Summary: This sermon shows how Nahum revealed the nature of the wrath of God.
Woe To The Bloody City
Text: Nahum 1:1-6
Introduction: In over 23 years of ministry I don’t think I have ever preached a message from the book of Nahum. Not only that, but in all my years as a Christian I don’t believe I have ever heard a message on Nahum, and I would take an educated guess and say that most of you haven’t either. Nahum is one of the books of the Bible that we read and pass by. Rarely do we sit down and think about it. Maybe that’s because of the content of the book. It’s not an upbeat prophecy. There is little in it, it would seem, to leave us encouraged: it speaks to us of the fierce wrath of God.
Sometimes I wonder if we really believe in God’s wrath. Do we really believe that God will judge the world someday? That He will send sinners to the Lake of Fire? I know we believe it up here, in our heads, but I wonder do we believe it down here in our hearts? And the reason I ask that is because we often lack any real urgency in our evangelism. As Christians we like to emphasise God’s love, mercy, grace and forgiveness. God is all these things; in fact that was in part what Micah revealed about Him , as we saw in our previous study: “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:18-19) But Nahum is the flipside of Micah. The other side to God. He speaks to us not of God pardoning sin, but of God punishing sin. Charles H. Spurgeon once said, “He who does not believe that God will punish sin will not believe He will pardon it through the blood of His Son.” Isn’t it interesting that the people, who deny the efficacy of Christ’s blood atonement, often deny also any notion of eternal punishment?
So, Nahum sets us straight in our understanding of who God is and what God is like, and this he does so by declaring God’s awful judgment upon Nineveh. That brings us back to Jonah. Jonah came preaching to that great city and it repented and was spared, but over 100 years have passed by and the city, now the capital of Assyria, has reverted to its old ways. This time its day of grace has passed, and Nahum declares its doom.
Like so many of the Minor Prophets we know so very little about Nahum. His name means “Comfort” and his message was a message of comfort to a people who lived under the constant threat of Assyrian invasion. It is surmised that he may have come from the North of Israel, from the Galilee area, in fact the hometown of the apostle Peter, from Capernaum, which lit., means “Village of Nahum”. However, Nahum did not minister to Israel in the North, rather headdresses Judah, and it seems that he also wrote from Judah.
Let’s examine this little book of Nahum:
I. Declaration of God’s Judgment – 1:1-15
A. In our opening text, we Nahum employs every Hebrew word to describes God’s anger.
1. “God 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. The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: … Who 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.” (Nahum 1:2-3 & 6)
2. Jealousy? Revenge? Anger? Rage? Indignation? Fierceness? Are these really characteristics we associate with God?
3. Yes they are. But they are aspects of God that we prefer to ignore, to shut out of our thinking.
4. You see we like to think of God, even as we did last week as a God of forgiveness, mercy, grace, love and compassion.
5. But if that is the only side to God we see, well we end up with a fuzzy image of God, a false god, a god who is indifferent to the sins of men.
6. But that is not the God of the Bible, so although Nahum’s prophecy does not make for an entertaining read, he does us a marvellous service by setting the balance of understanding of who God is and what God is like – his prophecy is the counter weight to Jonah and Micah.