Our series in Nahum continued this week with a consideration of Nahum’s vision of the destruction of Nineveh.
It is not an easy passage to study. Firstly there is the slightly confusing way Nahum directs his words to Nineveh then to the people of Judah, back and forth a number of times (1v9-2v2). Then there is the one battle, the destruction of Nineveh and the Assyrian people, which we see from two different perspectives (2v3-13 and 3v1-7).
But perhaps more significant than the technical issues of studying such a passage is the reality of terrible judgement that underlies this vision. Nahum’s eye for detail is unsettling. It’s not just the sun glinting off the invading chariots as they rush by (2v3) or the sounds of battle he captures (‘The crack of whips, the clatter of wheels, galloping horses and jolting chariots’ 3v2) – such poetry elevates this from a simple account of war to something more literary – but the images of devastation left behind. He doesn’t spare his listeners/readers from the true horror of war as he directs our attention, for example, to piles of corpses over which people stumble in their attempts to escape (3v3).
In such descriptions we are being forced to consider the real horror of the final judgement which is to come, the day of Judgement when Christ will return to judge the living and the dead.
The PowerPoint slides from the sermon show what lessons we took from this passage:
The final slide incorporates a photograph of Rekha Khatoon, a young woman of 22 years of age who has faced persecution for her faith in Jesus. Rekha, from a small, predominantly muslim village in West Bengal, India, is reported to have said following attacks, “I boldly told those who beat me up that I may leave my parents, but that I will not leave Jesus”.
Such stirring words remind us that, in light of the judgement to come to which Nahum points us, we must never leave Jesus either. Praise God for Rekha and her steadfast faith in Christ.
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 the realm of darkness. (Nahum 1v7-8)