Nahum 1

 

            THE JUDGMENT UPON NINEVEH DECREED BY GOD.

 

The book has a double title, the first giving the object of the prophecy, which otherwise

would not be evident; the second, its author, added to give confidence in its contents.

 

1 “The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.”

The burden; massa (Habakkuk 1:1) — a term generally used of a weighty, threatening

prophecy (Isaiah 13:1), though translated by the Septuagint λῆμμα laemma

burden; oracle - here, and elsewhere ὁράσις horasisvision and ῥῆµα rhaema

word. Some prefer to render it “utterance,” or “oracle.” The word is capable of either

meaning. It almost always (except, perhaps, in Zechariah 12:1) introduces a threat

of judgment. Of Nineveh. The denunciation of this city is the object of the

prophecy. The effect of Jonah’s preaching had been only temporary; the

reformation was partial and superficial; and now God’s long suffering was

wearied out, and the time of punishment was to come. (For an account of

Nineveh, see note on Jonah 1:2.) Some critics have deemed one part of

the title an interpolation; but the connection of the two portions is obvious,

and without the former we should not know the object of the prophet’s

denunciation till ch. 2:8. The book of the vision. This is the

second title, in apposition with the former, and defining it more closely as

the Book in which was written the prophecy of Nahum. It is called a

“vision,” because what the prophet foretold was presented to his mental

sight, and stood plainly before him (compare Isaiah 1:1). The Elkoshite;

i.e. native of Elkosh, or Elcesi, which, as Jerome says (‘Prol. in Nahum’), was

a small village in Galilee, well known to the Jews, but in his time showing

very few traces of ancient buildings. It is supposed to be represented by the

modern El-Kauzeh, a village a little eastward of Ramah in Naphtali. That

Nahum was a native of Galilee is perhaps intimated by the name

Capernaum, which is interpreted, “village of Nahum,” and by the fact that

he shows special interest in the northern portion of the Holy Land, in his

mention of Carmel, Lebanon, and Bashan, as languishing under the rebuke

of God. It is probable that, when Esarhaddon repeopled the northern

province with a mixed population imported from his own dominions,

Nahum with many of his countrymen removed to Judaea, This may have

given direction to his oracle. There is, however, nothing provincial in his

language to serve as an indication of his locality, but we should judge that

he must have removed from Galilee to Judaea, and uttered his prophecy in

the latter province. A late tradition, mentioned by Asseman (‘Bibl. Orient.,’

1:525; 3:352), and adopted by some modern writers, maintains that Nahum

was born in Assyria of parents who had been carried thither after the

capture of Samaria, and that his sepulchre was to be found at Alkush, ten

miles north of Mosul, on the left bank of the Tigris, in which spot also, as

the story goes, were buried Jonah, Obadiah, and Jephthah. “It is a place,”

says Layard (‘Nineveh,’ 1:233), “held in great reverence by Mohammedans

and Christians, but especially by Jews, who keep the building in repair, and

flock here in great numbers at certain seasons of the year. The tomb is a

simple plaster box, covered with green cloth, and standing at the upper end

of a large chamber. The house containing the tomb is a modern building.

There are no inscriptions, nor fragments of any antiquity about the place.”

The story arose some two thousand years after the prophet’s time, and was

probably inverted to account for his knowledge of Assyrian affairs, which

was supposed to denote resident and eyewitness, or else was founded

simply on the similarity between the name of the village and that of his

birthplace. Elkosh and Alkush were near enough in sound to suggest

identity, and mediaeval tradition, credulous and uncritical, fastened upon

the Assyrian village as the scene of Nahum’s birth and labors, and it

became a shrine for pilgrims’ honor, with no more reason than in the case

of Jonah and Obadiah. And as to Ewald’s opinion that Nahum was born of

parents living in captivity there, we have only to say that the Israelites were

not deported to Assyria under Tiglath-Pileser, but into Media, Babylon,

and Mesopotamia. That no one living in Canaan at that time could have

exhibited Nahum’s acquaintance with Nineveh and its people, is an

assertion utterly groundless. The knowledge displayed is not necessarily

that of an eyewitness, and was doubtless also possessed by many Jews who

had mixed with Gentiles, or had become acquainted with the foreign

soldiers who had too often forced their way into the Holy Land. And if it

be said that the prophecy is concerned wholly with Assyria, and contains

little or no mention of Judaea, which could scarcely have been the case if

the writer had been resident in the latter country, it must be answered that

the whole tenor of the utterance is to demonstrate the destruction of the

power hostile to Judah, the type of the most brutal form of heathendom,

and to comfort the Hebrews with the assurance of final victory. But, say

the critics, Nahum employs Assyrian words, which a Judaean could never

have used. It is true that three such expressions have been found in

ch. 2:7. and 3:17, but they prove nothing in favor of the

assumption. The first, huzzab, as it is given in our version, may be

considered a Hebrew word taken as a verb, and rendered, “it is decreed,”

or “it is decided,” but is more probably an appellative, as shown in the

Exposition; the second is probably also a Hebrew word, derived from

nazar, “to separate,” and meaning “the crowned,” or “the levied for war;”

the third, taphsar, occurs in Jeremiah 51:27, and is an Assyrian official

title, which might well be known in Judea, and is here used most

appropriately. There is nothing, therefore, to negate the general opinion

that Nahum was a native of Palestine, and exercised his prophetical office

in that country.

 

The burden of his prophecy is the destruction of Nineveh, which destruction

was predicted by Jonah a century before, Nineveh was destroyed about

fifty years after this prophecy was uttered, and so complete was its

overthrow that the very site where it stood is a matter of conjecture.

 

The point is that great sins of a people must ever bring upon them GREAT RUIN!         

 

The population of Nineveh was preeminently wicked. It is represented in the

Scriptures as a “bloody city,” a “city full of lies and robberies;” its savage brutality

to captives is portrayed in its own monuments, and the Hebrew prophets dwell upon

its impious haughtiness and ruthless fierceness (Isaiah 10:7-8). In this book we

have its “burden,” that is, its sentence, its doom; and the doom is terrible

beyond description. It is ever so. Great sins bring great ruin.

  • It was so with the antediluvians,
  • It was so with the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah.
  • It was so with the Jews in the time of Titus. Thirty-seven years after the

      crucifixion of our Lord, the Roman general, with a numerous army, laid

      siege to their city, and converted it into a scene of the greatest horrors

      ever witnessed on this earth. (I am not used to Jerusalem being in this

      list!  I suppose neither many of us consider New York, San Francisco,

      Las Vegas, Chicago, or Washington, D.C., but we are not exempt

      from “our sins finding us out” – Numbers 32:23 – CY – 2015)

      The principle of moral causation and the eternal justice of the

            universe demand that wherever there is sin there shall be suffering; and in

            proportion to the amount of sin shall be the amount of suffering. “Unto

            whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” (Luke 12:48)

 

Let us Beware of sin. RUIN must follow it.   Again:  “Be sure your sins

will find you out.”  (Numbers 32:23)

 

 

                                    The Messenger of Judgment (v. 1)

 

 “Nahum the Elkoshite.”  The character of the message:  “The burden of Nineveh.”

It was a message to be delivered to a heathen nation. Like the message

of Jonah, to which it has been fittingly described as being “the complement

and the counterpart,” it indicates that God holds wider relations with

mankind than the Jews were prepared to admit; and that all nations and

peoples lie within the range of His providence and power.

 

It was a message full of dark forebodings. It told of impending judgment

and of national destruction and desolation. The somber announcements

were unrelieved even by a single word of hope being addressed to the

guilty nation. The Ninevites had previously recognized the Divine

righteousness, and upon their repentance had experienced the Divine

clemency; but this had been followed by relapse into the grossest iniquity,

and there remained now only the experience of the threatened ruin — the

nation should be “utterly cut off.” “The burden of Nineveh” was also the

burden of Nahum. His few words recorded here addressed to his own

people are sufficient to indicate that he was a man of refined

susceptibilities; and to such a man his commission must have been indeed

oppressive. Yet he would not shrink, but would faithfully fulfil his trust.

Whilst the mercy and love of God should be the constant theme of the

modern teacher, yet the great and solemn fact of His retributive justice must

not be ignored. There is to be declared “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

 

A plain man unfolding such teachings respecting a mighty heathen power

might well be required to furnish his credentials. And we have his authority

expressed in the words, “the vision of Nahum.” A Divine insight had been

imparted unto him; there had been given him “visions and revelations of the

Lord,” and of his terrible doings about to be wrought. Such apprehension

of spiritual realities is absolutely essential in order to constitute any man a

messenger of God to his age (I Corinthians 2:10-16; 1 Peter. 1:12; I John 4:14).

 

We have a permanent record of his teachings.   The book of the vision,” etc. (v. 1).

This is the only form in which mental thoughts and conceptions can be lastingly

perpetuated. The matchless works of the great, masters in painting, sculpture, and

architecture, which have excited the admiration of the whole world, can

have but a limited existence; no copy equal to the originals can be made;

and in the waste and wear of time these must inevitably pass away; whereas

the literary productions of men of genius will continue to live on; for time

does not impair that, art by which books are reproduced and the circle of

their influence extended. The Bible is a collection of books; and the

remarkable unity combined with progressiveness traceable therein furnish s

very convincing evidence of ITS DIVINE ORIGIN.   Written prophecy forms a

most important feature in this development of truth. It was not only

necessary that the prophets should labor (as they did so earnestly) to

maintain religion amongst the people who had been chosen of God and

separated to His praise, but also that, as the work of prophecy advanced,

there should be indicated and recorded how that the Lord was working

among the nations, Hebrew and heathen alike, and bringing about the

fulfillment of His all-wise and gracious purposes. And viewed under this

aspect, “the book of the vision of Nahum tim Elkoshite” fills an important

niche, whilst its grave words of admonition and warning may well lead evil

doers to reflection and penitence, and its occasional words of hope to the

pious and God fearing may serve, in troublous times, to keep their hearts in

quietness and assurance.

 

 

                                    A Vision and a Burden (v. 1)

 

  • THE VISION OF NAHUM.

 

Ø      The person of the prophet.

 

o       His name. Nahum, “Consolation” — fitly borne by one whose

      mission was to be the comforter of God’s people. That so many

      in the Hebrew Church and nation possessed names prophetic of

      their future destinies points as its explanation to an overruling

       providence, which in this way kept alive in the hearts of the

      people a strongly operative belief in a Divine interposition in

      human affairs. That names are not now in this fashion

                                    significant does not prove that God is less cognizant of or

                                    interested in mundane matters, but merely shows that such

                                    devices are not now required to enable thoughtful persons to

                                    detect God’s finger in the progress of history.

o       His birthplace. Elkosh; not to be sought for in Assyria, as e.g.

      in the modern Christian village of Elkosh, east of the Tigris and

      northwest of Khorsabad, two days’ journey from Mosul, where

      the tomb of the prophet is still shown, in the form of a simple

      alabaster box of modern style; (but in Galilee, perhaps in the

      present day village of Helcesaei.

o       His parentage. Unknown.  Of this, Scripture affords no trace.

o       His time. Uncertain. According to Josephus (‘Ant.,’ 9:11, 3),

      Nahum prophesied in the reign of Jotham. But the prophecy itself

      rather points to a later date — not to the earlier years of Hezekiah,

      before the destruction of Sennacherib’s army (Jerome, Fausset),

      but to a point of time after that event, and consequently after the

      conquest of Samaria and the deportation of the ten tribes (Vitringa,

      Hitzig, Delitzsch, Keil, Nagelsbach in Herzog), more particularly

      to an age after the destruction of No-Amon, or Thebes

                                    (ch.3:8), which took place soon after Tirhakah’s death, in B.C.

                                    664. Hence B.C. 660, or the last years of Manasseh, may be

                                    accepted as the most probable date for Nahum’s prophecy.

 

Ø      The nature of his vision.

 

o       Not political foresight merely, since the destruction of Nineveh

                                    occurred in B.C. 609-606 (Schrader), i.e. a full half century later

                                    than the days of Nahum, which is too broad a chasm to be

                                    spanned by purely human sagacity. Nahum required more than

                                    mere natural ability to enable him to predict the downfall of the

                                    great Assyrian capital fifty years before it happened.

                                    (Ecclesiastes 3:11; 8:7)

o       Divine inspiration alone can explain the utterance of Nahum.

      “The Lord God will do nothing but He revealeth His secret

      unto His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). Compare the

      examples of Abraham (Genesis 18:17), Moses (Numbers 12:6),

      Samuel (I Samuel 3:11), Elijah (I Kings 18:36), Jeremiah

      (Jeremiah 11:18), Daniel (Daniel 2:19), etc. The details given

      in Nahum’s prophecy concerning Nineveh are such that they

      must have been obtained either by direct personal

                                    knowledge or by Divine revelation. But inasmuch as the

                                    former hypothesis — the ground upon which some scholars

                                    and critics locate Elkosh in Assyria — is rendered impossible

                                    by the time when Nahum lived (shortly after the destruction

                                    of No-Amon), it can only have been by the latter

                                    method that he acquired his information.

 

  • THE BURDEN OF NINEVEH.

