Sunday School Bible Survey:      NAHUM

Theme: The wrath of God

Key verse: "The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet" (Nahum 1:3).

From the Scofield Study Bible:
Nahum prophesied during the reign of Hezekiah, probably about one hundred and fifty years after Jonah. He has but one subject -- the destruction of Nineveh. According to Diodorus Siculus, the city was destroyed nearly a century later, precisely as here predicted. The prophecy is one continuous strain which does not yield to analysis. The moral theme is: the holiness of Jehovah which must deal with sin in judgment.


  1. Nahum the prophet prophesied during the reign of Hezekiah, probably about 100 to 150 years after Jonah. "Nahum's one subject is the destruction of Nineveh 'the bloody city' (3:1)" — Merrill Unger, Introductory Guide to the Old Testament.
  2. "Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery" (Nahum 3:1).
  3. C.H.H. Wright said, "The descriptions given by Nahum are exceedingly fine and vivid, and the book is deservedly classed among the finest productions of Old Testament literature" (Old Testament Introduction, cited by Merrill F. Unger, Introductory Guide to the Old Testament).
  4. Of the personal life of Nahum the prophet, practically nothing is known. In Nahum 1:1 he is called "Nahum the Elkoshite," but the location of Elkosh is not known.
  5. Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire, located to the north-east of Israel. It was an immense city by the Tigris River.
  6. Interestingly, Nahumís name means "Comforter." But his message certainly is not comforting to those who are not living right (cf. 1:2-6).
  7. On the other hand, it is comforting to those who love God. God looks out for those who serve Him.


  1. Assyria is first mentioned in Genesis 2:14.
  2. Genesis 10:6 says Ham (the son of Noah) had four sons: "Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan."
  3. "And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah" (Gen. 10:8-11).
  4. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says, "Assyria is always distinguished from Babylonia in the Old Testament, and not confounded with it as by Herodotus and other classical writers."
  5. Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire, located to the north-east of Israel. It was an immense city by the Tigris River.
  6. You will recall that Jonah reluctantly went to Nineveh to preach and under his preaching the entire city got right with God (c. 862 BC). This is undoubtedly the greatest revival recorded in the Bible (cf. Jonah 3:3-10).
  7. But as is often the case, the Ninevites went back to their wicked heathenistic ways, and by the time Nahum arrived on the scene 100 years later, they were more wicked than ever (Nahum 1:1, 2).
  8. The Assyrians uprooted the people of Israel, and for decades Judah had lived under Assyrian oppression.
  9. "And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison. Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes" (II Kings 17:4-6).
  10. The Assyrians were a cruel, demon-possessed nation. Nahum's message of the impending doom of Nineveh must have brought immense relief and encouragement to God's people.
  11. The Bible teaches that sometimes God gives up on people (cf. Pro. 29:1).
  12. He gave up on the people in Noah's day and He gave up on the people of Sodom and Gomorrah (cf. Romans 1).
  13. And all throughout the Bible we see that God gives up on nations as well as individuals. And according to the prophecy of Nahum, He gave up on the Assyrians.
  14. Nineveh was completely destroyed in 612 BC by the Medes and Babylonians. The LORD made "an utter end of the place" (Nahum 1:8).
  15. "At the time Alexander the Great was pushing his conquests eastward, he marched over its site not knowing that the capital of a world empire was buried beneath his feet. The city of Nineveh passed so completely into oblivion that for centuries the place where it had once stood was not known" (John Phillips, Exploring the Scriptures).


Nineveh stands in Scripture as the representative of apostate religious Gentiledom, as Babylon represents the confusion into which the Gentile political world-system has fallen (Daniel 2:41-43). See Isaiah 13:1, note. Under the preaching of Jonah, B.C. 862, the city and king had turned to God (Elohim), Jonah 3:3-10. But in the time of Nahum, more than a century later, the city had wholly apostatized from God. It is this which distinguishes Nineveh from all the other ancient Gentile cities, and which makes her the suited symbol of the present religious Gentile world-system in the last day. Morally, Nineveh is described in Romans 1:21-23. The chief deity of apostate Nineveh was the bull-god, with the face of a man and the wings of a bird: "an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts."

The message of Nahum, uttered about one hundred years before the destruction of Nineveh, is, therefore, not a call to repentance, but an unrelieved warning of judgment: "He will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time," Nahum 1:9; see, also, Nahum 3:10. For there is no remedy for apostasy but utter judgment, and a new beginning. Cf. Isaiah 1:4, 5, 24-28; Hebrews 6:4-8; Proverbs 29:1. It is the way of God; apostasy is punished by catastrophic destruction. Of this the flood and the destruction of Nineveh are witnesses. The coming destruction of apostate Christendom is foreshadowed by these. (Cf. Daniel 2:34, 35; Luke 17:26, 27; Revelation 19:17-21.)



These are simple Sunday School survey notes. They are not for sale. The author used many outlines from popular Bible teachers such as C.I. Scofield and J. Vernon McGee, and he has tried to give credit when using their material.

—  Pastor James J. Barker  —