The Book of Nahum
Deliverance & Vindication
by Anton Chan
Nahum from Menologion of Basil II
The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. Nahum 1:7 (ESV)
Nahum is a prophetic book. Like the Psalms, it is written in the style of Hebrew poetry. It uses symbolism and imagery to convey the wonders of God and the meaning of future events. It speaks to the will and emotions. The right approach to the reading of the prophet Nahum is to seek to understand the conditions of the time in which the prophet lived and discover the applications based on the political, economic, and spiritual conditions that existed.
The Hebrew translation of Nahum's name is "counsellor " or "comforter". He is from an unknown place called "Elkosh" (v 1). He was likely living in Jerusalem and may have been traumatized by the attempt of Sennacherib, King of Assyria, to destroy Jerusalem in 701 BC (2 Kings 18:13). Scholars think that Nahum was written between 663 and 621 BCE, though this is not certain. Nahum's prophecy was so clear that he could see that the valiant men who came to destroy Nineveh as those who wore scarlet uniforms and held red shields – even though scarlet uniforms were unheard of in Nahum's day (2:3).
The prophet Nahum is closely related to his colleague Jonah. They were from the 10 tribes of Israel and called to preach to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. The Assyrians repented because of the message of Jonah during the mid-eighth century but returned to the evil of destruction after that. Assyria destroyed Israel and its capital, Samaria, in 722 BC, and inflicted physical atrocities against their captives.
Nahum’s message of destruction came 150 years after Jonah's message of repentance. Nahum preached during the reign of King Manasseh (697-642 BC), the evil king of Judah (2 King 21:11). It was the darkest period in Judah’s history, a time of idolatry when the nation turned its back on God. The Lord’s call to Nahum to pronounce judgment against Nineveh shows His unrelenting and overwhelming grace. The Assyrians fell to the Babylonians in 612 BC.
The Lord’s call to Nahum to pronounce judgment against Nineveh shows His unrelenting and overwhelming grace.
Nahum’s message was written using a 'ring pattern' like most Hebrew writings. The thrust of the message is found in the Woe Oracle (3:1-4). The first chapter of Nahum is written as an acrostic poem about God's character, his deliverance, and vindication to protect his people and ultimately deal with evil nations. In the next two chapters, Nahum, like a literary artist in, describes in poetic form the destruction and woe of Nineveh. The judgment is final and justice had been delivered. Nothing can heal you; your wound is fatal. All who hear the news about you clap their hands at your fall,for who has not felt your endless cruelty? (3:19, NIV).
The ESV Study Bible states that one of the key themes of Nahum is that the Lord of history is a "stronghold" for "those who take refuge in him" (1:7). He can handle any problems in their individual lives. He has defeated powers far greater than Assyria. He grants his ultimate deliverance and vindication.
Nahum’s Message for Today
Nahum has a message of deliverance and vindication for us. Our God is zealous and will protect his people that are oppressed by evil nations. He will respond to his children’s cry for help to deliver them from injustice and oppression. God is good and a refuge in times of trouble and certainly cares for those of us who trust in him. God cares for those who make mistakes in life and provides a way of deliverance for them.
God cares for those who make mistakes in life and provides a way of deliverance for them.
In June 2004, my family and I migrated to Vancouver. But things turned difficult and different from what I expected and hoped for. I went into depression and thought I will die in Canada. I prayed to God for a sign of deliverance – whether I should return home. One night in October, as I was reading the book of Jeremiah the Lord spoke to me: "I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is there anything too hard for me?" Jeremiah 32:27 (NIV). It was a costly and painful decision to return home after less than a year in Vancouver. It was very embarrassing to return home without a job and means to feed my family. However, more than 15 years have now passed. The faithfulness of God is great and fresh every morning. My family is well and I have two lovely granddaughters.
Let's explore how the message of Nahum speaks of faith in God to help us handle our problems in our individual lives.
In the vicissitudes of your life, do you feel at times the conditions of your life is like the time of Nahum? Do you face struggles, injustices, and oppression in your life and constantly live in fear and cry out to God to deliver and vindicate you? Is there any problem you have been trying to solve which remains unsolved despite all the effort you have tried?
Nahum’s message of deliverance is that God knows those who take refuge in Him. In the matter of life and death, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship the King but spoke courageously and showed faith in the character of God. They replied to the King, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up .” Daniel 3: 16-18 (ESV). Daniel's only ‘crime’ was that he got down on his knees and prayed three times a day facing Jerusalem. For this, he was cast into the lion’s den, But, ”My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouth of the lions, they have not hurt me…” (Daniel 6: 10, 22). The God that delivered the three friends of Daniel from the fiery furnace, Daniel from the lion’s den and Judah from the Assyrians is still able and willing to deliver you from any affliction or problem in your life.
Nahum’s message of deliverance is that God knows those who take refuge in Him.
During this period of the Covid-19 pandemic, many lives, families, and countries are affected. Many will lose their jobs and be unable to put food on the table. Is there any issue that has been afflicting you and your family? It is financial woes, marital problems, sickness, diseases, or barenness? Nahum’s message of deliverance and vindication (1:7) applies to us. God is a deliverer; He is sovereign and ultimate power belongs to him. He can intervene and remould all things to serve His purpose.
Jesus told a parable about a widow, a woman who was among the most disadvantaged of all people, at the bottom of the heap in the social and economic structure of the time. She cried out to an unjust judge saying, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ The judge refused to grant that request but the widow persisted. Finally, justice was granted to the widow. And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you; he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:2-8 (NIV). Will you and I display such persistent faith in God to deliver us from all our troubles because He is good and knows those who take refuge in Him?
Nahum presents God as the sovereign warrior who delivers and metes vengeance against his enemies. (1:2). Nahum reveals God’s character and might: “The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.” (1:3a, NIV). It is therefore for us to trust and be obedient to Him. Let us in such a time like this, in the COVID-19 pandemic, turn to God in our prayers and put our faith in the character of God through Jesus Christ. He is good and provides a refuge for us in times of trouble and will surely care for us when we trust in him (1:7). God is willing to show you His unrelenting and overwhelming grace. The foundation of God’s throne is righteousness and justice. We are blessed when we walk in the light of God’s presence.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
love and faithfulness go before you.
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,
who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.
Psalm 89:14-15 (NIV)