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12. Jonah

12-4 Jonah and Nahum

Nahum also prophesied against Nineveh. When we read his words, it would appear that there was no chance for Nineveh. And yet presumably there was always a chance for them, just as there was at Jonah’s time some years previously. But it seems to me that the essential message of Nahum was that of Jonah. They could have repented, even then. Not surprisingly, we find many allusions by Nahum back to Jonah: 


Jonah [re. Nineveh]

God is slow to anger (1:3)

4:2 [same Hebrew words]- and therefore He saved Nineveh.

“Who can abide in the fierceness of His anger?” (1:6)

God turns away from “the fierceness of His anger” [s.w.] against Nineveh (3:9)- Nineveh had survived God’s fierce anger by repenting, and so they could even in Nahum’s time. The Hebrew word translated “abide” in Nah. 1:6 is that used in Jonah to describe how the King of Assyria “arose” (3:6) in repentance. The answer to the question: “Who can abide / arise in the [presence of] the fierceness of His anger?” is: ‘The King of Assyria if he repents’.

The wickedness of Nineveh “came up” before God’s face (2:1)

The same words are used about Nineveh (1:2).

God was “against” Nineveh (2:13)

Same word in 1:2

Judged for “wickedness” (3:19)

Same word in 1:2; 3:8

It becomes apparent that the Ninevites of Nahum’s day are being directed back to the repentance of their city at the time of Jonah; but clearly they are also being invited to share in Jonah’s personal repentance.  


Jonah [re. Jonah]

God has His way in the storm (1:3)

Jonah’s experience in the storm

God rebukes the sea (1:4)

As God stilled the storm which Jonah was in

Who can stand before God? (1:5)

Jonah had to be ‘stood up’ [s.w.]  from his hiding in the ship when fleeing from God’s presence (1:15)

The Lord is a stronghold “in the day of trouble” (1:7) to those who trust Him.

Jonah cried to God in his “affliction” [s.w. “trouble” ] (2:2)

An “overrunning flood” will overtake Nineveh (1:8)

“The floods…passed over [s.w. “overrunning”] Jonah (2:2); but Jonah repented and was saved. Note how the connections between Nah. 1:7,8 and Jonah 2:2 are in close proximity- surely an allusion is intended here.

Affliction (1:9)

Affliction [s.w.] (2:2)

From this it becomes apparent that Jonah is seen by God as in essentially the same position as the Ninevites. This was why his appeal to them was so strong. For he had been in just their position, in essence, yet had repented. The fact Nahum makes all these allusions to Jonah’s personal repentance indicates that they well knew the story of Jonah; and his repentance had inspired that of the audience he preached to. In these we see a very real pattern for ourselves; it is our identity with our audience, as repentant sinners ourselves, which will elicit their response.  

Nahum’s message was not only a warning of judgment to come upon Nineveh. It was an appeal to Israel, that unless they repented, they would likewise perish. The appeal to Judah to “perform thy vows” (Nah. 1:15) is couched in the very same words as Jonah used in Jonah 2:9: “I will pay [s.w. perform] that which I have vowed”. Judah were being asked to be like Jonah, and not despise Nineveh, but rather appeal to her to repent.