Words of ComfortAugust 28, 2012 - 5:00 am
“Nothing can heal you; your wound is fatal. All who hear the news about you clap their hands at your fall, for who has not felt your endless cruelty?” — Nahum 3:19
On May 1, 2011 the world learned that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in his compound. From the time that the President of the United States began his official announcement until the end, 4,000 tweets per second were sent on Twitter. The world erupted in celebration. Universities around the country set off fireworks, and people threw parties.
As one reporter put it, “Some Americans responded to news about the death of Osama bin Laden much like the Munchkins did when Dorothy vanquished the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz!” There were similar sentiments around the world. The news was welcomed as a fitting end to a man who had inspired and directed so much bloodshed.
There must have been a similar outbreak of celebration at the demise of Nineveh. The Book of Nahum foretells and describes the downfall of that evil nation. Yet, Nahum is a funny name for a prophet who mainly preached death and destruction. You see, Nahum is the Hebrew word for ‘comfort.’ Certainly, his was not a very comforting message for the people of Nineveh!
The prophet refers to Nineveh as “the city of blood” (Nahum 3:1) because the people were so cruel and murderous that the streets flowed with blood. Nineveh was also the superpower of the world, and the end of its brutal regime was nowhere in sight.
Nineveh was a powerhouse just hitting its prime. The city had captured many parts of the world, including the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Now it set its sight on the Southern Kingdom and Jerusalem. Judah would be the next to fall into Nineveh’s bloodstained hands.
But God would not let that happen. Nahum was sent to tell the world that Nineveh’s reign would come to an end, and no one shed a tear. Nahum says: “All who hear the news about you clap their hands at your fall, for who has not felt your endless cruelty?” The news of Nineveh’s fall was a welcomed message by the world who had suffered so much cruelty at its hands. A world without Nineveh would be a safer world for everyone.
Nahum’s words may be violent, but they are also words of comfort — not for Nineveh, but for the rest of us. His message is one of hope and encouragement. Though it often seems that evil dictators have the upper hand, Nahum reminds us that no one is above the Lord God. Though evil nations may seem invincible, they will perish in an instant when it is the will of God.
Take comfort in Nahum’s words. Good will triumph over evil. Though the battle still rages, we know how the story ends. There will be a time when the world will celebrate the end of all evil dictators and innocent blood will never be shed again.