 

Ø      The city. Nineveh; in Assyrian Ninua, or Nina, equivalent to “Station,”

                        “Dwelling,” if the word be of Semitic origin; equivalent to “Fish house” if

                        derived from the Accadian (Delitzsch). A city remarkable for:

 

o       Its antiquity. Founded by Asshur, who went forth out of the

      land of Shinar, or Babylon, and builded Nineveh, the present

      day Kouyunjik and Nebbi Yunus. opposite Mosul on the Tigris

      (Layard, Smith, Schrader); Rehoboth Ir, the site of which is

      unknown; Calah, represented by the mounds of Nimrud

      (Layard, Smith, Schrader); and Resen, or Selamiyeh

                                    (Layard, Smith, Schrader), between Calah and Nimroud

                                    (Genesis 10:11-12). “The foundation of Nineveh, the modern

                                    Kouyunjik, probably goes back to as early an age as that of

                                    Assur (Kalah Shergat, the original capital), but it was not until

                                    a much later period that it became an important city, and

                                    supplanted the older capital of the kingdom’ (Sayce,

                                    Assyria: its Princes,’ etc., p. 22).

o       Its size. Even from earliest times it was regarded as a great city,

                                    including Calah, Rehoboth Ir, and Resen, as well as Nineveh

                                    proper. In Jonah’s day it was “a great city” (Jonah 1:2), “an

                                    exceeding great city of three days’ journey” (ibid. ch.3:3). This

                                    accords both with the statements of classical writers one of whom

                                    gives its circumference as four hundred and eighty stadia, or

                                    twelve geographical miles — and with the discoveries of modern

                                    research, according to which Nineveh appears to

                                    have been used to designate at one time Nineveh proper, at another

                                    time the four large prominent cities — Nineveh, equivalent to

                                    Kouyunjik and Nebbi Yunus; Calah, Nimroud; Resen, Selamiych;

                                    and Dur-Sargina of the inscriptions, Khorsabad. These four cities

                                    “formed a trapezium, the sharp angles of which lay towards the

                                    north and south, the long sides being formed by the Tigris and

                                    the mountains, the average length being about twenty-five English

                                    miles, and the average breadth fifteen” (Delitzsch, on Jonah 1:1).

                                    “The circumference of these four quarters or towns has been given

                                    by the English Jones at almost ninety English miles, which may

                                    correspond to a circuit of three days’ journey” (Schrader, ‘Die

                                    Keilinschriften,’ p. 448).

o       Its population. In Jonah’s time it contained over a hundred and

      twenty thousand young persons at and under seven years of age

      (Jonah 4:11), which would give a population of six hundred

      thousand (Niebuhr, Delitzsch, Keil) or seven hundred thousand

      (Schrader) souls — a number exceeded by many modern cities.

o       Its wealth. Nahum speaks of Nineveh as having multiplied her

                                    merchants above the stars of heaven (ch.3:16); and that this was

                                    so her situation “at the culminating point of the three quarters of

                                    the globe, Europe, Asia, and Africa” (O. Strauss), might naturally

                                    lead one to expect. That Nineveh contained immense stores of

                                    gold and silver (ch.2:9) accords with the statements of ancient

                                    writers, which represent the spoil of Nineveh as having been

                                    unparalleled in extent. So completely also was it

                                    plundered that “scarcely any fragments of gold and silver have

                                    been found in its ruins” (Kitto’sCyclopaedia,’ 3:334), thus

                                    verifying the prediction that she should be “empty, and void,

                                    and waste” (ch. 2:10).

o       Its power. The crowned ones, i.e. nobles, and the marshals, i.e.

      the captains, of Nineveh were as plentiful as the locusts and

      great grasshoppers (ch.3:17); in which case what must have

      been the number of the common soldiers? To these — the levied

      and selected ones (for war) and the soldiery — rather than to the

      princes and commanders, according to another interpretation

      (Keil), the prophet’s language refers. The shields and

                                    scarlet coats of her mighty men, the rattling of her war chariots,

                                    and the prancing of her horses are vividly depicted (ch.2:3; 3:1);

                                    (Our high school mascot was a “Warhorse” and during pep

                                    rallies, we all liked to do the Warhorse Prance! – if interested

                                    see fergusonschool.com - CY – 2015) as well as the fierceness

                                    and destructiveness of her warfare (ch.2:11-12).

o       Its wickedness. This, which in Jonah’s time was so aggravated

      as to call forth against it a threatening of Divine punishment

      (Jonah 1:2; 3:4, 8, 10), was not less conspicuous in the days of

      Nahum. The “bloody city full of lies and rapine” (ch.3:1), had

      fully justified her designation by the manner in which she had

      deceived and destroyed the nations, Syria, Phoenicia, Philistia,

      Israel, and even Egypt.

 

Ø      The burden. This, which refers to Nahum’s oracle concerning Nineveh,

                        appropriately describes:

 

o       Its momentous character. A burden on the prophet’s soul until

      it was uttered, it forthwith became a weight of doom upon the

      city against which it was pronounced.

o       Its certain fulfillment. Laid upon the bloody city by Jehovah’s

      hand (ch.2:13; 3:5), it would inflict a grievous wound and cause

      a bruise for which there should be no healing (ch.3:19).

 

  • LESSONS.

 

Ø      The argument from prophecy for the inspiration of the Scriptures.

Ø      The superiority of the Christian dispensation, whose messenger was not

                        a prophet of Jehovah, but THE SON OF GOD!  (Hebrews 1:1).

Ø      The excellence of the gospel, which contains a burden, not of wrath,

                        but of mercy.

 

 

 

 

 In vs. 2-6, the prophet describes the inflexible justice of God, and

illustrates His irresistible power by the control which He exercises over the

material world.

 

2 “God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth,

and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries,

and He reserveth wrath for His enemies.” God is jealous, and the Lord revengeth;

better, Jehovah is a jealous and avenging God, as Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 4:24;

oshua 24:19. The threefold repetition of the name of Jehovah and the

attribute “avenging” gives a wonderful force to this sublime description of

the Divine character. God is here called jealous (ζηλωτὴς zaelotaes - jealous,

Septuagint) anthropopothically, as ready to defend His honor against all who

oppose Him, as One who loves His people and punishes their oppressors. Is

furious; literally, master of fury, as Genesis 37:19, “master of dreams.”

The Lord is full of wrath (compare Proverbs 22:24; 29:22). The word

used implies a permanent feeling, like the Greek μῆνιςmaenis.  He reserveth

wrath. The Hebrew is simply “watching,” “observing” for punishment.

Septuagint, ἐξαίρων αὐτὸς τοὺς ἐχθροὺς αὐτοῦ - ezairon auton tous echthrous

autou -  Himself cutting off His enemies.  Vulgate, irascens ipse inimicis ejus.

God withholds His hand for a time, but does not forget. All this description

of God’s attributes is intended to show that the destruction of Assyria is His

doing, and that its accomplishment is certain.

 

3“The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all

acquit the wicked: the LORD hath His way in the whirlwind and in

the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.”

Slow to anger (Exodus 34:6-7). Nahum seems to take up

the words of Jonah (Jonah 4:2) or Joel (Joel 2:13). God is long

suffering, not from weakness, but because He is great in power, and can

punish when He will. Will not at all acquit the wicked; literally, holding

pure will not hold pure; i.e. He will not treat the guilty as innocent. Ἀθωῶν 

οὐκ ἀθωώσει  - Athoon ouk athooseiand will by no means leave the

guilty unpunished.(Septuagint); Mundans non faciet innocentem

(compare Exodus 20:7; 34:7). The Lord hath His way, etc.

The prophet grounds his description of the majesty and might of God upon

the revelation at the Exodus and at Sinai. (see Exodus 19:16-18; Psalms

18 and 97.). The clouds are the dust of His feet, Large and grand as the clouds

look to us, they are to God but as the dust raised by the feet in walking. As

an illustration of this statement (though, of course, the fact was utterly

unknown to Nahum), it has been remarked that recent scientific discovery

asserts that clouds owe their beauty, and even their very existence, to the

presence of dust particles in the atmosphere. The aqueous vapor, it is

said, condenses on these particles, and thus becomes visible.

 

“The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power.” This is a remarkable expression.

It seems as if the prophet meant, God is “slow to anger” because He is “great

in power;” if he had less power He would be less patient. A man may be

slow to anger,” slow to deal out vengeance, because he lacks power to do

so. But God is “slow to anger” because He has abundance of power. (One

other related truth:  He is “abundant in TRUTH” – Exodus 34:6 – CY – 2015)

In order to see the power revealed in His forbearance towards sinners in this

world, think of four things.

 

  • His exquisite sensibility. There are some men “slow to anger” because they

      have not the susceptibility of feeling an insult or offence; their patience,

      such as it is, is nothing but a natural stoicism.  Many men are lauded for their

      calmness under insults, who are rather to be pitied for their natural insensibility,

      or denounced for their moral callousness. But the great God is ineffably sensitive.

      He is sensibility itself. He is love. He feels everything. Every immoral act

      vibrates, so to speak, on His heart chord; and yet He is “slow to anger.”

 

  • His abhorrence of sin. It is the “abominable thing” which He

            emphatically hates. His whole nature revolts from it. He feels that it is

            antagonism to His will and to THE ORDER AND WELL BEING

            OF THE UNIVERSE!

 

  • His provocation by the world. Multiply the sins of each man in one day

            by the countless millions of men that populate the globe; then you will have

            some conception of the provocation that this God of exquisite sensibility,

            of an ineffable hatred to sin, receives every day from this planet. One insult

            often sets man’s blood ablaze. Surely, if all the patience of all the angels in

            heaven were to be embodied in one personality, and that personality were

            entrusted with the government of this world for one day, before the clock

            struck the hour of midnight he would set the globe in flames.

 

  • His right to do whatever He pleases.  (This is known as sovereignty)

      He could show His anger if He pleased, at any time, anywhere, or anyhow.

      He is absolutely responsible to no one! He has no one to fear. When men

      feel anger there are many reasons to prevent them from showing it; but He

      has no such reason. How great, then, must be His “power” in holding back

      His anger! His power of self-control is infinite. “He is Slow… to anger,

      and of great power.” “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as

      some men count slackness; but is long suffering to usward, not willing

      that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9).

 

Also, His patience precludes not the punishment of the impenitent!  “And will not

at all acquit the wicked.” That is, the impenitent wicked. However wicked a man is,

if he repents he will be acquitted. “Let the wicked forsake his ways, and the

unrighteous man his thoughts:  and let him return unto the Lord, and He will

have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”

(Isaiah 55:7).

 

  • To “acquit” the impenitent would be an infraction of His law. He has

            bound suffering to sin by a law as strong and as inviolable as that which

            binds the planets to the sun. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23);

            “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:15). 

            Sin leads to ruin: THIS IS A LAW!

 

  • To “acquit” the impenitent would be a violation of His word. “The

            wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God;”

            (Psalm 9:17)  “Unless ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish;” (Luke 13:3,5)

            “I will laugh at your calamities, and mock when your fear cometh.”

            (Proverbs 1:26)

 

            To “acquit” the impenitent would be to break the harmony of His

            universe. If inveterate rebels and incorrigible sinners were acquitted,

            what an impulse there would be given in God’s moral empire to anarchy

            and rebellion!  (Is not this the error of the world today, whether it be

            the brat living down the street, the rebel rouser at school, the unchurched

            profligate as an adult, the immoral politician, or a terrorist of ISIS, etc.

            “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily,

            therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

            see Ecclesiastes 8:11-13)

 

Let us not abuse the patience of God; nay, avail ourselves of it. While He forbears,

and because He forbears, repent! Despisest thou the riches of His goodness and

forbearance and long suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth

 thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).

 

4 “He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers:

Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon

languisheth.” The great physical changes and convulsions in the world are

tokens of God’s wrath on sinful nations. He rebuketh the sea, as at the

passage of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21; Psalm 106:9). This is a sign

of omnipotence (compare Luke 8:24). All the rivers. A generalization

from the miracle at the Jordan (Joshua 3.; compare Psalm 107:33; Isaiah

1:2). Septuagint, ποταμοὺς ἐξερημῶνpotamous exeraemon -  making

rivers desolate; Vulgate, flumina ad desertum deducens. Bashan (see note

on Amos 4:1).  Carmel (see on Amos 1:2). Flower of Lebanon. This district

was famous, not only for its cedars, but also for its vines and flowers (compare

Hosea 14:7; Song of Solomon 4:11). These three regions are

mentioned as remarkable for their fertility, and they occur most naturally to

the mind of a native of Galilee, as was Nahum. They also geographically

are the eastern, western, and northern boundaries of the land. They are

used here proverbially to express the truth that God can cause the most

luxuriant regions to wither at His word.

 

5 “The mountains quake at Him, and the hills melt, and the earth is

burned at His presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.

The mountains quake. The mountains, the very emblems of

stability, tremble before him (Amos 8:8). The hills melt; Οἱ βουνοὶ ἐσαλεύθησαν

hoi bounoi esaleuthaesan - The hills were shaken (Septuagint). The hills dissolve

like wax or anew at His presence (see Amos 4:13; Micah 1:4).

