What is the biggest challenge in your life?
What are you tempted to think even God can’t do?
In the 7th Century BC, the nation of Judah knew that God had sovereign power over them. They were His people. He’d created them, called them His own, and cared for them through the centuries. He’d even warned them, sending prophets to tell them they would be judged for following after false gods. And they were judged. Even as Nahum prophesied to them, they were under subjugation to Assyria.
Yet it seemed that God’s people were not quite so sure that God was truly sovereign over all nations. Yes, God could allow or cause Assyria to judge them. But, would God judge Assyria, a foreign nation who were not His people, for their wickedness as well. Nahum pronounced it.
“The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished.” Nahum 1:3a
We know little of Nahum himself, but we know plenty of the situation he spoke into. From biblical & extra-biblical sources we know specifics of the rise and fall of the wicked Assyrian Empire. The Assyrians who practiced despicable, defiling acts against other nations. The Assyrians who were so hated that 100 years earlier the prophet Jonah had refused to go preach there lest they repent and be spared. The Assyrians did repent, but apparently only shortly.
Nahum does not prophesy to them but about them. He preached between 663, when the Egyptian capital of Thebes fell (Nahum 3:8), and before the Assyrian capital of Nineveh fell to Babylon in 612. Using colorful language and engaging style the poet laureate of the Minor Prophets, Nahum, describes the soon-coming downfall of Nineveh. It was most powerful city in the known world at the time with unrivaled architecture and unparalleled wealth. With an eight-mile long wall, encompassing 1850 acres, with 15 gates, and encircled completely by an impressive mote, Nineveh seemed impregnable. Nahum called it.
Nineveh was so utterly destroyed by the surprising, conquering Babylonians and Medes that it was never rebuilt. It's known today by an Arabic word meaning, "The mound of many sheep."
Amidst the prophesied destruction, we see God’s amazing compassion and tender, gracious care for his people as well as the Assyrians. Remember Jonah, the God-given, whale-born missionary God had sent to Nineveh a century before. In addition to compassion, we clearly see God’s sovereignty. God, confounding normal human thinking, is both a righteous judge and a compassionate father.
Nahum teaches that God is sovereign—in absolute, able control—over all people. Individual or nation. His people or not. Here or there. This language or the other. God is sovereign.
No matter what you face.
No matter how great.
No matter how long.
No matter how hard.
Nothing stands versus the sovereignty of God.
Take hope, Dear Friend. Where human power or ingenuity ends, God’s begins. He is sovereign.
“The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.” Nahum 1:7
This is the seventh in my series, Major Stuff from the Minor Prophets. Feel free to share this post or subscribe to follow this blog. Illustrated by The Prophet Nahum by James Tissot, 1888 watercolor.