The Word Of Hope & Comfort For God’s People

Studies from the book of Nahum by Pastor Linus Chua

Nahum 1:9-15 contains three parts – the vain imaginations of God’s enemies, the Word of the LORD against His enemies, and the Word of Hope and Comfort for His people. It is to this third part that we want to turn our attention to in this article.

We find this word particularly in verse 12b and verse 13, and then again in verse 15.

Verse 12b, “Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more.” In the first part of this verse, the Lord spoke about the Assyrians – that though they were complete and numerous, they shall be cut down like grass when He passes through. But now He turns His attention to His people to give them hope and comfort. In the midst of pronouncing judgment upon the enemy, the Lord has not lost sight of His people. In fact, His judgment upon the enemy is for the very purpose of bringing deliverance to His people.

We see this clearly in the story of the exodus from Egypt. The plagues of judgment fell upon the Egyptians in order that Israel might be delivered from the yoke of Egypt. So too in the book of Nahum. The Lord judges Assyria in order that Judah might be delivered.

“Though I have afflicted you…” The Lord afflicted His people because of their sin. He chastised them with the rod of Assyria when they went astray. The northern kingdom Israel was afflicted again and again by the Assyrians and eventually exiled by them. The southern kingdom too was troubled on a number of occasions by the Assyrians, particularly after Israel went into exile.

During the time of King Hezekiah, the Assyrians invaded Judah and exacted tribute from them. Then during the time of Manasseh, the Assyrians again troubled Judah, and even captured Manasseh and imprisoned him in Babylon.  

But notice again the words of our text. The Lord didn’t say that the Assyrians afflicted His people, although that was certainly true. Rather, He says that He was the One who afflicted them. Ultimately, the Lord was responsible for all their afflictions and troubles. This brings a whole new perspective to our sufferings and trials, doesn’t it? The afflictions of God’s people, whether through natural disasters or diseases or human instruments like the Assyrians, may all be traced back to God. As the author of Hebrews says, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Heb 12:6-7)

Here we are reminded, as God’s people, that whenever we experience troubles in this life (and we all will at one point or another), we are really being chastised or afflicted by a loving heavenly Father, who cares for us and will never do anything that is ultimately bad or evil to us. Let us look beyond the immediate cause of our trials, be it the Assyrians or otherwise, and see the Lord’s hand in it all. Let us trust in Him and cry out to Him to give us the grace and guidance that we need to persevere and navigate through those difficult circumstances. And let us look to the Lord for deliverance.

“Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more.” Assyria would be destroyed in the not too distant future from the time of Nahum, and Judah would no longer be troubled by that evil empire. But, as I pointed out earlier, Nahum’s message of comfort looks well beyond Assyria and into the end of history when all afflictions whatsoever will be removed. The words “I will afflict thee no more” will find full fulfilment when the Lord brings His people to their final rest.

And the reason for the final lifting and removal of all afflictions is because the Lord Jesus was Himself afflicted while He hung upon the cross and carried away all the sins of His people. So the Lord afflicts but the Lord is also the one who will remove the affliction.

Verse 13 says, “For now will I break his yoke from off thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder.” Here is a beautiful picture of liberty and freedom and relief. The Assyrian yoke will be broken. Those bonds of foreign domination and oppression will be burst or torn away. And when that happens, when the yoke is lifted from off their shoulders, then there is relief. The excessive burden will give way to glorious liberty. Instead of being slaves, doing the will of their foreign masters, they will be free to pursue their own labours to the glory of God.   

Finally, in verse 15, we read, “Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.”

There are three parts to this verse. First, there is the announcement of glad tidings. Behold! Look! Take note! The messenger who brings good news has appeared! He has travelled a long distance to bring these tidings and is even now running on the ridge of the nearby mountains.

In ancient times, there were no telephones or other long distance communication devices. People relied on runners or messengers to receive news from afar. They wouldn’t know when the messengers would return and so would wait and watch out for them from a distance.

Nahum is saying that one day in the not too distant future, they would see this swift-running messenger who will bring good news and proclaim shalom or true peace. This piece of good news leads to the second part of verse 15, which is a call to celebration. “O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows…”

Now that the Assyrian threat and oppression has ended, the people are free to celebrate. But this is no wild or mindless celebration. Instead, it is a celebration of joy in the Lord and thanksgiving to Him for rescuing them from their misery and suffering. Then besides celebration, the people are also called to perform the vows which they had made to the Lord. Perhaps they had made certain vows to the Lord in their distress or affliction. But now that relief has come, they are not to forget those vows but to fulfil them joyfully and gratefully.

The third part of verse 15 gives the reason for celebration. “for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.” The enemy is totally cut off and utterly defeated. No more will he pass through their land to cause trouble or sorrow to them. It is this element of permanence that brings fullness of joy. It would not be very comforting if the collapse of the enemy was only temporary, and that in the near future, another Assyrian dictator would arise and trouble them again. But when news arrives that the wicked enemy is gone for good, then there can be cause for great rejoicing.

But once again, this prophecy of the Assyrians being totally defeated and of Judah having great rest and peace in the land is but a picture of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Romans 10, the apostle Paul quotes the words of Nahum when he writes, “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”

The gospel of peace gives us the fullest and final reason for permanent celebration. Christ Jesus has conquered all our enemies including the final one. O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory? In Christ we are more than conquerors. In Him, we have perfect peace and joy and rest.

Where do you stand in relation to God’s judgment and God’s deliverance? With Assyria? Or with Judah, the people of God? A day of final things is coming – final judgment and final deliverance. For some, it will be a day of horrible terror and panic, but for others, it will be a day of unspeakable joy and delight.

Dear unbelieving friend, would you not flee from the wrath to come. Since the days of Nahum, many billions of rebellious sinners have been cut down in God’s judgment. Do not remain any longer on that field of judgment. Repent of your evil and seek the salvation of the Lord in Jesus Christ.

But finally, dear brethren in Christ, there is no greater hope than to know that in the not too distant future, we shall enter into our heavenly rest. Trust in the Lord. Seek His kingdom first. The loss of material possession, and the pain and sufferings of body and mind, can only be temporary. They will soon give way to the permanence of the new heavens and the new earth.

Let us rejoice even now and let us keep the vows that we have made as Christians. 

“Thus saith the LORD; Though they be quiet, and likewise many, yet thus shall they be cut down, when he shall pass through. Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more.”

“Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.” Amen.   

—Linus Chua