Burned; Septuagint, ἀνεστάλη anestalae – recoils; is upheaved;  as by an

earthquake. This rendering has the greatest authority. The world; i.e. the

habitable world, and all living creatures therein (Joel 1:18-20). Nature

animate and inanimate is represented as actuated by THE TERROR

OF CONSCIOUS GUILT!

 

6“Who can stand before His indignation? and who can abide in the

fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the

rocks are thrown down by Him.”  Who can stand? (Psalm 76:7; Joel 2:11;

Malachi 3:2; compare Revelation 6:17). His fury is poured out like fire

(Deuteronomy 4:24); like the brimstone and fire that destroyed Sodom

and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24; Jude 1:7), or like the molten lava that issues from

a volcano (Jeremiah 7:20). Septuagint (reading differently), θυμὸς αὐτοῦ τήκει

ἀρχάςho thumos autou taekei archasHis wrath is poured out like fire –

consumit principatus (Jerome). Are thrown down; rather, are rent asunder

(compare I Kings 19:11; Jeremiah 23:29). If such is the power of God, how s

hall Assyria resist it?

 

“The Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds

are the dust of his feet. He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth

up all the rivers,” etc. Here is a description of God’s power unrivalled in its

sublimity and soul stirring force. “Power belongeth unto, God.” (Psalm 62:11)

It is absolute, inexhaustible, ever and everywhere operative. “He fainteth not,

neither is weary.” (Isaiah 40:28) 

 

  • HE WORKS IRRESISTIBLY IN NATURE.

 

Ø      God  works in the air. The Lord hath His way in the whirlwind

     and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.” He is in

     thewhirlwind” and in the “storm,” and has His way in the clouds.

     As men walk on the dust of the earth, He walketh upon the clouds

     of heaven. He creates the whirlwind and the storm; He controls the

     whirlwind and the storm; He uses the whirlwind and the storm.

     (Many will not like this but what moral lesson or profit did we

     get out of Hurricane Katrina?  - CY – 2015)  He maketh the clouds

     His chariot, and rideth upon the wings of the wind.” He awakes the

     tornado and simoom (sandstorm of Arabia and North Africa), He forges

     the thunderbolts, and He kindles the lightnings.

 

Ø      He works in the sea. He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth

                        up all the rivers.” There is undoubtedly an allusion to the Red Sea and

                        the Jordan. “He holdeth the winds in His fists, and the waters in the

                        hollow of His hands.” His “way is in the sea,” and His “path in the

                        great waters.” (Psalm 77:19)  The billows that rise into mountains,

                        as well as the smallest wavelets that come rippling softly to the shore,

                        are the creatures of His power and the servants of His will.

 

Ø      He works on the earth. Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the

     flower of Lebanon languisheth.” No spots in Palestine were more

     fruitful than these three; they abounded in vigorous vegetation and

     majestic forests. But their life and their growth depended on the

      results of GOD’S POWER!   All the blades in the fields, all the

     trees in the forest, would languish and wither did His power cease

     to operate. Nor is His power less active in the inorganic

                        parts of the world. (I recommend Fantastic Trip on the Internet.

                        “The mountains quake at Him, and the hills melt, and the

                        earth is burned at His presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell

                        therein.”  (v. 5)  (There is a integral role that earthquakes will play

                        at the end of time.  See Matthew 24:7; Luke 21:11)  He looketh

                        on the earth, and it trembleth: He toucheth the hills, and they

                        smoke.” (Psalm 104:32)  He piles up the mountains, and again makes

                        them a plain; He kindles the volcanoes and quenches them at His

                        pleasure. God’s power is seen in all the phenomena of the

                        MATERIAL WORLD!  How graphically and beautifully is this

                        presented in Psalm 104:1.   The fact that God’s power is ever acting

                        in the material universe is:

 

o       The most philosophic explanation of all its phenomena.

      The men who ascribe all the operations of nature to what they

      call laws fail to satisfy my intellect. For what are those laws?

 

o       The most hallowing aspect of the world we live in.

      GOD IS IN ALL! “How dreadful is this place! it is none

      other than the house of God and this is the gate of heaven” 

      is what Jacob said.  (Genesis 28:17)

 

Let us walk the earth with reverence. “Take your shoes from off your feet, for

the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.”  (Exodus 3:5)

 

  • AS IRRESISTIBLY OPPOSED TO THE WICKED. “Who can stand

            before His indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of His anger?

            His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by Him.”

            (v. 6)  The mightiest rocks are but as pebbles in His hands. “He taketh up

            the isles as a very little thing; He weigheth the mountains in scales, and

            the hills in a balance” (Isaiah 40:12, 15) His anger, as we have said, is His

            determination to crush the wrong; and there is no power in the universe

            that can thwart Him in this. Who can stand before this? Were all the

            creatures in the universe to stand up against it, the attempt would be as

            feeble and as futile as the attempt of a child to turn back the advancing

            tides with his little spade. Sinner, why attempt to oppose Him? You must

            submit, EITHER AGAINST YOUR WILL or by your will. If you continue

            to resist, the former is a necessity. He will break you in pieces like a potter’s

            vessel. The latter is your duty and your interest. Fall down in penitence before

            Him, yield yourselves to His service, acquiesce in His will, TRUST JESUS

            CHRIST AS YOUR SAVIOUR and YOU ARE SAVED!

 

 

                                    The Wrath of God — A Warning   (vs. 2-6)

 

  • NECESSARY AS TO ITS EXISTENCE Based upon the character of

            God as a jealous God. Jealous:

 

Ø      For His own glory, and therefore admitting of no rival claimant to

      man’s worship and homage (Exodus 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24).

Ø      For His holy Law, and therefore shut up to punish iniquity (Exodus

                        20:5; Deuteronomy 5:9; 29:20; Joshua 24:19).

Ø      For His own people, and therefore impelled to take vengeance on

      their adversaries.

 

  • RIGHTEOUS AS TO ITS CHARACTER. Directed only and always:

 

Ø      Against His adversaries; i.e. against those who decline to do Him

                        homage, and show this by worshipping idols.

Ø      Against those who dishonor His holy Law by their disobedience and

                        unrighteousness.

Ø      Against those who oppress and tyrannize over His people, as the

                        Assyrians had done and were doing.

 

  • FURIOUS AS TO OPERATION. The wrath of Jehovah is not a trifle.

            Nahum speaks of it as something that has fury in it (vs. 2, 6). The

            prophets generally represented it as terrible in its forth flashing against sin

            and sinners (Deuteronomy 29:28; II Chronicles 28:13; Isaiah 13:9;

                        Jeremiah 21:5; Zephaniah 1:18; Zechariah 7:12). Christ did not view it as

            of small moment (Luke 21:23; 22:22). Reason does not warrant the idea

            that it will be slight and easy to bear, it being the anger of A GREAT

            AND HOLY GOD!  (In the end, and I heard today that the goal of

            ISIS is to bring about the Apocalypse, the scripture presents His fury

            at that time will come up in His face - Ezekiel 38:18 – CY – 2015)

 

  • SLOW AS TO MANIFESTATION. It does not spring forth readily.

            Scripture distinctly testifies that God is slow to anger (v. 3).

 

Ø      Jehovah Himself claimed that such was His character,

o       when He spake to the people at Mount Sinai (Exodus 20:6);

o       when He declared His Name to Moses (ibid. ch.34:6).

 

Ø      The Bible throughout concedes to Him this character.

o       Moses (Numbers 14:18),

o       David (Psalm 86:15),

o       Jonah (Jonah 4:2),

o       Micah (Micah 7:18-20),

o       Nehemiah (Nehemiah 9:17),

                        alike proclaim it.  In the New Testament, Paul (Romans 9:22)

                        and Peter (II Peter 3:9, 15) entertain the same idea.

 

Ø      Experience sufficiently confirms the Divine claim and the Scripture

                        representation. The providential treatment:

o       of the world,

o       of the antediluvian race,

o       of Sodom and Gomorrah (still suffering “the

                                    vengeance of eternal fire” – Jude 1:7)

o       of Israel and Judah,

o       of Nineveh and Babylon,

o       of unbelievers in Christendom and

o       of idolaters in heathendom, —

                        the best evidence that God is not willing that any should perish

                        “but that ALL SHOULD COME TO REPENTANCE” –

                        (II Peter 3:9)

 

  • CERTAIN AS TO INCIDENCE.

 

Ø      His character such as to demand this. “He will by no means clear the

                        guilty.” If He did He would contradict the representations of His

                        character, falsify His word, and endanger His government. Hence His

                        long suffering cannot arise from any secret sympathy which He has with

                        sin, but must spring solely from HIS OWN INHERENT

                        MERCIFULNESS!

 

Ø      HIS POWER SUFFICIENT TO SECURE THIS.   If Jehovah is slow

      to anger, this proceeds not from any defect in His ability to execute wrath

      upon His adversaries. He is of great power — a truth explicitly set forth in

      Scripture (Genesis 18:14; Exodus 15:11; Deuteronomy 7:21; Job 9:4;

                                                Psalm 89:8, etc.), and amplified and illustrated by Nahum, who depicts

                        that power in a threefold way.

 

o       By its character as supernatural. “The Lord hath His way in the

                                    whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His

                                    feet” (v. 3).  As such it is:

§         mysterious, violent, and swift,

§         inscrutable as to origin,

§         immeasurable as to vehemence, and

§         incalculable as to velocity.

 

o       By its effects as irresistible. NOTHING CAN STAND

      BEFORE IT; not the most uncontrollable element in nature,

      the sea, which with its dashing billows and moaning waters

      is to the human mind a striking emblem of power. “He

                                    rebuketh the sea and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers”

                                    (v. 4) — an allusion to the drying up of the Red Sea and of the

                                    Jordan for the Israelites to pass over (Exodus 14:22; Joshua 3:17),

                                    Jehovah’s supremacy over the sea a frequent theme with Scripture

                                    writers (Job 9:4-12; 38:8, 11; Psalm 29:3; 65:7; 74:15;

                                    Isaiah 44:27; 51:10-11). Not the freshest and most vigorous, of

                                    which Bashan, Carmel, and Lebanon are cited as examples —

                                    these languish and fade, their beauty decaying and their

                                    fruitfulness departing when He directs against them the fury of

                                    His wrathful power (v. 4; compare Psalm 107:34). Not the most

                                    solid and stable, the mountains, the hills, the earth, the world, all

                                    of which quake, melt, and burn AT HIS PRESENCE!  (v. 5;

                                    compare Psalm 68:8; Micah 1:4; Isaiah 64:1). Not the most

                                    exalted and wise, the living creatures that dwell upon the

                                    surface of the globe, beasts and men, both of which are

                                    upheaved with terror before the manifestations of Jehovah’s

                                    power (Joel 1:18, 20; Hosea 4:3; Psalm 65:8).

 

  • APPLICATION. “Who can stand before his indignation? and who can

            abide in the fierceness of his anger?” (v. 6).

 

 

                                    The Divine Vengeance (vs. 2-6)

 

In engaging in work for God, the worker must not be unmindful of the

terrible consequences resulting from despising THE RICHES OF THE

DIVINE MERCY AND GRACE!   There is, assuredly, such a thing as retribution

following a course of alienation from God’s ways. It must be so. The very love of

God renders the punishment of the ungodly absolutely essential. Objectors

sometimes point to the scriptural teaching concerning the future of the

impenitent as indicating that the God of the Bible is unlovely and severe.

But surely, where there is love there will also be found regard for justice.

There is a mawkish sentimentalism about the teaching which dwells upon

the love of God to the exclusion of all regard for his rectoral character.

There is much of this teaching prevalent today. It is the recoil from extreme

Calvinism, and, as is usual in such cases, the very opposite extreme is

reached. It is impossible to indicate the extent to which the intense sense of

God possessed by the Reformer of Geneva gave strength to his work; and

let God be realized by us as “infinite Justice, infinite Love, and infinite

Truth, blended in one indivisible ray of whitest light,” and the thought of

His all-embracing sovereignty and wise and perfect administration will be

found full of comfort and inspiration to our hearts. And so long as He is

righteous, sin, unrepented of and unabandoned, must be followed by bitter

results; and hence, whilst joyfully proclaiming “the acceptable year of the

Lord,” we must also declare the coming of “the day of vengeance of our

God.”   (Luke 4:18-19)  In these verses:

 

  • LIGHT IS CAST UPON THE NATURE OF THE DIVINE

            VENGEANCE. Our conceptions of the Divine Being are sometimes

            assisted by our ascribing to Him certain characteristics belonging to the

            children of men. Analogy, however, in this direction must not be pressed

            too far, or we may be led to form very erroneous views concerning our

            God. We have in these verses a case in point. Nothing is more strongly to

            be condemned in men than the cherishing by them of the spirit of jealousy

            and of vengeance; yet this is here ascribed to God. “The Lord is jealous,

            and the Lord revengeth,” etc. (v. 2). But then “jealousy” and

            vengeance” mean something very different when applied to man from

            what is intended when the same terms are used in reference to God. By

            jealousy on the part of man we understand envy, but by the same word in

            reference to God we are reminded of His regard for the maintenance of

            truth, His holy concern for the upholding of righteousness. And by

            vengeance on the part of man we understand revenge, a determination that

            satisfaction shall be given for the injury we consider has been done to us;

            whereas the same word as applied to God carries with it no such idea of

            vindictiveness, but simply a pure desire that the cause of justice and

            rectitude may be established and secure complete vindication. Since this

            brief book of prophecy has almost exclusive reference to the Divine

            judgments to fall upon the Assyrians, it is all-important that we clearly

            understand at the outset that Divine vengeance has absolutely no malice in

            it, and is ever exercised in the maintenance of righteousness. This is

            indicated in the next verse in three particulars (v. 3).

