NAHUM 1 – Justice for Victims
100 years after the Book of Jonah, the Creator God sent another prophet to Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrian Empire – northern Iraq today. This time it’s the ancient prophet Nahum. And, if you’ve been following my Breadcrumbs, you may remember that the Assyrians had previously repented in sackcloth and ashes when Jonah came with a warning from the Creator God.[a]
Over the following century, however, they’d grown strong and arrogant. After destroying Israel’s northern kingdom, they had advanced on Jerusalem with arrogant words against the Creator God. The angel of the Lord, however, went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand soldiers in the Assyrian camp. When the people woke up the next morning – there were only dead bodies![b] As a result, the King of Assyria headed back to Nineveh where he continued to gain world power.
If you’ve read the Chronicles of Narnia book The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis, Nineveh was like the great city of Tashbaan. It was surrounded by water and had a self-sufficient agricultural system inside. Apparently three chariots could be driven side-by-side along the top of its 30-metre high walls that were fortified with 1,500 towers. But true to the Creator God’s Word, the city fell just as Nahum said it would. Although they had numerous allies, they were cut off from world history and passed away. [v12] Nahum predicted that the river gates would be thrown open and the palace collapses.[c] Their Creator sent a flood that destroyed part of the city wall and the Babylonians marched in.
Now all this might be interesting for a mid-week train ride into the city before work, but seriously – who cares!
Well, for one thing, people today can be under the impression that the Bible is only about one nation with little to do with the rest of us. Nahum’s book (written for the Capital of the Assyrian Empire) proves otherwise. The Creator is Creator of everything – not just part – and, so far in our Daily Breadcrumbs this year we’ve learnt that the Lord will judge the ends of the earth.[d] He views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens.[e] He’s promised to make the nations an inheritance, the ends of the earth a possession.[f]
All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him.[g] His Name and His praise will reach the ends of the earth because His right hand is filled with righteousness.[h] He’s remembered His love and His faithfulness to His people by the fact that all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.[i] He lifts up a banner for the distant nations, He whistles for those at the ends of the earth and they come, swiftly and speedily![j] The islands have seen it and fear; the ends of the earth tremble. They approach and come forward[k]; they sing to the Lord a new song, His praise comes from the ends of the earth – those who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, the islands, and all who live in them.[l]
It’s little wonder then, that Nineveh (the capital city and central hub for the then known world) is of interest to the One who designed the stage and everyone on it, as He works out HIStory. But Nahum now shows us that the Creator God is into justice for the victims…
“The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The Lord takes vengeance on His foes and vents His wrath against His enemies. The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.” [v2-3]
And yet, what’s clear to most of us, is the slow speed by which the Creator God acts. Nahum describes Nineveh like a lion’s den where prey and plunder were brought in: “…filling his lairs with the kill…”[m] He then finishes his book with saying, “…All who hear the news about you, clap their hands at your fall, for who has not felt your endless cruelty.”[n]
So why, if Nineveh was so bad in Jonah’s day, did God allow them to continue getting worse for another century until Nahum came along? It took six centuries to see v15 fulfilled when Jesus came preaching: “Look, there on the mountains, the feet of one who brings good news, who proclaims peace!” But the rest of [v15]: “…No more will the wicked invade you; they will be completely destroyed…”, seems to be a future state that still hasn’t happened yet. What Nahum says in v4-5, won’t happen in HIStory until the Book of Revelation chapter 16.
So, as I read today’s chapter, I wonder when God will take decisive action on earth to stop atrocities today – like the current refugee crisis. Much of the tension with the IS militants today, for example, has been taking place on the plains of Ninevah where this ancient city once thrived.[o] While some would argue that there can’t be a benevolent God out there precisely because He’s not acting to intervene. If we took the time to read about His direct intervention in HIStory, we may prefer that He leaves us to our own governance and choices because, HIStory has shown that when He has hands-on involvement, it’s 100% righteous power unleashed!
“Who can withstand His indignation? Who can endure His fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him.” [v6]W
While I wait for HIStory to unfold, I have only one thing today to concern myself with, and it stood out like words jumping from the page when I read it in Nahum’s book. In Chapter One my eyes alighted on the words: “…I will prepare your grave, for you are vile…”[q] and in Chapter Three “…Nothing can heal you, your wound is fatal…”[r] Such is the unthinkable predicament that humanity can be in. So, as I go about my life (the choices that I make; my behaviour and lifestyle that I adopt; the moral standards that I adhere to, and pass on to those I influence), my one concern is to avoid being “vile” – according to my Maker’s idea of what is vile. If I am, nothing will heal me. Such a wound will surely be fatal.[s]
Regardless of His unthinkable power, for the sake of justice for victims, I still can’t wait to hear those longed-for words: “There will be no more delay.”[p] I’m confident, having weighed up the pros and cons, that “…The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him…” [v7]
CLICK to return to today’s “Daily Breadcrumbs”
[a] Jonah 3:6-10
[b] 2 Kings 19:35
[c] Nahum 2:6
[d] 1 Samuel 2:10
[e] Job 28:24
[f] Psalm 2:8
[g] Psalm 22:27
[h] Psalm 48:10
[i] Psalm 98:3
[j] Isaiah 5:26
[k] Isaiah 41:5
[l] Isaiah 42:10
[m] Nahum 2:11-12
[n] Nahum 3:19
[p] Revelation 10:6
[q] Nahum 1:14b
[r] Nahum 3:19a
[s] Romans 6:23 (See also: Matthew 18:6-9; Revelation 21:8,27 & 22:11)