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Nahum

John Collins10/10/2013

Video available here: http://youtu.be/4EE4MYHoQ1w

Another book of the Bible that you won’t find preached in the recorded ministry of William Branham is the book of Nahum – although one verse is mentioned five times with an alternative agenda.  A portion of the Word that came from the Lord through Nahum to Nineveh was snipped out of context to point away from the city condemned by God and towards Chicago, Illinois.

The title line of the scroll is found in the first verse, and it clearly describes the focal point of the prophecy and the man God spoke through when giving that prophecy:

“An oracle concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum of Elkosh.”

Nahum 1:1

 

The book of Nahum falls chronologically between the books of Micah and Habakkuk and foretells the downfall of the Assyrian Empire along with its capital city, Nineveh, which lay on the eastern bank of the Tigris river.  This same city was the target of Jonah’s mission around 200 years prior, though they repented to avoid destruction when Jonah came to proclaim God’s Wrath.  Some falsely think that Jonah’s prophecy failed when Nineveh turned their hearts to God, but instead, it was the Word from the Lord that never fails.  The destruction was simply postponed.

The people of Nineveh worshipped Dagon, the “fish god” of the Philistines.  This god depicted as half-man, half-fish, and was a god of fertility.  As with many of the gods of fertility, human sacrifice was included in their worship – but Nineveh was excessively brutal in their sacrifice according to Bible scholars.  Jonah’s fleeing from God’s will was also a flee for his life, but God was in full control.  To see a man walking out of a fish in a city that primarily worshipped a god that was half-man, half-fish would have been considered a sign by the city.  They would listen to this man thinking that Jonah was sent by the gods, though he was sent by the One True God.

Nineveh was one of the oldest and strongest cities in the ancient world.  This area whose ruins now lay across the river from Mosul, Iraq, was settled as early as 6000 BC and, by 3000 BC, had become a thriving religious center for worship of the false Assyrian goddess Ishtar, a goddess of love, sex, war, and fertility.  A statue of this goddess, who was depicted as an eight-star symbol, was sent to Egypt in the 14th century, B.C.  Interestingly, the eight gods of Egypt come together to form the glory of Ra in Egyptian mythology, and Irenaeus condemned the Gnostics for incorporating this series of gods into worship by constantly looking for the number seven and associating series of seven items – from letters in a word to physical objects – into worship.  Christ was the fulfillment of the eight under Gnostic worship.

It must have seemed like defeat when Jonah returned to his homeland, having stood as one man against the mightiest empire in the world at the time.  Jonah seems to have been afraid to stand against them, but when he finally did, God seemingly overlooked their pagan worship and human sacrifice.  Jonah went to speak God’s wrath upon the ancient empire, but returned to die before seeing its execution.  As Nineveh turned back away from God and into idol worship, it would seem like the gods of Nineveh were more powerful than the One True God. 

That’s why the book of Nahum is so important.  Nahum shows that God never fails, and that when His prophets speak, their prophecy cannot fail.  If a prophet speaks and the words do not come to pass, or if they have to change that prophecy to fit the situation, then that prophet is a false prophet.

God’s prophecy starts with the declaration of His wrath, but also with the reason for postponing that wrath:

The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and wrathful; the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies.  The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty.

Nahum 1:2-3

This prophecy, spoken to Nineveh by God through Nahum, declared vengeance on the Assyrian empire.  No matter how strong they thought their armies to be, and no matter how much they relied upon their ties with Jerusalem for protection from the One True God, they were going to be obliterated.  God was going to sever the ties made when the people repented after hearing the Word sent through Jonah, and they would be cut off from His people.  No more would Jerusalem be bound by fear of this idolatrous city.

Thus says the Lord, “Though they are at full strength and many, they will be cut down and pass away.  Though I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no more.  And now I will break his yoke from off you and will burst your bonds apart.”  The Lord has given commandment about you: “No more shall your name be perpetuated; from the house of your gods I will cut off the carved image and the metal image.

I will make your grave, for you are vile.”  Behold, upon the mountains, the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace!  Keep your feasts, O Judah; fulfill your vows, for never again shall the worthless pass through you; he is utterly cut off.

Nahum 1:12-15

Though the idea seems foreign to Christians, most of the pagan centers of worship did not serve just one god.  They served many.  Each god they served, each life they sacrificed, each abomination they performed in sexual worship to a false deity was meant for protection, provision, and power.  The more gods they bowed down to, the more they believed these three to be accessible.  While Nineveh held ties to the Babylonian and Philistine gods, it also held ties to the God of Jonah.  But God Himself was going to sever that connection by utterly destroying the city.

The second chapter describes Nineveh itself, in all its glory.  Nineveh is believed to have contained the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and the city itself was a sight to behold.  When Sennacherib, the son of Sargon II, took the throne of Assyria, he made the city truly magnificent.  Streets and city squares were laid out around the inner “Palace Without Rival,” a huge palace built 1,650 feet by 794 feet. (503 meters by 242 meters).  Eighty rooms within the palace held magnificent wall sculptures, and many of the larger entrances to the palace were decorated with colossal stone figures of winged lions or bulls with the head of a man weighing up to 30 tons. 

The city itself was seven square kilometers containing fifteen gates.  An elaborate system of eight canals fed water from the hills into the city, and a series of aqueducts filled the city with running water.  Through the inner walls of the city, Nineveh would seem like a modern-day marvel to any visitor, and watching the chariots race through the inner squares of the busy marketplaces would be awe-inspiring. 

But God did not care how great the city had become, nor how much power they thought they had.  God’s destruction was declared because they had returned to their false gods.

