The twelve prophetic books from Hosea to Malachi are an often-overlooked portion of Scripture. Although these books are sometimes called the “Minor Prophets”, they are minor only in the sense of them being relatively shorter than the books of the “Major Prophets” such as Isaiah and Jeremiah. The books of the “Minor Prophets” are an important part of God’s Word, and the things in them which were “written aforetime were written for our learning” (cf. Romans 15:4).
Over the course of this year, we will be reviewing each book of the “Minor Prophets”. In the month of July, we turn to the book of Nahum. The book of Nahum is the counterpart to the events that took place in the book of Jonah. We recall that the prophet Jonah had been commanded to go preach in Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire – “yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4). The people of Nineveh repented of their evil ways, and God relented from punishing them (Jonah 3:10). However, slightly over a hundred years later, the people of Nineveh had returned to their evil ways. It was described as a “bloody city”, “full of lies and robbery”, filled with a multitude of “whoredoms and witchcraft” (Nahum 3:1, 4).
Would the LORD let these grievous sins go unpunished? Nahum revealed the answer to this question – “Jehovah will take vengeance on his adversaries” (Nahum 1:2). Though the people of Nineveh had been previously spared by God because they repented, they had once again made themselves the adversaries (enemies) of the LORD through their wicked deeds. Because of the sins of Nineveh, God would destroy the city with “an overrunning flood” (Nahum 1:8); “the gates of the rivers shall be opened, and the palace would be dissolved” (Nahum 2:6).
The prophet Nahum asked a question – “who can abide (endure) in the fierceness of God’s anger?” (Nahum 1:6) Seeing that the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, seeing that Nineveh would be destroyed, seeing that God’s fury would be “poured out like fire, and the rocks would be thrown down by Him”, who could ever hope to survive the wrath of God? Nahum immediately answered His own question, by stating that
“the LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knoweth them that trust in Him” (Nahum 1:7).
God knows those who trust Him, who fear Him, who love Him, and they will be spared from His anger.
What can we apply to our lives from this book? The LORD showed that He loved the people of Nineveh by sending the prophet Jonah to preach to them. The Lord spared the people of Nineveh in Jonah’s day because they repented, but by the time of the prophet Nahum, the same LORD who does not change (cf. Malachi 3:6) was determined to take vengeance on Nineveh for their sins. Let us not forget that although our God is “longsuffering towards us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), His patience will one day come to an end when “the earth and the works that are in it shall be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).
Let us not take advantage of the patience of God, but strive to live a holy and godly life, bearing in mind that the world will one day be dissolved (2 Peter 3:12). Let us always seek to be spared from the anger of God by always loving Him, by always keeping His commandments. After all, did not His own Son, Jesus Christ, say that
“if you love me, keep my commandments”? (John 14:15)