Woe To Nineveh (Nahum 3)

Scripture Text:

Nahum 3

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In chapter 3 Nineveh is described and compared to Thebes, the capital of Upper Egypt. Thebes was a city proud and strong like Nineveh but whose destruction had come. As you may have sensed in your studies, the book of Nahum is a powerful indictment of a nation that seeks glory by aggression and oppression. The God of Israel not only punishes Israel’s oppressor (Nineveh/Assyria) but He is also shown to control the fate of all nations. (see more study notes below)

1. Recall an embarrassing moment of your childhood. What happened?

2. Which of the following best describes your parents’ discipline of you as a child?

  • “I’m warning you”
  • “Boys will be boys”
  • “Face the music”

3. Recall a severe childhood (or adult) punishment you received that was the result of a deliberate disobedience. How did it make you feel? Did it alter your way of life in any way?

4. How does God discipline Nineveh? How do you view God’s harshness? Why was such severity necessary?

5. What impression do the staccato phrases in verses 2 and 3 make on you? Is this Nineveh’s fate or that of her victims? Why does Nahum leave this unclear?

6. In what ways has Nineveh “played the harlot” in relation to God (verse 4)? In what ways is she “ripe” for judgment? Why would the metaphorical punishment of verses 5 and 6 be especially appropriate to her?

7. In what specific people and things does Nineveh put her trust? What images does Nahum use to describe these “trustworthy” sources? Which do you think is most striking? What is the end of each?

8. What great sin of Nineveh is graphically addressed in verses 16 and 17? How does the image of the locust fit the actions of the Ninevites?

9. Nahum means “comfort”. For whom is the comfort of Nahum’s message? Why does God send comfort to one group and wrath to another?

10. Nineveh’s first great sin (Nahum 3:13 – 15) and second great sin (Nahum 3:16, 17) are combined in Nahum 3:1. What parallels are you aware of in your nation today? Could your nation’s capital be as liable as Nineveh for bloody massacres? For lies? For making money at the expense of others?

11. What personal responsibility do you consider yourself to have in giving warning to your nation today? What would this warning look like to others? Would that make a difference?

12. In what circumstances did the Lord seem to be against you? Recall a “pressed up against the wall” or a “hiding from God” experience in your own life. Are other “gods” in your life trying to compete for your allegiance or worship? Which ones?

13. When in your life have you felt God’s comfort in a “down and out” experience?

14. What promise of God’s comfort (in the book of Nahum) means the most to you now? How do you intend to apply this to your life?

15. Try writing a song or poem of woe to any nation or group you feel are in danger of God’s judgment. Cite specific Scripture verses as “proof”. Then write a song or poem of joy and encouragement to those who serve the Lord.

Additional Comments & Study Notes:

In only 40 years Nahum’s predictions will come true in exactly the way he outlined: the Medes, Babylonians and Scythians will turn the waters of the Khoser River into the city, causing the bricks to dissolve. Nineveh will be destroyed so completely that it will be some 2,500 years before archaeological traces of this great city will be found.

Before Nineveh’s fall, Manasseh’s reign will come to an end with his death. His son, Amon, supports idolatry and wickedness and is assassinated after a brief rule of two years. He is succeeded by Josiah, the most godly king that Judah has ever known. In the next 5 posts we will look at

  • the reign of King Amon
  • the early reforms of King Josiah
  • and the prophecies of Zephaniah

Nineveh To Fall (Nahum 2)

Scripture Text:

Nahum 2

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Each of the three chapters in Nahum is a complete unit in itself. Chapter 2 describes the siege and subsequent sack of Nineveh.

1. “Big cats” are a fascination at many zoos. Why do they interest you?

2. When was the last time you went to a history museum to see the chariots of old and knights in shining armor? Why might they interest you?

3. In what does Nineveh put her confidence? Why does the Lord encourage her to prepare for battle?

4. How do Nineveh’s elite forces perform in the end? What comfort is this to Israel, a frequent victim of Assyria’s cruelty (verse 2; see also chapter 1:12, 13)?

