Tag: Redeemed from Ruin

Her Disease Is Incurable

Micah 1:8-16

Many issues, maybe even most issues facing Israel and Judah at time of Micah have present-day parallels. Listen to news, voices on street and in homes, back-room political or financial maneuvering, mostly just need to change few minor details and rest stays the same. World’s explanation for that: what goes around comes around, history repeats itself, is what wheel of life is all about. May appear that way on surface, however there is broader and deeper reason/explanation:

goes all the way back to the Garden, mankind’s fall into sin – “through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12)

fundamental reason why looks like history repeats itself: man’s basic nature has not changed – born in sin, live in sin, act out our sin day after day, generation after generation, no indication or real expectation of improvement

sounds pretty depressing, perhaps pointless, even hopeless – after few thousand years still dealing with same basic issues — is true, sounds that way… but consider this: if basic problem has not changed but remains the same, same goes for solution… and God’s instruction concerning it

whatever right solution was then is same today – God sought out sinners, sacrificed for them, restored their relationship

Average sinner doesn’t want to even hear that, more determined sinner actively fights against God and his solution to their need. Instead, does utmost to come up with alternative fix based on human wisdom, that’s why broken sinful humanity still does what is sinful. Biblically informed Christians should expect it… that sinners will act according to their nature… until God changes it. Here’s why all this important to us – so long as God leaves us to live in fallen sin-corrupted world, we get to deal with it… around us as well as within us. How, then, do we respond to what is going on in neighborhood, nation, world?

Has been plenty of opportunity for response in last several months – immigration and the wall, black lives matter, confederate flag; more broadly – megalomaniacs in the Far East and closer to home, what goes by name of terrorism, and list goes on. Sad truth is: Christians too often respond like their neighbors and fail to follow example set for us in God’s word the Bible. Compare modern response, including professed Christians, to sin/injustice and Micah’s response:

primarily anger vs sorrow, human solution vs divine help, reacting to symptoms vs addressing root cause, pleasure over destruction vs personal sense of loss, etc

Whether you have monkey in the circus or not, all God’s people have obligation to respond in godly way to cultural issues. In this case, Micah sets example for us – he laments for his people and calls for others to join with him.

A. Micah laments for his people v.8-9

verbal distress

wail and howl – common widely recognized / accepted response to hard news that causes grief and sorrow; in fact, Jewish tradition to hire professional mourners… to give loud voice to grief over loss of loved one

wail like jackals – cry of wild dogs (think coyotes) esp. at night something not only sounds like grief, prompts response in those who hear it… kind of thing that draws others in to participate in sorrow

mourn like ostriches – would be obvious to all w/i earshot something was seriously wrong – Micah in great distress, not play-acting, everyone needed to pay attention

visible distress

disgraceful appearance – not just the sounds of mourning, had look of one in mourning being carried off as prisoner of war

whether disaster still in future or presently in progress, Micah using variety of persuasive devices to gain attention – not seeking to be center of attention, drawing focus to God and his just judgment

distressing diagnosis

an incurable disease – Samaria gone past point of help, even if repentance did occur – once sequence of events beginning with overthrow by Assyria began, Samaria would never recover

obviously talking about large group, the people group, not individuals – remember Samaritan woman, yet cannot now point to Samaritans as distinct group

an infectious disease – important to remember… moral and spiritual issues that plague one nation or group can easily spread

couple quick examples: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Russia, officially identified as “extremists”, on list of banned organizations

prosperity gospel (no gospel), that financial prosperity a sign of God’s favor – exported from charismatic circles US to Nigeria and elsewhere, now exported from Nigeria around world

doesn’t even begin to touch infection that gets spread through entertainment, publicly funded social programs, etc.

Micah takes no pleasure in coming judgment – rather, overcome with grief, sorrow at incredibly high price his “countrymen according to the flesh” will have to pay

B. Micah calls others to lament v.10-16

towns represent Assyrian advance toward Jerusalem

list of 10 cities, number that routinely signifies completeness, in this case of coming disaster – chosen b/c of names, wordplay

the prohibition in Gath (sounds like word for “tell”) – don’t bother tell Philistine city… had enough troubles already… if not completely overrun by Assyrians

Beth Aphrah (means “house of dust”) (10) – you will live up to your name, wallowing in dust/ashes to show (typical) grief

Shaphir (means “pleasant, beautiful”) – will be nothing pleasant or beautiful about their conquest and subsequent captivity

Zaanan (sounds like “come out”) – are too afraid or demoralized to put up any kind of fight, stay huddled inside town walls

Beth Ezel (means “house beside another”) (11) – friends cannot come to her aid, she cannot go to anyone else’s, can only weep

Maroth (sounds like word for “bitter”) (12) – like Beth Aphrah, live up to name and experience only bitterness… hoped fruitlessly for good, will receive judgment for disobedience

Lachish (sounds like word for “team”) (13) – will need all their chariots, yet to no avail… 2nd in size to Jerus., equal in idolatry, eventually defeated by Sennacherib

