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The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 

Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 

And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. 

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

The Old Testament prophets were primarily forth tellers rather than foretellers.

They communicated the message of God to the needs of the day.

“Listen to the Major messages of the Minor Prophets’ is the title of the series we will be working through for the next few weeks.

Today we are talking about Nahum, Woe to the Bloody City!

Text

Nahum 3:1 NKJV

The Woe of Nineveh

3 Woe to the bloody city!
It is all full of lies and robbery.
Its victim never departs.

Scripture Reading

Nahum 2:8-3:7 NKJV

8 Though Nineveh of old was like a pool of water,
Now they flee away.
“Halt! Halt!” they cry;
But no one turns back.

9 Take spoil of silver!
Take spoil of gold!
There is no end of treasure,
Or wealth of every desirable prize.

10 She is empty, desolate, and waste!
The heart melts, and the knees shake;
Much pain is in every side,
And all their faces are drained of color.

11 Where is the dwelling of the lions,
And the feeding place of the young lions,
Where the lion walked, the lioness and lion’s cub,
And no one made them afraid?

12 The lion tore in pieces enough for his cubs,
Killed for his lionesses,
Filled his caves with prey,
And his dens with flesh.

13 “Behold, I am against you,” says the Lord of hosts, “I will burn your chariots in smoke, and the sword shall devour your young lions; I will cut off your prey from the earth, and the voice of your messengers shall be heard no more.”

The Woe of Nineveh

3 Woe to the bloody city!
It is all full of lies and robbery.
Its victim never departs.

2 The noise of a whip
And the noise of rattling wheels,
Of galloping horses,
Of clattering chariots!

3 Horsemen charge with bright sword and glittering spear.
There is a multitude of slain,
A great number of bodies,
Countless corpses—
They stumble over the corpses—

4 Because of the multitude of harlotries of the seductive harlot,
The mistress of sorceries,
Who sells nations through her harlotries,
And families through her sorceries.

5 “Behold, I am against you,” says the Lord of hosts;
“I will lift your skirts over your face,
I will show the nations your nakedness,
And the kingdoms your shame.

6 I will cast abominable filth upon you,
Make you vile,
And make you a spectacle.

7 It shall come to pass that all who look upon you
Will flee from you, and say,
‘Nineveh is laid waste!
Who will bemoan her?’
Where shall I seek comforters for you?”

Prayer

In Jesus name we pray.

Amen.

Introduction

Nineveh’s destruction was so complete that even the site was forgotten.

So completely had all traces of the glory of the Assyrian Empire disappeared that many scholars actually thought the references to it in the Bible and in ancient histories were mythical.

They thought that in reality no such city or empire existed.

It was not until 1854 that the site was definitely identified and the ruins began to be uncovered.

Nahum seems committed to self concealment, and in this he fairly well succeeds.

We are not told of his family, his tribe, or even his nation, though he was undoubtedly from Judah.

He wrote sometime between 663 BC, when Assyria conquered Egypt, and 609 BC, when Assyria was defeated by Babylon.

This was perhaps a hundred years after Jonah had delivered God’s message to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria.

The prophecy of Nahum is given to one subject alone, the destruction of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, which is used as an example for the entire nation.

For the most part, this prophecy is pure poetry. 

And can be summed up in five words :Woe to the bloody city.”

Unlike others among the prophets, Nahum had no word to say about Judah’s sins.

His only reference to Judah were words of encouragement, for the destruction of Nineveh would mean deliverance for Judah.

In language that is forcible and graphic, the prophet’s descriptions are condensed and brilliant.

Chapter 1 consists of a question and its answer.

The question, Who can stand before God’s indignation?

The answer, He will make an utter end of the enemies of His people.

Chapter 2 is made up of a threefold description, the siege and defence of the city, the capture and sacking of the city, and the prophet’s exultation over the destruction of the ancient den of lions, meaning the king and his mates.

Chapter 3 is constructed, at least by implication, around four questions.

Who will mourn for the fallen Nineveh?

Are you better than Thebes, situated on the Nile, with water around her?

The river was her defence, the waters her wall.

Nahum wrote that the surrounding nations would rejoice when Nineveh fell.

He declared, “All who hear the news about you clap their hands at your fall, for who has not felt your endless cruelty.

The book of Nahum is no mere cry for joy over the ruin of Israel’s enemy.

Nahum is not simply a nationalist exulting over the ruin of his nation’s oppressor.

He is a prophet with a prophet’s deep conviction that the power of God id ruling in all the turmoil of history.

It is a hymn of praise for a great manifestation of the power and justice and mercy of the true God.

What then, has this little book to say to us in our day?

