1255.) Nahum 3

February 21, 2014
Nineveh was the last capital of the Assyrian Empire. It was located on the east side of the Tigris River directly opposite the modern city of Mosul in northern Iraq. The site has been extensively excavated and boasts a long and rich history.

Nineveh was the last capital of the Assyrian Empire. It was located on the east side of the Tigris River directly opposite the modern city of Mosul in northern Iraq. The site has been extensively excavated and boasts a long and rich history.

Nahum 3   (NIV)

Woe to Nineveh

Woe to the city of blood,
    full of lies,
full of plunder,
    never without victims!
The crack of whips,
    the clatter of wheels,
galloping horses
    and jolting chariots!
Charging cavalry,
    flashing swords
    and glittering spears!
Many casualties,
    piles of dead,
bodies without number,
    people stumbling over the corpses—

The Assyrian king Shalmaneser III boasted of having erected a pyramid of chopped-off heads in front of an enemy’s city.  Other Assyrian kings stacked corpses like cordwood by the gates of defeated cities.   (The Archaeological Study Bible)

all because of the wanton lust of a prostitute,
    alluring, the mistress of sorceries,
who enslaved nations by her prostitution
    and peoples by her witchcraft.

“I am against you,” declares the Lord Almighty.
    “I will lift your skirts over your face.
I will show the nations your nakedness
    and the kingdoms your shame.
I will pelt you with filth,
    I will treat you with contempt
    and make you a spectacle.
All who see you will flee from you and say,
    ‘Nineveh is in ruins—who will mourn for her?’
    Where can I find anyone to comfort you?”

Are you better than Thebes,
    situated on the Nile,
    with water around her?
The river was her defense,
    the waters her wall.

In the ancient city of Thebes, the sprawling Temple of Karnak covers more than 200 acres

In the ancient city of Thebes, the sprawling Temple of Karnak covers more than 200 acres.

Thebes (Upper Egypt) was another wealthy, mighty city that was destroyed completely. The Assyrians in Nineveh knew this well, because it was their armies that destroyed Thebes in 663 B.C. Nahum says, “Remember what you did to Thebes? The same is coming on you.”

–David Guzik

Cush and Egypt were her boundless strength;
    Put and Libya were among her allies.
10 Yet she was taken captive
    and went into exile.
Her infants were dashed to pieces
    at every street corner.
Lots were cast for her nobles,
    and all her great men were put in chains.
11 You too will become drunk;
    you will go into hiding
    and seek refuge from the enemy.

12 All your fortresses are like fig trees
    with their first ripe fruit;
when they are shaken,
    the figs fall into the mouth of the eater.

Nah3 ripe fig
13 Look at your troops—
    they are all weaklings.
The gates of your land
    are wide open to your enemies;
    fire has consumed the bars of your gates.

History and archaeology confirm that Nineveh was burned.  Assyria’s king (see verse 18) died in the flames of his own palace.   (The Archaeology Study Bible)

14 Draw water for the siege,
    strengthen your defenses!
Work the clay,
    tread the mortar,
    repair the brickwork!
15 There the fire will consume you;
    the sword will cut you down—
    they will devour you like a swarm of locusts.
Multiply like grasshoppers,
    multiply like locusts!
16 You have increased the number of your merchants
    till they are more numerous than the stars in the sky,
but like locusts they strip the land
    and then fly away.
17 Your guards are like locusts,
    your officials like swarms of locusts
    that settle in the walls on a cold day—
but when the sun appears they fly away,
    and no one knows where.

18 King of Assyria, your shepherds slumber;
    your nobles lie down to rest.
Your people are scattered on the mountains
    with no one to gather them.
19 Nothing can heal you;
    your wound is fatal.
All who hear the news about you
    clap their hands at your fall,
for who has not felt
    your endless cruelty?

Bass Relief of Royal Lion Hunt from Nineveh Palace

Bas-Relief of a Royal Lion Hunt from Nineveh Palace

Ninevah’s destruction in 612 B.C. was so complete that the decimated city was never rebuilt.  In the days of the Greek historian Herodotus, 400 B.C., Nineveh had become a thing of the past.  It was covered with windblown sand, leaving no trace except a mound that was known as Tell Kuyunjik, “the mound of many sheep.”  (The Archaeological Study Bible)

For centuries no one knew where ancient Nineveh lay buried.  Its remains were finally uncovered by archaeologists in 1845.  Excavations began on the site and over the next century and a half, wonderful things have been uncovered:  a vast arrangement of royal palaces, hundreds of sculptures and bas-reliefs, thousands of cuneiform tablets.  But the recent war in Iraq has not been kind to Nineveh.  In an October 2010 report titled Saving Our Vanishing Heritage, the Global Heritage Fund named Nineveh one of 12 sites most “on the verge” of irreparable destruction and loss, citing insufficient management, development pressures, and looting as primary causes.