 

Ø      The Divine slowness. The Lord is slow to anger.” Vindictiveness

      will not brook delay; human vengeance reckons with its victims at

      the earliest moment; revenge burns; passion rages; but the Divine

      vengeance delays, that perchance, through penitence, the blow may

      not be required to fall.

Ø      The restraining of Divine power. Man, cherishing the spirit of

                        vindictiveness, sometimes lingers because conscious of his want of

                        power to inflict the penalty; but God “great in power” (v. 3) restrains

                        His might, holds back His avenging hand, that “space for repentance”

                        may be given, and the fact be made manifest that He “desires not the

                        death of the wicked.”

Ø      The Divine concern for the maintenance of His pure Law. “And will

      not at all acquit the wicked” (v. 3). His vengeance is not vindictive,

      but is exercised in order that the supremacy of His holy Law may be

      asserted. He has graciously made provision for the forgiveness of sin

      and the salvation of transgressors from condemnation (Romans 8:1),

      and they who willfully persist in iniquity must bear the consequences,

      which will light upon them, not because God is vindictive, but because

      the honor of His pure Law must be sustained.

 

  • THIS ASPECT OF THE DIVINE CHARACTER IS SET FORTH IN

            GRAPHIC IMAGERY. (vs. 3-6.) For sublimity and grandeur this

            passage stands unrivalled. The Divine vengeance is presented to us here:

 

Ø      In its irresistibleness. Like the whirlwind, it sweeps everything before

      it (v. 3).

Ø      In its terribleness. In vivid symbolical language all nature is represented

                        as full of terror at the Divine manifestations (v. 5).

Ø      In its destructiveness. Desolation is brought about — the sea and the

                        rivers are dried up at the rebuke of the Lord; the rich pastures of Bashan,

                        the beautiful gardens of Carmel, and the fragrant flowers and fruitful

                        vines and stately trees of Lebanon languish (v. 4); as a devouring fire this

                        vengeance consumes in every direction (vs 5-6); yea, so mighty is it that

                        the very rocks crumble to pieces when it is put forth (v. 6).

 

  • THIS VIEW OF OUR GOD IS PRESSED HOME UPON OUR

            HEARTS BY EARNEST INQUIRY.Who can stand before His

            indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of His anger?” (v. 6).

            The design of the questions is to quicken conscience. They contain and

            suggest the answers. Humbled in the very dust of self-abasement, we cry,

            “Enter not into judgment with thy servants, O Lord; for in thy sight shall

            no man living be justified” (Psalm 143:2).

 

In vs. 7-11, The prophet prepares the way for proclaiming the

punishment of Nineveh by declaring that the wrath of God falls not on

those who trust in Him, but is reserved for His enemies.

 

7 “The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and He

knoweth them that trust in Him.”  The Lord is good. The Targum adds

unnecessarily, “for Israel (Psalm 25:8). He is “good,” in that He is a stronghold

in the day of trouble, as in the perilous time when the Assyrians attacked Judaea

(compare Psalm 27:1; Jeremiah 16:19). He knoweth; loves and cares for

(Psalm 1:6; 37:18; compare II Timothy 2:19; and see note on Amos 3:2).

 

 

                                    The Divine Goodness (v. 7)

 

“The Lord is good.” The word “good” is used herein the sense of the

desire to promote happiness. (I have heard that the word “blessed” means

Happy -  CY – 2015)  The prophet affirms that the Lord” possesses

this disposition — that whilst He is powerful He exerts this power in saving,

not in destroying, “judgment” being “his strange work”  (Isaiah 28:21); that

whilst His presence fills all space, and His omniscient eye penetrates all, he is

concerned, in His watchfulness, that none of the creatures He has formed

should lack the blessings His bounteous hand has to bestow; and that as He

is eternal in His duration, so the streams of His bounty shall ever continue to

flow. “The Lord is good.” This inspiring truth was revealed even from the

earliest times, and is inscribed in Scripture upon EVERY PAGE!   Abram in the

vision by night (Genesis 15.), Jacob in his weary wanderings (ibid. 28:10-22), and

Moses in “the holy mount” (Exodus 33:19), were alike favored with special revelations

of it. The very thought of God thus woke up within the psalmist the faculty of song,

and led him to strike his lyre and to sing with holy fervor, “Thou, Lord, art good

and ready to forgive” (Psalm 86:5); “They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy

great goodness,” etc. (Psalm 145:7); “Oh, taste and see, THAT THE LORD IS

GOOD” etc. (Psalm 34:8). And prophets unite with psalmists in bearing this

testimony (Jeremiah 33:11; Isaiah 63:7). Very different was the conception

formed by the heathen. We think of the tyranny, caprice, and revenge

supposed to characterize heathen deities, the acts of cruelty ascribed to

them, the impurity of heathen rites, and the wearisomeness of heathen

penances, and we rejoice that the voice from heaven has spoken unto us,

and that the truth which heathen worshippers did not know has been so

clearly revealed to us in the bright assurance, “The Lord is good.” “The

Lord is good.” Nature, with her ten thousand voices, bears emphatic

testimony here. Benevolence marks all the operations of the Creator’s

hands. All His works DECLARE HIS GOODNESS!  . The majestic sun, the

full-orbed moon, the stars countless in number and sparkling in the vault of

heaven, the refreshing and fertilizing shower, the gentle breeze, the woods

reechoing with the notes of little songsters, the varied landscape, the

carpeted earth, the tinted flowers, all seem to speak and to say, “The Lord

is good.” “O Lord, how excellent is thy Name in all the earth!” (Psalm

8:1); “O Lord, how manifold are thy works”! (Psalm 104:24). “The Lord is

good.” As in creation so in providence, the same testimony is borne.

Specially is this so in the Divine dealings with men, supplying his wants,

ministering to his necessities, scattering blessings in his path, and daily, yea,

hourly, sustaining and preserving him from peril and danger. (We have had

a week of snow – 10 inches or more – I stand on my steps and with

my hand throw food/seed out for the birds – God does this for all

mankind and His creatures, more easily than I can – CY – 2015)  His goodness,

too, is seen in that He is “kind even to the unthankful,” and bestows His

flowers not only upon “the just” but also upon “the unjust,” sustaining even

these who live in rebellion against Him. (Matthew 5:45)  Nor does the fact that

whilst the ungodly often seem to “prosper in their way,” “waters of a full cup are

wrung out to His people,” militate against the declaration of this text; for

God’s providence takes into account the entire welfare of His servants, and

adverse scenes may be necessary in order to the promotion of this; and, the

discipline accomplished, deliverance shall be theirs, whilst the arm of the

oppressor shall be broken (vs. 12-13). “The Lord is good.” This truth,

impressed upon the pages of the Old Testament, receives its highest

exemplification in the records of the New. In Him whose advent prophets

predicted, and whose work was shadowed forth in type and symbol, and in

the free redemption He has wrought; in the seeking and self-sacrificing love

and the compassionate mercy and grace of God as thus expressed, we see

the noblest, purest, brightest token that “the Lord is good.” In this Divine

goodness, ever watchful to guard us; almighty, and hence equal to every

emergency of our life; immutable too, and therefore an unfailing

dependence amidst the mutations and fluctuations of our earthly lot, — let

us rest with unswerving trust, until at length, every bond sundered, we, as

the ransomed of the Lord, come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy

upon our heads” (Isaiah 35:10), there with adoring gratitude to reflect upon

the memory of His great goodness, and to praise Him for His mercy and grace

and love FOREVERMORE!

 

 

                                    God our Stronghold (v. 7)

 

Great, indeed, is the honor sustained by the man who fulfils the mission of

being a comforter to others, who is enabled to minister to sorrowing and

stricken ones, who watches with them in their Gethsemanes, and by his

gentle words and tender sympathy imparts consolation to their wounded

hearts. “I dwelt as a king in the army; as one that comforteth the

mourners (Job 29:25). No service makes a greater demand upon a

man than this, yet he has an abundant reward for the self-sacrifice involved,

in beholding the objects of his regard no longer in “ashes,” but raised out

of the dust and made comely; no longer with disfigured countenance

through grief, but radiant with joy; no longer arrayed in gloom, but clad in

the beautiful garments worn on festal days (Isaiah 61:2-3). Nahum,

whilst the minister of condemnation to the Ninevites, was also the minister

of consolation to his own people in their sadness and sorrow. Only a few of

his words to Israel are recorded, but they are words full of consolation and

hope. Here he pointed to God as the Stronghold of His servants. “He is a

Stronghold in the day of trouble.”  We have here:

 

  • A COMMON UNIVERSAL EXPERIENCE. “Trouble.” Man is born to

            this. (Job 5:7)  Trials arise; conflicts must be engaged in; the cares and anxieties

            of life press; hopes are frustrated; injustice triumphs; slander blights; sickness,

            disease, death, prevail; our best and dearest pass away from our view;

            graves are opened; the tears fail fast; and immunity from all this is granted

            to none, each must pass through dark experiences and encounter adverse

            influences: this is the discipline of life.

 

                        “In this vain world the days are not all fair;

                            To suffer is the work we have to do;

                        And every one has got a cross to bear,

                           And every one some secret heart, ache too.”

 

  • A DEEP INWARD NEED ARISING OUT OF THIS EXPERIENCE.

            It is implied here that man circumstanced thus needs help. He knows not

            how to bear the ills of life unaided and alone. He who has to face the

            pitiless storm needs to be robed to resist the stress of adverse weather, and

            he who has to confront the foe requires to be armor clad. This need of the

            sorrowing heart cannot be supplied by earthly sources. The world’s cheer

            then comes to the man like songs to a heavy heart, and he has no taste for

            its music. Skepticism can cast no bow of promise across the cloud; whilst

            human philosophy may counsel the cherishing of the spirit of indifference,

            but which under the pressure it is impossible to cultivate.  (God has

            provided the armor to deal with this! (Ephesians 6:10-18)

 

  • THIS NEED AMPLY MET IN GOD. “He is a Stronghold in the day

            of trouble.” The figure is a very striking one. There stands the castle with

            its thick walls and buttresses and its brave defenders ready to resist any

            attack. The foes attempt a landing, and the inhabitants, old and young,

            hasten to the fortress. The drawbridge is lifted, the moat is filled with

            water, and all are safely lodged in the stronghold, and in the day of

            visitation are securely guarded and safely kept. Even thus is it with the

            good in “the day of trouble.” So David cried, “Thou hast been a Shelter for

            me and a Strong Tower from the enemy” (Psalm 61:3-4). God was his

            “Light and his Salvation” (Psalm 27:1), his “Pavilion” (ibid. v. 5),

            the Solace of his every grief as well as the Center of his every joy. He

            loved Him, he trusted Him, he knew that the dearest experience in life is the

            experience of God’s love and care. So Hezekiah and his people when

            threatened by Sennacherib. The Assyrian army gathered in all its strength

            around “the city of God,” and Jerusalem became as a mountain shaken by

            the swelling of the sea, portions of which were crumbling and falling

            through the violence of the waves, and the whole of which seemed ready to

            be borne entirely away; yet the king and his subjects were calm and

            tranquil; they committed their cause to “the Strong One,” and rested in His

            protection, and cried with holy fervor, “God is our Refuge and Strength,”

            etc. (Isaiah 36.; 37.; Psalm 46.). And let us only realize that Jehovah is to

            us a living Presence, the Source of our inspiration, the Strength of our

            hearts and our abiding Portion, and we shall give to the winds all craven

            fear, and in our darkest seasons shall sing:

 

                        “A sure Stronghold our God is He,

                            A timely Shield and Weapon;

                        Our Help He’ll be, and. set us free

                           From every ill can happen.

                        And were the world with devils filled,

                          All eager to devour us,

                        Our souls to fear shall little yield,

                           They cannot overpower us.”

 

 

                        The Divine Regard for Trusting Hearts (v. 7)

 

“And He knoweth them that trust in Him.” Something more than mere

acquaintance is involved here; the meaning undoubtedly is that He

intimately and lovingly regards those who commit themselves and their

way unto Him, and will tenderly care for them and promote their weal; yea,

still more, even that He knows and cares thus for such personally and

individually, not overlooking any of them in the multitude, but regarding

thus each and every such trusting heart.

 

  • THIS TRUTH ADMITS OF AMPLE CONFIRMATION. There is

            something very wonderful in this thought. Is it not almost past conception

            that He who has the direction of all worlds dependent upon Him, and whose

            dominions are so vast, should look upon His servants in this small world of

            ours, separately and with loving regard, and should interest Himself in our

            personal concerns? So too, awed and humbled as we stand in the midst of

            the vast and mighty works of God, we feel impelled to cry, “When I

            consider thy heavens.” etc (Psalm 8:3) Yet that it is so is abundantly

            confirmed in the teachings of Scripture.

