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The fall of Nineveh
The fall of Nineveh
Nahum

Scripture reading: Nahum

A couple of weeks ago we looked at the Book of Jonah together.

God told the prophet Jonah to go to the great city of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, to preach this message "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned". Jonah, being of the Jews and having experienced great hardship and suffering at the hands of the Assyrians, wanted nothing to do with God's command. Later in the book he tells us why "I didn't go because I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity."

To Jonah's great disappointment the people of Nineveh believed Jonah's message and repented of their ways and God spared them.

Today we are going to take a look at the Book of Nahum. Nahum prophesies the sure and total destruction of Nineveh at the hands of God - who is said to be filled with wrath towards her.

Note: The time between Jonah and Nahum is 100 years or so

Question: What can explain this?

Why is God pictured in Jonah as being mercifully inclined towards Nineveh and full of wrath and anger towards Nineveh in the Book of Nahum?

To understand the anger of God towards Nineveh a history lesson is in order

-founded by Nimrod (Genesis 10)
-Used by God to carry the Kingdom of Israel away (Isaiah 8)
-Afflicted Judah
-Beseiged Jerusalem (Isaiah 36-37)
-A city full of bloodshed, violence, scorcery, prostitution, lies, idol worship
-A city that for a brief moment got right with God (after Jonah preached to them)
-A city without rival as it regarded their cruel treatment of those they conquered (impalings, skining, eye gouging, burning, murdering of children and infants, piling of skulls in the town squares, etc)

READ NAHUM

LESSONS AND PRINCIPLES OF NAHUM

1. The name "Nahum" means COMFORT

For the Jews of Jerusalem and others who heard Nahum's message, they were comforted by it- for I'm sure this question was on their minds "How long O Lord until the Assyrians receive what is due them? How long before you come to deliver us?"

Interesting thing to note: The name "Nahum" means COMFORT

God is one who comforts his people in a variety of ways (whether it by by provision, protection, his dealing with the wicked,etc) (see Isaiah 40:1; 12:1; 49:13; 51:3,12; 52:9; 61:2; 66:13)

Ponder the care and comfort of God in your life.

2. Shed no tears for Nineveh. Given their crimes against God and humanity, and the spurned opportunities that God gave them to repent, there is no room for sympathy or compassion for the people of Nineveh. They got what they deserved.

Nahum 3:19 says "Everyone who hears the news about you claps his hands at your fall, for who has not felt your endless cruelty?"

3. There is rightful joy when a tyrant or oppressive nation receives her due

i.e Osami Bin Laden, Saddam

The Assyrians got what they deserved. The Assyrians received the justice that their victims longed for- yet most never saw--- for they were long since dead.

Whenever an oppressor falls- whether it be a king or a nation, there are no tears for them- for in the hearts of those who do not belong to them, each one knows that justice has been done.

Ponder the future joy of the saints when Christ comes to judge the wicked and to reward the faithful

Nahum 3:19 reminds me of two important passages from Revelation.

Revelation 6:9-10 says; "When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?"

Revelation 19:1-3 and the joy of the saints when the wicked are punished "After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants." And again they shouted: "Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever."

4. God is a God of justice. He does not and will not let the wicked go unpunished

Yes, He's merciful. Yes, He's patient. Yes, He want's all to come to repentance. No, He does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked. Yet, there comes a time when His patience runs out. There comes a time when the sins of people reach their full measure. There comes a time for judgment.

Sin must be accounted for. Every sin will be paid for-either in hell or at the cross- but God will not acquit the wicked (Spurgeon)

If you are not a follower of Christ. If you haven't been reconciled to God, this point about God not letting the wicked go unpunished (and we all are sinners), ought to unsettle you and drive you to your knees before God in repentance. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of God.

How awesome, in light of the coming judgment of God, is the wondrous message of Christ- who came to take away the sins of the world and die as a sacrifice for sin, taking the punishment that we deserve- that all who turn to him may have eternal life and peace with God.

Further application: God is not one that you want to be against you. Twice in Nahum God says of Assyria "I am against you." (Nahum 2:13; 3:5). Hence the call of the Scriptures is this "Be reconciled to God!" Seek the Lord and live. Turn to the Lord. Put your faith and life in the hands of Jesus who died on the cross as a once for all sacrifice for your sin.


5. Don't let the strong words of v.2 deafen your ears to the bigger picture of God that is given us in the Book of Nahum. The anger of God is NOT the only attribute of God that is featured in the Book of Nahum.

God in the Book of Nahum

-Jealous (meaning that he will not tolerate divided loyalties and worship that is merely lip service)
-He is one who avenges the wrongs that others commit (we are not to take revenge, but rather we must leave room for God's wrath)
-He is just. Right and wrong always matter to God. He will not let the wicked go unpunished. He does not wink at sin or close a blind eye to it
-He is filled with wrath towards those who harm his people and who remain in a state of rebellion against Him. Such is the response of a holy God who made us and all that is and who is worthy of our worship and service
-He is slow to anger. He doesn't get angry quickly. He is patient, not wanting any to perish but all to repent and enter into right relationship with Him
-He is great in power. He is all powerful. Nothing is too hard for Him. No matter the might of his foe, there are all weak and puny and like ants before him
-He is awesome and big. The mountains tremble at his presence. They fall down and are ground to dust underneath Him.
-He is good. For those who call upon Him in spirit and in truth, He is refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him. Note Nahum 1:7 "The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him"*****
-He is the defender of Israel. In Genesis 12:1-3 God said to Abraham "Those who bless you I will bless, those who curse you I will curse." For the atrocities of Assyria against Israel, God took up her cause and in this book, once again affirms her restoration and vindication. See Nahum 2:2
-God is sovereign over the nations. He is the King of Kings. He lifts up, He brings down. The nations are but a drop in the bucket to Him. None can resist his holy decrees.
-He is a refuge for those who come to Him
-He is caring
-He is a promise Keeper

The attributes of God are many. There is no flaw in Him or any of His ways. Taste and see that the Lord is good!


6. Nineveh fell just as God said

Some things to note:

Nahum 2:6 is a specific prophecy indicating how the city of Nineveh would fall "The river gates are thrown open the palace collapses"

In 612 B.C the city of Nineveh was destroyed by the Babylonians, Medes and Scythians. According to Diodorus Siculus, an ancient historian, the armies laid siege to the city for over 2 years. In the third year the river when ran through the city flooded, breaking down the floodgates and part of the wall. This allowed the armies in and the city that once regarded itself as impenetrable and invincible, fell

Interesting:

The city of Thebes, spoken of in Nahum 3 thought the Nile would protect her. It didn't (she fell in 664 B.C-- hence Nahum written after 664 B.C). Here the Tigris river turns against Nineveh. When Babylon fell (the one very ones who conquered Nineveh) it was because of the river that ran through her.

So complete was Nineveh's destruction (prophesied by Nahum) was that she was for a time thought to never have existed-- that is, until 1850 when archaelogists discovered her remains.


Application: God's word is always true. Looking forward, the sequence of the events that the Bible spells out as leading up the return of Christ, will happen

CONCLUSION


No person who turns to Christ will experience His wrath. There is a way to escape the judgment to come.

The answer: A relationship with Jesus- who died upon the cross as a once for all sacrifice for sin, taking upon himself the wrath of God that we deserve-- that we might have the forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and a relationship with God


Romans 8:1 says... "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus...."