Here we find Nineveh arraigned and indicted, so to speak, before the judgment-bar of God. It is a high charge that is here drawn up against that great city, and neither her numbers nor her grandeur secured her from prosecution. The prophet speaks of her as being a city of blood – in which a great deal of innocent blood is shed by unrighteous war, or under color and pretense of public justice, or by the allowing of barbarous murders to go unpunished (verse 1). For this crime, the righteous God will make inquisition (Ps. 9:12). Nineveh is also described as a city that was all full of lies. Truth was banished from among her inhabitants; there was no such thing as honesty among her people. No one knew whom to believe or whom to trust. Within her walls, there was also found all manner of robbery and looting. These evil people shed blood and told lies, in pursuit of plunder and prey, so that they might enrich themselves. But this was not all. This great city was also filled with a multitude of gross immorality (verse 4). She defiled herself by her idolatries – which are, in reality, spiritual adulteries from God. And it was not enough for her to merely defile herself, for she also seduced the neighboring nations. Nineveh aimed at a universal monarchy, in which she was the metropolis of the world – with all her neighbors under her feet. To accomplish this goal, she not only used arms, but also accursed arts – compelling some and deluding others into subjection to her yoke by suggesting to them that it would be for their advantage. She courted them to join with her in her idolatrous ceremonies so that they would be tied even tighter to her interests. And she made use of her wealth, power, and greatness to draw people into alliances with her, by which she gained advantages over them. These were her witchcrafts, with which she unaccountably gained dominion. And for this, God had a quarrel with her; for He made all nations of men of one blood. He never intended one group of people to be a nation of tyrants, and another of slaves. He claims it as His own prerogative to be universal Monarch!
Upon this indictment, Nineveh was condemned to ruin. “Woe to this bloody city!” As Nineveh had used her immoralities and witchcrafts to draw others to shameful wickedness, God would now load her with shame, contempt, and ruin (verses 5-7). The Lord of hosts would stand up against her, and then she would be exposed to the highest degree of disgrace and humiliation.
Having been told that God was against her, and that none could be on her side; yet Nineveh set herself in defiance against the Lord and His power and justice, and assured herself that she would have peace. Therefore, beginning in verse 8, the prophet shows her how vain her confidences would prove to be. They would end up being insufficient to ward off the judgment of Jehovah. To convince them of this certain fact, he shows them that other places – which had once been quite as strong and as secure as they – had been unable to keep their ground against the judgments of God. Nineveh would fall unpitied and uncomforted, and she would not stand a chance against the Lord’s wrath (verse 11).
Moreover, the prophet showed that the hearts of the Ninevites themselves would sink and become discouraged. But did they not depend upon their garrisons and strongholds which they had, which were regularly fortified and bravely manned? Yes, they did; but those would prove to be no better than paper-walls. Even the strongest of strongholds are no fence against the judgments of God.
With all their confidences dashed to the ground, the Ninevites might have entertained the hope that at least they would be able to recover themselves one day and rally again. But in this also, the prophet warned them that they would be disappointed; for when the shepherds are smitten, the sheep are scattered (verse 18). When a kingdom falls apart, the people are dispersed and no man gathers them; nor will they ever come together by themselves, but will wander endlessly – as scattered sheep do. The case of the Ninevites would be very desperate; and instead of their neighbors lending a hand to help them, they would clap their hands over them and triumph in their fall. Why? Because in one way or another, the great city of Nineveh had been injurious to them all. Those who have been cruel and oppressive to their neighbors will find – sooner or later – that it shall come home to them.
As we conclude our study of this Book of Nahum, we remember that these words of doom and gloom against Nineveh were spoken not so much for the benefit of the Ninevites; but rather, they were pronounced primarily for the solace of the people of God. As they experienced the terrors of the great and mighty Assyrian world-power in their day, it would be a comfort to them to know that these haughty and cruel tyrants would not stand forever; for the Lord’s prophet had already predicted their downfall. And it is the same way in all ages. Throughout the centuries, the Church of Christ has continually had the forces of hell battling against her – manifested at different times and places, in different ways, and by different persons or methods. Sometimes it is the physically oppressive government regime of tyrannical dictators; while at other times, it is in subtler and quieter attacks of humanistic philosophy and “science falsely so called.” But it is the everlasting comfort of the Lamb’s Bride that these agents of the devil have already been defeated! The Lord Jesus broke their power and crushed their heads on the cross of Calvary; and now, in His strength, she is only contending with an already-conquered foe! Blessed be His name!
Lord, we thank You that even in the most trying persecutions, nothing shall interrupt the care of Jesus for us – Your redeemed sons and daughters! Amen.
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