Three things are clear.

  1. The military is not the way to save the problems of history.

Thebes was destroyed by the Assyrians, the Assyrians were destroyed by the Babylonians and their allies, the Babylonians were destroyed by the Persians, and so on.

When Peter attempted to defend his Lord with a sword, Jesus warned him in Matthew 26:52, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.

Whenever a mighty nation, becoming rich and powerful by violating the principles of justice, freedom, and right, has appeared on the stage of history, this principle has been demonstrated.

The empires of the Caesars, of Charlemagne, and of Napoleon had the elements of decay at the core even in the hour of their brutality and bloodshed.

Their end was inevitable.

By military might and tyranny among his own people, Adolf Hitler brought into being his Third Reicht, which he predicted would stand a thousand years, committed suicide.

“Woe to the bloody city!”

Napoleon, who covered Europe in blood for nearly two decades met his end at Waterloo.

Genghis Khan conquered Mongolia and most of China, followed by conquests of Turkey, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan.

He even penetrated southeastern Europe.

His successors extended their power over the whole of China, Persia, and most of Russia.

Militarism creates most of the problems of history, it solves none.

Trying to solve the world’s problems by war is like trying to arrange the furniture in your house with dynamite.

2. Tyranny ultimately recruits the opposition by which it will be destroyed.

Nineveh was really a complex of four cities in one, protected by the confluence of two rivers and a system of moats.

It had a thirty meter high wall wide enough for three chariots to be driven side by side and fortified  with fifteen hundred towers, each sixty meters high.

The whole area covered over nine hundred square kilometres.

But the vastness of Nineveh was overshadowed by its wickedness.

Nineveh’s brutality toward the victims of its conquests was enough to make the blood run cold.

Surrounding peoples shuddered with horror at the thought of ever being prey to Nineveh.

Its mania for blood and savagery was gruesome.

Nahum confirmed this as he exposed the violence, murder, witchcraft, prostitution, and vile corruption within the harlot city.

God’s word to Nineveh was, “I will dig your grave, For you are vile.”

How would He do this?

By recruiting all those who had been oppressed by “the bloody city.”

A combined policy on the part of those who had been humiliated by the Assyrian conquerors brought about Nineveh’s downfall.

The enemy surrounded Nineveh but were at first driven back.

Reinforcements came, and the city was again attacked.

The siege lasted two years, but a new foe, against who they were powerless, had to be reckoned with.

Nahum 2:6, The gates of the rivers are opened, And the palace is dissolved.

The Tigris river flooded and swept away large sections of the city walls.

When the flood subsided, the enemy crossed the river and poured through the gap into the city, and Nineveh was no more.

Page after page of history demonstrates the truth that tyranny ultimately recruits the opposition by which it is destroyed.

3. God is the sole ruler of the universe.

Nahum declared God’s sovereignty and strength.

God is jealous of His Holy name, recompensing the wrongdoer and preparing to vent His wrath on His adversaries.

Although slow to anger, His forgiveness is often scorned by some, yet He would by no means clear the guilty.

The fact of His omnipotence is beyond controversy.

Judah had suffered intensely at the hands of Assyria.

Some godly men felt that Jehovah was no longer interested in Judah’s welfare, or if He was, He was powerless to restrain the ferocity of the Assyrian aggression.

Nahum was convinced that neither was the case.

Nineveh was at the peak of its power and splendour.

The earth rang with the shouts of Nineveh’s armoured men as they ransacked cities and enslaved people.

But could Nineveh defy Jehovah without being punished?

Could the moral law be set aside indefinitely?

God had not abdicated nor had His laws become inoperative.

The sentence was already pronounced.

Judgement would surely fall upon the ruthless oppressor.

In spite of its wealth, display of military power, and strategy of its monarchs and statesman, it will be overtaken by the righteous anger of the Most High.

Of all the minor prophets, not one seems to equal the fire and spiritual boldness of Nahum.

Let the people of today take a good look at Nineveh of long ago, for it is one of God’s special lessons to rulers and nations and peoples.

The same God rules the world today.

Nahum speaks the universal voice of humanity.

Let all people hear and beware.

Conclusion.

In this prophecy there is comfort for the godly.

Nineveh proclaims to us the final vindication of right against wrong, and herein is comfort.

God’s government is righteous.

He is the stronghold of the godly.

Nahum’s doom song to Nineveh is no mere human cry for revenge, nor does it view Nineveh’s coming destruction with patriotic gratification from the standpoint of his own nation and countrymen.

The predicted result is viewed solely from the requirement of divine justice.

Genesis 18:25 NKJV

Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

Until next time

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