Napsal(a) Rev. Ian Arnold and Joe David
What's the Book of Nahum about?
We can never really satisfactorily find our way into a book of the Bible, especially a book of the Old Testament, unless we take on board that it's a mirror to us of the inner challenges and experiences we face. Its message, for us, is not about the world outside of us, but about the world inside of us. Beneath the surface, these Bible books focus on this inner world of our thoughts and feelings, burdens and challenges, successes and failures, achievements and disappointments, as we make our journey towards being a more spiritual person.
Most people readily see this "inner meaning" when it comes to the story of Moses leading the ancient people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt to, eventually, the Promised Land. It's movement forward, and movement backward, a longing for what we dream was the past, and more. It speaks to us all.
All of ancient Israel’s enemies symbolize things that attack, plunder, weaken, marginalise and imprison what is from the Lord in our lives. We try to stand up for what's right and decent in a given situation, but in no time, a voice is whispering to us ‘Why bother?’, ‘Who cares?’
Some of those enemies of ancient Israel were fearsome, like the Assyrians and the Babylonians. They were ruthless, rich, powerful and had massive armies.
So think for a moment: what might be amongst the most intimidating ‘enemies’ of our spiritual well-being? What are those things likely to do the most damage?
Babylon has long been recognized as a symbol of power and self-aggrandizement. But what about the Assyrians, who are the antagonists here in the Book of Nahum?
The Assyrians were menacing the ancient Israelites for more than a century, first sweeping away the northern kingdom of Israel in 721 BC, and then hanging around in the area for decades afterwards, a considerable threat to the remaining, southern, kingdom of Judea. How feared and despised they were is so evident in this prophecy of Nahum.
So, in us, what might the Assyrians symbolize? Outside the fortified and walled city of Jerusalem, on one famous occasion they showed themselves to be adept talkers and persuaders. (See the story, in 2 Kings 18).
Hold to this for a moment – “talkers and persuaders”. The thing is that there are those forces and influences that become active within us, trying to talk and persuade us that, for example, sin is fine if it remains undiscovered, or that the Ten Commandments don’t have a place in this day and age, or that 'my lapses are nothing by comparison with what goes on in the world generally'.
If we can see this for what it is, it is pretty fearsome stuff, capable of inflicting great damage to us spiritually.
So, read the Book of Nahum - just 3 chapters of prophecy - with this in mind. It is not people, or tribes, that the Lord pits Himself against - but those very things which hold the potential to devastate us spiritually.
In Chapter 1, “Nineveh” represents a state of life in which we're bringing bad things on ourselves because we aren't basing our lives on spiritual truths from the Lord's Word.
In Nahum 1:2-6, it's saying that Jehovah appears as an enemy to people who are wanting to stay in evil ways. In the spiritual world, all pretences of innocence or any good thing are stripped away, and our true selfish motives are seen.
In Nahum 1:7, there's a hopeful note; people who turn to the Lord and walk with Him are helped.
But, next there's a warning... in Nahum 1:8-11, that people who stick with their false ideas and evils will perish. It's worth noting that, in New Christian thought, there's the concept that God doesn't condemn us; we end up living in a society that fits our own values. If we're essentially selfish, we'll find a spiritual home in a society of essentially selfish people, and... it's probably pretty grim. It's a form of "perishing".
In Nahum 1:12-14, it's talking about people who are in evil because they don't know any better -- it's evil from ignorance. They can be helped if they listen and repent, and allow their false ideas to be removed (as was described in Jonah 3. That's what is meant by this: “…for I will break his, (Belial’s) brace from off thee and pull apart thy bonds.”
Finally, in Nahum 1:15, there's the beginning of a new theme, which leads into Nahum 2.