Approximately one hundred years after Jonah preached to the citizens of Nineveh to turn ‘from their evil ways’ and escape imminent judgement, God commissioned Nahum to prophesy the city’s complete destruction. At the time of his ‘burden’, the Assyrian Empire was both strong and wealthy, yet Nahum prophesied that soon the entire kingdom would be crushed forever under the power of God’s wrath.
From the opening sentence: ‘The LORD is a jealous and avenging God filled with wrath’ to the poignant conclusion: ‘Nothing can heal your wound; your injury is fatal’, the fury, the omnipotence, the righteousness, the faithfulness of God are strikingly portrayed. Nineveh will fall, not because of the might of other nations, but because the Holy One of Israel ‘takes vengeance on his foes’.
Obadiah’s prophecy unveils God’s sovereignty over all nations and events, and gives an example of his direct intervention in the political and military affairs of human history. The Sovereign LORD does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’
It is the God of history who summons and equips the nations to destroy the Edomites for their arrogance and violence against their brother Jacob. It is the Judge and Ruler of mankind who gives the Edomites no hope of salvation. It is ‘the great King over all the earth’ who, in accordance with his everlasting covenant, delivers the house of Jacob from their enemies and reunites them with their northern brothers.
Both prophecies are a revelation of God’s character and his moral government of the world—a revelation that contains a message of hope, comfort and encouragement for every Christian: ‘THE LORD REIGNS FOR EVER’! It matters not how many nations oppose his rule or oppress his people; it makes no difference how many spiritual forces of evil ally themselves for his dethronement, for the Lord’s purposes will prevail. All that he has promised will be fulfilled. He is in control. His dominion is an eternal dominion.
Tim Shenton is the head teacher of St Martin’s School and an elder at Lansdowne Baptist Church, Bournemouth. He is married with two daughters. He has researched and written extensively on church history, specializing in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Among his works published by Day One are Forgotten heroes of revival, Our perfect God, Opening up 1 Thessalonians and an expositional commentary on the prophet Habakkuk.
Tim Shenton takes us to the most neglected of the Old Testament prophecies, Nahum and Obadiah, and gives us a clear verse-by-verse explanation. Better yet, he consistently shows these little prophecies to have ongoing significance. Wickedness still abounds. The righteous still find themselves befuddled and distressed by it. And the God of Nahum and Obadiah is still committed to punishing evil-doers and vindicating his name and his people. This is a book that provides both understanding of difficult books and comfort for difficult times—and that certainly makes it well worth reading!