from 1 Peter 3:22, that Jesus, now in Heaven, “is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him“.

Verse 2 is a difficult verse because the language can be interpreted multiple ways. The King James Translation reads as, “For 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.” The word “hath turned away” is from the Hebrew word “Shoob” (שׁוּב) and is found over 1000 times in the Old Testament and can mean variously “return”, “return again”, “turn”, “turn again”, “recover”, “recompense”, “withdraw”, or “requite”. And then the word “excellency” is from the Hebrew word “ga’on” (גָּאוֹן)H1347  found roughly 50 times in the Old Testament which can mean variously “pride”, “excellency”, “majesty” or “arrogancy.”

Some negative examples to consider include Psalm 59:12, “[For] the sin of their mouth [and] the words of their lips let them even be taken in their pride: H1347 and for cursing and lying [which] they speak.” and Proverbs 8:13, “The fear of the LORD [is] to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, H1347 and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” and Proverbs 16:18, “Pride H1347 [goeth] before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

Some positive examples to consider are Exodus 15:7, describing Jesus, “And in the greatness of thine excellency H1347 thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, [which] consumed them as stubble.” and in Psalm 47:4, “He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellencyH1347  of Jacob whom he loved. Selah.”

So then, it may well be that we are seeing two things conveyed at once…much like bringing comfort and vengeance at the same time. This verse might be interpreted as saying either that God is returning, or coming back to Israel (and hence also Jacob), to restore its former “majesty”, or that God would “recompense” Assyria for its sin of “pride” and “arrogance” because “the emptiers have emptied them (Israel) out” and “and marred their (Israel’s) vine branches.” Assyria sacked and destroyed Israel and nearly all of Judah. Assyria “emptied” them. And it most certainly marred (the Hebrew word is most commonly interpreted as “destroyed”) Israel’s “vine branches”.

But then what about “vine branches”. This word phrase is also complicated. In the original Hebrew text it is “zᵊmôrâ” (זְמוֹרָה), which can be translated as something pruned, such as a “branch”, “twig”, “shoot”, or “slip”. And apparently, the word has a primarily negative connotation, because it refers to plants used in some form of idolatrous worship. We can see this in Isaiah 17:10, “Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength, therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants, and shalt set it with strange slips:” In Ezekiel Chapter 15, God describes Jerusalem as a useless vine fit only for the fire and in the last verse (15) declares, “And I will make the land desolate, because they have committed a trespass, saith the Lord GOD.” The key verse to consider is verse 2, which says, “Son of man, What is the vine tree more than any tree, or [than] a branch (zᵊmôrâזְמוֹרָה) which is among the trees of the forest? So it may be that God is reiterating that Israel and Judah were destroyed by the Assyrians (and later Jerusalem by the Babylonians) because of their idolatrous activities, and that everything associated with those activities was also destroyed.

Verse 3 reads as follows, “The 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.” Once again we have a difficult verse to understand. However, it does appear at this point that this verse is pointing towards the earthly judgment against Nineveh, as well as the upcoming supernatural Judgment Day at the end of the world. We know through comparison of scripture with scripture (spiritual things with spiritual things) that “mighty men” refers most often to those in league with God. The word for mighty in Hebrew is gibôr (גִּבּוֹר) H1368 which is found about 158 times in the Old Testament. When we look at Ruth Chapter 2:1, we read, “And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name [was] Boaz.” From our study of Ruth we know that Boaz was used of God to be a “type” of the Lord Jesus Christ. We also know that this same word is used by God to directly describe Jesus in Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mightyH1368 God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” In Zephaniah 3:17, it is absolutely clear that God is the “Mighty” One, “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee [is] mightyH1368; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

We also know that the words “red” and “scarlet” can be associated with blood, but also sin. It is interesting to note that the name Adam, the first man, means “Red”. Although the word for scarlet in this verse is unique, as seems to be referring to clothing having been “dyed red”, we do know from Isaiah 1:18 that, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” We also see references to red being likened to wine (and blood) from a winepress in Isaiah 63:1-4 and Revelation 14:19, and 14:20, “And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand [and] six hundred furlongs.” and Revelation 19:15.

And what about the “fir trees”? In Isaiah 60:13 we read that the fir tree represents the believers, “The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious.” See also Isaiah 41:19 and 55:13.

In Hosea 14:8, we see: “Ephraim [shall] say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard [him], and observed him: I [am] like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found.

