Jostling Chariots and Judgment

“The chariots shall rage in the streets, they shall justle one against another in the broad ways: they shall seem like torches, they shall run like the lightnings.” (Nahum 2:4)

This strange prophecy, found in the midst of the small book of Nahum, could almost be seen as a description of 21st-century freeway traffic! In context, however, the entire book of Nahum deals with the coming destruction of Assyria and, especially, its great capital, Nineveh. One of the most viciously aggressive and cruel empires in all history, bitterly opposed to God and His rule as Creator in the affairs of men, the Assyrians had been allowed by God to punish the 10 northern tribes of Israel, carrying them into captivity. But their own time of judgment was coming!

Under the preaching of Jonah, Nineveh had experienced a great revival, sparing the city its judgment for over a century. However, it soon became incurably apostate, worse than before, and its most vicious crimes were committed in this later period. Finally, God called Nahum the prophet to announce its coming doom. It was still another century before Nahum’s prophecies were fulfilled, but they were eventually accomplished at the hands of the Chaldeans and the Medes.

There is a possibility that, as is true with many other Old Testament passages, some of Nahum’s prophecies have a near and far fulfillment; the first in the ruin of Nineveh, the second in the great judgments of the last days. Some of the predictions (e.g., Nahum 1:5, 8) seem more appropriate for the end-times, unless they are simply poetic exaggeration, as many think. In any case, whether the jostling chariots fought only in ancient Nineveh or also prefigure lethal attack vehicles of the last days, the burning message of Nahum is that apostasy, violence, and cruelty eventually bring terrible judgment and utter destruction. HMM

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