Nahum 2 & 3

These two chapters are two separate odes describing the fall of Nineveh. In chapter 2 the prophet depicts the approach of the enemy (verse 1a) and ironically summons the people to their city (verse1b). Then follows a description of the attackers within and without the walls (verses 3-5). The river gates are forced, the place is in panic, the queen captured, the people flee (verses 6-8), and looting follows (verse 9). The chapter 3 declares the city’s guilt and her punishment (verses 1-7). Nineveh’s strength fails (verses 11-15a). Though her people are without number, and her merchants are as numerous as locusts, yet, like locusts, they will fly away (verses 15b-17). Her rulers perish, her people are scattered. All who hear of her fall will rejoice (verses 18, 19).

  1. Read each chapter aloud, if possible in Moffatt’s translation. What were Nineveh’s sins that brought upon her so terrible a retribution? See also 1:11. What does this show of God’s attitude even to non-Christian societies? Does he care whether they are righteous or corrupt? If God cares, should we?
  2. How does Nahum show the converse of Rom. 8:31; i.e., if God be against us, who can be for us? Cf. Ps. 34:16; Jer. 37:9, 10. Have you ever experienced this in your own life, with all circumstances going against you, that in fact God was against you?

Notes

  1. 2:5. Picked troops (or ‘officers’, RSV). The same word is rendered ‘nobles’ in 3:18. A ‘protective shield’ (‘mantlet’, RSV) is a missile-proof screen under the shelter of which the attackers advance.
  2. 2:7. ‘Mistress’ (RSV): the word may refer to the queen (cf. verse 6), or to the Assyrian goddess Ishtar or her image.
  3. 2:8. Nineveh is compared to a breached reservoir.
  4. 2:11. ‘Place’ (‘cave’, RSV): ‘pasture’ (RSV mg., AV), or ‘feeding place’ (RV).
  5. 2:13. ‘Messengers’: envoys; cf. 2 Kgs. 19:9, 23.
  6. 3:4-6. The use of this figure to symbolize Nineveh was doubtless suggested by the sacred prostitution prominent in the cult of Ishtar.
  7. 3:9. ‘Put’: an African people, perhaps from Somalia or Libya.

Nahum 1

  1. What do we learn in this chapter about God:
    (a) in relation to his own people, and
    (b) in relation to his enemies?
    Cf. Luke 18:7, 8; 2 Thess. 1:8; Num. 14:17, 18; Ps. 46:1.
  2. Nineveh’s boastful spirit is see in Is.36:18-20; 37:23-25; Zeph. 2:15. But how does Nahum regard her in relation to God’s power?
    See verses 3b-6, 9-12a, 14; and cf. Ps. 37:35, 36.
  3. Consider how verse 7 is illustrated in the story of Kgs. 18 and 19, which happened less than a century before Nahum’s time.
    Have you your own illustration to give out of your own experience?

Notes

  1. Verse 1. ‘An oracle concerning Nineveh’, or ‘The burden of Nineveh’: see Note on Jer. 23:33-40. Where ‘Elkosh’ was is not known with certainty; it may be in Judah.
  2. Verse 2. ‘A jealous God’: behind this description lies the figure of the marriage relation used in Scripture of Israel’s relation to God. ‘Just as jealousy in husband or wife is the energetic assertion of an exclusive right, so God asserts and vindicates his claim on those who belong to him alone.’ Or, in terms of kingship, it is his ‘passionate determination’ that his sovereignty be recognized among all men, ‘to the benefit of the humble and loyal among his subjects and confusion of the presumptuous’. Cf. Exo. 34:14; 1 Cor. 10:20-22.
  3. Verses 8-10. The translation here is difficult.
  4. Verse 11. Possibly a reference to Sennacherib. Cf. Is. 10:7-11.
  5. Verses 12, 13 and 15 are addressed to Judah, and verses 11 and 14 to Nineveh.
  6. Verse 12b. RV mg. reads: ‘So will I afflict thee, that I shall afflict thee no more’ (i.e., “I shall not need to’). Cf. Verse 9. Then verse is addressed to Nineveh.
  7. Verse 14. ‘Vile’ here does not mean depraved, but rather abject, reduced to the meanest condition.
  8. Verse 15. The ‘good news’ is the news of Nineveh’s downfall.

