Day 15 Nahum 1 ... Enemy Justice

Nahum had one distinct advantage over most biblical prophets: he was addressing an enemy. Prophets like Micah and Isaiah sometimes collapsed in grief as they thought about the judgments that would befall their own people. But Nahum lowered the boom on Assyria, a nation that had just obliterated the Northern Kingdom of Israel and, except for Godâs miraculous intervention in Hezekiahâs day, would have done the same to Nahumâs homeland of Judah.

Assyria was an easy enemy to hate - something along the line of Hitlerâs Germany. Its soldiers decimated cities, led captives away with hooks in their noses, and plowed salt into fertile ground. In fact, Assyriaâs very obnoxiousness lay at the heart of what Nahum had to say.

A question nagged at the citizens of Judah, who had experienced the full force of Assyriaâs "endless cruelty." Assyria had trampled a huge, crescent-shaped path of destruction across the Middle East, from the region of modern-day Turkey down the Persian Gulf all the way to Egypt. Judah, in contrast, was a tiny vassal state barely clinging to existence. Why would God hold Judah accountable but allow Assyria to go unpunished?

Nahum brashly predicted that even mighty Assyria would meet its end. Its people had repented once, in Jonahâs day, but had reverted to old patterns that would bring on Godâs judgment. Undoubtedly, the people of Judah applauded Nahumâs prophecies - but who could believe them? Assyria, the most powerful empire in the world for two hundred years, would not simply disappear.

Nahum delivered these prophecies sometime around 700 B.C., not long after the siege of Jerusalem. In 612 B.C., Nineveh, the last Assyrian stronghold, fell to the Babylonians and Persians. Over time a carpet of grass covered the pile of rubble marking what had been the greatest city of its time. Years later, both Alexander the Great and Napolean would camp nearby, with no clue that a city had ever been there.

Like all the biblical prophets, Nahum saw beyond the intimidating forces of history. He knew that behind the rise and fall of empires an even great force was at work, determining the ultimate outcome. Though Godâs justice may seem slow, nothing can finally escape it. As Nahum put it, "The LORD is good, a refuge in times to trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, but . . . he will pursue his foes into darkness."

Point to Ponder: What modern-day injustices seem to be going unpunished?