 

The scatterer has come up against you.  Man the ramparts; watch the road; dress for battle; collect all your strength.  For the Lord is restoring the majesty of Jacob as the majesty of Israel, for plunderers have plundered them and ruined their branches.  The shield of his mighty men is red; his soldiers are clothed in scarlet.  The chariots come with flashing metal on the day he musters them; the cypress spears are brandished.  The chariots race madly through the streets; they rush to and fro through the squares; they gleam like torches; they dart like lightning.  He remembers his officers; they stumble as they go, they hasten to the wall; the siege tower is set up.  The river gates are opened; the palace melts away; its mistress is stripped; she is carried off, her slave girls lamenting, moaning like doves and beating their breasts.  Nineveh is like a pool whose waters run away.

Nahum 2:1-8

Notice that last verse, “Nineveh is like a pool whose waters run away.” 

This entire scroll, remember, was a prophecy written against Nineveh for leaving worship of Yahweh and turning back to false gods.  And each chapter in the book specifically mentions Nineveh as the target of this prophecy through Nahum.  God was describing his coming justice upon the city of Nineveh, and describing how this mighty empire was coming to an end.

But during the five times William Branham mentions Nahum, he only mentions the fourth verse of chapter two – the rest of the book is left unread.  The first verse goes unnoticed – the title line describing this scroll written to Nineveh, and even the eighth verse of chapter two, describing Nineveh as being the city whose chariots run through the streets is avoided during the ministry.  It would seem as though William Branham did not read this book.

The first time Nahum is mentioned is in 1953, a sermon entitled “Elijah.”  William Branham clearly states that Nahum was wrong, and that God could not have been describing Nineveh – simply because the normal road for that time was not large enough to hold a chariot.

When the prophet give, twenty-five hundred years ago, that missionaries would travel from place to place and go into the nations and wouldn't leave a track behind them, coming by airplane. Twenty-five hundred years ago, before there was thought such a thing. Nahum, four thousand years ago, said that the chariots would rage in the broad ways and look like their headlights would be like a--a torches and they would run like lightning. And anybody's ever been in the oriental countries, their little old streets are not much wider than that--that aisle through there, just where a horseman could go down, or--or a carriage. And he seen the broad ways, he said they'd be the--the carriages shall rage in the broad ways. That prophet, through the power of God, looking down through an eye of God and said there'd, in other words, there'll be automobiles, there'll be airplanes, and men will come in the last days where they'll be, "Heady, highminded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, despisers of those that are good; having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." That's the Scripture. We're at the end time, friend.

53-1018  ELIJAH

 

Each time Nahum was mentioned by William Branham, this fourth verse is the only mentioned.  And each time, William Branham rejects the verses that came directly from God, telling Nahum that this prophecy was against Nineveh.

That great eagle called Nahum, four thousand years ago, went up so high in the Spirit of God until he seen Outer Drive in Chicago, four thousand years later. Said, "The chariots shall rage in the broad ways: they shall run like lightning, they shall seem like torches, they'll justle one against another."

57-0714  AS.THE.EAGLE.STIRRETH.UP.HER.NEST

 

Nahum, twenty-five hundred years ago, saw the--the horseless carriages here in the broad ways.

58-0316A  AS.THE.EAGLE.STIRS.HER.NEST

 

Did you ever think of Nahum, when he--he saw Outer Drive in Chicago, four thousand years ago?

60-1211M  THE.TEN.VIRGINS

But when God speaks through His prophets, His Word cannot fail.  If God told Nahum that the vision was against Nineveh, and that Nineveh was soon fall, then it was Nineveh that would fall – not Chicago, Illinois.  Chicago was not the city filled with human sacrifice, temple prostitution, and a rising force against the ancient world as described in this book. 

Behold, I am against you, declares the Lord of hosts, and will lift up your skirts over your face; and I will make nations look at your nakedness and kingdoms at your shame.  I will throw filth at you and treat you with contempt and make you a spectacle.  And all who look at you will shrink from you and say, “Wasted is Nineveh; who will grieve for her?”  Where shall I seek comforters for you?

Nahum 3:5-7

Notice, God said “Wasted Nineveh,” not “Wasted Chicago.”  One can only assume the reason why Branham avoided the book of Nahum, and why he tried to focus this prophecy of destruction against the city in Illinois, but it was to an agenda that suited the purposes of Branham and not the perfect will of God.  1953 was the first time Branham snipped this verse out of context, and interestingly is the same year of his “Chicago Campaign” that most followers of his ministry are familiar with.  This prophecy of doom for Chicago would seem to some as a publicity stunt.

But again, God’s Word never fails.  When God speaks, He already knows the outcome – because He IS the beginning AND the end.  He spoke through Nahum that Nineveh would fall, and Nineveh did fall. 

Around 627 BC after the death of its last great king Ashurbanipal, devastating civil wars began to break out, destroying the empire from within.  Assyria was attacked by both the Babylonians and the Chaldeans, as well as the Medes, Persians, Scythians, and Cimmerians.  By 612 BC, the empire was about to crumble and the fight moved into the city of Nineveh.  House to house throughout the city, rebel forces tore through the city with a motive to kill – not to take captive.  After conquering the city, they completely razed it to the ground.  Any who could not escape were either deported or massacred in the countryside.  Many unburied skeletons were found by the archaeologists at the site, depicting a horrific site of bloodshed with mounds of bodies to lie rotting in the sun.  The Assyrian empire then came to an end by 605 BC

To deny the book of Nahum is to deny this happened.  To deny this prophecy against Nineveh, falsely pointing it to Chicago for some unknown agenda, is to deny God keeping His Word.  And to deny the Word is to deny God.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1


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