 

Ø      See this truth taught in type. Call to remembrance the breastplate of the

                        Jewish high priest, that splendid embroidered cloth which covered his

                        breast, and in which were set precious stones bearing the names of the

                        tribes of Israel. And did not those precious stones, worn so near the heart

                        of the high priest, symbolize the truth that all sincere servants of God are

                        dear unto Him; that He not only bears them up in His arms with an

                        almighty strength, but bears them also upon His heart with the most

                        tender affection?

 

Ø      See this truth taught in prophecy. It is therein declared that there is

                        nothing so impossible as that God should forget His trusting children.

                        Zion said, The Lord hath forgotten me, and my Lord hath forsaken me”

                        (Isaiah 49:14-15). And in response to this fear the Lord declared that

                        this could never be, and that His love and care are even more enduring

                        than that of mothers. “Can a woman forget her suckling child?,” etc.?

                        (Isaiah 49:15); “I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands”

                        (ibid. v.16). Undying remembrance surely! The name is inscribed there,

                        never to be obliterated, a ceaseless memorial before His face.

 

Ø      The New Testament unites with the Old in bearing this bright testimony;

                        for does not Christ, as the good Shepherd, declare that “He calleth His

                        own sheep by name, and leadeth them out”?  (John 10:3)  Do we not

                        read also the assurance,  “The Lord knoweth them that are His”

                        (II Timothy 2:19)? yea, is it not even affirmed that this Divine

                        knowledge and care respecting the good shall be PERPETUATED\

                        EVERMORE  (Revelation 7:15-17; 21:3-4)?

 

  • THIS TRUTH IS CALCULATED TO EXERT A

            STRENGTHENING AND STIMULATING INFLUENCE. This thought,

            if more intensely realized by us, would prove helpful in many ways.

 

Ø      It would render us less dependent than we are upon human supports.

                        What ever anxiety is felt by us at times in reference to the success of our

                        plans and projects, or for the continuance to us of those in whom our

                        prosperity, humanly speaking, centers! But if we grasped fully the

                        assurance here expressed, we should be led to depend less upon earthly

                        sources and more upon Him who has loved us with an everlasting love;

                        who, though unseen by us, ever encompasses our path, and who, in the

                        season of their deepest extremity, will guide and strengthen all who stay

                        themselves on Him.

 

Ø      It would give increased reality to the sacred exercise of prayer. We too

                        often draw nigh unto God as though we were seeking One who, because

                        He is invisible, is necessarily at an infinite distance from us, and who

                        may or may not regard our cry, and perhaps it is not too much to say

                        that we sometimes draw nigh without any distinct apprehension of the

                        Being to whom we profess to come, and whose aid we invoke; but then

                        we should indeed feel prayer to be a reality and not a merely formal

                        exercise, and by such intimate and hallowed communion should renew

                        our spiritual strength.

 

Ø      It would strengthen and aid us in our conflicts with sin. In this strife we

                        sometimes suffer defeat; and in our endeavors after the Christian

                        character and life we are painfully conscious at seasons of failure. How

                        cheering in such circumstances is the thought that all our aspirations after

                        truth and purity and goodness are known unto our God; that He is

                        acquainted with all t   the circumstances of our case; that He is conscious

                        we have not designedly strayed from Him; and that He follows us, with

                        loving regard, in all our wanderings, with a view to bringing us back to

                        His fold!

 

8 “But with an overrunning flood He will make an utter end of the

place thereof, and darkness shall pursue His enemies.”

With an overrunning flood. This may be merely a metaphor to

express the utter devastation which should overwhelm Nineveh, as the

invasion of a hostile army is often thus depicted (compare Isaiah 8:7;

Daniel 11:26, 40); or it may be an allusion to the inundation which

aided the capture of the city (see note on ch.2:6). Of the place

thereof; i.e. of Nineveh, not named, but present to the prophet’s mind, and

understood from the heading (v. 1). (For the utter destruction of

Nineveh, compare Zephaniah 2:13, etc.) The Septuagint has, τοὺς ἐπένειρομένους

tous epeneiromenous - those that rise up). The Chaldee has a similar reading,

with the meaning that God would exterminate those who rise up against

Him. Darkness shall pursue His enemies. So the Septuagint and Vulgate.

But it is better rendered, He shall pursue His enemies into darkness, so

that they disappear from the earth. If this is the meaning of the clause, it

resembles the termination of many Assyrian inscriptions which record the

defeat of a hostile chieftain: “and no one has seen any trace of him since.”

 

 

                                    Consolation in God (vs. 7-8)

 

  • IN HIS LOVE. “The Lord is good.”

 

Ø      Revealed in His Word.

o       Made known to Moses (Exodus 33:19; 34:6);

o       proclaimed by David (Psalm 52:1; 100:5; 119:68);

o       announced by Jeremiah (Lamentations 3:25);

o       confirmed by Christ (Matthew 19:17).

 

Ø      Attested by His works.

o       In creation, God having made the earth to be an abode of

      happiness for innumerable myriads of creatures: “the earth

      is full of the goodness of the Lord” (Psalm 33:5).

o       In providence, by His being good unto all (Psalm 145:9), and

                                    making all things work together for good to his people (Romans

                                    8:28).

o       In grace, by the gift of his Son to be man’s Redeemer (ibid. v.32;

      II Corinthians 9:15), and by the various blessings of salvation He

                                    for Christ’s sake bestows upon them:

§         pardon,

§         peace,

§         adoption,

§         holiness,

§         light,

§         strength,

§         life,

§         heaven.

 

Ø      Experienced by his saints. From the beginning of time downwards,

      good men have been partakers of, and delighted to bear testimony to,

      the goodness of God, saying, like David, “The Lord is my Shepherd,”

                        (Psalm 23:1); “He hath dealt bountifully with me” (Psalm 13:6);

                        confessing, like Solomon, “There hath not failed one word of all His

                         good promise” (I Kings 8:56); acknowledging, like Jacob, “He hath

                        fed me all my life long unto this day” (Genesis 48:15).

 

Ø      Illustrated by His Son. The highest, clearest, and fullest evidence that

                        God is good was furnished by JESUS CHRIST, who was good in

                        Himself (John 10:11), and went about continually doing good (Acts

                        10:38).

 

  • IN HIS POWER. “He is a Stronghold in the day of trouble.”

 

Ø      Accessible.

 

o       To all troubled ones, amongst His believing people (Psalm 46:1;

                                                                        Proverbs 14:26; Isaiah 25:4), and amongst mankind generally, if

                                    they care to avail themselves of it (Psalm 91:9).

o       From every quarter of the globe, from every rank and condition of

                                    society. Jehovah the God, not of the Jew only, but also of the

                                    Gentile (Romans 3:29); not of the rich and learned and outwardly

                                    virtuous, to the exclusion of the poor, ignorant, and degraded, nor

                                    of these to the disadvantage of those — with Him is no respect of

                                    persons (II Chronicles 19:7; Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9;

                                                                        Colossians 3:25).

o       In every form of calamity — in the day of national adversity,

      such as had often befallen Israel undivided (Exodus 14:10;

            Judges 6:1-2; 10:9; I Samuel 4:2), and Judah in separation

      (II Chronicles 14:9; 20:1; 32:1), and such as was soon to

      threaten the latter again, if not from the Assyrian, from the

      Babylonian power; in the day of domestic tribulation, such

      as overtook Job (1:13-19), David (II Samuel ch.15-18),

                                    Jacob (Genesis 42:36), Jairus (Matthew 9:18), the centurion

                                    (Luke 7:2), the widow of Nain (Luke 7:12), the nobleman

                                    (John 4:46), and the household of Bethany (John 11:1); in the

                                    day of personal affliction, which may be either spiritual like the

                                    distress which fell on David (Psalm 38:3), or material like that

                                    which overtook Lot (Genesis 19:29), bodily like that which

                                    struck Hezekiah (Isaiah 38:1), or mental like that which crushed

                                    Jeremiah (Jeremiah 9:1), occasional like that which happened to

                                    Manasseh (II Chronicles 33:12), or perpetual like that which was

                                    the lot of Paul (II Corinthians 4:10).

 

Ø      Impregnable. This inevitable, considering what kind of a fortress it is —

                        Divine, and by what munitions it is guarded, the royal battalion of the

                        Divine attributes, BY JEHOVAH’S:

o       omnipotence,

o       omniscience,

o       omnipresence,

o       faithfulness,

o       wisdom,

o       holiness, and

o       love.

 

Against this manifestly no weapon can prevail. “Mine omnipotency shall be your

guard. I am God Almighty, your Almighty Protector, your Almighty Benefactor.

What though your enemies are many? More are they that are with you than they

that are against you; for I am with you. What though they are mighty? they are not

almighty,” tc. (Alleine’s ‘Heaven Opened,’ pp. 256, 257).

 

Ø      Sufficient. Every succor the soul needs in its day of trouble is found in

                        God, and found completely:

o       for the soul’s guilt, pardon (Isaiah 1:16; 43:25);

o       for its pollution, cleansing (Ezekiel 36:25);

o       for its anxiety, peace (Isaiah 26:3; Matthew 11:28);

o       for its weakness, strength (Isaiah 45:24);

o       for its darkness, light (Psalm 118:27; I Peter 2:9; 1 John 1:5);

o       for its death, life (Isaiah 25:8; Romans 4:17).

 

  • IN HIS KNOWLEDGE. “He knoweth them that put their trust in

            Him.” He knoweth them:

 

Ø      Collectively. All that belong to the body of His believing people He

                        exactly and always knows, so that He can think and speak of them

                        as His people (Isaiah 32:18; II Timothy 2:19), as Christ does of those

                        who are His (John 10:14).

Ø      Individually. Not in the mass merely, but separately and singly,

      (“If a man love me, he will keep my words:  and my Father

      will love him, and we will come unto him, and MAKE OUR

      ABODE WITH HIM!:  (John 14:23)  He knows them (II Samuel

      7:20; Psalm 139:1-12; I Corinthians 8:3, Hebrews 4:13), as Christ also

      calls His own sheep by name (John 10:3).

Ø      Thoroughly.

o       Their characters — seeing that He searches the heart (I Kings

     8:39; Jeremiah 17:10; Psalm 139:2; Luke 16:15; Acts 1:24; 15:8;

                                                                        I Thessalonians 2:4). Hence He can never err as to their persons.

o       Their conditions — since nothing can be hid from Him, neither

     person (Jeremiah 23:24; Hosea 5:3) nor thing (Psalm 139:15;

                                                                        Jeremiah 16:17), but both alike are manifest in His sight

                                    (Hebrews 4:13). Hence He can never mistake as to their

                                    circumstances, but must always understand precisely what

                                    they need.

Ø      Efficiently. Different from the wicked, whom He knows afar off

                        (Psalm 138:6), i.e. as persons estranged from and hostile to Himself,

                        them that put their trust in Him He knows appreciatively and

                        helpfully, so as to love, cherish, protect, and assist them. “Though

                        the Lord be high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly” — to their

                        persons to love them, to their characters to admire them, to their

                        wants to supply them, to their souls to save them.

 

  • CONCLUSION. Note:

 

            The characters of those for whom this consolation exists are they who put

            their trust in God. Beware of the evil fate of them who, being destitute of

            faith, are His enemies:

Ø      they shall be destroyed by an overrunning flood,

Ø      their habitations swept away,

Ø      their persons engulfed,

Ø      their hopes disappointed,

Ø      their projects defeated,

Ø      their ambitions scattered to the winds;

            they shall be pursued by (or into) darkness (see next homily).

 

 

       Pursued by (Authorized Version), into (Revised Version), Darkness (v. 8)

 

  • A WOEFUL FATE.

 

Ø      The picture. That of a defeated enemy pursued by a victorious general

                        who comes up behind his foes like the shades of night upon a wearied

                        and dispirited traveler stumbling forward upon an uncertain and perilous

                        way, as Abraham fell upon the kings by night and smote them, and

                        pursued them unto Hobah (Genesis 14:15); or, who drives them on before

                        him into the gloom of night, where they encounter unforeseen dangers and

                        perish, as the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah did when chased by

                        Chedorlaomer’s troops (ibid. v.10).

 

Ø      The interpretation. The defeated enemy is the sinner; the pursuing

                        conqueror is either darkness, meaning those calamities which God has

                        ordained to follow sin, or God Himself, by whom the sinner shall be

                        chased into such disastrous overthrow. In either case, with darkness

                        behind or darkness before — and, in reality, it is both behind and

                        before the condition of God’s enemy is pitiful indeed.

 

  • A CERTAIN DOOM. Pursued by or into darkness. There is no

            “peradventure” about the lot of the ungodly. What is here predicted is not

            contingent, but absolute; not what ought to be merely, or what may be

            only, but what shall be.

