God Is Serious Business
1 A report on the problem of Nineveh, the way God gave Nahum of Elkosh to see it:
2-6 God is serious business.
He won’t be trifled with.
He avenges his foes.
He stands up against his enemies, fierce and raging.
But God doesn’t lose his temper.
He’s powerful, but it’s a patient power.
Still, no one gets by with anything.
Sooner or later, everyone pays.
Tornadoes and hurricanes
are the wake of his passage,
Storm clouds are the dust
he shakes off his feet.
He yells at the sea: It dries up.
All the rivers run dry.
The Bashan and Carmel mountains shrivel,
the Lebanon orchards shrivel.
Mountains quake in their roots,
hills dissolve into mud flats.
Earth shakes in fear of God.
The whole world’s in a panic.
Who can face such towering anger?
Who can stand up to this fierce rage?
His anger spills out like a river of lava,
his fury shatters boulders.
7-10 God is good,
a hiding place in tough times.
He recognizes and welcomes
anyone looking for help,
No matter how desperate the trouble.
But cozy islands of escape
He wipes right off the map.
No one gets away from God.
Why waste time conniving against God?
He’s putting an end to all such scheming.
For troublemakers, no second chances.
Like a pile of dry brush,
Soaked in oil,
they’ll go up in flames.
A Think Tank for Lies
11 Nineveh’s an anthill
of evil plots against God,
A think tank for lies
that seduce and betray.
12-13 And God has something to say about all this:
“Even though you’re on top of the world,
With all the applause and all the votes,
you’ll be mowed down flat.
“I’ve afflicted you, Judah, true,
but I won’t afflict you again.
From now on I’m taking the yoke from your neck
and splitting it up for kindling.
I’m cutting you free
from the ropes of your bondage.”
* * *
14 God’s orders on Nineveh:
“You’re the end of the line.
It’s all over with Nineveh.
I’m gutting your temple.
Your gods and goddesses go in the trash.
I’m digging your grave. It’s an unmarked grave.
You’re nothing—no, you’re less than nothing!”
15 Look! Striding across the mountains—
a messenger bringing the latest good news: peace!
A holiday, Judah! Celebrate!
Worship and recommit to God!
No more worries about this enemy.
This one is history. Close the books.
Israel’s Been to Hell and Back
2 The juggernaut’s coming!
Post guards, lay in supplies.
Get yourselves together,
get ready for the big battle.
* * *
2 God has restored the Pride of Jacob,
the Pride of Israel.
Israel’s lived through hard times.
He’s been to hell and back.
3-12 Weapons flash in the sun,
the soldiers splendid in battle dress,
Chariots burnished and glistening,
ready to charge,
A spiked forest of brandished spears,
lethal on the horizon.
The chariots pour into the streets.
They fill the public squares,
Flaming like torches in the sun,
like lightning darting and flashing.
The Assyrian king rallies his men,
but they stagger and stumble.
They run to the ramparts
to stem the tide, but it’s too late.
Soldiers pour through the gates.
The palace is demolished.
Soon it’s all over:
Nineveh stripped, Nineveh doomed,
Maids and slaves moaning like doves,
beating their breasts.
Nineveh is a tub
from which they’ve pulled the plug.
Cries go up, “Do something! Do something!”
but it’s too late. Nineveh’s soon empty—nothing.
Other cries come: “Plunder the silver!
Plunder the gold!
A bonanza of plunder!
Take everything you want!”
Doom! Damnation! Desolation!
So, what happened to the famous
and fierce Assyrian lion
And all those cute Assyrian cubs?
To the lion and lioness
Cozy with their cubs,
fierce and fearless?
To the lion who always returned from the hunt
with fresh kills for lioness and cubs,
The lion lair heaped with bloody meat,
blood and bones for the royal lion feast?
* * *
13 “Assyria, I’m your enemy,”
“I’ll torch your chariots. They’ll go up in smoke.
‘Lion Country’ will be strewn with carcasses.
The war business is over—you’re out of work:
You’ll have no more wars to report,
No more victories to announce.
You’re out of war work forever.”
Let the Nations Get Their Fill of the Ugly Truth
3 1-4 Doom to Murder City—
full of lies, bursting with loot, addicted to violence!
Horns blaring, wheels clattering,
horses rearing, chariots lurching,
brandishing swords and spears,
Dead bodies rotting in the street,
corpses stacked like cordwood,
Bodies in every gutter and alley,
clogging every intersection!
And whores! Whores without end!
Fatally seductive, you’re the Witch of Seduction,
luring nations to their ruin with your evil spells.
* * *
5-7 “I’m your enemy, Whore Nineveh—
I’ll strip you of your seductive silk robes
and expose you on the world stage.
I’ll let the nations get their fill of the ugly truth
of who you really are and have been all along.
I’ll pelt you with dog dung
and place you on a pedestal: ‘Slut on Exhibit.’
Everyone who sees you will gag and say,
‘Nineveh’s a pigsty:
What on earth did we ever see in her?
Who would give her a second look? Ugh!’”
Past the Point of No Return
8-13 Do you think you’re superior to Egyptian Thebes,
proudly invincible on the River Nile,
Protected by the great River,
walled in by the River, secure?
Ethiopia stood guard to the south,
Egypt to the north.
Put and Libya, strong friends,
were ready to step in and help.
But you know what happened to her:
The whole city was marched off to a refugee camp,
Her babies smashed to death
in public view on the streets,
Her prize leaders auctioned off,
her celebrities put in chain gangs.
Expect the same treatment, Nineveh.
You’ll soon be staggering like a bunch of drunks,
Wondering what hit you,
looking for a place to sleep it off.
All your forts are like peach trees,
the lush peaches ripe, ready for the picking.
One shake of the tree and they fall
straight into hungry mouths.
Face it: Your warriors are wimps.
You’re sitting ducks.
Your borders are gaping doors, inviting
your enemies in. And who’s to stop them?
* * *
14-15 Store up water for the siege.
Shore up your defenses.
Get down to basics: Work the clay
and make bricks.
Sorry. Too late.
Enemy fire will burn you up.
Swords will cut you to pieces.
You’ll be chewed up as if by locusts.
* * *
15-17 Yes, as if by locusts—a fitting fate,
for you yourselves are a locust plague.
You’ve multiplied shops and shopkeepers—
more buyers and sellers than stars in the sky!
A plague of locusts, cleaning out the neighborhood
and then flying off.
Your bureaucrats are locusts,
your brokers and bankers are locusts.
Early on, they’re all at your service,
full of smiles and promises,
But later when you return with questions or complaints,
you’ll find they’ve flown off and are nowhere to be found.
18-19 King of Assyria! Your shepherd-leaders,
in charge of caring for your people,
Are busy doing everything else but.
They’re not doing their job,
And your people are scattered and lost.
There’s no one to look after them.
You’re past the point of no return.
Your wound is fatal.
When the story of your fate gets out,
the whole world will applaud and cry “Encore!”
Your cruel evil has seeped
into every nook and cranny of the world.
Everyone has felt it and suffered.