Nahum 1:1-4 – Comfort and 3-strike Condemnation

The prophecy of the Lord, that prophet Nahum brought, against Nineveh speaks of a wicked counsellor who was vile, whose yoke and bonds on the people of Judah, the Lord will break (Nahum 1:11-14). To the people of Judah, God sends a message of comfort that though the Assyrians were many, they shall be cut down and while he had allowed them to reprimand his people, he will afflict them no more (Nahum 1:12). The identity of this vile and wicked counsellor is not mentioned by name in the book of Nahum, but cross referencing other parts of the Scripture, unveils that the reference to the wicked counsellor and vile one is to Sennacherib, the king of Assyria who sent his aide Rabshakeh to rail and blaspheme God. The wicked counsel (2 Kings 18:20) that Sennacherib sent by word of Rabshakeh was that the people of God (Judah) should not heed to the voice of their king Hezekiah anymore for Hezekiah believed that God would deliver them. He also blasphemed God by asking the people to not trust in God to live, but instead surrender to him so that they may live (2 Kings 18:29-32). Hezekiah prayed to the Lord against such blasphemy and God’s prophet Isaiah assures Hezekiah that God will not forsake his people, but will fight for them and that Sennacherib will fall by the sword in his own land (2 Kings 19:7).

On one hand, God’s prophecy of comfort is promised to his people, but on the other hand, a personal prophecy of three strike condemnation is given against Sennacherib, the wicked and vile one, who reproached and blasphemed God.
First Strike – God says that there shall be no more of any new seed (children) of Sennacherib, meaning his name (lineage) shall continue no more (no longer be sown) (Nahum 1:14).
Second Strike – God says that the house of the vile one’s gods (deities) shall be cut (Nahum 1:14).
Third Strike – God says that he himself will make the grave of the vile one, meaning that God will orchestrate the events that will lead to the death of the vile one (Nahum 1:14). Interestingly vile is an anagram of evil.

Points to ponder:
The 3-strike condemnation is assured to the vile one. The destiny of the vile one would cease. The deities of the vile one would be cut. The death of the vile one would be caused.
But the promise of God’s comfort is given to those who are his people. Are you God’s?

Nahum 1:11-14 (KJV)
11 There is one come out of thee, that imagineth evil against the Lord, a wicked counsellor.
12 Thus saith the Lord; Though they be quiet, and likewise many, yet thus shall they be cut down, when he shall pass through. Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more.
13 For now will I break his yoke from off thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder.
14 And the Lord hath given a commandment concerning thee, that no more of thy name be sown: out of the house of thy gods will I cut off the graven image and the molten image: I will make thy grave; for thou art vile.

Nahum (Overview)

Who was Nahum?
The Biblical book of Nahum was recorded by the prophet Nahum, whom the book refers to as an Elkoshite (1:1).

Where was Nahum from?
No one is certain as to the whereabouts of Elkosh. One theory suggests that this city, where Nahum was from, during the times of Jesus, came to be known as Capernaum, alongside the sea of Galilee for Capernaum means the village of Nahum.

When was the book of Nahum written?
It is a hypothesis that the book of Nahum was written sometime between 663 B.C. and 612 B.C. for Nahum refers to the fall of No Amon (or Thebes) in ancient Egypt (3:8) which happened in 663 B.C. while at the same time predicted the fall of Nineveh (Capital city of Assyria), which happened in 612 B.C., when the Babylonians overthrew Assyria.

Why was the book of Nahum written?
In 722 B.C., the Assyrians had taken the Northern kingdom of Israel captive and were pursuing to take over the land of Judah during the reign of king Hezekiah (701 B.C.). Once when the Assyrians had attempted to take Judah captive, God intervened miraculously and 185 thousand Assyrians in their camp were defeated by the angel of the Lord (Isaiah 37:36) and the evil king of Assyria, Sennacherib, returned to Nineveh. Now Assyria continued to pursue and oppress Judah. Not only did they afflict Judah, the Assyrians afflicted several other nations  and countries, as the book ends with the question as to “over whom has not the wickedness of the Assyrians passed over continually?” (3:19; Isaiah 37:18).

One one hand, while the book of Nahum may seem like it was written as a warning to the evil Assyrian kingdom, this book is more of a message of comfort of the Lord to the people of Judah. Jonah, the prophet had already brought the message of warning to the people of Nineveh, which they heeded and repented, a little over a century before Nahum. But the people of Assyria had returned to their violent, idolatrous, and evil ways and were oppressors of the people of God, when Nahum sees the vision of their utter destruction, a message that would bring comfort and solace to those who were being oppressed (such as Judah).  Nahum means “comfort (of Yahweh)” or “compassion” and the main theme in this book is that God is compassionate (slow to anger – 1:3) who will not afflict his people anymore for their own sins (1:12) by subjecting them longer under the hands of the oppressors (Assyria), but God will be the comfort of his people, as he takes revenge on those who have oppressed them (1:2).

What can we learn from it?
Chapter 1 portrays a JEALOUS God, while
chapter 2 and 3 portrays a JUDGING and JUST God.

There are a few key verses in this book and two of note are “Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.” (Nahum 1:15) and “For now will I break his yoke from off thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder.” (Nahum 1:13).

The first (Nahum 1:15) is a messianic prophecy that was fulfilled in Jesus, who brought good news to the earth, for the angels sang at his birth, “Peace on earth and goodwill to all men.” (Luke 2:14) and his feet walked the way to calvary’s mountain, who by his death on the Cross published a peace (Luke 1:17) that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7), completely destroying the wicked one (the devil) and utterly cutting him off i.e., destroying the devil and his works (1 John 3;8). Jesus brings freedom to all those who are spiritually in bondage in sin, by breaking the yoke from them and bursting their bonds in sunder. The Holy Spirit of Jesus is the comfort of God who is now sent unto us, when we believe in Jesus (John 14;16).

Points to ponder:
Do you have peace, that only Jesus can bring? Are you in comfort i.e., do you have the Comforter in you? Trust in the Lord and believe in Jesus Christ so that you may be comforted by his Holy Spirit and have the peace that passeth all understanding.

Nahum 1:13, 15 (KJV)
13 For now will I break his yoke from off thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder.

15 Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.