5. Of Nahum’s highly pictorial language, what images seem literal to you? Which seem figurative?

6. What is meant by the imagery of the pool (verse 8)? Of plundered wealth (verse 9)? How is Nineveh’s humiliation and shame pictured?

7. The lion was Assyria’s symbol. In what ways has Nineveh lived up to the symbol in the past? How is it used to taunt her defeat (verses 11 – 13)? What irony do you see here?

8. Lest Nineveh gets the idea her downfall will be caused by merely natural disaster or superior fire power, what bottom line underscores that this is an act of God?

9. What specifically is the Lord dead set “against”?

10. Israel experienced God’s restoring strength and power in the face of the enemy’s attack. How have you seen God work this way in your own life?

11. God dealt convincingly with Nineveh’s pride, as He always does (see James 4:6; Proverbs 3:34). What lessons do you learn about God from this story? How do you go about humbling yourself?

12. The Lord Almighty declares to Nineveh, “I am against you.” TO what extent is your nation guilty of the sins of Nineveh, such as cruelty and warmongering? What can be done to bring repentance?

13. How would you judge yourself based on God’s standard regarding pride, cruelty or selfishness? Would your friends and others agree? Would you want to be held accountable for this?

The LORD’s Anger Against Nineveh (Nahum 1)

Scripture Text:

Nahum 1

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Welcome to the book of Nahum!

Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, was assassinated by two of his sons in 681 B. C. Another son (Esarhaddon) followed him to the throne. In 669 B. C. Esarhaddon is succeeded by Ashurbanipal, who takes the Assyrian army deep into Palestine and Egypt in 663 B. C. Assyria destroys the Egyptian city of Thebes during this time.
In terms of the Biblical timeline, Isaiah was put to death before King Manasseh’s captivity (and later spiritual reforms). It was during the spiritual renewal under Manasseh that Nahum’s prophecies against Judah’s archenemy (Nineveh) and predicts her fall.
Hearing Jonah 125 years earlier, the Ninevites had repented and God had spared their city. By Nahum’s time, Nineveh had returned to her evil ways.

Each of the three chapters in Nahum is a complete unit in itself. Chapter 1 is in the form of an acrostic poem in which Nahum declares the judgment that is to come.

1. If your patience were likened to a keg of dynamite, would have a:
  • short fuse?
  • long fuse?
  • no fuse?
  • no powder?
  • no keg?

2. What pet peeve gives you a “pain in the neck”? Why is this a particular irritation to you?

3. If, during this past week, your feet were dragging or you had a bounce in your step, what do you think was the reason?

4. What do we learn about the attributes and actions of the Lord in verses 2 – 8? What characteristic of God demonstrated here surprises you? Why?

5. What has Nineveh done to kindle the Lord’s wrath (verse 2; see also Jonah 1:2)? What images are used to depict Nineveh’s end?

6. Do you think verse 7 is part of Nahum’s vision or his own personal opinion? Why?

7. What words of comfort are meant only for Judah? What good news are they to take to the mountains and proclaim? Why are they now free to attend to their festivals and vows?

8. What is the point of contrasting the futures of Nineveh and Judah? Why is God treating the two nations so differently?

9. Does the fierce anger of God shock or distress you? In your opinion could God’s anger be best likened to . . .

  • a keg of dynamite?
  • Mount Saint Helen’s volcano?
  • Old Faithful geyser?

10. How do you reconcile God’s wrath with God’s love? Is one primary and the other secondary? Are they flip sides of the same coin? Or is their no way to bring consistency out of these two natures of God?

11. Which of the Lord’s attributes and actions have you experienced in your life recently? If you could change one thing about God’s nature, what would it be? Why that one?

12. Who in your church displays a particular facet of God’s character highlighted by Nahum? Which facet does he or she bring to mind?

13. In what ways do you feel like Judah in your relationship with the Lord? In what ways like Nineveh?