(this transcript has been lightly edited for readability)
The structure of Nahum is, in a basic way, different than any of the other of the Minor Prophets because this is a book that is not written to the children of Israel. It's actually, the primary audience of Nahum is Assyria, that marauding superpower that had crushed Israel. But here's what God is doing. The implicit audience is Israel; it's sort of like this. It's sort of like a mom who's correcting one of her children, but she’s speaking loudly enough because she wants her other children to hear, that’s what’s going on. God wants Israel to hear what He's saying to Nahum because there are things that they need to get a hold of that are in this message to this ungodly, not God-fearing, idolatrous nation that has so victimized Israel.
The hope of Israel is, in ways, defined by God's message to Nahum. Here are some of the elements of that message. First, that God is holy and righteous in all His ways. All of the ways of the Lord are right and true.
I think one of the things that has happened to us culturally is we have lost the category of holy. No one ever talks about holy anymore. And that sense of that there are things that are holy and there are things that are not and that the One that rules it all is absolutely perfectly holy, and holiness is not just one of His characteristics; He is holy in all of His characteristics. God is holy in faithfulness, and holy in sovereignty, and holy in justice, and holy in power, is the epicenter of our hope.
Second thing, because God is holy, He's angry with sin. It's hard for us understand that the anger of God against sin really is the hope of the universe. You would not want to live in a world where the one in charge of the world did not care about evil.
You could argue that it’s the anger of God with evil that drove Jesus to the cross because He would not let evil win. You should be heartened that God is angry with sin because His anger with sin is part of the zeal to deliver us from sin by the mercy of the Savior.
Because God is holy and because He's angry with sin, He will meet out His justice. There will be penalties to be paid; and the fact that there will be penalties to be paid, again, points us to the One who would come, who would bear the ultimate penalty for sin. So at the cross, we see God's anger; at the cross, we see God's justice; at the cross, we see God's mercy, all coming together.
And then, He is faithful to His righteous cause; He will not forsake His righteous cause. And so, we see history marching toward this moment where Jesus would come, justice would reign, righteousness would reign, anger would do its work, mercy would be the result. And we know, because God won't forsake His righteous cause, that He’s not done yet. There will be the final defeat of sin, and we will live forever in a place where sin is and suffering are no more, and we will live with Him in righteousness and peace forever and ever and ever! That's the hope of the people of God; it's rooted in His holiness.