 

Ø      Gods Word hath declared it. “The wicked shall be silent in darkness,”

                        etc. (I Samuel 2:9); “The eyes of the wicked shall fail,” etc. (Job 11:20);

                        “He shall be driven from light into darkness AND CHASED OUT OF

                        THE WORLD!” (Job 18:18); “Let their way be darkness and slippery

                         places” (Psalm 35:6); “The candle of the wicked shall be put out”

                        (Proverbs 24:20); “The children of the kingdom [who have become

                        God’s enemies] will be cast into outer darkness,” etc. (Matthew 8:12) —

                        “And the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).

 

Ø      Gods character requires it. If His love and mercy make it sure that

      none who return to Him will be rejected (Isaiah 55:7; Jeremiah 3:22;

                                                Hosea 14:4), His holiness and justice render it equally imperative that

                        the impenitent and unbelieving, the rebellious and disobedient,

                        should be punished with everlasting destruction from FROM THE

                        PRESENCE OF GOD AND THE GLORY OF HIS POWER.”

                         (Romans 1:18; I Corinthians 6:9-10; I Peter 3:12).

 

Ø      Sin itself ensures it. Every action that a man performs carries in its

      own bosom its reward or punishment., “The wages of sin is death”

      just as certainly as “the fruit of holiness” is EVERLASTING

      LIFE!   (Romans 6:21-23).

 

  • A JUST RETRIBUTION. To be pursued by or into darkness is a

            fitting lot for those who in their lifetime have loved the darkness rather

            than the light.

 

Ø      The law of moral retribution demands that this shall be so.

                        “Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). He

                        that walks in darkness here cannot hope to walk in light yonder; he who

                        does the deeds of darkness on earth will not likely begin to do deeds

                        of light in heaven.

 

Ø      The character of the wicked makes it certain that this shall be so. No

                        being can act otherwise than in accordance with its nature. Mere change

                        of place suffices not to alter one’s nature. No reason to think that

                        passing from one form of existence to another will effect any radical

                        transmutation of one’s being. Hence they who have died in darkness

                        will continue to DWELL IN DARKNESS!

 

LESSONS.

 

  • We are to forsake sin. “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of

      darkness.”

 

  • We are to follow holiness “without which no man will see the Lord.”

      (Hebrews 12:14). “Walk as children of the light.”  (Ephesians 5:8)

 

 

                            Opposite Types of Human Character

                                                               and

                                Opposite Lines of Divine Procedure (vs. 7-8)

 

“The Lord is good, a Stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth

them that trust in Him. But with an over-runing flood He will make an utter

end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue His enemies.” The

previous verses were introductory to the subject which the prophet now

takes up, namely, the safe keeping of the Jews by Jehovah, in view of the

tremendous attack the King of Nineveh was about to make on their country

and their city, and also to announce the terrible doom of Nineveh, the

capital of the Assyrian foe. In these verses there is a very striking and

significant contrast

 

(1) between the characters of men, and

(2) between the lines of Divine procedure in relation to them.

 

  • TWO OPPOSITE TYPES OF HUMAN CHARACTER.

 

Ø      Here we have the friends of God. There is here a twofold description

      of them.

 

o       “They trust in Him.” This is the universal character of the good

      in all ages. Instead of placing their chief confidence in the ever-

      changing creature, they center it in the immutable Creator. They

      trust His love ever to provide for them, His wisdom as their

      infallible guide, and His power as their strength and their shield.

      “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord.”  (Jeremiah 17:7)

 

o       He acknowledges them. “And He knoweth.” This means that He

                                    recognizes them as His loyal subjects and loving children, His

                                    people. In Hosea 13:5 He saith, “I did know thee in the

                                    wilderness,” which means, “I did acknowledge thee, and took

                                    care of thee!” The words imply the cognizance of special sympathy

                                    with the just. He knows them; they are always in His mind, His

                                    heart.  “Can a mother forget her sucking child,” etc.?

 

Ø      Here we have the enemies of God. “Darkness shall pursue His

      enemies.”  The men who misrepresent our characters, oppose our

      expressed wishes, seek to undermine our influence, and are ever in

      association with those who are opposed to us — such men, whatever

      may be their professions of regard and friendship, we are bound to

      regard as enemies. Is it not so with men in relation to God? Those who

      pursue a course of life directly opposite to the moral laws of Heaven,

      whatever they may say, are His enemies. How numerous are God’s

      enemies! These two great classes comprehend the human race today.

      The race may be divided into very numerous classes on certain

      adventitious principles, but on moral grounds there are but two —

      God’s friends and God’s enemies.

 

  • TO OPPOSITE LINES OF DIVINE PROCEDURE. God’s procedure

            is very different towards these two opposite classes of men.

 

Ø      He affords protection to the one. When the hosts of Sennacherib were

                        approaching Jerusalem, Hezekiah the king, under Divine inspiration,

                        said to the people, “Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor

                        dismayed for the King of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is

                        with him: for there be more with us than with him: with him is

                        an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and

                        to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words

                        of Hezekiah King of Judah (II Chronicles 32:7-8). Thus it is ever.

                        God is always the Refuge and Strength of His people in times of

                        tribulation. As a Refuge, He is:

 

o       Ever accessible. However suddenly the storm may come, the

      refuge is at your side, the door is open. “I will never leave thee,

      nor forsake thee”  (Hebrews 13:5)

 

o       Ever secure. The sanctuary once entered, no injury can follow.

      Amidst the most violent convulsions of nature, the wreck of

      worlds, the shatterings of the universe, there is no endangering

      the security of those who avail themselves of this refuge.

 

Ø      He sends destruction to the other. “But with an overrunning flood he

                        will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue

                        His enemies.” The image of a flood which breaks through every barrier

                        is not unfrequently used in the Bible to represent overwhelming armies

                        of invasion. The primary allusion here, no doubt, is to the way which

                        Nineveh was captured by means of the Medes and Babylonians. A flood

                        in the river, we are told, broke down the wall for twenty furlongs. The

                        rolling tide burst its barriers, bore away the defenses of the city, and

                        opened an easy and unexpected way for the invading armies. On all

                        finally impenitent men destruction must come as irresistibly as a flood.

                        The destruction, however, of existence, conscience, or moral obligations

                        would be the destruction of all that would make existence worth having.

 

CONCLUSION. The grand question of every man is — How do I stand

in relation to God? If I am His friend, His procedure is in my favor, it

guards me and blesses me every step. It I am His enemy, His procedure is

not in my favor, not because He changes, but because I put myself against

Him, and it must be my ruin if I change not. As He proceeds in His

beneficent and undeviating march, He showers blessings on the good, and

Nmiseries on the evil, AND THIS FOR EVERF!

 

9  “What do ye imagine against the LORD? He will make an utter end:

affliction shall not rise up the second time.”  The prophet suddenly addresses both

Jews and Assyrians, encouraging the former by the thought that God can perform

what He promises, and warning the latter that their boasting (compare Isaiah 10:9,

etc.; 36:20) was vain. What do ye imagine against the Lord? Quid

cogitatis contra Dominum? (Vulgate). This rendering regards the question

as addressed to the Assyrians, demanding of them what it is that they dare

to plot against God; do they presume to fight against Him, or to fancy that

His threats will not be accomplished? But the sentence is best translated,

What think ye of the Lord? Τί λογίζεσθε ἐπὶ τὸν Κύριον – Ti logizesthe epi

ton Kurion -  What devise ye against the Lord? (Septuagint). This is addressed

not only to the Jews in the sense, “Do ye think that He will not accomplish His

threat against Nineveh?” but to the Assyrians also. He will make an utter end. This

denunciation is repeated from v. 8 to denote the absolute certainty of the

doom. Affliction shall not rise up the second time. The Assyrians shall

never again have the power of oppressing Judah as they have ruined Israel

there shall be no repetition of Sennacherib’s invasion. Septuagint, Οὐκ ἐκδικήσει

δὶς ἐπιτοαυτὸ ἐν θλίψει  - Ouk ekdikaesei dis epitoauto en thlipsei – affliction

will not rise up a second time.  Non vindicabit bis in idipsura

(Jerome). From this text the Fathers take occasion to discuss the question

how it is that God does not punish twice for the same sin.

 

10 “For while they be folden together as thorns, and while they are

drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.”

While they be folden together as thorns. The clause is

conditional: “Though they be interwined as thorns.” Though the Assyrians

present an impenetrable front, which seems to defy attack. (For the

comparison of a hostile army to briers and thorns, see Isaiah 10:17;

27:4) And while they are drunken as drunkards; and

though they be drunken with their drink, regarding themselves as

invincible, and drenched with wine, and given up to luxury and excess.

There may be an allusion to the legend current concerning the destruction

of Nineveh. Diodorus (2:26) relates that, after the enemy had been thrice

repulsed, the King of Nineveh was so elated that he gave himself up to

festivity, and allowed all his army to indulge in the utmost license, and that

it was while they were occupied in drunkenness and feasting they were

surprised by the Medes under Cyaxares, and their city taken. An account of

such a feast, accompanied with sketches from the monuments, is given in

Bonomi, ‘Nineveh and its Discoveries,’ p. 187, etc. We may compare the

fate of Belshazzar (Daniel 5:1, etc.). They shall be devoured as

stubble fully dry; like worthless refuse, fit only for burning (Exodus 15:7;

Isaiah 5:24; Joel 2:5; Obadiah 1:18). The Septuagint  renders this verse

differently, “Because to its foundation it shall be dried up

(χερσωθήσεται chersothaesetai -  redigentur in vepres, Jerome), and as bind

weed (σμῖλαξ - smilax) intertwined it shall be devoured, and as stubble fully dry.”

 

 

                                                Sin (vs. 9-10)

 

“What do ye imagine against the Lord? He will make an utter end:

affliction shall not rise up the second time. For while they be folden

together as thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards, they shall be

devoured as stubble fully dry.” These words suggest a few thoughts

concerning sin.

 

  • THE ESSENCE OF SIN IS SUGGESTED; IT IS HOSTILITY TO

            GOD. It is something directed against the Lord: it is opposition to the

            laws, purposes, and spirit of God. “The carnal mind is enmity against God;

            for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7).

            It involves:

 

Ø      The basest ingratitude; for to Him we owe everything.

Ø      The greatest injustice; for He has supreme claims to our devotion

      and obedience.

Ø      Impious presumption. Frail worms raising their heads against the

                        Infinite!

 

  • THE SEAT OF SIN IS SUGGESTED: IT IS IN THE MIND. “What

            do ye imagine against the Lord?” Sin is not language, however bad; not

            actions, however apparently wicked. Words and deeds are no more sin

            than branches are the sap of the tree. They are the mere effects and

            expression of sin. Sin is in the mind — in the deep secret, mute thoughts of

            the heart. God’s legislation extends to thought, reaches it in the

            profoundest abyss. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs

            23:7). Christ, in His sermon on the mount, taught this. Adultery, robbery,

            murder, are all perpetrated on the arena of the heart. How necessary the

            prayer, “Create within us clean hearts, O God”!  (Psalm 51:10)

 

  • THE FOLLY OF SIN IS SUGGESTED: IT IS OPPOSITION TO

            OMNIPOTENCE. “What do ye imagine against the Lord? He will make an

            utter end: affliction shall not rise up a second time.” “How mad is your

            attempt, O Assyrians, to resist so powerful a God! What can ye do against

            such an Adversary, successful though ye have been against all other

            adversaries? Ye imagine ye have to do merely with mortals, and with a

            weak people, and that so you will gain an easy victory; but you have to

            encounter God, the Protector of His people.”  In opposing Him:

 

Ø      He will completely ruin you. He will make an utter end: affliction

      shall not rise up the second time.” The literal meaning of this is that

      the overthrow of Sennacherib’s host was so complete that Judah’s

      affliction caused by this invasion would never be repeated. The man

      who opposes God will be utterly ruined.

 

Ø      He will completely ruin you, whatever the kind of resistance you may

                        offer. “For while they be folden together as thorns, and while they are

                        drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.”

                        You may be combined like a bundle of thorns, offering resistance;

                        you may have all the daring and temerity of drunkards, albeit you

                        shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.” All this was realized in

                        the destruction of his enemy. Oh the folly of sin! Fighting against

                        God is a mad fight. “What do ye imagine against the Lord,” then?

                        Sinners, submit.

 

11 “There is one come out of thee, that imagineth evil against the

LORD, a wicked counselor.”  The reason of the destruction and of the punishment

is told.  There is one come out of thee. Nineveh is addressed; and we need not

refer the words entirely to Sennacherib and his impious threats, but may

take them generally as expressing the arrogant impiety of the Assyrians and

their attitude towards Jehovah. A wicked counselor; literally, a counselor

of Belial; i.e. of worthlessness. The expression, perhaps primarily applied

to Sennacherib, also regards the plans prepared by the Assyrians for

destroying the people of God, a type of the world arrayed against piety.

 

In vs. 12-15, he destruction of Nineveh is emphatically announced, and

Zion is depicted as rejoicing at the news of its ruin, and celebrating her feasts

in safety.

 

12 “Thus saith the LORD; Though they be quiet, and likewise many,

yet thus shall they be cut down, when he shall pass through.

Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more.”

Thus saith the lord. An expression used to introduce a

solemn declaration. Though they (the Assyrians) be quiet. Shalem has

this meaning elsewhere, as Genesis 34:21; but this is unsuitable here,

where it must be translated, “in full strength,” “unimpaired,” “complete,”

like the thorn hedge in v. 10. Vulgate, Si perfecti fuerint. Though they be

unbroken in strength, and likewise (on that account) many in number.

