Summary: Despite the lawlessness we see around us, we are not to fear but to trust in God and to follow Him.
The Book of Nahum
I would like to look at one verse from our Old Testament reading – from the book of Nahum.
Question: Has anyone here actually read the book of Nahum – and if you have read it can you remember what it is all about?
You might wonder why I even dipped into the book of Nahum, because I can quite honestly say, before Friday evening I had little idea what was in it.
Story: It all came about as I was chatting one evening with Pastor Christian Allenspach – who is staying with us together with his family.
Christian is a pastor of a rural Swiss church of about 200-300 people, to which my eldest son Jonny goes.
One evening last week, we got talking about books of the Bible that we find hard to get a handle on.
Mine is the book of Jonah - which I have been studying in a Skype Bible study group with my friend Martin Purnell in Northern Ireland.
But for Christian it was the book of Nahum.
Now I have been to the Church Jonny attends in Switzerland for the dedication of two of my grandchildren, Zane and Kayla and I have heard Christian preach and have found his preaching inspiring.
So I was intrigued.
So I decided to look up the book of Nahum which is the seventh of the 12 Minor Prophets in the Old Testament.
1. The Author.
We don’t know much about Nahum other than he was an Elkoshite .
Scholars believe the village of Elkosh is the modern day town of Alqosh, about 30 miles from Mosul in Iraq, and the tomb of Nahum is believed to be in the synagogue of Alqosh. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nahum)
The book was probably written in the 7th Century BC in Jerusalem- just before the fall of Ninevah in 612 BC and after the sacking of Thebes in Egypt by the Assyrian King Assurbanipal in around 663 BC - referred to in Nahum 3.8.
The name Nahum means “comforter”, which he might well have been for Israel when he prophesied destruction of their arch enemy Assyria. But not for Nineveh.
When you look at the book of Nahum, you find it is a book primarily about judgement against the city of Ninevah.
What relevance does it have for us today, as Ninevah?
Why you might wonder, did God speak words of destruction against Ninevah?
One reason might be that the people of Ninevah were unusually cruel with the way they treated their enemies.
Their very name inspired FEAR.
In Nahum 3:1 we read
Woe to that bloody city.
It is all full of lies and robbery.
Its victim never departs.
I see a lot of similarities with the terror group ISIS in our society today
I see a lot of similarities with the terror group ISIS in our society today.
2. The City of NINEVAH
Ninevah was the capital of the great power of the time – Assyria.
We come across some of its kings in the Old Testament when Assyria clashes with Israel.
Kings like Sennacharib, who we read about in 2 Kings 19 and who - in the 8th Century BC - invaded the land of Israel and from whom Israel was miraculously delivered in the time of Hezekiah.
But the book of Nahum was not the first time that God had pronounced judgement on Ninevah
About 150 years earlier, God had sent his reluctant prophet JONAH to pronounce Judgement on Ninevah.
Jonah had expected a hostile reception at best, and at worst a slow and torturous death.
BUT the citizens of Ninevah truly repented when they heard Jonah’s words – and after that began to worship the one true God – the Elohim of Israel.
If I may be allowed a digression.
Elohim is an interesting word in the Hebrew, because the Old Testament uses it both to describe
i) the false gods of the other nations as well as
ii) the one true God of Israel.
Elohim is a plural word the ‘im being the masculine plural.
When Elohim is used to describe the gods of the nations – the verb that follows is a plural verb.
No surprise in that.
However when Elohim is used to describe the God is Israel, the verb following is always SINGULAR.
Even in the name of the God of Israel, we have a hint of the Trinity revealed in the NT– plurality in unity.
But that was a digression! Let’s get back to the book of Nahum
For a number of years, after Jonah’s preaching Ninevah was a changed city
But sadly not for long and it slipped back into its old evil ways.
The people of Ninevah didn’t grasp the second chance that God had given their forefathers.