History is full of stories of nations who rise up in power. They all hit a peak, then they start a steep downfall to their extinction. Before we go on to the rise of the Babylonian empire, we have to hear what the prophet Nahum has to say about the fall of the Assyrians. The Assyrians, remember, were the first superpower nation. 150 years earlier, Jonah was sent to set Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, straight. He would have loved to be around for Nahum’s prophecy, as he hated Nineveh. After Jonah visited them, the king and the people repented. Needless to say, that didn’t last very long and the people went back to worshiping idols and false gods. Nevertheless, God was patient with them. He even used them to teach the northern kingdom of Israel their lesson. However, God’s patience only goes so far. He sends His prophets to warn the people (and us). If we disobey, we see His justice, His wrath, His judgment. Let’s dig in…
This message concerning Nineveh came as a vision to Nahum, who lived in Elkosh.
The Lord’s Anger against Nineveh
2 The Lord is a jealous God,
filled with vengeance and rage.
He takes revenge on all who oppose him
and continues to rage against his enemies!
3 The Lord is slow to get angry, but his power is great,
and he never lets the guilty go unpunished.
He displays his power in the whirlwind and the storm.
The billowing clouds are the dust beneath his feet.
4 At his command the oceans dry up,
and the rivers disappear.
The lush pastures of Bashan and Carmel fade,
and the green forests of Lebanon wither.
5 In his presence the mountains quake,
and the hills melt away;
the earth trembles,
and its people are destroyed.
6 Who can stand before his fierce anger?
Who can survive his burning fury?
His rage blazes forth like fire,
and the mountains crumble to dust in his presence.
7 The Lord is good,
a strong refuge when trouble comes.
He is close to those who trust in him.
8 But he will sweep away his enemies
in an overwhelming flood.
He will pursue his foes
into the darkness of night.
9 Why are you scheming against the Lord?
He will destroy you with one blow;
he won’t need to strike twice!
10 His enemies, tangled like thornbushes
and staggering like drunks,
will be burned up like dry stubble in a field.
11 Who is this wicked counselor of yours
who plots evil against the Lord?
12 This is what the Lord says:
“Though the Assyrians have many allies,
they will be destroyed and disappear.
O my people, I have punished you before,
but I will not punish you again.
13 Now I will break the yoke of bondage from your neck
and tear off the chains of Assyrian oppression.”
14 And this is what the Lord says concerning the Assyrians in Nineveh:
“You will have no more children to carry on your name.
I will destroy all the idols in the temples of your gods.
I am preparing a grave for you
because you are despicable!”
15 Look! A messenger is coming over the mountains with good news!Nahum 1 NLT
He is bringing a message of peace.
Celebrate your festivals, O people of Judah,
and fulfill all your vows,
for your wicked enemies will never invade your land again.
They will be completely destroyed!
Your enemy is coming to crush you, Nineveh.
Man the ramparts! Watch the roads!
Prepare your defenses! Call out your forces!
2 Even though the destroyer has destroyed Judah,
the Lord will restore its honor.
Israel’s vine has been stripped of branches,
but he will restore its splendor.
3 Shields flash red in the sunlight!
See the scarlet uniforms of the valiant troops!
Watch as their glittering chariots move into position,
with a forest of spears waving above them.
4 The chariots race recklessly along the streets
and rush wildly through the squares.
They flash like firelight
and move as swiftly as lightning.
5 The king shouts to his officers;
they stumble in their haste,
rushing to the walls to set up their defenses.
6 The river gates have been torn open!
The palace is about to collapse!
7 Nineveh’s exile has been decreed,
and all the servant girls mourn its capture.
They moan like doves
and beat their breasts in sorrow.
8 Nineveh is like a leaking water reservoir!
The people are slipping away.
“Stop, stop!” someone shouts,
but no one even looks back.
9 Loot the silver!
Plunder the gold!
There’s no end to Nineveh’s treasures—
its vast, uncounted wealth.
10 Soon the city is plundered, empty, and ruined.
Hearts melt and knees shake.
The people stand aghast,
their faces pale and trembling.
11 Where now is that great Nineveh,
that den filled with young lions?
It was a place where people—like lions and their cubs—
walked freely and without fear.
12 The lion tore up meat for his cubs
and strangled prey for his mate.
He filled his den with prey,
his caverns with his plunder.
13 “I am your enemy!”Nahum 2 NLT
says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
“Your chariots will soon go up in smoke.
Your young men will be killed in battle.
Never again will you plunder conquered nations.
The voices of your proud messengers will be heard no more.”
Nahum 3 – The Lord’s Judgment against Nineveh
What sorrow awaits Nineveh,
the city of murder and lies!
She is crammed with wealth
and is never without victims.
2 Hear the crack of whips,
the rumble of wheels!
Horses’ hooves pound,
and chariots clatter wildly.
3 See the flashing swords and glittering spears
as the charioteers charge past!
There are countless casualties,
heaps of bodies—
so many bodies that
people stumble over them.
4 All this because Nineveh,
the beautiful and faithless city,
mistress of deadly charms,
enticed the nations with her beauty.
She taught them all her magic,
enchanting people everywhere.
