I am a firm believer that the Bible is the greatest piece of litterateur ever written. The way in which you can connect stories and people from book to book is unmatched. This post we are going to look at the books of Jonah and Nahum.
Jonah is a book that revolves around the judgment of God upon the wicked Assyrians who live in the city of Nineveh. Jonah chose to flee from God’s command for him to go and preach His message of grace and repentance. After Jonah finally makes it to Nineveh, he leaves and finds a place to watch the judgment of God fall on the Ninevites (Jonah 4:5). The message of God is that of grace and repentance, but the hope and thought of Jonah was destruction and punishment. Chisholm says “The Ninevites took the warning to heart and expressed their sorrow by donning sackcloth and declaring a city-wide fast.”(1) Because of the repentance of the people, God forgives them and stays his hand of wrath.
Nahum is an oracle or prophecy that gives information on the wrath of God and His power specifically in the destroying of Nineveh for their wicked acts and rejection of God. Chisholm says on the topic, “Anticipating Nineveh’s fall, he compares the city’s leaders to Shepherd’s who sleep on the job, allowing their sheep, who stand for the people of the city, to be scattered on the mountains, where they are vulnerable to predators.”(2)
God’s wrath is poured out like fire (Nahum 1:6) and He will destroy His enemies. Even though God gave grace to Nineveh once through Jonah’s warning to repent. We see that this city has departed from God and are bound for destruction. They not only reject God, but they reject God after He had already given them a chance to repent and live right. Yet, like it was nothing, Nineveh rejects God again. The LORD foretells how He will kill and destroy the people of Nineveh. Nahum is this foretelling of the destruction that will befall the Empire of Assyria, starting with the main city Nineveh.
What is the overall importance of these books? From Jonah, we see that God uses all, even those who run, for His greater good. God will make His plan occur above the will and actions of man. Nahum shows the wrath of God. Even though this nation at one time came to God and repented, the actions described in Nahum clearly show how wicked the people are who lived in Nineveh. Nahum’s description of the Ninevites makes it is easy to understand why Jonah did not wish to follow the command of the LORD. However, the protection of God was upon Jonah and the grace of God upon His lips. Repentance came during Jonah’s time, but during the next generations they fell away. Salvation does not pass from one generation to another, but rather by believing and striving to follow God.
The books both show that God grants forgiveness and grace to those who seek it from Him, but grace comes by truly following God, seeking His ways, loving God, and not loving wickedness. These books have an important role in the life of a Believer as they show both wrath and grace. Jonah shows the acceptance of grace and the staying of wrath. Nahum shows the rejection of grace and acceptance of wrath.
(1) Robert B. Chisholm, Handbook on the Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Minor Prophets (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009). pg.413
(2) Robert B. Chisholm, Handbook on the Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Minor Prophets (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009). pg.433
Bible used: The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Containing the Old and New Testaments. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2014.