Read Nahum 1-3.
What verses especially teach us about the character of God? How can we apply what is seen here to our understanding of last-day events?
The prophecy of Nahum is God’s Word against the kingdoms of this world as represented by Nineveh. As the prophet looked at his world, he saw the hand of God moving against the Assyrian Empire. He announced that its capital city, Nineveh, would soon fall, never to rise again. Nahum spoke with absolute confidence because he knew God’s character and, through the gift of prophecy (Nah. 1:1), he had been shown by the Lord what would happen. The Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished (Nah. 1:3, Exod. 34:6-7).
The Assyrians had plundered many nations and had an insatiable lust for power. Their cruelty was notorious. As God’s “razor” (Isa. 7:20), they eagerly had shorn their neighbors. Now it was time for the razor to be broken. Instruments of God’s judgment are not exempt from judgment. Nineveh exists no more, but the prophetic testimony lives on. It reminds us that though God’s justice seems slow, nothing ultimately can stop it.
As we have seen in an earlier lesson, years before Nahum’s time, the Ninevites, having heard Jonah’s preaching, had repented, and God had spared their city. But the repentance had not lasted; the people returned to their old ways. Many countries that had suffered under its oppressive yoke would greet the news of Nineveh’s fall with thunderous applause. A messenger will come to bring good news (Isa. 52:7) that the power of Assyria is broken, with its gods. God’s people will again be able to worship in peace (Nah. 1:15).
As great as the Lord’s anger is, more tender is His mercy. He protects those who await the fullness of His goodness. Nahum teaches that God cares for those who trust in Him, but that with an overwhelming flood He will pursue His enemies into darkness (Nah. 1:8). God was behind it all, for He had determined that Nineveh’s day of judgment had come.
The prophet shows that God has awesome power. All creation trembles before Him. He does not tolerate sin forever. At the same time, He is the Savior of those who trust in Him. There is no middle ground. We are on one side or the other. “‘He who is not with Me,” Jesus said, “is against Me’” (Matt. 12:30, NKJV).