Having looked at Jonah, it is worth noting that there are perhaps three things to bear in mind when reading the book that bears his name:
Something of a dispensational view regarding the Nation of Israel.
A personal view of Jonah himself and what he knew of God.
The character of God Himself in his dealings with the Nations.
Now we are looking at Nahum. Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, knew the blessing of God in the days of Jonah, and Jonah was angry. Assyria terrorised the world and eventually took the ten tribes of Israel into Captivity. We might then ask; is God only, “a gracious God, merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness” (Jonah 4:2), overlooking injustice? Nahum, a prophet to Judah, arrives on the scene 100 years after Jonah. Repentance on the part of the people of Nineveh in the days of Jonah caused God to spare the city from the judgment that Jonah announced. Alas they have now returned to their old ways and Nahum prophesies not just the coming judgment of God on Nineveh, but its annihilation. One of the great comforts in this book is again to note the character of God: Ch 1:2 God is jealous, Ch 1:3 The Lord is slow to anger, Ch 1:7 The Lord is good. If we fail to get a grasp of this book or the historical details, we can all rejoice in this wonderful verse… “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him” (Nahum 1:7).
Some background details for the setting of Nahum: Israel… Paid tribute to Assyria (2 Kings 15:19-20). Judah… Addressed by Nahum paid tribute to Assyria during the reign of Ahaz (2 Kings 16:8) until the reign of Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:3). Manasseh for all his wickedness was humbled by the Assyrians (2 Chronicles 33:11). 722 BC… Israel, 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom carried off to Assyrian Captivity (2 Kings 17:6). 664 BC… The Capital of Upper Egypt, Thebes; called No-Ammon (ch3:8), fell to Assyria. Nahum prophesies here as to time, about 100 years from Jonah. From his prophecy it will be another 50 years until the fall of Nineveh!!! 612 BC… Nineveh fell to the Medes and the Babylonians. So great was the destruction, that over the centuries the critics had a field day, resulting in the book of Jonah being scorned. The first person to survey and map Nineveh was an archaeologist, Claudius J. Rich, in 1820. The details were completed and published by Felix Jones in 1854. The ruins were not discovered until 1842 by a Frenchman named Botta, along with two Englishmen, Layard and Rawlinson.
Note. Rudyard Kipling published his poem the “Recessional” when the British Empire was at its peak. It was a warning that other empires had vanished from the stage of history… “The most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will” (Daniel 4:32).
Far-called, our navies melt away; On dune and headland sinks the fire: Lo, all our pomp of yesterday Is one with Nineveh and Tyre! Judge of the Nations, spare us yet, Lest we forget-lest we forget!
(From: The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, Old Testament)
NAHUM - God’s judgment on Nineveh and it’s utter ruin!
Chapter 1. Destruction of Nineveh decreed. What God will do! Verses 1-8 in the opening chapter are all about God! Old Testament passages are worth reading that we might get a fresh appreciation of God. In v 2 God is jealous (jealous and avenging. NASB). In v 3 God is slow to anger, and great in power. His power is seen in various ways, vs 3-6, with the challenging question: “Who can stand before His indignation”? God is good, v 7, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knoweth them that trust in Him. Asaph could say amid His turmoil, “Truly God is Good to Israel” (Psalm 73:1). An utter end will be made of His enemies in an overrunning flood. Verses 9-14 tell of the complete desolation of the enemy, v 9 utter end, v 10 devoured, v 13 his yolk will be broken, v 14 judgment on their idolatry. (Verses 12-13) Nahum speaks of hope and comfort for Judah! Their affliction will end v 12, the yolk of the enemy will be broken v 13, and their bonds will be broken asunder. Assyrian bondage will cease!
Chapter 2. Destruction of Nineveh described. How God will do it! Ch 1:15. Helen Spurrell in her translation of the Old Testament begins chapter two at this verse. Judah encouraged to keep the feasts, good tidings and peace ch 1:15. Verses 1-7 Nineveh is besieged by her enemies… the Medes and the Chaldeans. Encouraged to strengthen and defend, all is in vain. Verses 8-12 Nineveh, who could take it in… is now no more. Spoiled herself as she had spoiled others. Like a lion she always brought the prey! Now the question is asked, “where is the dwelling of the lions…” because Nineveh is no more. Instead of bringing the prey home, Nineveh has become a prey. Verse 13 who can prosper with these words… “Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts”.
Chapter 3. Destruction of Nineveh deserved. Why God will do it! Sometimes as Christians, we feel a little uneasy at the judgment of God as we read it in Nahum, Obadiah and Habakkuk. It is very important that we understand that God always has a reason for judgment. God is not vindictive but righteous. Why then this judgment? Verses 1-3 The Bloodthirstiness of Nineveh. Although used by God to chastise and to take into captivity Israel, like the Chaldeans whom He used against Judah, they went too far in their oppression and evil. Verses 4-7 Their Immorality & Idolatry. A righteous God, slow to anger, will deal with Immorality and Idolatry which He hates. “I am against thee” v 5, “Nineveh is laid waste” v 7, there can be no other outcome! Verses 8-19 Pride & arrogance. “Art thou better than populous No” v 8. They thought they were. Having overcome No-Ammon in the most wicked and bloodthirsty way the Assyrians thought they were invincible. BUT GOD! The children of Nineveh like those of No-Ammon will be dashed in pieces, vs 10-11, and her noble men also shall be bound in chains. The strongholds will be shaken like fig trees v 12, with the fire and the sword doing their work, v 15. There is going to be no healing of this bruise wrought by God. The bruit, v 19, or report will be heard, and those that do so will clap their hands.
As we continue in these studies, the message for us today with a rising tide of evil, is that God will judge unrighteousness and those who oppose Him and His people. So, we see a similar and a consistent pattern… Nahum… God’s judgment on Nineveh… the Assyrian capital. Obadiah… God’s judgment on Edom… its capital, Petra… who were the descendants of Esau. Habakkuk… God’s judgment on the Chaldeans (Babylon), even though they were the instruments used by God for the correction of His people Judah.