But what about the chariots with “flaming torches”, the word for flaming in the original Hebrew is “‘ēš” (אֵשׁ)H784 meaning “fire”, and it is the same Hebrew word here in Genesis 19:24, “Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire H784 from the LORD out of heaven;

So it would seem, therefore, that God is bringing judgment with His mighty host with chariots of fire against Nineveh typifying the world and the believers are “terribly shaken”. This is consistent with what we read in Psalm 119:119,120, “Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth [like] dross: therefore I love thy testimonies. My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments.

Verse 4

In verse 4 we get a clearer indication of the judgment being pronounced, because it evokes what we have found earlier in Judges, Chapter 4 where we learned about Barak and Deborah’s husband, Lapidoth (under the heading of “Barak, a Portrait of Jesus Christ as the Ultimate Judgehttps://bereansearching.com/2009/09/19/the-battle-of-armageddon-the-earthly-version-already-happened/). The same two words appear together again where similar decisive judgment is being pronounced against Nineveh, “The chariots shall rage in the streets, they shall justle one against another in the broad ways: they shall seem like torches (lapid H3940), they shall run like the lightnings (barak H1300).” Although the literal, historical aspect of this prophesy was fulfilled about 612 BC, when the chariots of the Babylonians and of the Medes that would be going through the streets of Nineveh and bringing destruction to Nineveh, spiritually it was pointing to the end of the world on Judgment Day when Jesus will come as we read in Matthew 24:27, “...as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” And we also know that Jesus coming on Judgment Day was described by the Prophet Daniel in a terrifying vision in verse 10:6, “His body also [was] like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning (barak H1300), and his eyes as lamps (lapid H3940) of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.

Verses 5-10

These verses seem to make clear that God is going to destroy Nineveh completely. It appears that God will remember (“Recount”) the military men of Nineveh who will hastily attempt to defend the city at the wall, but they will “stumble. And then God would seem to be suggesting that a great river flood would wash away much of the city, including the palace. The Tigris River is immediately adjacent to Nineveh, the remaining ruins of which are today protected from flooding by a large dam upstream. The city would become defenseless and easy prey for the invaders to conquer and sack. The captives, labeled “Huzzab” meaning “to stand”, would in effect make their last stand and then be taken away as captives. We then see the name of the city clearly mentioned, Nineveh, which is compared to “of old like a pool of water.” From what it is possible to glean this phrase looking at the Hebrew etymology it seems to imply that the pool of water is polluted water. The cry goes out to “Stand, stand;”, “but none shall look back”, so effectively no one regards it. Then in verse 10, we read that all the gold and silver and all the things of desire within Nineveh are taken away and the city is left desolate.

Verses 11-13 describe Nineveh (the capital of the Assyrian Empire) as metaphorically having been the dwelling place of fearless, ravenous, young lions that devoured their prey (Israel and most of Judah), but the last verse makes clear that God had had enough of Nineveh and the Assyrian exploits and would completely destroy Nineveh, “Behold, 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.” This is also consistent with what we read in Zephaniah 2:13-15, “And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, [and] dry like a wilderness. And flocks shall lie down in the midst of her, all the beasts of the nations: both the cormorant and the bittern shall lodge in the upper lintels of it; [their] voice shall sing in the windows; desolation [shall be] in the thresholds: for he shall uncover the cedar work. This [is] the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I [am], and [there is] none beside me: how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passeth by her shall hiss, [and] wag his hand.

Chapter 3 is a reiteration of the judgments promised in Chapter 2. Some notable points include the woes to Nineveh the “bloody city” and the judgments for its abominable whoredoms and witchcrafts that will involve the “glittering spear“(barak H1300) that result in dead corpses everywhere. When we read in verse 12, “All thy strong holds [shall be like] fig trees with the first ripe figs: if they be shaken, they shall even fall into the mouth of the eater.” This is reminiscent of Judgment Day as described in Isaiah 34:4, “And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling [fig] from the fig tree.” The nakedness of Nineveh’s sins are exposed and there is no healing for the grievous wounds. The chapter ends without hope and everlasting destruction to Nineveh.

Conclusion

In the book of Nahum, Nineveh is used as a type for the world today prior to Judgment Day. Although the prophesy of destruction was made and fulfilled against Nineveh in roughly 621 BC, it is a prophesy that must be heeded today, as it is another of many prophesies pointing to the end of this world and Judgment Day when Jesus returns on the clouds of glory from Heaven to met out vengeance against all those in league with the devil. The book also, by its very name, Nahum meaning “comfort” offers comfort to the believers who are promised salvation.

This book is not some useless minor book of prophesy with little relevance to the world today. It offers both comfort to the believers in Jesus Christ and promises of vengeance to those who never become saved. It is a chilling testimony of the realities that the Bible makes clear to anyone who has been given the spiritual eyes to see and ears to hear.

Explore posts in the same categories: Bible Studies

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