cowboy rides into town July 24 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Nahum

Vengeance and Comfort

If you have watched old American western movies, you know that oftentimes a bad cowboy or gang comes to town and terrorizes the citizens. When he or they finally get their just punishment, the town rejoices, and we rejoice with them. The story ends with comfort and peace, and we are satisfied. The wicked should be punished. Perhaps you have suffered much from an individual, group, or even from terrorists. Although you may or may not have deserved it, will God exercise His judgment on them and bring peace? This is what some of the people of Judah must have thought about after being harassed by Assyria. This Bible study shows us how God defends those who have a personal relationship with Him.

The prophecy of Nahum can be dated sometime during the reigns of Manasseh and Ammon, 697-642 B.C. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T., edited by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, pp.1494, 1496). Manasseh and Ammon were very wicked and idolatrous kings of the nation of Judah. The Assyrians were as fierce as lions as they mauled any city, town, or nation that stood in their way. Many of the people of Judah probably wondered, how long, LORD—how long will we have to endure these wicked kings? How long will we have to endure Assyria’s vicious attacks? There is no peace in our Promised Land—only wickedness, chaos, and fear.

The LORD used Assyria to discipline His people. Their armies were so vicious, however, that they made God angry—they had gone too far and were too proud! Therefore, God prophesies through His prophet Nahum that the strong protected Assyrian capital, Nineveh, will soon be destroyed. We might remember the city of Nineveh from the Bible book of Jonah. God then had mercy upon that great city because she believed Jonah's prophecy and repented.

Because God is very patient and loving, He gave the Assyrians one hundred years to change their ways, but they became evil once again. The LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished (Nahum 1:3). Now, Assyria is extremely wicked and abusive to all nations, including God's beloved people, Israel. The LORD is going to exercise vengeance and give Judah some peace and comfort; never again will the Assyrian army invade her land, for the Assyrian nation will be destroyed.

The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into darkness. (Nahum 1:7-8, NIV)

Soon after Nahum's prophecy, torrential rains flood the nearby Khosr River (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T., p.1495). Whether this causes the flood in their city or their enemies break down a dam we are not sure, but one of its walls is destroyed. The flood may also refer to a flood of armies attacking the city. The Assyrians try to rebuild part of a wall, but their efforts fail as their enemies overcome them (3:14).

The battles fought are furious and intense, as the poetry of Nahum suggests.

Woe to the city of blood (Nineveh), full of lies, full of plunder, never without victims!

The crack of whips, the clatter of wheels, galloping horses and jolting chariots! Charging cavalry, flashing swords and glittering spears! Many casualties, piles of dead, bodies without number, people stumbling over the corpses—all because of the wanton lust of a harlot, alluring, the mistress of sorceries, who enslaved nations by her prostitution and peoples by her witchcraft. (Nahum 3:1-4, NIV)

Assyria shamed other nations and now she is ashamed (3:5-7). The attacker (2:1) is Nabopolassar, the Babylonian who, with Cyaxeres the Mede, conquers Nineveh (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O. T., p.1500). They pillage, plunder and strip Nineveh of the great wealth Assyria has acquired from other nations, which they powerfully slashed as a lion. Now the lion is slain. God mocks Nineveh in much the same way as Sennacherib, the Assyrian King, mocked Jerusalem (Isaiah 36:18-20).

Where now is the lions' den, the place where they fed their young, where the lion and lioness went, and the cubs, with nothing to fear? (Nahum 2:11, NIV)

Nineveh is destroyed and its cities burned. She will never bother Israel again. She will never be rebuilt. Her injury is fatal, and the nations rejoice and clap their hands.

We, too, may wish some relief from our enemies. In light of today's Bible study, Psalm 7 is worth reading. We Christians may take particular comfort from verse 7:11 (NIV), “God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses his wrath every day.” We must examine ourselves to see if we are to blame for our unfavorable circumstances; but if not, then we can take comfort that God will eventually exercise vengeance on our enemies.

Lessons to Live By

  • If we are suffering, we should first examine ourselves to see if we are to blame.
  • “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him” (Nahum 1:7, NIV, more...).
  • God is angry with the wicked. Here are some things that may happen to those who are wicked, according to Psalm 7:14-16 (NIV)

    He who is pregnant with evil and conceives trouble gives birth to disillusionment. He who digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit he has made. The trouble he causes recoils on himself; his violence comes down on his own head.

  • If we are suffering inustice, God will eventually come to our aid; if not in this life then in the next.

Focus Verses

1Thessalonians 1:6-9 (NIV)

God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power.

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A Look Ahead: In our Next Lesson we will see a prophecy of how God will Sweep Away the enemies of Israel in a future Day of the LORD.

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