HERE  is “The King Shall Come,” a hymn which is often sung in Advent.  But as I thought about the end of Nineveh, I started also thinking about the end of the world as we know it.  When Christ returns, we as believers will not face the enemy with accompanying destruction, as the Ninevites did.  Instead, we will see his face — light, glory, love divine.  No fear.

The King shall come when morning dawns,
And light triumphant breaks;
When beauty gilds the eastern hills,
And life to joy awakes.

Not as of old a little child
To bear, and fight, and die,
But crowned with glory like the sun
That lights the morning sky.

O brighter than the rising morn
When He, victorious, rose,
And left the lonesome place of death,
Despite the rage of foes.

O brighter than that glorious morn
Shall this fair morning be,
When Christ, our King, in beauty comes,
And we His face shall see.

The King shall come when morning dawns,
And earth’s dark night is past;
O haste the rising of that morn,
The day that aye shall last.

And let the endless bliss begin,
By weary saints foretold,
When right shall triumph over wrong,
And truth shall be extolled.

The King shall come when morning dawns,
And light and beauty brings:
Hail, Christ the Lord! Thy people pray,
Come quickly, King of kings.


New International Version (NIV)   Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Images courtesy of:
Nineveh.    http://s3.amazonaws.com/rapgenius/nineveh.jpg
Karnak Temple of ancient Thebes.    http://www.destination360.com/africa/egypt/karnak-temple
ripe fig.    http://foodblogandthedog.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/sm-fig.jpg
bas relief.    http://s1.hubimg.com/u/4960730_f520.jpg

1254.) Nahum 2

February 20, 2014
the fall of Nineveh

the fall of Nineveh

Nahum 2   (NIV)

Nineveh to Fall

“This chapter is a masterpiece of ancient literature, unsurpassed for its graphic portrayal of a military assault.”

–James Montgomery Boice

An attacker advances against you, Nineveh.
    Guard the fortress,
    watch the road,
    brace yourselves,
    marshal all your strength!

The Lord will restore the splendor of Jacob
    like the splendor of Israel,
though destroyers have laid them waste
    and have ruined their vines.

The shields of the soldiers are red;
    the warriors are clad in scarlet.
The metal on the chariots flashes
    on the day they are made ready;
    the spears of juniper are brandished.
The chariots storm through the streets,
    rushing back and forth through the squares.
They look like flaming torches;
    they dart about like lightning.

Nineveh summons her picked troops,
    yet they stumble on their way.
They dash to the city wall;
    the protective shield is put in place.

Ninevah’s wall, which was almost 8 miles long with 15 gates, was surrounded by a moat 150 feet wide.  The moat had to be filled before attackers could reach the city wall.  The “protective shield” refers to a large defensive shelter covered with hides to deflect stones and arrows.  (The Archaeological Study Bible)

The river gates are thrown open
    and the palace collapses.
It is decreed that Nineveh
    be exiled and carried away.
Her female slaves moan like doves
    and beat on their breasts.
Nineveh is like a pool
    whose water is draining away.
“Stop! Stop!” they cry,
    but no one turns back.
Plunder the silver!
    Plunder the gold!
The supply is endless,
    the wealth from all its treasures!

Nah2 galleon

If you love ships and the sea, this poem (with a reference to the wealth of Nineveh) will delight you.


–British poet John Masefield (1878-1967)

Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amythysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

10 She is pillaged, plundered, stripped!
    Hearts melt, knees give way,
    bodies tremble, every face grows pale.

11 Where now is the lions’ den,
    the place where they fed their young,
where the lion and lioness went,
    and the cubs, with nothing to fear?

Nah2 lion

The lion is an appropriate image for Assyria, which was known for its viciousness.  Ninevah itself contained numerous lion sculptures.  (The Archaeology Study Bible)

12 The lion killed enough for his cubs
    and strangled the prey for his mate,
filling his lairs with the kill
    and his dens with the prey.

13 “I am against you,”
    declares the Lord Almighty.
“I will burn up your chariots in smoke,
    and the sword will devour your young lions.
    I will leave you no prey on the earth.
The voices of your messengers
    will no longer be heard.”

“I am against you” — what frightening words from God!  They are the opposite of the good news of salvation, “I will be with you.”

Isaiah 43:2-3  (ESV)

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.



