Scripture Reading on Sunday Mornings: Nahum
SUNDAY MORNING SCRIPTURE READING: NAHUM
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE BOOK
- Bears the name of its author, the prophet Nahum (1:1)
- Written sometime between 660 B. C. and 612 B. C., about one century after Nineveh had repented at the preaching of Jonah (see Jonah chapter 3)
- A prophecy predicting the complete destruction of Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrian empire
- Was eventually fulfilled in 612 B. C. when Nineveh fell to the Medes and Chaldeans
- Themes: God’s Judicial Wrath Against Ninevah, God’s Covenant Faithfulness Towards Israel
The following sections include a brief summary of the themes included in the book with passages that serve as examples of those themes. As you hear Nahum read from the pulpit, try to notice these themes.
GOD’S JUDICIAL WRATH AGAINST NINEVEH
God’s wrath stands front and center in Nahum’s oracle. This proclamation against the wicked inhabitants of Nineveh is a perpetual reminder of God’s unwavering determination to punish sinners who refuse to repent. Two times in the book, Nineveh is described as plotting against Yahweh (cf. 1:9, 11). But three times God is said to be against Nineveh (cf. 2:1, 13; 3:5). This highlights the truth of Nahum’s rhetorical questions, “Who can stand before His indignation? Who can endure the burning of His anger?” (1:6). God’s wrath against sinners is greater than any sinner’s wrath against God. He will be victorious in battle.
- “A jealous and avenging God is Yahweh; Yahweh is avenging and wrathful. Yahweh takes vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies.’” (1:2; also 1:6, 8-10, 12, 14; 2:3-13; 3:1-19)
GOD’S COVENANT FAITHFULNESS TOWARD ISRAEL
Nahum’s belief in what Moses wrote in the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) is unmistakable. The prophet builds on God’s promises to Israel as communicated through Moses to give hope to God’s people. This occurs from the oracle’s opening words: “Yahweh is slow to anger and great in power, And Yahweh will by no means leave the guilty unpunished” (1:3a). Here, Nahum reminds Judah of Numbers 14:17-18. In that passage, Yahweh relented from destroying the people due to Moses’ humble intercession on their behalf. Nahum utilized these older words from Scripture to remind his audience of God’s past faithfulness to keep His covenant with Abraham’s descendants. Despite their rebellion, God did not utterly destroy them in the wilderness and make a new nation from Moses, but instead, God withheld His wrath and forgave them and then brought them into the land as promised. Nahum is assuring His audience that this will be the case once more. God will relent from his wrath and return them to the land.
Another example of Nahum’s use of the Law occurs in 1:15, which harkens back to the festal celebrations of the Mosaic Covenant (cf. Leviticus chapter 23), and finally, in 2:2 where the prophet restates God’s covenant promise from the Torah to restore and exalt the nation of Israel despite their having been humbled by a pagan nation (cf. Deut. 30:1-10).
IMPLICATIONS FOR SUNDAY MORNINGS
- Believe Nahum. As with all of Scripture, we are reading actual history! Gleason Archer highlights the historical accuracy of Nahum’s prophecy with this reminder: “Nahum 2:6 contains a remarkably exact prediction, for subsequent history records that a vital part of the city walls of Nineveh was carried away by a great flood, and this ruin of the defensive system permitted the besieging Medes and Chaldeans to storm the city without difficulty.” The truth of Nahum’s fulfilled prophecies should make us believe those words of God through Nahum that have not yet been fulfilled (such as God’s promise to restore Israel, etc.).
- Flee God’s wrath through repentance. Nahum spares no imagery in describing God’s horrific, yet just wrath against the unrepentant. It is a great reminder that God’s patience and steadfast love belong to those who persevere in the practice of turning away from sin.
A WORD TO PARENTS
Sunday morning Scripture readings are a great time to include our children in the instruction coming from the pulpit. Here are a couple suggestions for how to help your children glean from what is being said during this time.
- Read and discuss the upcoming chapter beforehand. Your kids will benefit as they recognize what they are hearing on Sundays.
- Teach your kids the gospel from Nahum. Help them see the sinfulness of Nineveh and the justice of God’s wrath. Show them their own sin that provokes God’s wrath. Explain that God’s kindness and love are demonstrated in making His Son, King Jesus, the propitiation (wrath-bearing substitute) for repentant sinners. Nahum points us all to God’s good news for those who repentant.
- For kids who can read or who are on the verge of learning to read and can recognize familiar words, teach them commonly used words in Nahum such as “God,” “Lord,” “the LORD (or Yahweh),” etc. This may keep them engaged and attentive since they can better identify the text being displayed up front.