This article is part of the Christ in All of Scripture series.
Culminating in Christ
In a variety of ways, the prophecy of Nahum brings home the gospel and carries along the redemptive story that culminates in Jesus Christ.
First, there are explicit gospel promises in Nahum—promises of good news and peace (Nah. 1:15) and an end to the Lord’s discipline (Nah. 12) and to the power of the oppressors (Nah. 13). God is a stronghold and refuge for those in trouble (Nah. 7). God’s saving character is made clear at numerous points.
The whole Bible is about the grace of God ultimately revealed in Jesus.
Second, as God’s excellencies are proclaimed in judgment (Nah. 1:2–7), the repentant hear and receive grace. Even though Nahum does not explicitly call Nineveh to repent, repentance is always in order even if hope is not explicit (cf. Jer. 18:7–10). An oracle of judgment is a means of grace to the listening believer (Heb. 4:11; 6:1–8), and of gospel proclamation. Truth is being spoken. This is one manifestation of God’s goodness to humanity.
Third, we are comforted in knowing that judgment upon wickedness will inevitably come. All will be set right. We can be hopeful and patient. The gospel frees us not only from God’s just claims against us but from the dominion of the world, the flesh, and the Devil. In saving, God overthrows and destroys dominions that are opposed to his rule and oppress his people. This is why Jesus Christ would lift up some and overthrow others (Luke 2:34), feed some and send others away (Luke 1:53). The good news is not good news for all. In his death and resurrection, Jesus brings an end to empires and puts to shame the powers who oppress (Psalm 2; Luke 20:43; John 12:31; Col. 2:14–15; Heb. 10:13).
The ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible features 375,000+ words of gospel-centered study notes, book introductions, and articles that explain passage-by-passage how God’s redemptive purposes culminate in the gospel and apply to the lives of believers today.
Fourth, and supremely, our focus is drawn to the severity of judgment that Jesus Christ bore for us in his suffering in our place. The taunts deserved by evil (Nah. 3:5–7) were ultimately borne by him (Ps. 22:7; Luke 23:37). But for his extravagant act of mercy, our fate would be the same as Nineveh. Instead, we now stand in God’s presence blameless, with great joy (Jude 24).
The whole Bible is about the grace of God ultimately revealed in Jesus (Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:39, 46). The whole Bible is about the gospel (Rom. 1:1–2; 1 Pet. 1:10–12). That includes Nahum. Reading Nahum, we see the judgment to fall on the wicked, and the trajectory that culminates in Jesus continues—a trajectory that clarifies how any wicked person can be fully and freely forgiven.
This article is adapted from the ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible. Browse other articles in this series via the links below.
Genesis • Exodus • Leviticus • Numbers • Deuteronomy • Joshua • Judges • Ruth • 1–2 Samuel • 1–2 Kings • 1–2 Chronicles • Ezra • Nehemiah • Esther • Job • Psalms • Proverbs • Ecclesiastes • Song of Solomon • Isaiah • Jeremiah • Lamentations • Ezekiel • Daniel • Hosea • Joel • Amos • Obadiah • Jonah • Micah • Nahum • Habbakuk • Zephaniah • Haggai • Zechariah • Malachi
Matthew • Mark • Luke • John • Acts • Romans • 1 Corinthians • 2 Corinthians • Galatians • Ephesians • Philippians • Colossians • 1 Thessalonians • 2 Thessalonians • 1 Timothy • 2 Timothy • Titus • Philemon • Hebrews • James • 1 Peter • 2 Peter • 1–3 John • Jude • Revelation