Though there is danger and dismay all around, the Jews hear God’s promise that He is their rescuer and restorer, and that this time will serve a good purpose towards their future.  Are you in the middle of a disaster or a storm now?  God’s care is holding you even now, and you can trust Him to bring you to the other side of it.  God says to you:  I will be with you.

HERE  is Ginny Owens and “If you want me to.”


New International Version (NIV)   Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Images courtesy of:
the fall of Nineveh.    http://members.tripod.com/joseph_berrigan/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/battleninevehc.gif
Spanish galleon.    http://www.treasurelore.com/florida/galleon2.jpg
Assyrian lion (found in Nimrud).   http://www.ancientreplicas.com/assyrian-lion-2-o.jpg

1253.) Nahum 1

February 19, 2014

Nah1 v7

Nahum 1   (NIV)

A prophecy concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.

“The descriptions given by Nahum are exceedingly fine and vivid, and the book is deservedly classed among the finest productions of Old Testament literature.”

–C. H. H. Wright

Nahum had a message of consolation to Judah since he foretold the doom of the Assyrians and the restoration of God’s people.  His prophecy supplements the book of Jonah.  In Jonah we see Ninevah’s repentance, but in Nahum the Ninevites have returned to their old ways and have incurred God’s wrath.  This little book is also a classic rebuke of militarism.  The Assyrians were ruthless with their enemies.  Their inscriptions of military victories gloated over hanging the skins of their conquered enemies on the tents and walls.

–William MacDonald

The Lord’s Anger Against Nineveh

The Lord is a jealous and avenging God;
    the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath.
The Lord takes vengeance on his foes
    and vents his wrath against his enemies.
The Lord is slow to anger but great in power;
    the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.
His way is in the whirlwind and the storm,
    and clouds are the dust of his feet.
He rebukes the sea and dries it up;
    he makes all the rivers run dry.
Bashan and Carmel wither
    and the blossoms of Lebanon fade.
The mountains quake before him
    and the hills melt away.
The earth trembles at his presence,
    the world and all who live in it.
Who can withstand his indignation?
    Who can endure his fierce anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire;
    the rocks are shattered before him.

Nah1 v6

It was common practice for peoples in the ancient world to identify their deities with observable, awe-inspiring natural phenomena.

The Lord is good,
    a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him,
    but with an overwhelming flood
he will make an end of Nineveh;
    he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness.

Nah1 Assyria map

After describing the character of God, the prophet addresses the Assyrians and tells them that God will destroy them. 

Whatever they plot against the Lord
    he will bring to an end;
    trouble will not come a second time.
10 They will be entangled among thorns
    and drunk from their wine;
    they will be consumed like dry stubble.
11 From you, Nineveh, has one come forth
    who plots evil against the Lord
    and devises wicked plans.

12 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.

Nah1 crocus_flowers_in_the_snow

Just as the weights of a grandfather clock, or the stabilizers in a ship, are necessary for them to work properly, so are troubles to the soul.  The sweetest perfumes are obtained only through tremendous pressure, the fairest flowers grow on the most isolated and snowy peaks, the most beautiful gems are those that have suffered the longest at the jeweler’s wheel, and the most magnificent statues have endured the most blows from the chisel.  All of these, however, are subject to God’s law.  Nothing happens that has not been appointed with consummate care and foresight.

–Streams in the Desert

13 Now I will break their yoke from your neck
    and tear your shackles away.”

14 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.”

15 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.

This verse describes the messenger who brings the good tidings of Assyria’s destruction and the resulting peace in Judah.  Paul quotes similar words in Romans 10:15, but there they are used in a gospel context.

–William MacDonald



God is our refuge, Joel says in verse 7, our safe place, our shelter in the time of storm.  HERE  is GLAD (a progressive Christian rock band. They got together on the campus of West Chester State University, near Philadelphia, in the early l970’s. Early on the predilection toward complex vocals with classical and jazz overtones began to distinguish the band) singing a stunning arrangement of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”


New International Version (NIV)   Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Images courtesy of:
Nahum 1:7.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-24_pM-fb-CI/UeGW7NBxgMI/AAAAAAAAA3o/bHg2LEh5NX4/s1600/Nahum%2B1.7.jpg
Nahum 1:6.    http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/e9/0b/88/e90b88340f34b470c7bee3bb0845766d.jpg
map.    http://www.keyway.ca/gif/assyria.gif
crocus flowers in the snow.    http://www.admiralcharitycards.org/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/9/0/9067l_crocus_flowers_in_the_snow.jpg