Nahum Chapter One


Read Nahum 1-1 – Nahum’s Mission


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


            The very earliest of the writings of the minor prophets that have included in the canon of scripture was that of Jonah whom God sent to Nineveh.  This capital city of Assyria, a great enemy of Israel, was described as “THAT GREAT CITY” “THEIR WICKEDNESS IS COME UP BEFORE ME.”  Jonah 1:2  As we remember from that study Nineveh repented:


Jonah 3:6  6For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.”


And he commanded the entire population of his kingdom to follow his example and they were spared by God.  God had a purpose for Assyria; they were to be used to punish Israel.  In 722 BC, Sargon, their king carried the northern kingdom of Israel into captivity and utterly destroyed everything in the land.  They re-populated what became Galilee and Samaria with other people whom they captured in other parts of the world.  Now it is some 100 years after Israel’s destruction and Assyria is even more wicked than at the time of Jonah.

            Were the Assyrians under God’s law?  The only way that man can be wicked is to sin.  Sin is defined for us by God:


I John 3:4Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”


In order for Assyria or any nation of this time period to be in sin was to transgress the law of God.  God has never left mankind without law.  From the creation of Adam unto this very hour man has been under law and that includes every person who ever lived on this earth.  The Assyrians were not under the Mosaic Covenant as that was given only to the Israelites:


Deuteronomy 5:2-3The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. 3The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.”


So Assyria was under the same law of God as Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, all of the patriarchs and all of the other people of the world, except

            We know nothing about Nahum as a person beyond what this books tells us.  He is called an Elkoshite or a person from Elkosh; but we don’t know where Elkosh was located.  The Bible scholar Jerome, who lived in the fourth century, thought it was in the area of Galilee but didn’t really know.  The modern town of Elkosh in Israel was founded and populated by Jewish refuges from Yemen and Kurdistan near where some think the original city stood.

We know that Nahum prophesied sometime after 668 BC, though some claim that he lived as early as 735 BC.  We know this because he writes of the fall of Thebes in Egypt.  Thebes fell to Assyria in the year 668 BC.  Though he writes about Assyria, in my study of this book, it seems sometimes that he is writing to Judah as well as to Nineveh.


Read Nahum 1:2-15 – The Majesty of God


v.2God 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 a jealous God.  He warned the nation of Israel in the first giving of the Law when he prohibited their worship of other gods:


Exodus 20:5Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;”


He also told them:


To me belongeth vengeance, and recompense; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.”  Deuteronomy 32:35


So God is jealous of anything that man allows to come between us.  When man allows this to happen he will suffer consequences, but at the same time:


v.3The 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.”


            Probably the only reason that God has preserved the existence of mankind on this earth for as long as he has is because of his patience, his long-suffering, because he is slow to anger.  In his meeting with Moses at Sinai and the giving of the Law:


 “…the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,” Exodus 34:6


            The Lord is also great in power, as creator and sustainer of this universe and all life he can do with it as he pleases.  He can speak it into existence and out of existence again replacing it completely.  A tribute to the power of God is found in the poetry of Psalm 104:




            The prophet Isaiah wrote to Judah about the terrible destruction that God would bring upon them:


Thou shalt be visited of the LORD of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire.”  Isaiah 29:6


v.4He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth.”


            He has the power to rebuke the sea and make it dry.  During the exodus of Israel from Egypt he did just that:


Exodus 14:21-22And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.”


This occurrence is remembered in worship and song:




The latter part of this verse is rooted in the prophecy of Isaiah who preceded Nahum.


Isaiah 33:99The earth mourneth and languisheth: Lebanon is ashamed and hewn down: Sharon is like a wilderness; and Bashan and Carmel shake off their fruits.”


v.55The 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 nation of Israel had gotten a very graphic picture of the power and majesty of God at Mount Sinai.


Exodus 19:18And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.”


This manifestation of God caused so much fear in the people of Israel that they begged Moses:


“…Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” Exodus 20:19


v.6Who 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.


            The prophet Micah describes the destruction brought about by the anger of God this way:


Micah 1:4And the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, and as the waters that are poured down a steep place.”


Isaiah tells Judah:


Isaiah 13:13 “Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.”

            I don’t know how many have experienced an earthquake but it doesn’t begin to compare to God shaking the heavens and moving the earth out of its place.  Just the little tremor that we experienced in St. Louis once was enough for me.


v.7The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.”


            But the Lord is also good.  A place of refuge, a stronghold for us when we encounter trouble:




He has provided for us today the ultimate sacrifice and provided us with the revelation of scripture has indeed taught sinners “The Way”.




v.8  But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies.”


