This week we began our second of three series out of the Minor Prophets, better known as the Book of the Twelve. After considering God’s grace in the book of Jonah, we began to consider the complementary aspect of his holy justice from the book of Nahum. In two more weeks, we’ll finish our study of the Minor Prophets by looking at Haggai.
As for Nahum, it serves as Part 2 inf God’s message to the city of Nineveh. Whereas the book of Jonah is Part 1, a message of God’s grace inviting repentance; Nahum returns to that city to show the wrath of God when a people return to their evil ways. In this message, we looked both at how to read Nahum in the context of the Twelve and how Nahum’s record of God’s judgment on Nineveh serves as a word of comfort to people who seek refuge in the Lord.
You can listen to this sermon online. Discussion questions are below, as well as further resources for additional study.
1 An oracle concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum of Elkosh. 2 The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and wrathful; the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies. 3 The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. 4 He rebukes the sea and makes it dry; he dries up all the rivers; Bashan and Carmel wither; the bloom of Lebanon withers. 5 The mountains quake before him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it. 6 Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him. 7 The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. 8 But with an overflowing flood he will make a complete end of the adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into darkness.
- Have you read Nahum 1–3? If so, what are some of the most challenging (or encouraging) aspects of this book? If not, why not? What makes this book (so) difficult to get into?
- When we come to books like Nahum, what should be our reading strategy? That is, what should we be looking for as we read? Hint: (1) the context of the Minor Prophets, (2) the background of God’s covenant with Israel (e..g, Exodus 34:6–7), (3) the fact that God is not like us (cf. Psalm 50:21; Romans 12:1–2).
- What difference does the title of this book (or better, the author’s name) make? Remember, his name means “comfort.” How might this inform our reading?
- What is the historical context of this book? What is the relationship with Jonah? Read 2 Kings 17. What do we learn about Assyria? See also Isaiah 10 and 14:26.
- How does Exodus 34:6–7 help us understand Nahum and the rest of the Minor Prophets? See also Joel 2:12–14; Jonah 4:2; Micah 7:18–20.
- What do we learn about God from Nahum 1:2–8? Why might Nahum begin with a vision of God as he brings a message of judgment to Nineveh?
- What do we learn about God in these verses? How does Nahum 1 contribute to (or correct) our understanding of who God is?
- In what ways does it adjust and/or improve your vision of God? What happens if we talk about grace, mercy, and love without the realities of sin, death, hell, and judgment? See 1 John 3:16; 1 John 4:7–11—these verses define love by way of propitiation.
- What else did you learn from Nahum 1—about the book? about God? about yourself?
- Pray for God to give you a greater vision and love for his holiness and justice. See Revelations 19:1–3.
- Reading the Minor Prophets Together: Ten Observations from Paul House’s ‘The Unity of the Twelve’
- Reading the Bible Better: Finding Unity in the Book of the Twelve
- Where Grace and Justice Meet: A Canonical Reading of Exodus 34:6–7
- The Good News of God’s Vengeance: Nahum’s History and Literary Style
For Bible students and teachers, these four resources would help your study of the Minor Prophets.
- The Faith of Israel by William Dumbrell
- The Christ of the Prophets by O. Palmer Robertson
- The Message of the Twelve: Hearing the Voice of the Minor Prophets by Richard Alan Fuhr and Gary E. Yates
- The Unity of the Twelve by Paul House
Soli Deo Gloria, ds