Although God is slow to anger and abounding in mercy, He will not ignore sin forever. Israel's depth of iniquity had reached its peak and God lifted His hand of protection from them as the Assyrians came in from the east and stormed Samaria's gates. The Assyrians were a tool in the hand of God to bring about consequences on Israel that were due to them. But The Assyrian army went too far in their judgment of Israel, battering its people far beyond what God had intended. They overstepped their boundaries, and God was angry.
For the nation of Assyria, evil was not just a passing fancy; it was their way of life. They embodied the sins that God hates the most: deceit, theft, pride and no sense of value for human life. They grew increasingly wealthy by exploiting the nations they defended and plundering the nations they conquered. They were a greedy and bloodthirsty empire that soon took over almost all of the entire known world at that time.
The Assyrians were a brutal nation too. They mercilessly invaded surrounding nations, burning homes, killing innocent people, and taking away numerous captives as trophies of their conquests. The Assyrian army took over city after city, continually expanding its territory and increasing in political power. The wealth secured from the regions they conquered fueled their ongoing military campaigns. They were known for their bloody war tactics and their unstoppable chariots, striking fear in all who stood in their way.
King Sennacherib of Assyria wrote about one occasion: At the command of the god Ashur, the great Lord, I rushed upon the enemy like the approach of a hurricane...I put them to rout and turned them back. I transfixed the troops of the enemy with javelins and arrows...I cut their throats like sheep...My prancing steeds, trained to harness, plunged into their welling blood as into a river; the wheels of my battle chariot were bespattered with blood and filth. I filled the plain with corpses of their warriors like herbage. (Wikipedia)
God is a mighty defender and righteous Judge. Unruly nations did not go unpunished and Assyria was no exception. But their judgment was not only based on their abhorrent practices that went against God's laws, but included their abhorrent practices that drove them to both terrorize and destroy Gods chosen people.
The message from the prophet Nahum spoke very clearly that God was going to avenge His enemies. The Assyrians could not escape the judgment to come. The mighty nation was soon to be completely wiped out, never to rise again.
Unlike other prophetic books before it, the book of Nahum does not include a message of hope for the one receiving it. But for the people of Israel, it was a message of life and deliverance. To know that God was moving heaven and earth to defend His people, and that their greatest enemy would be crushed brought great joy and celebration.
In the next book of the Old Testament, a bold prophet implores God for answers to the evils around him. Habakkuk, moved by love for his people and trust for his God, cries out for God to intervene, to save Judah from destruction and preserve the honorable name of God.