When God decides to bring His judgment upon the earth, it will impact everything in nature. This will bring devastation to all life on the planet as well. This is what Nahum informed the Ninevites of. It also tells us. Naham 1:4-5 says, “He rebukes the sea and makes it dry; he dries up all the rivers; Bashan and Carmel wither; the bloom of Lebanon withers. The mountains quake before him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it.” Bashan is a mountainous area known for its fertile plateau with pastures and trees. Carmel is the lush mountainous hilltop where Yahweh defeats the prophets of Baal.  Lebanon is the mountainous range known for majestic cedars, the source of lumber for Solomon’s temple. Each of these localities appears as a metaphor for blessing that turns into judgment.”  Ham says, “The only other text where all three places appear is Isaiah 33:9, a text like Nahum 1:4 that depicts divine judgment. To inflict these lush and fertile areas with drought depicts the great power of Yahweh.”[1]

The rebuking of the seas might be a look back at how Yahweh led the children of Israel out of Egypt. But that’s not what is pictured here. The drying of the seas and rivers has to do with the judgment of God upon the life-giving waters on earth. That’s why the lush lands of Bashan, Carmel, and Lebanon are mentioned. The mountains quaking, the hills melting, and the earth heaving also speaks of God’s majestic judgment on the sins of the world. Nahum, as well as the other prophets, use this imagery to remind us of the power of God and His dominion over heaven and earth. His judgment will be inescapable, and the prophets want us to realize that.

The idea of God, Yahweh, rebuking the sea reminds me of Jesus’ similar control over the natural events on earth. Rebuking speaks of a literal phrase in the Gospels where Jesus “rebuked” the winds and the sea and caused it to be still. There is catastrophic judgment coming upon the whole earth. But believers have nothing to fear. Isaiah spelled this out in his prophecy of God reversing the curses on Bashan, Carmel, and Lebanon. Isaiah looks forward to the coming of the Lord when the curses on these lush lands will be reversed, and God’s people will be refreshed. Isaiah 35:1-2 says, “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;  it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God.” I can’t help but notice that the English translation says that it will be felt by all who dwell “in” the earth. I think this might have a connection to the Apostle John’s warning to the readers of his first epistle. In 1 John 2:17, he tells them not to “invest” themselves in the things of this world. “Do not love the world or the things of the world.” Because he says, “The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” The will of God is to believe in Him whom God sent. God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son that whoever would believe in him would not perish but have everlasting life.”

[1] Ham, Clay, and Mark Hahlen. 2001–. Minor Prophets. The College Press NIV Commentary. Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co.