Nahum – No More Chances


by John C. Westervelt


     Nahum was God’s prophet ministering to the Jews of Judah, the Southern Kingdom.  The Northern Kingdom of Israel had been carried into captivity by the Assyrians in 722 B.C., almost a century before Nahum’s time.

     Nahum prophesied about the destruction of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria.  A hundred years earlier, God had sent Jonah to warn the Ninevites of their impending destruction, if they did not repent and live righteous lives.  At that time the Ninevites mended their ways, and God gave them a second chance.  The lessons the people learned from Jonah, however, were not passed on to subsequent generations, and the people fell back into their wicked ways.

     Nahum began his ministry by telling the people about God’s attributes.  “The Lord is slow to anger and great in power.  Yet He will not leave the guilty unpunished.  God is jealous and avenging.  For the unrighteous, He dries up the rivers.  The mountains quake because of Him.  Who can stand before his indignation?  Who can endure the burning of His anger?  His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken up by Him.”

     Yet there was hope for the righteous.  Nahum said, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him.”

     In 701 B.C., the Assyrians were on the verge of capturing Jerusalem.  The city was saved when a plague spread through the camp of the Assyrians and killed all the soldiers.  Still, down through the years and decades, the Assyrians never stopped harassing the people of Judah.  Now Nahum shared the Lord’s assurance of no more Assyrian attacks.  “Behold on the mountains the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace.  Celebrate your feasts, O Judah; pay your vows.  For never again will Assyrians pass through you; they will be completely destroyed.”

     Nahum told the people about the armies of the Medes and Babylonians chosen by God to destroy Nineveh.  “The shields of these mighty men are colored red.  The warriors are dressed in scarlet.  The chariots are enveloped in flashing steel from the scythes protruding from the wheels.”

     Nahum’s story continued, “The attacking armies opened the gates of the river and the rushing water from the Tigris River flooded the palace in Nineveh.  The handmaidens were mourning like the sound of doves.  Everyone began to loot the city of its gold and silver.”

     Nahum described the Ninevites who were pressed by their enemies.  “Hearts are melting and knees knocking.  Also anguish is in the whole body, and all their faces have grown pale.  Woe to the bloody city, completely full of lies and pillage.  The noise of the whip can be heard urging on the horses of the Medes and Babylonians.  Swords are flashing, spears gleaming, and the ground is covered with corpses.  All this because of the harlotries of the harlot.  Nineveh will be devastated.  Who will grieve for her?  Where will I seek comforters for you?”

     The year was 612 B.C.  The Ninevites had hoped for another chance.  This time there were no more chances.  The destruction of Nineveh was so complete that the remains of the city were hidden from view and not discovered until the middle of the nineteenth century.




Copyright 2004 by John C. Westervelt


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