Nahum preaches God’s goodness to the nation of Assyria. He informs them that the one true God is loving and compassionate and ever-ready to forgive and welcome them home with loving arms. He doesn’t want any to perish. God’s judgment is an irresistible force against which there is no such thing as an unmovable object. Like the soldier in a foxhole, Nahum urges the sinners in Nineveh to see the imminent nature of God’s judgment and turn to God for forgiveness. It’s interesting to me to remember that with the preaching of Jonah, the nation did repent. But they did not repent after Nahum’s preaching and faced God’s judgment. When God doesn’t act immediately to bring judgment on sin, man has the tendency to think it won’t happen. They get their nerve back and think this judgment theme is just a bunch of religious jargon. Because God reversed His judgments on Pharaoh and stopped the plagues, Pharaoh hardened his heart. Those who harden their hearts against God will face the consequences. Nahum warned them, and us, in Nahum 1:8-9, But with an overflowing flood, he will make a complete end of the adversaries and will pursue his enemies into darkness. What do you plot against the Lord? He will make a complete end; trouble will not rise up a second time.” God brought the Persians against Assyria and utterly destroyed that nation. His destruction was so severe that there would be no need to repeat it. It was an overflowing flood that finally ended Pharaoh and his army. They all perished in the waters pursuing God’s people across the Red Sea.

Nahum confronts the Ninevites about their plans to conquer God’s people again. He asks them straight out, “What are your plans?” God knows what they are planning against His people, and He promises them that if they bring their army against His people, He will bring a complete end to them, and they will not rise again as they did between Jonah’s prophecy and Nahum’s prophecy. It will be over for Nineveh and the great Nation of Assyria. They will not have another chance. The old Bible commentator Horatio Bonar compared this prophecy of God’s judgment on Nineveh to a picture of God’s judgment on those today who reject Jesus. He writes, “It is not yet come, but it is coming. Judgment lingereth not, damnation slumbereth not. It will be a day of terror for the sinner when the pent-up wrath of God shall pour itself out, not in seven vials, or seventy times seven, but in an eternity of vials without number.”

But the famous Bible preacher of over 150 years ago does not leave his readers with a hopeless prophecy. He looks instead at the grace of God in offering redemption. He quotes from 2 Peter 3:9, “He is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Bonar says, “Such is his goodness now. He is rich in mercy. His patience is beyond all conception or measure. And in his longsuffering, there is salvation—salvation to the uttermost. He pities, yearns, pleads, beseeches, spares, prolongs the day of grace, presents pardon, salvation, land ife to the ungodliest, free. Yes, freely to the last! Let this long-suffering goodness draw us, melt us, awaken confidence, and win us to love.”[1]

[1] Bonar, Horatius. 1873. Light and Truth: Or, Bible Thoughts and Themes, Old Testament. London: J. Nisbet & Co.