            But in spite of God’s goodness, or perhaps because of his goodness and the fact that he cannot tolerate sin there will be a day of reckoning for mankind who did not seek his mercy.  Not with a flood, because of his promise to Noah signified by the rainbow, but with destruction somewhat like the flood.


Isaiah 13:9Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.” v.11And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.”


v.9  What do ye imagine against the LORD? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time.”


            “WHAT DO YOU IMAGINE AGAINST THE LORD?  How can mankind, the created being, fight against God the creator and ruler of all things?  Assyria was a powerful nation, the most powerful of this time, but she is still subject to God:


“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:” Colossians 1:16-17


            Nations, powers, princes, kings and even presidents rule at his pleasure, yes even today.  Now the time has come when He will make an end to Nineveh and the country of Assyria and just like the northern kingdom of Israel; it will not rise again.


v.10  For while they be folden together as thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.”


            Just as men today put all of their trust in their wealth, their goodness, their false religions; just as Jerusalem put her trust in the walls and battlements that surrounded the city, Nineveh thought she was invincible.  She ruled much of the world, she had never been defeated at home and she trusted in her defenses.  The prophet says “WHILE they be FOLDEN TOGETHER as THORNS” even though they were surrounded with defenses as dense and troublesome as a thicket of thorns they shall still fall.  They will disappear like stubble and straw in a field that is on fire.  In similar language the prophet Malachi, though writing about the end of time, gives us a very similar description:


Malachi 4:1For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.”


v.11There is one come out of thee, that imagineth evil against the LORD, a wicked counsellor.”


            The “ONE” the “WICKED COUNSELLOR”, now who would that be?  Satan, or anyone that gives advice that is contrary to the will or word of God.  Nineveh and Assyria are a city and country that thinks it is just too strong to fall.  I would imagine that Rome felt the same way, Hitler’s Germany thought the same thing, Soviet Russia, today China and our own country probably have the same mindset but God still rules.  The messenger of Satan, the false prophet, the wisdom of man declared that their city could not be taken.  But what about man’s wisdom:


“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”  I Corinthians 1:25


v.12Thus 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.”


            The American Standard Version, 1901; renders this verse as “THOUGH they be FULL STRENGTH, AND LIKEWISE MANY, EVEN SO THEY SHALL BE CUT DOWN…” giving us a much different perspective of it’s meaning.  When Assyria came against Jerusalem and King Hezekiah clothed himself in sackcloth and ashes, went to the house of God and pleaded with God for his country years before this prophecy.  God cut down not only Assyria down but its king as well reducing their strength and power as a nation.


II Kings 19:35-37And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. 36So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh. 37And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword: and they escaped into the land of Armenia. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.”


As a result they were never as strong as they had been during the time of the northern kingdom of Israel, nor before they tried to overtake Jerusalem.  Then in 606 BC they were destroyed entirely by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar.


v.13For now will I break his yoke from off thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder.


            The yoke of Assyria would be broken from Judah and they would never need to fear them again.  In the prophecy of Isaiah we find more assurances to Judah concerning Assyria:


Isaiah 10:24-25Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD of hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian: he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt. 25For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction.” v.27And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.”


v.14And 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.”


            God had given a commandment concerning Nineveh and Assyria.  Their names would vanish from the great cities and countries of the world.  Today we find them only in the discussions and writings of Bible scholars, historians, and archeologists. Their country and cities were destroyed, their gods became the spoils of war and were destroyed for the value of their precious metal.  God considered them vile, as nasty and despicable as we can imagine and more in his sight.  Assyria was given the same warning as Isaiah had given Judah and Israel:


Isaiah 46:1-21Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy loaden; they are a burden to the weary beast. 2They stoop, they bow down together; they could not deliver the burden, but themselves are gone into captivity.”


v.15Behold 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 prophet is bringing glad tidings to Judah.  The language is very similar to that found in Romans 10:15 and the prophet is preaching deliverance but not from sin from sin as Paul was.  Nahum is preaching deliverance from Assyria, the nation that destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel and troubled Judah virtually until the first group were led away captive to Babylon.  Assyria has existed as a nation from about 936 BC, or about 300 years.  The first time we find them in scripture is in:


II Kings 15:19And Pul the king of Assyria came against the land: and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand.”


According to Ussher’s chronology this event occurred about 772 BC and Assyria was destroyed about 606 BC.  So Assyria was God’s weapon against his sinful and rebellious people for 150-170 years.  Now Assyria, because she is sinful and vile, will be removed from existence except in the annals of history.

            In this time of peace Judah is encouraged to restore her solemn feasts, perform their vows to God and once again walk as God’s children.


William L. Schwegler; Sunset church of Christ, Shreveport, Louisiana; April 5, 2009