Saturday, January 7, 2012
Jonah Chapter 3
Jonah Chapter 3
vs. 1-2: SECOND CHANCES
- God of second chances...
- “Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach. Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time. “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.” (2:10-2:2)
- God saved Jonah's life... and then gave him another chance to do what was right.
- Which is exactly what He does with us as well...
- When Adam sinned... he cursed all of his descendents to enter this world as sinners... When we are brought into this world, we are born unclean. We are born with blood on our hands. Accursed people.
- But God gives us a chance at new life. Even when we walk away... He gives us another chance...
- There's a song by Stellar Kart that has a line that says: “There will always be second chances, and you'll always be on your first try.” That SO speaks about our God. The God who never gives up... And is always willing to give you another shot at things.
- I mean... when Adam and Eve sinned... yeah sure, there was punishment... actions are always followed by consequences... but He didn't kill them off... and He didn't leave them without hope. He didn't just cast them out of the garden with no way to get back... He provided a way back. And not in a way that we as humans could mess it up... HE came to finish the work so that it would be a perfect sacrifice... a perfect way to get back to relationship with God. So there are no excuses. No way to say “well I'm just not good enough...” Because God, through Christ provided a way so that ALL could come... no matter what. Despite our being born into sin... despite all the mistakes we make... despite our rebellion... He can still take us back. (If we humble ourselves and come back...)
- So this is Jonah's second chance. He has run away from the voice and call of God... endured terrible things. Been taken to the end of himself... The edge of sanity. The depths of sorrow and despair... and now... God calls him again to do the work that is asked of him.
- And this time... Jonah goes...
- II Corinthians 7:8-16
- Luke 24:46-49; 5:31-32
- Colossians 1:24-29
vs. 3-6: THE MISSION
- “This time Jonah obeyed the Lord's command and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see it all. On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds; “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” The people of Nineveh believed God's message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow. When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes. He dressed himself in burlap and sat on a heap of ashes.”
- Jonah obeyed... gave the message... and WOW what a response from a city that was supposedly like the worst, most evil city of it's time. They were known for cruelty. They were the scourge of land...
- And yet their hearts were ready to repent of it all...
- Timing is everything...
- You know... people do not accept God unless they're ready. You can't force a heart to be repentant.
- I have a friend right now that... isn't ready... if we start a conversation on religion... it turns almost instantaneously into an argument... because his heart's not willing to look at God through faith. And it's not just that he's waiting on God to prove Himself... He's not looking for proof so much as he's just not willing to accept Who God is... or that God cares... because he's still a little mad at God over some things, and he's built up some walls that he's just not willing to tear down yet.
- Nineveh... as terrible as they were... were ready to repent and come to God. So there had to be some heart preparation there somewhere...
- And who's to say... that this was THE TIME to go to Nineveh. If God hadn't sent someone RIGHT THEN to the city... what's to say that they would have moved past their heart's time... and become even more hard and more terrible...
- And had Jonah not gone to speak... it could have meant that he was causing the further destruction and terrorizing of his own nation and people...
- As I said before... our actions always have consequences... and this could have caused some pretty major consequences.
- When God opens doors for us to speak... we have to walk through and speak. We can't just... sit back and hope someone else does it. Sure God CAN raise up someone else... but if we all sit back and think that someone else will do it... MAN! No witnessing would ever get done!
- Timing... is God's... not ours... and if God says to speak... we had better speak... because imagine if we didn't... and that was literally the only chance that person was going to have... What if they're heart was only in that place for a moment... What if we miss the chance and send our friend, or our family member, or some complete and total stranger... to an eternity in hell... just because we were too proud, or too afraid, or too caught up in our own lives...
- The people of Nineveh were definitely ready... There was no beating around the bush... they believed on God, called a fast, and put on their sorrowing clothes... no time lost. And the KING? When he heard the message... he did the same thing. BUT! He went a step further. He called the whole city to repentance. There was no question about it. From the greatest to the least... there would be repentance for what they had done.
- Job 11:13-20
- Psalm 51
- Romans 5:1-11
- John 7:6-8
- Isaiah 49:8-13
vs. 7-9: REPENTANCE
- “Then the king and his nobles sent this decree throughout the city: “No one, not even the animals from your herds and flocks, may eat of drink anything at all. People and animals alike must wear garments of mourning, and everyone must pray earnestly to God. They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence. Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change His mind and hold back His fierce anger from destroying us.”
- Not only did the king demand repentance from the people... he demanded it from the animals... wow... that's a little harsh...
- So I was reading through some commentaries to try and figure out the purpose behind the fasting of the animals... They all pretty much said the same thing, so I'm going to summarize.
