The Book of Nahum is a message about the restoration of Judah and the destruction of Assyria. It takes place in Nineveh, the capital of Assyria.
Nahum wrote this book after the fall of Thebes, dating his prophetic ministry between 663 and 612 BC. The Assyrians were the inhabitants of Nineveh – a city in the Southern Kingdom near Judah. They were the most powerful nation on earth, with military capability and wealth that exceeded the nations around them. The city was also steeped in sin. Throughout the book, Nahum blames the Assyrians for social injustice, arrogance, idolatry, and oppression. The message of Nahum is that even though the Assyrians are powerful by human standards, God’s character and promises for good will triumph.
Finding the Gospel in Nahum: The Lord keeps his promises. Sin must be punished. Those who turn to the Lord will live – even if they have done wrong. 2:2 says, “Even though the destroyer has destroyed Judah, the Lord will restore its honor. Israel’s vine has been striped of branches, but he will restore is splendor.” The promise to God’s people is ultimate restoration. But for those who reject God, like the Assyrians, 3:19 says, “There is no healing for your wound; your injury is fatal.”
This may sound harsh of God. It’s easy to read this book and see God as a destroyer. But keep history in mind. 100 years earlier, there was another prophet that came to Nineveh for the Assyrians: Jonah. Though they initially repented, we see 100 years later in The Book of Nahum, their lives did not produce the fruit in keeping with that repentance. They were like the seed in the parable of the sower where the word fell on rocky, shallow soil. The plant sprung up, but quickly died because it had no roots (Mt. 13:5).
For today’s reader, Nahum is a story of the reality of the destructiveness of sin – mainly that it separates us from God. When you read Nahum, use it as an opportunity to repent, and thank Christ for taking your place in that destruction. Trust in the Lord’s character that is independent of our behavior: “The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him. But he will sweep away his enemies in an overwhelming flood. He will pursue his foes into the darkness of night.” – Nahum 1:7