Septuagint, Τάδε λέγει Κύριος κατάρχων ὑδάτων πολλῶνTade legei

Kurios katarchon hudaton pollonThus saith the Lord, ruling over many

waters.  So the Syriac and Arabic. Jerome interprets “the waters” to mean the

heavenly powers (Psalm 148:4). Yet thus (though such is their state) shall they

be cut down. The verb is used of the mowing of a field or the shearing of sheep,

and implies complete destruction. When he shall pass through; better, and he shall

pass away. The number is changed, but the same persons are meant,

spoken of as one to show their insignificance and complete annihilation.

Septuagint “Thus shall they be dispersed [διασταλήσουται diastalaesoutai

dividentur, Jerome], and the report of thee shall no more be heard therein.” The

following clause is not translated. Though I have afflicted thee. The Lord

addresses Judah, referring to the oppression of Judaea by the Assyriaus in

the times of Ahaz and Hezekiah (II Kings 16:18; II Chronicles 28:20; ch.32.).

I will afflict thee no more; according to the promise in v. 9. This is further

confirmed in what follows.

 

13 “For now will I break his yoke from off thee, and will burst thy

bonds in sunder.”  His yoke. The yoke of Assyria, probably referring to the

vassalage of Judah (II Kings 18:14; II Chronicles 33:11). (For the

metaphor of “yoke” denoting subjugation, compare Leviticus 26:13;

Jeremiah 27:2; Ezekiel 34:27.) Jeremiah (Jeremiah 30:8) seems

to use these words of Nahum to announce the deliverance of Israel from

captivity. Burst thy bonds in sunder; by the final overthrow of the

Assyrian power (Psalm 2:3; Jeremiah 2:20).

 

14 “And the LORD hath given a commandment concerning thee, that

no more of thy name be sown: out of the house of thy gods will I

cut off the graven image and the molten image: I will make thy

grave; for thou art vile.”  Concerning thee. The prophet addresses the Assyrian,

and announces God’s purpose concerning him. That no more of thy name be

sown. There is no special reference to Sennacherib in this or the next

clause, but the prophet means that the Assyrian people and name shall

become extinct. Out of the house of thy gods (Isaiah 37:38, where

the murder of Sennacherib in the temple of Nisroch is mentioned). An

account of the religion of the Assyrians will be found in Layard, ‘Nineveh

and its Remains,’ vol. 2 ch. 7. Graven image; carved out of wood or

stone. Molten; cast in metal. The two terms comprise every kind of idol, as

in Deuteronomy 27:15; Judges 17:3. The Assyrians used to destroy

the images of the gods worshipped by conquered nations (II Kings

19:18). Bonomi (‘Nineveh and its Palaces,’ p. 163) gives a picture of

soldiers cutting up the image of some foreign deity, and carrying away the

pieces. So should it now be done unto their gods. I will make thy grave. I

will consign thee, O Assyrian, and thy idols to oblivion (Ezekiel 32:22,

etc.). It is not, “I will make it, the temple, thy grave,” as those who see a

reference to the death of Sennacherib (II Kings 19:37) render it; but, “I

prepare thy grave” — I doom thee to destruction. The reason is given: For

thou art vile; quia inhonoratus es (Vulgate): ὅτι ταχεῖςhoti tacheis - for they are

swift (Septuagint). The word is also translated “light,” weighed in the

balances, and found wanting, as Daniel 5:27.

 

 

                                    A Wicked Counselor (vs. 9-14)

 

  • HIS PERSON.

 

Ø      The Assyrian power. Represented in Hezekiah’s reign by Sennacherib;

      in Manasseh’s (Nahum’s time) by Esar-haddon or Assurbanipal; in each

                        successive reign by the ruling sovereign.

Ø      The unbelieving world. Of this Assyria was now the symbol, as in

                        former times Egypt had been, as in later days Rome was (John 15:18;

                                                James 4:4).  (In my day it has been Russia, China – in my

                        descendants time, at the rate we are going, it will be the United

                        States of America.  God forbid, and His coming is the only

                        thing standing in our way, since Satan is leading our leaders

                        and those who like to have it so [Jeremiah 5:31] by the nose.

                        CY – 2015)

Ø      The unrenewed heart. The carnal mind is enmity against God

                        (Romans 8:7).  (Carnality is one of the main tools Satan is

                        using on the USA in the 21st century.  CY – 2015)

 

  • HIS CHARACTER.

 

Ø      Powerful. The Assyrian in Nahum’s age was “in full strength” (v. 12),

                        a well organized and firmly knit confederacy like “tangled thorns”

                        (v. 10), which were dangerous to touch, and a multitudinous people

                        (v. 12) in comparison with which Judah was but a handful. The same

                        elements of power coexist in the unbelieving world force (Ephesians

                        2:2), order (ibid. ch. 6:12), numbers (I John 5:19) — in comparison with

                        which the Church of God is weak, disunited, and small. The individual

                        transgressor also not unfrequently exhibits an energy, a determination,

                        and a capacity to enlist others upon his side which are lacking in the

                        followers of God and Christ.

Ø      Self-reliant. Like drunkards drenched in drink (v. 10), the Assyrians

                        were foolishly confident, and believed themselves to be invincible. In

                        like manner, the unbelieving world in general and the individual sinner in

                        particular, are of opinion that they are more than sufficient to cope with

                        any form of calamity that may assail them, and to ensure their own safety

                        against any foe, bodily or ghostly, earthly or unearthly, human or Divine.

Ø      Vile.

o       The Assyrian court was notorious for its gluttony and revelry,

                                    especially in the days of Assurbanipal. The world also runs to

                                    strange excess of riot in eating and drinking (Romans 13:13;

                                                                        I Peter 4:4).

o       The Assyrian people were worshippers of idols (v. 14); and the

     world of today has its idols before which it delights to prostrate

     itself and present homage.

o       The Assyrian kings were tyrannical, cruel, and oppressive; and so

     also is the world.

 

  • HIS DESIGNS.

 

Ø      Evil. He counselleth wickedness (v. 11) — in particular oppression

                        of the people of Jehovah (v. 13). Such was the aim of Assyria towards

                        Judah; such is the aim of the world towards the Church; and of the

                        unbeliever towards the believer.

Ø      Impious. His wicked counsels are also directed “against the Lord”

      (vs. 9, 11). This was the spirit of Assyria as represented by Rabshakeh

      in the time of Hezekiah (II Kings 18:28-35; II Chronicles 32:11-17;

                                                Isaiah 36:7, 14-15, 18-20; 37:10-13); and of Herod, Pontius Pilate, the

                        Gentile world, and the unbelieving Jews in the days of Christ (Psalm

                        2:1; Acts 4:25-28); and is the spirit still of the unrenewed heart

                        (Romans 8:7).

Ø      Vain. The fruits of a corrupt “imagination” (vs. 9, 11), they will

      prove idle and worthless. Assyria’s schemes for the subjugation of

      Judah came to naught; so resulted in defeat those of Herod and of

      Pilate, of the Jews and of the Gentiles against the holy Child Jesus;

      and so will terminate in shame those of wicked men generally

      against the truth.  (“But they shall proceed no further:  for their

      folly shall be manifested to all men…..”  II Timothy 3:9)

 

  • HIS DOOM.

 

Ø      Certain. The decree had gone forth against Assyria when Nahum spoke.

                        “The Lord hath given commandment concerning thee, that no more

                        of thy seed be sown” (v. 14). A similar decree has gone forth against

                        the ungodly world (II Peter 3:7; I John 2:15-17), and against

                        unbelievers as individuals (Philippians 3:19; I Thessalonians 1:9).

 

Ø      Complete. Of Nineveh Jehovah was to make “a full end,” so that no

                        second affliction should be required to destroy them, or

                        should be able to proceed from them against Judah (v. 9);

                        the Assyrians were to be “destroyed utterly as dry stubble” (v. 10),

                        “to be cut down and pass away,” so that Jehovah should no more

                        (at least by their hand) afflict His people (v. 12); the royal house was

                        to come to an end, no more of that name being sown (v. 14); the very

                        divinities of Assyria and Nineveh were to be exterminated (v. 14).

                        More complete ruin was inconceivable; so will all the enemies of God

                        and Christ be utterly destroyed (Jeremiah 12:17; Psalm 37:38; Matthew

                        21:41; II Peter 2:12).

 

  • LESSONS.

 

Ø      The danger of forming designs against either God or His people.

Ø      The wisdom of taking warning in time before it is too late.

Ø      The certainty that, when God begins the work of judgment, He will

            also make an end.

 

15 “Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good

tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts,

perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee;

he is utterly cut off.”  The second chapter commences here in the Hebrew and

Syriac; the Anglican follows the Septuagint, Vulgate, and Chaldee

Versions. This seems most agreeable to the method of the prophecy,

wherein threat is succeeded by promise, denunciation of the enemy by

declaration of comfort to Judah (compare vs.6, 7, 12, and 13; so

here vs. 14 and 15). The prophet announces the joy with which Judah

receives the news of the overthrow of Nineveh. Behold upon the

mountains, etc. Isaiah (Isaiah 52:7) uses these words to proclaim the

coming of Messiah (compare Isaiah 40:9; Romans 10:15). The

messengers come from the East across the mountains of Palestine,

announcing the fall of Nineveh and the consequent peace and security of

Judah — a type of the overthrow of God’s enemies and the safety of His

Church. There may be an allusion to the custom of spreading tidings by

beacon fires. Keep thy solemn feasts. Judah is exhorted to resume the

observation of her solemnities, which were interrupted during the enemy’s

occupation of the country, or which could not be properly attended by the

distant inhabitants. Judah must offer her praises and thanksgivings for

deliverance, and perform the vows which she made unto the Lord in the

time of peril. The wicked (Hebrew, Belial) shall no more pass through

thee. Belial is here the adversary, the opposing army (see v. 11).

 

The first clause of this verse is applied in Isaiah 52:7 to the message of peace brought

to the world through Jesus Christ.  There are three things here worthy of note.

 

  • PEACE PROCLAIMED. “Behold upon the mountains the feet of Him

            that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace.” Glorious to the ears of

            the men of Jerusalem must have been the intelligence that their great enemy

            was destroyed, that the Assyrian hosts were crushed, and now peace was

            come. A proclamation of peace is indeed “good tidings.” A proclamation

            of national peace is “good tidings.” What country that has been engaged in

            a bloody campaign, in which its commerce has been all but ruined, the

            flower of its manhood destroyed, and its very existence imperiled, does

            not hail with rapture the proclamation of peace? But the proclamation of

            moral peace is still more delightful. Paul quotes these words, and applies

            them to the ministers of the gospel. How beautiful are the feet of them

            that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”

            (Romans 10:15). As there is no war so painful, so terrible, as a moral

            war, the war of a soul with itself, with the moral instincts of the universe,

            and with the will of its God; so no tidings are so delightful to it as the

            tidings of peace, peace brought through Jesus Christ, the “peace that

            passeth all understanding.”  (Philippians 4:7)  “My peace I give unto you,…

            not as the world giveth give I unto you.”  (John 14:27)

 

  • WORSHIP ENJOINED.O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy

            vows.”  During the Assyrian invasion the inhabitants of Judah were cut off

            from all access to the metropolis; now they would be at liberty to proceed

            thither as usual, in order to observe their religious rites, and they are here

            commanded to do so.  Observe:

 

Ø      War disturbs religious observances. War, which had been called the

                        totality of all evil, is an enemy to the progress of religion. It not merely

                        arrests the march of the cause of truth and godliness, but throws it back.

                        It is said in Acts 9:31, “Then had the Churches rest throughout all

                        Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking

                        in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were

                        multiplied.” The storm of persecution which Stephen had invoked

                        and Saul aided had abated, and the Christian religion advanced.

                        As peace in nature is the time to cultivate your ground and sow

                        your seed, peace in the nation is the time to promote growth in

                        religion and virtue.

 

Ø      In war men are disposed to make religious vows. When dangers thicken

                        around, and death seems close at hand, the soul naturally turns to

                        Heaven, and vows that, if life is preserved, it shall be devoted to God.

                        When peace comes they are called upon to “perform” their “vows.”

                        But alas! how often are such vows neglected! and we are told

                        (Ecclesiastes 5:5) it is better not to vow, than to vow and not pay.

                        Worship is a duty ever binding.

 

  • ENEMIES VANQUISHED; “For the wicked shall no more pass

            through thee; he is utterly cut off.” Here is encouragement. Sennacherib is

            gone; Nineveh is in desolation. They will “no more pass through thee.” The

            time will come with all good men when their enemies shall be utterly

            vanquished. “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.”

            (Romans 16:20)  What a blessed time for the world, when the wicked shall

            no more “pass through” it! This will be its millennium.

 

                        “Peace is the end of all things — tearless peace;

                        Who by the immovable basis of God’s throne

                        Takes her perpetual stand; and, of herself

                        Prophetic, lengthens age by age her scepter.