5 “I am your enemy!”
says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
“And now I will lift your skirts
and show all the earth your nakedness and shame.
6 I will cover you with filth
and show the world how vile you really are.
7 All who see you will shrink back and say,
‘Nineveh lies in ruins.
Where are the mourners?’
Does anyone regret your destruction?”
8 Are you any better than the city of Thebes,
situated on the Nile River, surrounded by water?
She was protected by the river on all sides,
walled in by water.
9 Ethiopia and the land of Egypt
gave unlimited assistance.
The nations of Put and Libya
were among her allies.
10 Yet Thebes fell,
and her people were led away as captives.
Her babies were dashed to death
against the stones of the streets.
Soldiers threw dice to get Egyptian officers as servants.
All their leaders were bound in chains.
11 And you, Nineveh, will also stagger like a drunkard.
You will hide for fear of the attacking enemy.
12 All your fortresses will fall.
They will be devoured like the ripe figs
that fall into the mouths
of those who shake the trees.
13 Your troops will be as weak
and helpless as women.
The gates of your land will be opened wide to the enemy
and set on fire and burned.
14 Get ready for the siege!
Store up water!
Strengthen the defenses!
Go into the pits to trample clay,
and pack it into molds,
making bricks to repair the walls.
15 But the fire will devour you;
the sword will cut you down.
The enemy will consume you like locusts,
devouring everything they see.
There will be no escape,
even if you multiply like swarming locusts.
16 Your merchants have multiplied
until they outnumber the stars.
But like a swarm of locusts,
they strip the land and fly away.
17 Your guards and officials are also like swarming locusts
that crowd together in the hedges on a cold day.
But like locusts that fly away when the sun comes up,
all of them will fly away and disappear.
18 Your shepherds are asleep, O Assyrian king;Nahum 3 NLT
your princes lie dead in the dust.
Your people are scattered across the mountains
with no one to gather them together.
19 There is no healing for your wound;
your injury is fatal.
All who hear of your destruction
will clap their hands for joy.
Where can anyone be found
who has not suffered from your continual cruelty?
“I am against you”
Imagine hearing God say that to you!
You notice that Assyria no longer exists. They were wiped out by the Babylonians, the next superpower nation. We’ll get to that story tomorrow.
In 722 BC, God used the Assyrians to invade Israel and then scattered the Israelites all over the area. Later, in 664 BC, the Assyrians sacked Thebes in Egypt. In 612 BC, the Babylonians sacked them.
Why? Nineveh was the center of pagan worship. It housed the temple of Ishtar, the “Queen of Heaven”. Gee, who now supposedly holds that title? Mary. I have news for you. Mary is NOT the Queen of Heaven! There is no Queen of Heaven!
God is a jealous God. He told us that in Exodus 20, in the first of the 10 Commandments. He wants our complete and undivided devotion. He hates it when people pray to Mary and the saints – dead people. That’s the same as the idolatry of the ancient pagans.
God loves us and expects us to be loyal to HIM ONLY. God feels, cares, and hurts. Yet, he reserves His wrath for His enemies.
Jesus told us…
30 “Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.Matthew 12:30 NLT
Are you working with or against God?
I’m going to defer to Pastor Sandy Adams and this analogy…
I have a contrast for you tonight. Here, God is speaking to those in Nineveh… but what does He say to those who are in Christ? Romans 8:31 asks the question, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
On your own, attached to this lost world, God is against you… He opposes your plans. He sabotages your schemes. He brings you to the end of your rope. He hopes to wake you up to your need for His Son. But once you embrace Jesus His strategy changes. He is for you! He intends for your life to reflect His glory.
The state of California is a place of geographical extremes. Death Valley is the lowest point in the US at 282 feet below sea level. But just 135 miles up the interstate is enormous Mt. Whitney, 14,494 feet above sea level, the highest point in the continental US. It’s interesting, all that separates the highest point on the continent and the lowest point is a two hour drive. It’s latitude not altitude that makes the difference.
And this is true in life. Latitude not altitude is what’s needed to leave behind a life of sin, and begin a relationship with God. You can go from washed out and ragged out – to a citizen of heaven – in a single prayer!
From the depths of bitterness, and guilt, and unhappiness, to the pinnacle of joy and blessing is a lateral move. It doesn’t happen by moving up morally, but by moving out spiritually. It’s not a climb. It’s a shift. I put my trust in Jesus. I lock on to Him. And in a moment I am moved by faith from in Nineveh to in Christ.Sandy Adams
Are you “in Christ”? Or “Nineveh” (aka, the world)?
If you’re solidly in Christ, you have nothing to worry about! When you die, instantly, your soul will be with Jesus in Heaven. If the Rapture comes first, and it could happen at any moment, then you’ll be in Heaven with all the rest of His born-again believers. We will be spared the coming judgment, wrath and the Great Tribulation.
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, which can happen at any moment, this is what you have to do…
Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.
- Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever and that He rose from the dead 3 days later.
- Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180 degree turn in your life and surrender your life to Him.
- Be Baptized by water baptism — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
- Receive the Holy Spirit in your heart.
An Overview of Nahum
Amir Tsarfati: The Decline of An Empire
Soli Deo Gloria – To God Alone be the Glory!