Christ in the Minor Prophets: No. 8 - Nahum

Nahum 1‑3  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 9
H. P. Barker
No. 8. — Nahum.
Nahum 1
1. The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.
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.
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.
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.
7. The Lord is good, a strong bold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him.
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.
Nahum was the Barnabas of the Old Testament, for his name means “consolation,” and the great object of his prophecy was to comfort the sorrowing and downcast hearts of the people of God; but, of course, his ministry differed widely from that of the “son of consolation,” of whom we read in the Acts. Barnabas rejoiced when he saw the grace of God extended to the Gentiles, and his exhortations were uttered in the full light of that wonderful grace. Nahum, on the contrary, rejoiced when he contemplated the judgment of the Gentiles, and his exhortation to the men of Judah was based upon the fact that their enemies were cut off.
But the Spirit of Christ breathed in Nahum as truly as in Barnabas. Whether we think of Christ in grace, suffering and praying for His foes, or Christ in power treading them beneath His feet, it is the same Christ, the One whose love we know, and whose grace and power we have proved.
Whether girded with a towel to serve His disciples in love, or with a sword to hurl destruction upon His enemies; it is the same blessed Person, and in both characters He displays God.
One thing that makes the study of the Old Testament so profitable is that therein we learn the ways and character of God. For the full unfolding of all that He is, we have, of course, to turn to the New Testament, and to see Him revealed in the Person of the Son. But the Old Testament presents God to us in connection with His ways with men, and our loss will be great if we overlook this.
We are prone to forget, when we speak of the love and mercy of God, that He is a Being great and terrible in His intolerance of sin. The God which the mind of the twentieth century has conceived is not the God of the Scriptures, and it is like a breeze from the highlands of eternal truth to read the words of our prophet, describing God’s jealousy and awful anger against evildoing, His righteousness, His power, and His majesty.
True, He is good, and His people find Him to be a stronghold indeed in the day of trouble. Moreover, His wrath is not easily aroused, He is “slow to anger.” But when evil raises its head in persistent hostility to good, and will not be subdued, then indeed God shows that He is not indifferent, but that His indignation and fierce anger are such that nothing can stand before Him. His pity is infinite, but He “will not at all acquit the wicked.”
The great subject of Nahum’s prophecy was the overthrow and destruction of Nineveh, the chief city of Israel’s great and dreaded foe, Assyria. This we find in chapters 2 and 3.
Chapter 1 is a psalm, giving us the state of soul produced in Nahum himself and in those to whom the testimony of chapters 2 and 3 was brought home in power by the Spirit of God.
Assyria’s ascendancy meant Israel’s ruin; Assyria’s destruction would mean Israel’s salvation. Can we wonder that those old-time saints and seers longed for the overthrow of the oppressor’s power, and made it the burden of their prayers and songs? Can we wonder at Nahum’s triumph and joy in contemplating the disaster that was to overtake Nineveh, and the blessing that would come to Judah as a result?
A hundred and fifty years before, God had sent warning to the guilty city by His servant Jonah. The message had been received, and Nineveh had turned in repentance to God. But the generation to whom Jonah preached had passed away, and Nineveh had returned to her vileness and wickedness as a sow goes back to her wallowing in the mire. The fact that God had waited for a century and a half before intervening in judgment proved that He was long-suffering in grace. But the time for judgment was at hand, and those whom Nineveh had oppressed and afflicted might lift up their heads and rejoice.
All this is, no doubt, typical of what will take place on a still larger scale at the end of the age. The “Assyrian” of the last days will be Israel’s great foe, and Nahum’s prophecy undoubtedly looks on to his destruction (foretold in detail by other prophets), and to the consequent deliverance of the people of God.
Nahum celebrates this deliverance in Nahum 1:1515Behold 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. (Nahum 1:15), and here our thoughts are directed to Christ. The “good-tidings” borne across the mountains are the good tidings of that blessed coming One, for He, born of a woman in Bethlehem Ephratah, shall be great, and “shall be the peace when the Assyrian shall come into our land” (Mic. 5:55And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men. (Micah 5:5)).
There will be no peace and no blessing apart from Christ. It is He who will break the oppressor’s yoke, and burst His people’s bonds in sunder (Nah. 1:1313For now will I break his yoke from off thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder. (Nahum 1:13)).
No doubt, in that coming day of victory and peace, the majestic psalm that we have in Nahum 1 will be often sung by the faithful remnant of Israel, and thus to their hearts, as at that time to the hearts of his contemporaries, will this Old Testament Barnabas minister true consolation.