                        The world shall yet be subjugate to love,

                        The final form religion must assume;

                        Led like a lion, rid with wreathed reins,

                        In some enchanted island, by a child.”

                                                                        (Bailey.)

 

 

                        Glad Tidings for God’s People (v. 15)

 

  • THE DESTRUCTION OF A POWERFUL FOE.

 

Ø      The historical allusion. The “wicked one” whom Nahum represents as

                        “utterly cut off” was the power of Assyria, whose certain and complete

                        annihilation he has just predicted (v. 14), and now depicts as

                        accomplished.

 

Ø      The spiritual application. Capable of being applied to every

      deliverance wrought by Jehovah for Judah, in particular to her

      deliverance from Babylonian captivity, it is specially true of that

      emancipation which was wrought for mankind sinners by the

      destruction of the Church’s greatest foe, the prince of the power

      of the air, over whom Christ triumphed through His cross.

      This the first note of the gospel message that Christ hath

                        destroyed death, and him that hath the power of death, the devil

                        (Hebrews 2:14).

 

  • THE PROCLAMATION OF A BLESSED PEACE.

 

Ø      The scene depicted. The prophet represents heralds as appearing on the

                        mountains encircling Jerusalem with the joyous announcement that the

                        ancient and terrible enemy she feared was overthrown, and could no

                        more invade her land or oppress her people, and that henceforth she

                        might dismiss all anxiety and be at peace.

 

Ø      The sense intended. The prophet wished to convey the thought that

                        when once the power of Assyria was broken there would be no cause of

                        alarm — that Judah might rest at ease, and pursue her national career

                        without fear of being disturbed by hostile invasion.

 

Ø      The symbol interpreted. As the destruction of Nineveh meant peace for

                        Judah, so the overthrow of Satan and the powers of darkness means

                        peace for God’s believing people. This the second note of the gospel

                        message.  After the work of redemption the publication of peace

                        (Acts 10:36; Ephesians 2:14-17). As Judah’s duty was to behold the

                        peace messengers upon the mountains of Judah, and to believe their

                        message, so the duty of the New Testament Church is to recognize

                        Him whom God hath sent, and to receive His gospel of peace.

 

  • AN INVITATION TO A JOYOUS FEAST.

 

Ø      The feasts referred to. These were the three principal feasts enjoined

                        upon the Hebrew Church by Moses — the Feast of the Passover,

                        commemorative of the nation’s deliverance from Egypt; the Feast of

                        Harvest, in which the first-fruits of the field were presented to the Lord;

                        and the Feast of Ingathering, when the labors of the year were happily

                        concluded by the safe storing of the well filled sheaves. In addition were

                        other feasts which need not now be mentioned. The above named three

                        were pre-eminently gladsome in their causes and their forms. They gave

                        expression to the nation’s thankful joy in thinking of:

o       the Divine mercifulness,

o       the Divine faithfulness, and

o       the Divine goodness

                        first, in sparing them and making them a nation; next, in faithfully

                        keeping with them His covenant of seed time and harvest; and,

                        thirdly, in making such abundant provision for their wants, of all

                        which they had been made partakers. Hence they fitly stood as types

                        of THE GREAT FEAST OF SALVATION to which God’s believing

                        people are invited in consequence of CHRIST’S ATONING AND

                        REDEEMING WORK and in which God’s mercy, faithfulness, and

                        goodness are expressed — that feast of fat things full of marrow, and of

                        wines on the lees well refined, of which Isaiah speaks (25:6), that feast to

                        which Christ alluded in His parables of the wedding banquet (Matthew

                        22:2) and of the great supper (Luke 14:16-24), and that feast which is

                        symbolized in the Lord’s Supper (I Corinthians 5:8).

 

Ø      The invitation given.

 

o       To whom addressed? To Judah, God’s ancient people; and,

      while in one sense the overtures of the gospel are extended to all,

      in another they belong only to them who believe and are God’s

      people through faith in Christ Jesus.

o       On what based? Not on any merit or good works on the part of

      Judah, as e.g. on Judah’s prowess in defeating her ancient enemy,

      but solely on the fact that Jehovah had done so; and the people of

      God in the Church of Christ are invited to participate in the joyous

      banquet of salvation, and to celebrate their New Testament feast,

      not because of any worthiness in themselves, or because of any

      share they have had in overthrowing their arch foe (since they have

      had none), but exclusively because their adversary hath been

      destroyed for them — because God’s right hand alone hath gotten

      Him the victory (Psalm 98:1).

 

       

  • A SUMMONS TO A PLEASANT DUTY.

 

Ø      A becoming duty. The payment of Judah’s vows meant her performance

                        of the engagements she had come under to be faithful and obedient to

                        Jehovah, observing His worship, and keeping His commandments. To do

                        this had been her duty from the first, though she had often failed in it; to

                        return to it now after experiencing Jehovah’s mercy was in the highest

                        degree proper.

 

Ø      A necessary duty. Without this Judah would not be truly grateful for her

                        deliverance, her outward observance would be insincere and hypocritical,

                        and her inner life would be practically unchanged. So the highest evidence

                        a soul can give of its thankfulness for Divine mercy, of its own heartfelt

                        sincerity, and of its genuine conversion and regeneration, is obedience.

 

Ø      An agreeable duty. What should be easier or more delightful than

                        service which springs from love? So to gracious souls God’s

                        commandments are not grievous, and hearts constrained by the love of

                        Christ find that his yoke is easy and His burden is light.  (I John 5:3;

                        I Corinthians 5:14; Matthew 11:30)

 

 

                        Antagonism to God and His Rule (vs. 8-15)

 

Nahum doubtless prophesied during the reign of Hezekiah, and shortly

after the defeat of Sennacherib by the destroying angel of the Lord

(Isaiah 37:36). That memorable event, it would appear, was present to

his mind and is referred to in these verses, although his thoughts were also

carried on to the future and to the complete and final overthrow of the

Assyrian power in the destruction of the capital, and which forms the

theme of the succeeding chapters. The latter part of this first chapter may

be regarded as introductory to the description to be given of the ruin of

Nineveh; and in the mind of the seer, as he wrote these verses, the events

which had recently transpired and darker events yet to come were

associated together. The significance of the conflicts waged by Sennacherib

against Hezekiah lies very materially in the fact that his enterprises were

designedly antagonistic to the God of the Hebrews. It is not simply an

ambitious sovereign seeking to extend his dominions and to spread his

conquests that is presented to us here, but a mortal man, invested with

regal honor, resolved upon measuring his strength with that of the

Supreme Ruler. The historical records we possess bearing upon the career

of this Assyrian king present him to us as one who thought he could

outwit Divine wisdom, and conquer omnipotence itself” (II Kings

19:10-13; Isaiah 36:13-20; - both chapters are identical – CY – 2015);

and viewed thus they become suggestive to us of important teachings

bearing upon that moral antagonism to God and His authority which

unhappily prevails in every age. Concerning this opposition to the

Most High and His rule, note:

 

  • ANTAGONISM TO GOD HAS ITS ORIGIN IN A DEPRAVED

            HEART. Evil thoughts and vain imaginings, self-sufficiency and self-

            conceit, revellings and drunkenness, all betoken an evil heart, and these are

            here associated with the action of Assyria. “For thou art vile” (v. 14); “a

            wicked counselor” (v. 11), etc. So in every age. Men with hearts

            alienated from all that is true and right desire not the knowledge of His

            ways, and say unto Him, “Depart from us;” and “they set themselves

            against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their

            bands asunder, and let us cast away their cords from us” (Psalm 2:2-3).

 

  • ANTAGONISM TO GOD REVEALS ITSELF OPENLY IN THE

            ACTIVE OPERATIONS OF EVIL MEN. As here:

 

Ø      Unprincipled leaders are forthcoming (v. 11).

Ø      Combinations are formed. “Though they be entire, and likewise

      many (v. 12); “While they be folden together” (v. 10).

Ø      Plots are conceived. “They imagine evil against the Lord” (v. 11).

Ø      Mischief is wrought. “The yoke” of Assyria was upon Judah, and

                        because of the threatened invasion the hearts of the good Hezekiah

                         and his subjects failed, and were in sore distress. The Assyrians

                        were as “thorns” to Judah (v. 10). And so evil men, antagonistic

                        to God and to the principles of His rule, are ever a blight and a curse.

 

  • ANTAGONISM TO GOD CAN ONLY END IN DEFEAT AND

            DISHONOR. In the case of Assyria this discomfiture was:

 

Ø      Divinely inflicted. “I will make thy grave” (v. 14).

Ø      Sudden — so far as the proud, vaunting Sennacherib and his hosts

      were concerned (Isaiah 37:36).

Ø      Complete. “He will make an utter end” (v. 9).

Ø      Permanent. “The Lord hath given a commandment concerning thee,

      that no more of thy name be sown” (v. 14). “So let all thine enemies

      perish, O Lord; but let them that love Him be as the sun when he

      goeth forth in his might” (Judges 5:31).

 

 

                        Spiritual Redemption Symbolized (vs, 8-15)

 

The expression in v. 11, “a wicked counselor,” is rendered in the margin

counselor of Belial.” “Belial” is used in the Old Testament to indicate

sensual profligacy (Judges 19:22; 22:13; I Samuel 2:12); and in the New

Testament as a synonym for Satan (II Corinthians 6:15). The term was

here (v. 11) applied to Sennacherib; and the deliverance of Judah from

the vauntings and oppressions of this mighty and evil Assyrian monarch

described in these verses (8-15) may be taken as serving to illustrate the

spiritual deliverance of men. There is thus suggested —

 

  • DELIVERANCE FROM SERVITUDE. Assyria had been a bitter

            scourge to Judah. Through the action of his predecessors, Hezekiah found

            himself the vassal of this heathen power, and his attempts to free himself

            from the yoke had only resulted in his fetters being fastened the more

            securely; until now, by Divine interposition, the power of the oppressor

            was broken (v. 13). So sin yielded to becomes a tyranny, It gains an

            ever-increasing power over its subjects. The fetters of habit become forged

            about them that they cannot release themselves. There is no slavery like

            that of sin — only the grace of God can sunder the fetters and free us from

            the galling yoke; but “made free” thus, we become “free indeed” (John

            8:34-36).  The chains of sin [habit] are too light to be felt until they are

            too strong to be broken.  (If a man would get as angry at the domination

            of sin as of domination of his fellow man, this would be a much better

            world!  Why is this?  Our pride is more influential than the Word of God?

            The same for slavery to drugs, alcohol, sensuality!  CY – 2015)

 

  • DELIVERANCE. FROM SORROW. “Affliction shall not rise up the

            second time” (v. 9); “Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no

            more (v. 12). The promise was conditional. The people humbled

            themselves before God in penitence, and it was implied that they should

            not be afflicted again if they continued in God’s ways. In this they failed —

            the reformation proved but partial; still, God never afflicted them again

            through Assyria. So suffering is disciplinary, and “made free from sin”

            there accompanies this deliverance from sorrow. The character of life’s

            trials become changed to the good; they are not looked upon as harsh

            inflictions, but as lovingly designed by the All-wise and All-gracious.

 

  • DELIVERANCE RESULTING IN PRIVILEGE. “O Judah, keep thy

            solemn feasts, perform thy vows” (ver. 15). Whilst under the yoke of

            Assyria, there had been the restriction of their religious privileges, but now

            these could be renewed and enjoyed without restraint, and the ransomed of

            the Lord could return to Zion with songs, and pay their vows unto the

            Lord, and keep the sacred festivals. Spiritual freedom is with a view to

            holy and joyous service. The Emancipator becomes enthroned in the hearts

            of the enfranchised; they love Him supremely; His service is their delight;

            they become bound to Him in loving loyalty and devotion forever.

 

  • DELIVERANCE PROCLAIMED IN THE SPIRIT OF HOLY

            GLADNESS. (v. 15.) Let the countenance be lighted up with joy as the

            announcement of the “good tidings” is made. With a glad heart let the

            proclamation be published that, through the abounding mercy and grace of

            God, it is possible for sinful men to become delivered from condemnation

            and freed from the slavery of sinful habit, and to soar to that higher and

            holier realm where God is, and to exchange the miserable chains of evil for

            those golden fetters which only bind to the holy and the heavenly. There

            can be no more exalted or joyous service than that engaged in by the man

            who stands upon the mountains ringing this great bell, that, guided by its

            sound, the imperiled traveler may make his way across the snowy wastes,

            to find in Christ a sure and safe retreat from the storm and tempest.

            “Behold upon the mountains,” etc. (Isaiah 40:9).

 

When Nahum uttered these fearful predictions in relation to Nineveh, Nineveh shone

in unabated splendor, and stood in unabated strength; but after a very few generations

had passed away the predicted ruin came, and Nineveh has long since been buried in

the oblivion of centuries. Have faith in the Word of God. Heaven and earth

shall pass away, but not one jot or tittle of His Word shall fail to be accomplished.

(Matthew 5:18; 24:35)

 

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If this exposition is helpful, please share with others.

 

I have not got chapters 2 or 3 completed.  If interested, I recommend

www.biblehub.com and type in Pulpit Commentary Nahum 2, etc.

and it will be same material but in a different format.  I hope to

complete Nahum 2 and 3 in the future.  CY - 2015