Summary: When God gives a warning, it's best to listen.
Nahum - God’s Specific Judgment
In August of 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which essentially promised that Europe would be divided among the two nations so long as they left each other alone. This pact held firm as nation after nation fell under the Nazi jackboot -- first Poland, then France, Netherlands, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Greece...the list goes on. All the while, the Soviet Union sat silently, not interfering.
Then, on June 22, 1941, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. The world was shocked -- they had a pact together! Not only that, but the Russians were left almost completely unprepared for the invasion. Stalin, one of the most paranoid and distrustful dictators ever, trusted the Germans? Nothing made sense.
Only now can we see a little of what actually happened so long ago. In 2011, the Russian government declassified intelligence reports from 1941 that showed exactly what information Stalin received:
-- Russian intelligence officials named the exact -- or almost exact -- date of the invasion no fewer than 47 times in the 10 days before the attack.
-- Moscow knew as early as 1935 that the Nazis wanted to attack, and in 1936 even had the codename -- “Eastern Campaign”
-- In May of 1941 -- only one month before the actual invasion -- Hitler himself told Stalin that he would be relocating some of his troops to the west “between 15 and 20 June, approximately”. Substitute “east” for “west” and you see that Hitler almost let his own secret out.
-- Between 1st June and the invasion, Soviet Border Guards captured more than 300 German spies, of which several gave up the date of the planned invasion.
Even more items exist, but for the sake of time I’ll leave them out right now. Needless to say, Stalin knew full well of the upcoming invasion -- he had very specific warnings. Stalin simply chose to ignore it -- he didn’t want to believe it, so he didn’t. Because of that, more than 20 million Soviet lives ended in World War II.
Sometimes, we get a warning that we don’t want to hear. We don’t want to know that we’re doing something that will get us hurt. Maybe we’re having too much fun, or we’re simply too busy with life to worry about warnings about future events that “might” happen. Warnings come for a reason, though; and we would do well to listen.
God often gives warnings, but often they’re fairly general: “repent or you will be punished”. In the book of Nahum, though, God gave a very specific warning to His prophet Nahum aimed at the city of Nineveh.
Yes, that’s the same city where God sent Jonah about 100 years earlier. Nineveh received a warning from Jonah and listened, so they were spared. Soon after, though, they began to fall back again, so God sent another warning.
Nahum is divided into three chapters, each one has a specific purpose. Chapter 1 is God telling Nineveh that they will be destroyed for their sins. I can see the Ninevites’ reaction -- they just shrug it off, thinking that “God clearly didn’t mean it last time, or else they would have been destroyed, right? No, we can just say we’re sorry again and everything will be fine.”
God doesn’t work like that.
In Chapter 2, God tells Nineveh that they will be conquered by a foreign army. In addition, though, He gives very specific details about how Nineveh will be destroyed. Nahum 2:3-6:
“3The shields of the soldiers are red; the warriors are clad in scarlet. The metal on the chariots flashes on the day they are made ready; the spears of juniper are brandished. 4The chariots storm through the streets, rushing back and forth through the squares. They look like flaming torches; they dart about like lightning. 5Nineveh summons her picked troops, yet they stumble on their way. They dash to the city wall; the protective shield is put in place. 6The river gates are thrown open and the palace collapses.”
Let’s go through this verse by verse...
“3The shields of the soldiers are red; the warriors are clad in scarlet. The metal on the chariots flashes on the day they are made ready; the spears of juniper are brandished.”
Red uniforms. Red shields. Chariots and spearmen. God just told the Ninevites what types of soldiers the opposing army would have, and what they will look like! If I heard this, I would be trying to think of what army had red uniforms, chariots, and spearmen...but the Ninevites simply ignore the warning.
“4The chariots storm through the streets, rushing back and forth through the squares. They look like flaming torches; they dart about like lightning.”
Here, God is telling the Ninevites that their enemy will overwhelm them. The Ninevites will be so taken by surprise that chariots will be able to enter the city before the defense can even get prepared. They have free reign over the city.