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 The liberal preacher Harry Emerson Fosdick once mocked expositional preaching of the Old Testament by claiming “Only the preacher proceeds still upon the idea that folk come to church desperately anxious to discover what happened to the Jebusites.” [1] The same could be said about Nahum and the Ninevites. It’s easy to dismiss entire books of the Bible because we don’t see their relevance to our lives today. After all, what have the Assyrians done to you lately? Probably nothing.  

Yet when Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “all Scripture is profitable” he was including the book of Nahum. So how do we apply the message of this book to our lives? Let me suggest four applications.

Don’t assume you have more time.

Are you assuming you have more time? Have fun now, get right with God later? Sow my wild oats until I’m near the end of my life, then I’ll confess it all and get right with the Lord before I die? It’s true, there is a “deathbed” conversion in Scripture (the thief on the cross). It’s been said this story is recorded for us so we will not despair, but there is only one such story so we do not presume. So don’t presume on the patience of God, friend. Repent and believe now. As Nahum 1:3 reminds us, The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty.  


Don’t fear those who threaten you

Remember that scene in the first Avengers film? Loki forces a crowd in Stuttgart, Germany to kneel before him. He smiles at the crowd and says, "Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state? It's the unspoken truth of humanity, that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life's joy in a mad scramble for power, for identity. You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.”  

At that moment an old German man slowly rises to his feet and says, “Not to men like you.”  

Loki smiles and says, “There are no men like me.”  

The old man replies, “There are always men like you."  

Until the King of Kings returns, there will always be men like that. From Ashurbanipal to Hitler to Kim Jong Un. Don’t be afraid, Christian. As Nahum 1:7 reminds us, the Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him.  


Don’t avenge those who harm you

On October 2, 2019, a young African-American man named Brandt Jean looked into the eyes of the Amber Guyger, a white police officer who had just been convicted of killing his brother Botham. “If you truly are sorry,” he said. “I know I can speak for myself, I forgive you.”  

The prosecution had asked for 28 years — the age his brother would have been had the officer not shot him. Instead, Brandt told Guyger that he wanted what Botham would have wanted: “I think giving your life to Christ would be the best thing that Botham would want for you,” he told her. “I love you as a person, and I don’t wish anything bad on you.”  

And then he stunned the judge and the world when he said, “Can I give her a hug, please? Please.” Guyger hesitated for just a moment, and then she rushed toward Jean and wrapped her arms around his neck. He wrapped his arms around her, his hands spread across her back. Both were in tears when they finally broke away.  

Most of us will never face the murderer of a family member in court. But we’ll face hundreds of minor annoyances and hurts that tempt us to take vengeance. Nahum 1:2 reminds us, 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.  


Don’t hide the Good News. There was a period in my childhood when the Boutot family went several years without a television. Until one fateful day. My dad had just got a new job with a significant pay raise so my parents went out on a date to celebrate. They returned with precious plunder. One of those massive 200-pound rear-projection televisions. A new device called a “DVD player” and a bunch of discs called DVDs! And, to top it all off, a subscription to Direct TV!!!    

This was a day of good news!!! Television was back in the Boutot home! I remember telling all my friends the good news at church on Sunday! I couldn’t keep my mouth shut about it if I wanted to!!!

All of us can think of wonderful things that have happened to us that we couldn’t keep quiet about. The book of Nahum points us to the best news! Nahum 1:15 says, Behold, upon the mountains, the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace!  

Nahum was pointing to the messengers who would bring the good news that Nineveh was defeated. But his prophecy pointed to an even greater enemy that would be appeased.  

The Bible is clear that, apart from Christ, our greatest enemy is God. Our sin has made us “alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds” (Colossians 1:21). Our sin makes us enemies of God. But God, being rich in mercy, even while we were His enemies sent His Son to die in our place. As Romans 5:10 says, while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.  

This isn’t just good news, it’s the best news! And true beauty is found not in the idolatries and injustices of a city like Nineveh, but in sharing this Good News with others. As Paul says in Romans 10:15 (quoting Isaiah 52:7 but alluding to Nahum 1:15), As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”  

So don’t hide this good news, Christian. As Carl Henry once said, “The gospel is only good news if it gets there in time.”  


[1] As quoted in Mike Graves, ed., What’s the Matter with Preaching Today? (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 10.