Moresheth – (sounds like “betrothed, dowry”) – would receive gift, “going away” kind as she goes into captivity bound to foreign master

Achzib – means “place on the dried up river” (similar to “deceive”) – would surrender to Assyrians, fighting against Judah

Mareshah – sounds like word for “conqueror, possessor” – would become possession of another, whoever could escape take refuge at Adullam (David hid from Saul)

picture of utter defeat and misery

remember who Assyrians were – first world power to have standing professional army used (quite effectively) for expansion

portion of army devoted to conflict in Israel numbered almost 200K, force typical neighbor would be unable to resist

then was fear and intimidation factor, used to greatest advantage – copied by Napoleon in advance into Russia: take all you can use, destroy the rest… scorched earth policy

had no mercy on those they conquered – not only practiced brutality in war and conquest, boasted about it in artwork displayed throughout their territories

continued barbaric treatment of captives after war ended – more concerned with adding territory, material resources than people

notice in Micah’s sorrow and warning, offers no complaint that his people are object of Assyrian terror – didn’t question justice

how could God possibly send or allow those horrible people to have upper hand over his own chosen nation?

even more personal than simply national issue, he was from Moresheth, was his own family in Assyrian sights

would seem Micah grasped awfulness of sin as God sees it – yes, Assyrians were bad, so were Israelites in their idolatry, injustice, rebellion against God

Judah’s exile began long before 586 BC

captives from conquered SW towns resettled – towns listed by Micah

not like modern warfare, mostly between armed forces, victor setting up new government to suit their own preferences – no interest in that

intended government to stay pretty much the same, have a compliant and unarmed people living in conquered territory

massive resettlement – Jews marched off in chains to be forcibly relocated in distant scattered parts of empire, many dying long before reaching destination

practice probably continued by later marauders

those who continued to harass border areas, later Egyptians and then Babylonians caused their own damage to Judah

toward end of Jeremiah’s ministry many voluntarily escaped to Egypt because of harsh conditions in Judah

inhabitants of Judah called on to mourn

conditions would justify this response – pretty much the extreme of mourning, might pull out hair or beard because of distress, but shaving bald?!

a last resort, no hope that anything less would maybe cause God to relent – also outward sign that life has come to end

once children carried off into captivity, no longer any hope nation can continue – Naomi… sons died, too old to have more

this not a warning, rather a prophecy – remember Micah’s diagnosis at beginning of our text: terminal disease, no cure

history does bear that out – once entire nation, both northern and southern kingdoms, had been overthrown, never recovered

true, was return from exile and Jewish people lived on the land for another 500 years, but… – not the nation as God had established; still his people, but… never really regained what had been lost

A worse fate did/does exist than what Micah’s contemporaries faced – total exile from God. Every bit as true today as then, what many in the news are facing. As far as raw numbers go, more true of our nation and others than ever before. Yes, need national leaders in every nation including our own who do their divinely appointed job according to Rom. 13and need those who work at grass roots spreading the Gospel.

A good civil government doing its God-appointed job makes for safe environment for Gospel to be proclaimed: “But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” In any circumstance, Christ-followers need to see various societal ills as what they are at root: result of sin practiced by those who need to hear / respond to Gospel. And… should respond to sin and God’s judgment as Micah did – sorrow and grief accompanied by proclamation of truth.

 

The LORD Is Coming

Micah 1:2-7

Since just short time after beginning, mankind has held to distorted view of responsibility and accountability. In fact, was part of substance of Satan’s deception in Garden and mankind’s response. Eve believed Satan’s insinuation that she was accountable only to herself, not God. Adam and Eve both denied responsibility for their sin, attempting to shift responsibility to someone else. Pattern has been followed for millennia, generation upon generation of people who think and act as if there is no God to hold them accountable.

At least in our country, has grown even more pervasive and troubling – children and young people trained to believe they can act with absolute autonomy – do as they please, expect whatever they desire, no personal responsibility to any external authority, certainly no consequences for behavior. Not only God who is not on radar, no authority of any kind recognized. Only one thing causes modification of behavior – superior force. Are training up generation (maybe 2nd or 3rd) of basically lawless individuals.

Micah has strong message for all people, especially lawless ones – those who fit description given as conclusion to Judges 21:25

“everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

His prophetic message addressed to world at large and specifically targets Samaria and Jerusalem. the covenant people of God. Keep in mind as we go along: Micah has fearsome message for those who rebel against God and at same time message of hope interspersed.

A text note: God’s personal name Yahweh usually pronounced Adonai by Jewish people as way to avoid violation of third command – not take Lord’s name in vain. Here in v.2 Lord GOD = Adonai Yahweh, pronounced Adonai Elohim (favorite of Ezekiel, 174x). Many versions translate as Lord GOD, some as Sovereign Lord. Should be no question in anyone’s mind who rules his creation and requires accountability of all mankind.

Begins with call to attention, then declares Yahweh is coming… for this purpose… and with this result.

