Friday, December 22: Nahum Longs for Deliverance

Nahum 1:12-15

This is what the LORD says:

“Although they have allies and are numerous,
    they will be destroyed and pass away.
Although I have afflicted you, Judah,
    I will afflict you no more.
 Now I will break their yoke from your neck
    and tear your shackles away.”

The LORD has given a command concerning you, Nineveh:
    “You will have no descendants to bear your name.
I will destroy the images and idols
    that are in the temple of your gods.
I will prepare your grave,
    for you are vile.”

Look, there on the mountains,
    the feet of one who brings good news,
    who proclaims peace!
Celebrate your festivals, Judah,
    and fulfill your vows.
No more will the wicked invade you;
    they will be completely destroyed.

Isaiah 52:7

How beautiful on the mountains
    are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
    who bring good tidings,
    who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
    “Your God reigns!”

Nahum (with Obadiah, surely the least read books of the Bible) prophesied during a time when Assyria was at or near the height of its power.  Assyria had already taken the northern kingdom of Israel into exile and was threatening to do the same to the southern kingdom of Judah.  The book of Nahum is almost entirely directed at Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria, proclaiming God’s coming judgment against it.  But in the middle of the prophesy God suddenly turned and addressed Judah.

First God told the suffering people of Judah that he would rescue them from the Assyrians.  He would break their power and they would not invade Judah.  Never again would they threaten his people.  Furthermore, he said he would destroy Assyria to such an extent that they would have no descendants.  This excessively brutal nation was so devastated that it was not until the 1840’s that archaeologists discovered the remains of Nineveh.

And then God told Judah, in words very reminiscent of Isaiah’s prophecy, to look for the messenger bringing good news of peace, and to keep the feasts and fulfill their vows.  The feasts would have reminded them of God’s past deliverances and of the promise of the Messiah.  But deliverance would be temporary because Babylon would later take Judah into captivity.  However, a greater and more lasting deliverance would come.

This greater deliverance would not be simply a temporal deliverance from an oppressor, but an eternal deliverance from the greatest oppressor of all, Satan.  As God promised Adam and Eve, Jesus would crush the head of the serpent; he would conquer sin, death, and hell.  “Just as Isaiah saw the prophesied release of the people of God from their Babylonian captivity to be a token of that final and perfect release from sin and its bondage through Christ, so does Nahum see the fall of Assyria’s capital as a promise of the ultimate defeat of all wickedness by the triumph of Christ” (James Boice).  God’s rescue of Judah from Assyria was only a small foretaste of the greater rescue the Messiah would bring by his sacrifice on behalf of his people.

What a gracious, loving God!  What a complete and perfect Savior!  As you celebrate the birth of this Savior may you do so in complete faith in him, with joy and adoration.  The deliverer has indeed come!

Saints, before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear;
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In His temple shall appear.

Come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn king.

(James Montgomery)

© 2023 Stephen A. Hoogerhyde.