Nahum foretells of Nineveh’s utter annihilation at the hands of the Babylonians, Medes, and Scythians, the proxies of an avenging God in 612 B.C. The city was the capital of Assyria, which historians tell us was “one of the cruelest, vilest, most powerful, and most idolatrous empires in the world.”
They were known–by their own boasting–to have racked up enemy heads to form pillars, made pyramids of dead bodies outside the city, slit necks like those of lambs, and flayed people alive to pin their skins to walls. Indeed, Nineveh was called the “City of Blood.”
Assyrian kings conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel, placing them under a heavy yoke of bondage (1:13), and invaded Judah, only to be miraculously thwarted in the end (2 Kings 19:32-36).
Nahum delivers his oracle between 663 and 654 B.C. some 50 years before what happened happened. The city was never rebuilt after its utter destruction by siege, flooding, fire, pillaging, and demolition, exactly as the prophet predicted.
I will prepare your grave,
For you are contemptible.
For never again will the wicked one pass through you;
He is cut off completely. (1:14,15)
We’re not capable of withstanding enemies like the Assyrians, who are ruthless, cruel, vile and vicious. They draw their power straight from the pit of hell. There is no such thing as righteous indignation with them, but there can be in us. But more importantly, God promises to fight our battles. He can contend for us against our most despicable, terrifying foes, in the end obliterating their yoke of bondage upon us.
Who can stand before His indignation?
Who can endure the burning of His anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire
And the rocks are broken up by Him.
“So now, I will break his yoke bar from upon you,
And I will tear off your shackles.” (1:6,13)
The Lord patiently reserves his wrath, releasing it ferociously at the right moment. He rains down all-consuming destruction with all the elements of his creation, the wind, the water, the mountains, all with fire and fury.
Since Nineveh remains in ruins, it is proof-positive of the power of God to deliver on his word. Here’s a detailed prophecy that was dramatically fulfilled, the account of which has been recorded and can be observed today. There remains more biblical prophecy yet unfulfilled. Why would we think he will not follow through on his word now? All should know that “it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:32
And now do not carry on as scoffers,
Or your fetters will be made stronger;
For I have heard from the Lord God of hosts
Of decisive destruction on all the earth.
Lest you think you can skirt by, “Whatever you devise against the Lord, He will make a complete end of it. Distress will not rise up twice.” 1:9