The Minor prophets: nahum

My favorite genre of books or movies is action. There is nothing quite like the intensity of watching an action scene unfold before your eyes. If you are also a fan of the action genre then the book of Nahum is for you. No doubt, the mention of “action” in relation to the Bible is shocking for those who only have a shallow understanding of the scriptures. But let me assure you, there is plenty of action in the Bible, and in the book of Nahum in particular.

Nahum is another one of those minor prophets about whom we know very little. Also like many of the minor prophets, it is difficult to determine exactly when Nahum lived and prophesied. It is likely that he prophesied shortly before the destruction of Nineveh in 612 BC, since his book celebrates the fall of the Assyrian Empire. The book of Nahum is short, but very action-packed, and it reveals something very important about the enemies of God.

It is very easy to fall into the mindset that God doesn’t care about the affairs of mankind. There is a reason that many philosophers took the position known as deism during the period of the Enlightenment, including some of the Founding Fathers of America. This view asserts that God created the world and has essentially left it alone since creation. Deists don’t believe that God actually intervenes in the affairs of mankind.

This is an extremely sad view of God, and one wonders why a deist believes in God at all. But from the outside looking in, it is difficult to blame them for having that view. To a totally lost sinner in a completely lost world, God seems either nonexistent or uncaring about the troubles and trials of humanity. However, to someone who knows God and has experienced him deism just isn’t the right answer. At times God may seem unconcerned, but we know that he has his own timetable for everything, and justice will be established.

All you have to do is look at human history. Every time an empire arises and threatens to control the world, it eventually declines and ends up being destroyed. Don’t believe me? Look at the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, and lately the British Empire. Every single one of these empires has fallen and the ruling nations have become a shell of their former selves.

Is this just an accident? I would argue absolutely not. Humanity in its fallen state is in no condition to rule the world. Through our greed and love of power we seek to control others and subdue them to our way of thinking. God knows that if one human empire rules the world it would be a complete disaster for humanity, and so every time a nation gets a little too full of itself he sends judgment and causes the entire experiment to collapse. It’s a tale as old as the Tower of Babel itself, and yet we seem to be unable to learn it.

So how does this relate to the book of Nahum? Well let’s take a look. Nahum begins his book by showing God as the Great Warrior coming in judgment, and in chapter two that judgment begins to take place. In the vivid second chapter of Nahum, the prophet describes a battle scene in great detail. He warns the Assyrians to guard themselves and defend their territory. But it’s all for nothing. Nineveh and the empire of Assyria will fall, and they will become the victim of the next futile human experiment in attempting to rule the world.

Nahum is important for two reasons. First, it shows humanity that we will not escape the judgment of God, and that he IS concerned about the affairs of mankind. I am sure that Assyria probably thought that it was invincible, just like every other empire has thought of itself throughout time (looking at you, America). But the book of Nahum serves as a reminder that God is ultimately the One in control. He is in charge of the affairs of mankind, and whenever he sees fit he tumbles empires and kingdoms.

Second, and more importantly, the book of Nahum serves as an encouragement to the people of God. Although we may be oppressed for a time, it will not last. The kingdoms of this world rise and fall, but we know the One who controls all of it. What my government dictates does not determine who I am or my destiny. I am a child of God, and as his child I will be protected from his judgment.

I want you to take heart and be encouraged as you read this. Read the book of Nahum and put yourself in the position of a child of God. Assyria was quite possibly the most cruel empire to ever arise, and yet in an instant their power and glory was destroyed. Oppression only lasts for a time, and it has no hold on those who believe in Jesus and hold to his word. Through persecution we know that eventual judgment from God will come, and we know that it will ultimately be decided in our favor. It’s just a matter of time.

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