Lessons From the Scriptures: Nahum 1:1–3:19
Salvation Possible When God Takes Vengeance
“JUST a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more.” (Psalm 37:10) That these words will be fulfilled is forcefully shown in the Bible books penned by Nahum and Habakkuk. These courageous men completed the recording of their prophecies in the kingdom of Judah during the latter part of the seventh century B.C.E.
First, consider God’s prophecy declared by Nahum. What lessons does it contain?
God’s Vengeance Sure
Jehovah requires exclusive devotion. (Exodus 20:5) In a pronouncement against Assyria’s capital, Nineveh, Nahum shows that God’s vengeance will be executed upon foes who do not give Him such devotion. Why, before him mountains rock, hills melt, and the earth is upheaved! Who can withstand the heat of his anger?—1:1-6.
We can rely on Jehovah as a refuge. Yes, God safeguards those seeking refuge in him. With his enemies exterminated, distress will not rise up a second time. There is good news of peace for Judah, for true worship will be unhindered.—1:7–2:2.
Unrighteous persons will not succeed. This is evident from what happened to Nineveh. Her cruel treatment of captives made her “the city of bloodshed.” Like a lair of lions, this heavily fortified city seemed secure behind its thick walls. But by God’s decree, Nineveh would suffer the same fate she had meted out to ancient No-amon, or Thebes, on the Nile River. For her sins, Assyria’s capital would be laid waste. This prophecy was fulfilled when the combined forces of Babylonian king Nabopolassar and Cyaxares the Mede captured Nineveh in 632 B.C.E.—2:3–3:19.
Lessons From the Scriptures: Habakkuk 1:1—3:19
HABAKKUK learned that Jehovah would in His own due time take action against cruel oppressors. But ‘by his faithfulness the righteous one would keep living.’ (2:4) Yet, what further lessons can we learn from this prophecy?
Salvation for Those Having Faith
Jehovah listens to the pleas of his servants. Habakkuk asks: “How long, O Jehovah, must I cry for help, and you do not hear?” Yes, there is no justice, and the wicked surround the righteous. But God does hear, and as his punishing agency, he is “raising up the Chaldeans.” Yet, how can he use a warlike power? The prophet awaits God’s answer, anticipating a reproof.—1:1–2:1.
Only the righteous and faithful will keep living. Jehovah assures Habakkuk of this. Though there may seem to be a delay, at God’s appointed time the prophetic vision “will without fail come true.” The self-assuming foe that is plundering nations will not reach his goal. Indeed, the Chaldeans will not go unpunished.—2:2-5.
Woe to Wicked Ones!
Avoid unrighteous gain, violence, and idolatry. Why? Because woe is certain for the one multiplying what is not his own, making evil gain, building a city by bloodshed, violently causing others to drink the cup of shameful defeat, and trusting in lifeless idols. God will bring the work of such ones to nothing. All the earth will be made to know the glory of Jehovah, before whom all should stand in reverential silence.—2:6-20.
Wait patiently on Jehovah for salvation. In prayer, Habakkuk recalls past manifestations of God’s power. Among other things, Jehovah marched through the earth, threshing the nations in anger. He also went forth for the salvation of his people. Overwhelmed, Habakkuk is determined to “quietly wait for the day of distress.” Regardless of the bad times that must be faced, he will exult in Jehovah and be joyful in the God of his salvation.—3:1-19.
[Box on page 24]
BIBLE TEXTS EXAMINED
○ Nahum 1:4—Bashan, Carmel, and Lebanon were regions of beauty, fertility, and fruitfulness. For them to wither would spell tragedy for those dependent on them. This emphasizes the severity of the outpouring of Jehovah’s wrath.
○ 1:10—Nineveh considered herself to be as impenetrable as interwoven thorns, and she was drunk with ambition. But she would be devoured as easily as fire eats dry stubble. Likewise, the enemies of God’s modern-day people will not withstand Jehovah’s fiery judgments.
○ 2:6—Because of heavy rains at the time of the assault upon Nineveh, the Tigris River overflowed. This inundated a portion of the city and broke down a section of the wall. Thus, it was easy for the conquerors to take the Assyrian capital.
○ 2:11-13—Like wild beasts, the Assyrians terrorized and preyed upon the nations. It also seems that the lion was a national emblem. Many statues of lions were found in Nineveh’s ruins.
○ 3:3, 4—Like a prostitute, Nineveh deceived nations with soothing offers of friendship and promises of help. But those thus ensnared soon experienced pain under her oppressive yoke, as shown in the case of Judean king Ahaz.—2 Chronicles 28:16, 20, 21.
[Box on page 25]
BIBLE TEXTS EXAMINED
○ Habakkuk 1:2-4—Habakkuk’s faith in Jehovah as a God who does not tolerate evil prompted him to ask why wickedness prevailed. He was willing to have his thinking adjusted. (2:1) When we wonder why certain things are tolerated, our confidence in Jehovah’s righteousness should likewise help us to keep our balance and to wait on him.—Psalm 42:5, 11.
○ 2:5—The Babylonians were a composite man who used his war machine to conquer nations. Like Sheol and death that are always ready for more victims, he desired further military conquests. (Compare Proverbs 30:15, 16.) As if influenced by heavy drinking, he became heady with victory. But his wars of conquest ended when Babylon fell in 539 B.C.E.
○ 3:13—God’s saving power was often experienced by his chosen and anointed people, the nation of Israel. (Psalm 28:8, 9) In time, it produced the Messiah, the “seed” of God’s heavenly “woman.” (Genesis 3:15) Jehovah will also save the remaining members of that “seed,” the remnant of Jesus’ spirit-anointed disciples, from attack by Satan and the nations.—Revelation 12:17.
[Picture on page 24]
Painting by archaeologist A. H. Layard depicting an Assyrian palace
Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum, London