Joel 2:18-3:21

  1. What is God’s reaction to his people’s repentance?
    What principle does this teach?
  2. How has the prophecy of chapter 2:28, 29 been fulfilled far more wonderfully than Joel foresaw?
  3. Chapter 3 is a vision of mercy upon Israel, and judgment on her enemies. In what ways had the nations angered God by their treatment of Israel and what judgment would fall on them?
    What, according to chapter 3:17 and 21, is the supreme blessedness of God’s people?

Joel 1:1 – 2:17

Two addresses on the plague of locusts, both describing in different ways its severity, and summoning the people to repent.

  1. What teaching is given in this passage on the need for corporate repentance for national sin?
    What essentials of true repentance are given in chapter 2:12, 13?
  2. Gather together the teaching on ‘the day of the Lord’ in this passage.
    What is its significance?

Obadiah 1

  1. By act and attitude Edom had sinned against God and against his people.
    Trace the details of the sin; then look up 1 Cor. 10:11, 12 and apply Obadiah’s warnings to your own life.
  2. The Prophet claims divine inspiration (verses 1, 4, 8, 18).
    What do we learn of the Lord’s character from this book?
    What wonderful truth had yet to be revealed which goes beyond verse 15? Cf. Rom. 8:3, 4.
  3. The prophet’s words speak of searing (verse 18) and possession (verses 17, 19, 20). How do the words ‘holy’ (verse 17) and ‘the kingdom shall be the Lord’s’ (verse 21) change the complexion of the situation?
    The Christian’s expectation is the same: ‘Thy kingdom come.’ How and why does its spirit differ?
    Cf. Mark 1:14, 15; Matt. 12:28; Acts 8:12; John 18:36; Rev. 12:10, 11; Matt. 5:3; Rom. 14:17.

Notes

  1. Verse 1. The section ‘We have heard… Rise, and let us go against her for battle’ is in parenthesis.
    Suggesting the means by which Edom will be brought low.
  2. Verse 3. Several translations’ mg. draw attention to a possible pun here; sela means ‘rock’, but it was also the name of the capital city of Edom, later called Petra.
  3. Verses 5, 6. Thieves or grape-stealers leave something behind; but when God plunders, the pillage is complete.
  4. Verse 7. The principle here is enunciated in verse 15b; this principle of strict justice is the basis of God’s moral law. Cf. Gal. 6:7.
  5. Verses 10-14. Cf. Ps. 137:7; Lam. 2:15, 16.
  6. Verse 16. The ‘cup’ of God’s wrath was a vivid prophetic picture of divine punishment and consequent disaster. Cf. Jer. 25:27, 28; Is. 51:17; Rev. 14:10.

 

Amos 8:4-9-15

  1. Why is social injustice the burden of Amos’ prophecy?
    What seven forms of judgment are spoken of in 8:7-14?
    Are these in any way related to the sins of the nation?
  2. 9:1-10. How does this final vision show that none can escape the hand of God?
  3. What does this final chapter teach about the relationship between judgment and restoration in the purposes of God?

Amos 7:1-8:3

  1. What is the significance of each of Amos’ four visions. (7:1-9; 8:1-3)?
    What truth is demonstrated by the difference between the first two and the last two?
  2. 7:10-17. How does this section reveal the fearless courage of the prophet and the danger to which his obedience to God’s call exposed him?
    What can we learn from this concerning the demands of God’s service?

Notes

  1. 7:4, ‘The great deep’: probably a reference to the ancient belief in underground depths which supplied water for streams, springs, etc. Cf.Gen. 7:11.
  2. 7:10. Bethel was the chief sanctuary of the northern kingdom.