Attack Against Nineveh
Open Your Bible
Nahum 2:1-13, Nahum 3:1-19, 2 Chronicles 32:9-23
BY Guest Writer
Scripture Reading: Nahum 2:1-13, Nahum 3:1-19, 2 Chronicles 32:9-23
The book of Nahum is the second act of a well-known story—the story of Jonah, a prophet chosen by God to go to the city of Nineveh to call its unrepentant people to God. But despite God’s calling, Jonah did not go to Nineveh; he went to the sea, was swallowed by a fish, and was eventually regurgitated. THEN he went to Nineveh, told the people to repent, and they did.
However, the Ninevites’ repentance didn’t last long. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, and Assyria was a terrible place. In an effort to describe Assyria, biblical scholars and historians have used words such as “cruel” and “arrogant,” “violent” and “tortuous.” This was a nation founded on bloodshed and established by massacre.
Assyria had conquered Israel, the land of God’s people. The Israelites were exiled, their cities burned, and they were filled with sorrow and lament. All the while, Assyria’s power grew through oppression and violence. It was a superpower standing on a terrible foundation.
Nahum prophesies the destruction of Assyria in this short book, full of vivid images of violence. His sarcastic tone emphasizes his mocking of the Assyrians and is punctuated by the joy of the people who would “clap their hands” at the news of Assyria’s destruction (Nahum 3:19). Their oppressors would be destroyed.
Which is why, as hard as it is to remember, God had sent the Assyrians to overtake Israel initially. We see it in 2 Kings 17:6 and again in Isaiah 8:6–8:
“Because these people rejected
the slowly flowing water of Shiloah…
the Lord will certainly bring against them
the mighty rushing water of the Euphrates River—
the king of Assyria and all his glory.
It will overflow its channels
and spill over all its banks.
It will pour into Judah,
flood over it, and sweep through,
reaching up to the neck;
and its flooded banks
will fill your entire land, Immanuel!”
Israel felt the consequences of their disobedience. And then their oppressors felt the wrath of God. The through line here is that God demands justice. Ecclesiastes 12:14 says, “For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil.” The Old Testament sings of His faithfulness and mercy but also His impervious commitment to justice. God’s justice is bound up with His holiness and is part of the fabric of His universe. And His justice is satisfied in Christ alone.
In Isaiah 9, right after God’s declaration to send Assyria to overtake Israel, He makes a promise: a child would be born, a son would be given. A promise of a government and peace that would have no end (v.6).
God knew that the only way to satisfy His desire for justice was to send His Son—Himself—to stand in the place of His people. The God who warned, “Beware, I am against you. This is the declaration of the LORD of Armies” (Nahum 2:13), would turn that anger against Himself. His need for justice would be satisfied once for all time in the death of His Son. That Son would rise again, defeating death, with a promise to return and bring a peace that will have no end.
Come, Lord Jesus!
Melanie Rainer is a bookworm from birth who makes her days writing, editing and reading in Nashville, where she also joyfully serves as the editor of Kids Read Truth. She has an M.A. in Theological Studies from Covenant Seminary, spends as much time as she can in the kitchen, and can’t wait until her two daughters are old enough to read Anne of Green Gables.