Yesterday I reached the end of Nahum chapter 2. This book is written in a very different way compared to Jonah and Habakkuk. Jonah is a narrative which recounts the ministry of a prophet whom God sent to a mighty city in a foreign (hostile) nation. Habakkuk is a conversation between Habakkuk and God which begins with questions, is filled with revelation, and ends in worship. Nahum rushes on in a choppy, forceful way, shifting its attention back-and-forth between Nineveh and Judah. The pace is quick. The prophecy is vivid. The judgment is merciless. The comfort is sweet. It's a rather fascinating, horrific, and bewildering book. Might it be speaking to God's perfect justice and mercy, which Jonah considered (Exodus 34, Jonah 4)? I'm eager to finish memorizing Nahum, so I can begin to meditate on it as a whole. It'll be particularly interesting to reflect on this book in light of Jonah. From what Jonah says and does, it seems that he would have been much more pleased to minister the message that Nahum was called to minister.
Speaking of Nahum, he bore "the burden against Nineveh" prophesying about the fall of Nineveh (capital of Assyria). Primary sources from Babylonia record the overthrow of Nineveh in this way:
"The fourteenth year [612-611]: The king of Akkad mustered his army and marched to Assyria. The king of the Medes marched towards the king of Akkad and they met one another at [...]u. The king of Akkad and his army crossed the Tigris; Cyaxares had to cross the Radanu, and they marched along the bank of the Tigris. In the month Simanu, the Nth day, they encamped against Nineveh. From the month Simanu until the month Âbu -for three months- they subjected the city to a heavy siege. On the Nth day of the month Âbu they inflicted a major defeat upon a great people. At that time Sin-ŝar-iŝkun, king of Assyria, died. They carried off the vast booty of the city and the temple and turned the city into a ruin heap" -Fall of Nineveh Chronicle
translated by A. K. Grayson in Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles
1975. Retrieved from: "The fall of Nineveh Chronicle (ABC 3)." LIVIUS: Articles on Ancient History.
Jona Lendering. 15 Dec 2011. 16 Dec 2011. http://www.livius.org/ne-nn/nineveh/nineveh02.html
Looking ahead to my next book, I read through Zephaniah yesterday. Wow! I can't wait to begin work on this book! It's going to provide some rich truth on which to meditate alongside Habakkuk. Their contexts and messages seem very closely related.
In all this study of the Minor Prophets, I'm looking forward to stepping back into that time and place - what did they know of God? what books of the Bible did they have and which were not yet written? how did they hope in God? I'm increasingly impressed by the reality of the Bible -- it's not merely a to-do list, it's not merely a timeline -- it's a message from God written through thousands of years of history by many different people in many different literary styles. I want to better grasp the internal unity of the Bible. It seems good for to me to take manageable pieces of Scripture written in different circumstances and times to different people by different people - and the Minor Prophets do this as a sort of sub-unit within Scripture. God is a real God who works in history - otherwise known as real life.