If you have grown up in the pews, you have heard about the gospel. The gospel simply means good news. But the New Testament writers assume that we know some of the pictures of what God means when he proclaims the good news to his people. There are many places where the prophets give pictures of what the good news. The second chapter of Nahum begins with pictures of the good news being proclaimed to God’s people. The first chapter of Nahum reminded God’s people of who the Lord is. The Lord’s passionate love for his people means that he is a jealous and avenging God, venting his wrath on his enemies. The Lord is slow to anger so that when judgment comes, it was a long time coming. We also heard that the Lord is good. He is a refuge in times of trouble and he cares for those who trust in him. Knowing the Lord sets up our understanding of the good news. Open your copies of God’s word to Nahum 1:15. This verse really belongs with chapter 2 as it introduces the picture of the good news.
Hearing the Good News (Nahum 1:15)
The vivid picture begins with looking to the mountains and seeing a messenger who is bringing good news and proclaiming peace. Now why are we looking to the mountains for a messenger? The imagery comes from two nations going to battle. As the battle rages, the people of the city are waiting to hear news from a messenger regarding the outcome of the battle. So Nahum 1:15 pictures looking to the mountains, hoping to see a messenger returning with good news regarding the battle. Then they see the feet of the messenger coming, bringing good news and proclaiming peace. Now in our immediate context, we would expect this good news to be the fall of the Assyrian Empire. We see this pictured at the end of Nahum 1 where the Lord is shown to be victorious over Ninevah (1:13-14). The fall of Nineveh is certainly described in chapters 2-3. But God may be picturing something even bigger. Look again at what the good news is in verse 15.
“…for never again shall the worthless pass through you; he is utterly cut off” (Nahum 1:15). Some translations say that the wicked will never again pass through you or invade you. Therefore, as we read these declarations of Ninevah’s fall and the Assyrian Empire’s fall, we should see that their fall represents something bigger in God’s cosmic plan. I know that this has been one of my failures in reading the prophets when I was younger. I would look at a book like Nahum, notice that it is about Ninevah’s fall, and completely miss the bigger message that God was communicating through his prophet. I think this can be a reason why we do not enjoy reading and studying the prophets. I also think this is a reason that there was a long time where the prevalent thought was that we needed to only study the New Testament because the Old Testament books were not for us. But Ninevah’s fall is representative of all enemies of God and all those who harm God’s people eventually being brought to justice by God himself. So the people wait to hear the good news that God does not forget his people and he will act righteously on their behalf. So let’s hear the good news of God’s victory in Nahum 2.
Good News: God Restores (Nahum 2:1-2)
The good news begins with proclaiming that the Lord is going to restore the majesty of Jacob as the majesty of Israel. The splendor of Israel is going to be restored. This proclamation also points us to something greater that must be in God’s mind since Israel’s glory days nor Judah’s glory days were not restored after Assyria’s fall. Babylon became the new oppressor quickly after Ninevah’s fall. Ninevah fell to the Babylonians in 612 BC and 7 years later the Babylonians invaded Judah. So we have something bigger being prophesied. But notice how God words his actions in verses 1-2. He tells Ninevah to go ahead and keep watch over the fortress, watch the roads, dress for battle, and gather all your strength because it is not going to matter. When you are standing against God, you cannot stand at all. You can have the largest army and the strongest defenses but when God comes against you, you will fall. So the first picture of God’s good news is that he is destroying the enemy and restoring the majesty of his people. You have been plundered and ruined but God can restore.
We need to see this as one of the great hopes that God gives to his people. God has the power to restore your life. God is in the business of restoring life and restoring blessings. Think about how many times God shows his ability to do this. We see in the life of Job, who loses everything, but is restored at the end of his trial. We see it in the life of David, in which it seems that none of God’s promises will come to pass, only to finally take the throne after running for his life. We see it in the life of Joseph whose restoration comes more than 13 years later after suffering greatly. God is a restorer of his people. But God’s restoration is never immediate. God’s restoration comes to those who wait for him. Listen to how Isaiah beautifully pictured this idea.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28–31 ESV)
God gives power to weary and exhausted but you have to wait for the Lord. You have to trust in him. Those who trust him shall run and not be weary. Those who hope in him shall walk and not faint. The good news is that the Lord will restore and strengthen those who wait for him.
Good News: God Destroys (Nahum 2:3-12)
The rest of chapter 2 describes how God is going to destroy Ninevah. Verses 3-7 describe the chaos that will come as the Babylonians conquer Nineveh. The mighty city will be no more. Ninevah will be like a pool whose waters run away (2:8). Everyone will be crying for its glory and power to come back, but it will not return. This is a play on the prophecy of Isaiah where Assyria is described as an overwhelming flood that will sweep over Judah (Isaiah 8:7-8). Now the pool waters are running away and no one can bring it back again.
Further, the hunter has now become the hunted and the lion has no lair to destroy any longer (2:10-12). So what is the good news? No one is getting away with anything. The great power of Ninevah and the Assyrian Empire is now being destroyed. The Assyrians were known for their cruelty. Some of their cruelty will be described in chapter 3. So we will save that for the next lesson, Lord willing. But for now we see that God is not letting Ninevah get away with anything. The Lord has made his decree and it is the end of the nation.
Now what this is passage mean for us today? Nahum’s message uses Isaiah’s prophecy from about 100 years earlier. Let’s begin by looking at how Nahum is using Isaiah’s message.
Therefore my people shall know my name. Therefore in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here I am.” How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” (Isaiah 52:6–7 ESV)
Notice that this is the same picture that Nahum presented. Nahum appears to be using what Isaiah had said earlier about the good news being brought on the mountains. Notice that Isaiah tells us what the messenger is saying when he returns with the good news. The messenger proclaims, “Your God reigns.” This is our hope. This is the hope of the world. God reigns and that is why he can restore your fortunes. God reigns and that is why the worthless and wicked will be utterly cut off. God reigns and that is why you can wait for him to act. God reigns and that is why you know that no one is getting away with anything.
We have a song that says, “When all around my soul gives way, he then is all my hope and stay.” When the world is falling down, we have hope because we have seen the feet of the messenger coming on the mountains proclaiming peace and saying to us, “Your God reigns!” When evil seems to be on the rise, we do not lose heart because we have heard the message, “Your God reigns!” When you feel weary and want to give us, we wait for the Lord to strengthen us because we know, “Your God reigns!”
Now let’s end our lesson by looking how the apostle Paul used this same image in his message to the Romans.
13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:13–17 ESV)
The good news is that God reigns and he tells us that if we will come to him by calling on the name of the Lord we will be saved. But then Paul asks some questions. How can people call on the name of the Lord if they do not believe? How can people believe in the Lord if they have not heard the message? How can they hear the message if there is not someone proclaiming the message? How can someone proclaim the message if they are not sent to proclaim it? Then Paul brings a powerful conclusion that faith can only come by hearing this good news message of Christ. The good news is most powerfully seen in Christ. Christ’s resurrection from the dead is what shows us that our God reigns (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:20-28)! How do we know that we have hope against evil? We hear the message of victory in the cross and the resurrection of Jesus. How do we know that God will restore our lives and give strength to the weary and faint? We hear the message of victory in the cross and the resurrection of Jesus. We can be faithful and we can be strong because we have heard the message, “Your God reigns” and seen the proof when Jesus rose from the dead.