- The sackcloth on the animals was an Eastern tradition in times of great mourning... such as when great leaders died. It was a removal of their decorated trappings for ones more suited to solemn occasions. It also served as a visual reminder to the people of Nineveh... everywhere they looked, they saw something to remind them of their humbleness before God.
- The people were told to earnestly pray and seek God in this time... because fasting in and of itself... would not be enough... So can you imagine the noise? In times of drought, or just when animals are hungry in general, they make A LOT of noise... So can you imagine animals bawling, babies screaming, people calling out to God in their sorrow and desperation for salvation? There was nothing that you could do in that city that did not exude repentance.
- And so God did hold back His anger...
- footnote- “The pagan people of Nineveh believed Jonah's message and repented. What a miraculous effect God's words had on those evil people! Their repentance stood in stark contrast to Israel's stubbornness. The people of Israel had heard many messages from the prophets, but they had refused to repent. The people of Nineveh only needed to hear God's message once. Jesus said that at the judgment, the people of Nineveh will stand up to condemn the Israelites for their failure to repent (Matthew 12:39-41). It is not our hearing God's word that pleases Him, but our responding to it.”
- Isn't that the truth? God wants us to follow. He doesn't need us to sit and read the Bible day in and day out. He doesn't need us to go feed 1,000 people a day. He doesn't need us to give up everything we own. He just wants us to be obedient. If that means doing all of the above... that's one thing... but to just do... STUFF... and never actually respond to what God wants us to do?
- If Jonah had gone to another land, continued to spread the word of God, continued to live a pretty good life, continued to pay his tithes and give to the poor... would it have been enough? NO! Because he still wouldn't have done what God REALLY wanted him to do!
- Acts 26:20
- Proverbs 16:1-4
- I Samuel 15:22-23
vs. 10: ANGER WITHHELD
- “When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, He changed His mind and did not carry out the destruction He had threatened.”
- Now destruction did eventually come... but it was about 170 years later. The prophet Nahum prophesied the fall of Nineveh about 100 years after Jonah had come... But this time... the people didn't listen... and about 50 years after Nahum gave his prophesy... the city of Nineveh (the capitol of Assyria) fell... and about 3 years later... the mighty nation of Assyria completely crumbled.
- Small timeline:
785 (approximately)- Jonah speaks to Nineveh
740- Isaiah prophesies that Assyria will be destroyed (more than once...)
701- Jerusalem falls to Assyria
663- Nahum again prophesies to Nineveh
640- Zephaniah prophesies against Nineveh
612- Nineveh falls
609- Assyria is conquered
- Man... every few years... God sent somebody else... with the same message. The first time, they repented, turned away from evil, and God turned away His anger... but within 100 years... Nahum said this: “And this is what the Lord says concerning the Assyrians in Nineveh: “You will have no more children to carry on your name. I will destroy all the idols in the temples of your gods. I am preparing a grave for you because you are despicable!” (1:14)
- Ouch... and double ouch...
- It's easy to fall away... it's hard to be good... easy to be bad... and sometimes... well... we fall...
- However... the people of Nineveh and Assyria, hardened their hearts. They turned away from God and refused to look back. God used Assyria as judgment for the Israelites... and they may have even been obedient to God for a while... but eventually... they fell back into their old habits and traditions... back to their idols and evil things... So they were destroyed...
- Looking at this... I think about my own nation... The US is terrible. We have more preachers on TV and radio than probably any other country. (granted not all of them are great... but they are there...) We have tons of churches... in every community. Christianity is part of our very foundations... and yet... we mock God. We throw Him out of our public places. We throw Him out of our schools. We don't allow the mention of His Name in public gatherings. We allow the murder of children. We watch while our leaders pass laws against God's laws.
- How many times have we had great revivals? Only to go back into our old sins? How many chances do we get? How many times will God call out to us for repentance before His judgment finally comes? Because come it will... Our repentance might turn away His judgment for a time... but eventually... judgment does come...
- So... are you praying earnestly for the salvation of your nation? Do you sorrow over the sin in your cities? Will you seek the face of God? Pray that your countrymen will repent and turn from their evil?
- *sigh* It sounds like an impossible task... It sounds... useless to even try...
- However... Jonah was one man. An unwilling one at that... but that one man's voice, brought about the salvation of capitol city... and a king who demanded it of his subjects.
- God only needs one voice. If that one voice is obedient... other voices will follow. Maybe in 40 or 50 years... but they will follow. Will you join me in crying out to God for revival? And will you join me in praying for the salvation... of our individual nations? I know some of the readers are from other countries... I know some of you... may not be praying for revival in the US... but rather... in Germany, or the UK, or India, or Russia, or any number of other nations in the world... But will you join me in praying for your country, and mine.
- Even if only one voice... that voice will fall upon the ear of God...
- Hebrews 6:4-12
- Isaiah 30:8-18
- II Peter 3:3-15
- Jeremiah 15:1-9