Christ in All the Scriptures
by A.M. Hodgkin
- V. Christ in the Prophets
14. Nahum --
- The destruction of Nineveh is the one burden of Nahum. The prophet's name means Comfort, and his word of comfort is for Judah, ''The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knoweth them that trust in Him'' (1:7). ''Behold upon the mountains, the feet of him that bringeth good tidings and publisheth peace'' [1:15], points forward to the proclamation of the good tidings of the Prince of Peace [cp. Isa 52:7 in its context].
- The rest of the prophecy is wholly concerned with Nineveh. The dwelling-place of the prophet is uncertain. It may have been Capernaum, ''the city of Nahum.'' The time in which he prophesied, from internal evidence, seems to have been between the fall of No-Amon (Thebes) in Upper Egypt, 663 B.C., and the fall of Nineveh, 606 B.C., for he speaks of the one as past (3:8-10) and the other as future (1:8-14).
''The prophecy of Nahum is both the complement and the counterpart of the book of Jonah'' (Dr. Pusey). God revealed His Name to Moses as showing His two-fold character. ''The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering and forgiving iniquity, . . . and that will by no means clear the guilty'' [Ex 34:5-7]. Jonah dwells on the first side of God's character (Jonah 4:2). Nahum brings out the second: ''A jealous God and Avenger is the Lord. . . . The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked'' [Nah 1:3]. God had shown His long-suffering to the great city. It had repented at the preaching of Jonah. But though multitudes of individuals were, no doubt, truly turned to the Lord, its repentance as a nation was short-lived, and we find it guilty again of the very sins from which it had repented: violence and insatiable cruelty (Nah 2:11,12). But beyond all this, Nineveh seems to have been guilty of an open defiance of the living God, as shown in the blasphemous attitude of Sennacherib [2Chr 32:9-20], and in the allusions of Nahum 1:9,11.
The doom of the city was delayed two hundred years, but it fell at last, and Nahum's prophecy was one of unconditional and final destruction. With an over-running flood would God make a full end of her; her name should be utterly cut off, and He would dig her grave. The mustering of the armies round Nineveh, the marshalling of the forces within the city, are described with graphic eloquence.
The destruction of Nineveh was complete. It occurred almost at the zenith of her power. According to Nahum's prophecy, it came true that the Tigris [River] assisted the attacking army of the Medes and Babylonians in its overthrow (Nah 2:6), and it was partly destroyed by fire (3:13,15). So deep and so effectually did God dig its grave, that every trace of its existence disappeared for ages, and its site was not known. But its excavations, since 1841 [A.D.], have been confirming the truth of God's Word.
- The City of Thebes.
- Among other revelations, we have the actual fall of the city of Thebes, No-Amon, alluded to by Nahum [3:8-10], described on the monuments in the words of Assurbanipal, the Assyrian king, who was its conqueror. He tells us how completely he took the city, carrying off its gold and silver and precious stones, and two lofty obelisks, covered with beautiful sculptures, weighing 2500 talents (over 90 tons), which he raised from their place and transported to Assyria, with a great and countless booty.
- [ Nineveh's Symbolic Significance. ]
- [The notes below are adapted from the Scofield Reference Bible.]
Nineveh stands in Scripture as the representative of apostate religious Gentiledom, as Babylon represents the confusion into which the Gentile political world-system has fallen (Dan 2:41-44). Under the preaching of Jonah, B.C. 862, the city and king turned to God (Elohim), Jonah 3:3-10. But in the time of Nahum, more than a century later, the city had wholly apostatized from God. It is this which distinguishes Nineveh from all the other ancient Gentile cities, and which makes her the suited symbol of the present religious Gentile world-system in the last days. Morally, Nineveh is described in Rom 1:21-23. The chief deity of apostate Nineveh was the bull-god, with the face of a man and the wings of a bird: ''an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts.''
The message of Nahum, uttered about one hundred years before the destruction of Nineveh, is, therefore, not a call to repentance, but an unrelieved warning of judgment: ''He will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time'' (Nah 1:9; cp. 3:10). For there is no remedy for apostasy but utter judgment, and a new beginning (cp. Isa 1:4,5,24-28; Heb 6:4-8; Prov 29:1). It is the way of God; apostasy is punished by catastrophic destruction. Of this the Flood and the destruction of Nineveh are witnesses. The coming destruction of apostate Christendom is foreshadowed by these. (cp. Dan 2:34; Luk 17:26; Rev 19:17-21).
The great ethical lesson of Nahum (see Nah 1:2) is that the character of God makes Him not only ''slow to anger'' and ''a stronghold to them that trust Him,'' but also one who ''will not at all acquit the wicked.'' He can be ''just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus'' (Rom 3:26), but only because His holy law has been vindicated in the Cross.
Return to the Table of Contents for Christ in All the Scriptures.
For another brief look at this book of the Bible,
see the related chapter in OT Reflections of Christ, by Paul Van Gorder.
Go to The Book opening page.