Woe to Nineveh. “Woe to the bloody city, all full of lies and plunder— no end to the prey! …
And all for the countless whorings of the prostitute, graceful and of deadly charms,
who betrays nations with her whorings, and peoples with her charms.
Behold, I am against you, declares the Lord of hosts, and will lift up your skirts over your face;
and I will make nations look at your nakedness and kingdoms at your shame.
I will throw filth at you and treat you with contempt and make you a spectacle.
And all who look at you will shrink from you and say, ‘Wasted is Nineveh; who will grieve for her?’ Where shall I seek comforters for you?.” Nahum 3:1, 4-7 (ESV)
Imagine you come to work as a powerful Assyrian leader living in Nineveh, capital of one of the first great empires in history. As you sit down, a foreigner with bleached skin and seaweed in his hair, babbling about being spit out of a whale, staggers in and proclaims “God says REPENT!” What do you do? Instead of throwing this visibly disturbed man out, the leaders “and the people of Nineveh [120,000 persons] believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them” (Jonah 3:5). Jonah was upset because he had wanted God to destroy this known enemy of Israel. Jonah even warned God that the Assyrian’s repentance would be fleeting and they would be back to attack Israel.
Flash forward 140 years and what Jonah feared had come true! The northern tribes of Israel have been destroyed with its remnant in exile. Assyria had become a superpower and Judah was nothing in comparison. Though outwardly strong, in just a few generations Assyria had turned far away from God.
How does any culture fail? They rebel against the revealed word of God.
What was the result of Assyria’s rebellion against God? Their society had become very brutal. Just one (disturbing) example: to kill babies they would swing the heads against a wall. Our most treasured resource: babies, and that is just one example of what the Assyrians had become, just 140 years after Jonah.
The prophet Nahum spoke to this culture. One of his biggest condemnations: Exposing to the world the warrior’s smallness of manhood (“will lift up your skirts over your face …”).
Nahum’s proclamations would later come true and God brought His judgment upon Assyria. Where is Assyria’s capital Nineveh today? Our best understanding is that it is now known as “Tell Kuyjik”, which translates as “mound of sheep”.
Don’t read the Old Testament and think it doesn't apply to us today. Are we (America) any better with how we treat our own most treasured resource: babies?
As I re-read about what a society can become when it turns away from God it is sobering and makes me pray harder for my own country.
And here is the part I struggle with the most: Can I trust God to take care of His enemies, in His timing? Though I can give the Bible answer, I still need examples like this one from Nahum to remind me in my heart that I can trust God and His timing.
Daily Battle Order:
Today, ask yourself if you can trust God and have faith in Him when your enemies seem to be winning and justice is not following sin as swiftly as you think it should? Pray for our country that we may turn towards God and avoid us also becoming a bygone of history.