The Word Of The Lord Against His Enemies
Studies from the book of Nahum by Pastor Linus Chua

In Nahum 1:9-15, the prophet alternates or shifts between the Lord’s coming judgment on Nineveh and His deliverance of Judah. These two concepts of judgment and deliverance are closely related to each other. Indeed, the deliverance of God’s people will come through the judgment and destruction of God’s enemies.  

In our last article on Nahum, we looked at the vain imaginations of God’s enemies, namely, the Assyrians. In this article, we will move on to consider the Word of the Lord against His enemies.

Verse 9 says, “What do ye imagine against the LORD? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time.”

It makes no difference what evil plans these enemies of God are making against Him and His people. They will not succeed. They may appear to be successful for a season but they will have no lasting and ultimate success. Why? Because the Lord will make an utter or complete end of these wicked oppressors. This is His sure and certain word to them. 

Then to emphasize the finality of their destruction as well as the complete deliverance of God’s people, the Lord goes on to say in verse 9 that affliction or adversity or trouble shall not rise up a second time. Once the end arrives, there will be no more rising up of these enemies a second time. The city of Nineveh and the Assyrian empire will be destroyed and it will never rise again.

That would have been a very comforting thought to the people living in those days for the threat and menace of the Assyrians was constantly hanging over their heads like a dark cloud ready to break forth in a storm.

But the question still remains – what happens after the Assyrians are wiped out? What about the other oppressors and enemies that will arise in their place? The Babylonians, the Medes and the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans and so on?

The promise of verse 9 in our text points us to an ultimate destruction as well as a full deliverance at the end of all of history. Revelation 21:4-5 says, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away…Behold I make all things new.”    

And so the final and complete destruction of the Assyrian empire points us to the final and complete destruction of all the enemies of God’s people, particularly of Satan, sin and death. No more tears or death or sorrow or pain.

Therefore if any man be in Christ – new creation. It is only in Christ that one can enjoy a full and final relief from all these things. Outside of Christ, there is no deliverance. In fact, outside of Christ, the enemies will keep rising up again and again. An utter end of sorrows and pain will never ever arrive for such a person. Without Christ, any removal of trouble or adversity is only temporary. In fact, the next round of adversity might and often will be worse.

Remember the parable which our Lord told in Matthew chapter 12 about the return of an unclean spirit? “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” Those who continue to reject Christ will be in a far worse condition at the end. 

The Lord goes on to talk about the Assyrians in verse 10, “For while they be folden together as thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.”

There are three images or pictures here. First, there is the image of thorns folded together or entangled. These entangled thorns can be easily taken up and destroyed all together at the same time. Second, there is the image of drunkenness and drunkards. Those who are very drunk have little self-control and are essentially helpless to defend themselves. They cannot defend themselves physically or even mentally. Third, there is the image of dry stubble or straw being consumed by fire. Nothing burns more quickly or with greater intensity than straw that is fully dried.

And so all these three images taken together speak of total and even rapid extermination and destruction. The Assyrians will be utterly unable to defend themselves.

But that is not all. God’s word of judgment against them continues from verses 12-14. The first part of verse 12 says, “Thus saith the LORD; Though they be quiet, and likewise many, yet thus shall they be cut down, when he shall pass through…” The phrase “thus saith the LORD” appears literally hundreds of times in the Old Testament but in the book of Nahum, it appears only once here in verse 12 of chapter 1. It is as if Nahum wanted to highlight the fact that Assyria’s fall was absolutely certain despite what people thought or what appeared to be utterly impossible.

“Thus saith the LORD.” “Though they be quiet…” The word “quiet” means complete or safe or whole. Though they be complete and many… In other words, when the Lord spoke these words, the Assyrians were undiminished in their strength and they were great in their number. They were proud and self-confident, and the nations around them could not imagine how their fall was possible. But the Lord says, “yet they shall be cut down when he shall pass through.”

They will be like the blades of grass on a field when a huge lawn mower or grass cutting machine passes through it. Once the mowing begins, hundreds of thousands of blades of grass will disappear in a short time.

Interestingly, the word for “pass through” in verse 12 is exactly the same word we find in Exodus 12:12, where the Lord says, “For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.”

Almost eight hundred years after that Passover in Egypt, another passover, as it were, was going to take place. Once more, the angel of death will pass through the land in judgment, and this time, he shall smite the Assyrians with death and destruction.

Finally in verse 14, Nahum writes, “And the LORD hath given a commandment concerning thee, that no more of thy name be sown: out of the house of thy gods will I cut off the graven image and the molten image: I will make thy grave; for thou art vile.”

The Lord shifts from speaking about the Assyrians to speaking directly to the Assyrians, and in particular, to the Assyrian king. The Lord issues a command or decree concerning the king and indeed the whole empire. This divine decree is openly declared and published, and it seals the fate of the Assyrians. Once the command is issued, there is no turning back, for the decree cannot be recalled.

What does this divine decree say concerning the one who represents the Assyrians?

First, it says that his name shall no more be sown. This means that the royal line of the Assyrians will no longer be perpetuated or carried on. It will come to a decisive end. His descendants will perish and none will be around to carry on his tradition.

Second, the divine decree says that the graven and molten image in the house of his gods will be cut off. The gods whom the Assyrians worshipped and trusted in will be destroyed. The house or temple of these idols will be desecrated. 

Earlier in verse 12, we had an allusion or reference to the passing through of the angel of death in Egypt. Here in verse 14, we have an allusion to the destruction of the idol of Dagon, the god of the Philistines.

In 1 Samuel 5, we read about the Ark of the Covenant in the temple of Dagon after the Philistines had captured it in battle. The Philistines placed the ark in a subordinate position to Dagon indicating that their god was more powerful than Jehovah. The next day, the statue of Dagon was found fallen face down before the ark. The Philistines didn’t think much about it and returned their god to its original place. But the day after, they found Dagon fallen down before the ark again but this time, its head and both its hands were cut off. Dagon had been totally defeated by the true and living God.

The word cut off in 1 Samuel 5 appears here in verse 14. Like the idol of Dagon, the gods and idols of the Assyrians will fall face down before the Lord and be utterly cut off and destroyed by Him. So not only the Assyrian empire and dynasty but even the Assyrian religion was going to come to an end when God’s judgment finally falls.

The third thing that this divine decree tells us is that the Lord Himself will make the grave of the Assyrian king. He will dig the grave and then bury him in it. To dig the grave of your enemy and bury him is essentially to so defeat him as to bring about his final end.

So God has decreed to do these three things to the Assyrian king – cut off his royal line, cut off his religion and bury him in the grave. And the reason He will do all these things is found at the end of verse 14, “for thou art vile.” The word translated ‘vile’ probably means light or worthless in this context. The king of Assyria has been weighed in the balances of God and found to be too light. He is spiritually and morally deficient, having fallen far short of God’s standard of righteousness, and thus he is fit only for destruction.  

Thus we’ve considered the word of the Lord against His enemies. It is a word of imminent, terrible and complete judgment. In the next article, we will consider the word of hope and comfort for God’s people.   

—Linus Chua