A. Listen up v.2

all nations in general

God sovereign over all the world, all peoples, all of his creation… without exception – principle not accepted by all, incl Christians

lost people refuse to acknowledge God’s rule, believe and act as though doesn’t apply – many Christians agree, believe man can do as he pleases even when God desires otherwise

see Prov. 16:9; 21:1; Isa. 14:27; even Nebuchadnezzar got his theology right on that score: Dan. 4:35

God’s message, though targeted to specific individual or group, has benefit for all who observe / listen… true of Micah

Samaria and Jerusalem in particular

figure of speech in use here – metonymy, part for the whole – Samaria, capital, Israel; Jerusalem, Judah; Washington, USA

during time of divided kingdom yet God not lost sight of “his people” – prophecy for each individually as well as collectively

not uncharacteristic, God acts in judgment / discipline on his people first – often uses heathen nations as his instruments

in this case, Assyria and Babylonia – Assyria to overthrow Israel, threaten Judah, Babylon to finish task century later

majestic sovereign Lord has a case against the nations

language of courtroom – God takes stand as witness for prosecution; don’t forget – God also the Judge… and executioner

purpose of Sovereign Lord giving testimony against people not for Judge’s benefit – is for instruction of accused and spectators

will be no question how have broken God’s laws… in face of mercy and grace and longsuffering, how judgment is warranted

he speaks / comes forth from real Holy of Holies

in earthly tabernacle, Holy of Holies represented God’s dwelling place – were a copy or shadow of real thing

remember what was in that room: Ark of the Covenant, three things in it – golden pot with manna, Aaron’s rod, tablets

God will give perfect testimony in accordance with his perfect law – standard no one measures up to, yet his people gone far over on other side

flagrant willful rebellion, openly doing what displeased God, not even making attempt to sincerely obey / please him

one more thing to remember: the lid / cover on Ark – represented God’s throne / seat, dwelling between the cherubim (1 Chr. 13:6)

also known as mercy seat, where blood was sprinkled to make atonement for priest and people each year (Lev. 16:14-15)

God both just and merciful – will see that more than once throughout book of Micah

B. Look, the LORD is coming v.3-4

not only overseeing, actually participating in judgment

concept is particularly uncomfortable for many Christians – idea that God would be actively involved in bringing judgment on people, even his sworn enemies

yet truth of God’s word is inescapable – Yahweh himself has brought judgment and will do so again, personally

would not be much of a God who either could not or would not defend himself and his people from enemies – is true even of temporal king/ruler

ruler who does not enforce his rule cannot rightly be considered ruler – Yahweh sets boundaries… and enforces them

will come forth / descend

not anything like modern military action carried out by drones piloted remotely from thousands of miles away

God himself directing course of events in person – not without precedent: Josh. 5:13-15, Commander of the Lord’s Army

very well may be accompanied by human combatants (here the Assyrians), is Lord and his forces carrying on real battle, directing outcome

will be unstoppable

pictured as coming down from heaven to stride along mountain tops unhindered – nothing on earth can prevent his advance

demonstrates his absolute supremacy over all created things – even mountains simply melt and move aside out of his way

his advance should be source of terror for all enemies; at same time, source of great comfort for all who are his friends

almost goes without saying – will be nothing secret or hidden about Yahweh’s presence and moving in judgment

C. for this purpose v.5

general charge against defendants identified

rebellion – intentional breaking of God’s laws, refusal to submit to his authority – in this situation, one region led, other followed

Samaria and northern kingdom began trend, made it easier for southern tribes to follow their example, turn away from God

Jacob and Israel occur together 5x first three chapters, refer to entire covenant people of God; Jacob either northern kingdom or whole people, Israel designates Judah with nation in view

Jacob has rebelled

transgression implies knowledge – people in view, like Adam, not deceived but know God’s standard and intentionally make different choice

would have reason(s) for doing so, not ones found in Bible – ones that appear practically justified according to human thinking

Israel has sinned

looked at how life was going for brothers to the north, looked really attractive and effective so they followed example

later history showed Judah more open to correction than northern kingdom, more often had good kings and followed God

is primary reason for why northern kingdom overthrown by Assyria 722 BC, Judah not until 586 BC by Babylonians

Samaria is Exhibit A

a nations troubles usually start with decline in morals as result of decline in the church, not poor selection of gov’t leaders

goes right back to time of Jeroboam, first king of divided kingdom after Solomon – establishing system of worship in competition to Jerusalem Temple

calf worship in Dan and Bethel, installed priests not from tribe of Levi to oversee idolatry, went downhill from there – Baal, Ashtoreth, Moloch

might blame Jeroboam – he certainly bore great responsibility; yet Jeroboam could not rule peoples’ consciences – they freely rebelled against God by worshiping gods of their own choosing

Jerusalem is Exhibit B

Judah certainly hasn’t been that foolish, have they? actually did worse, were more guilty than Samaria

had Temple in Jerusalem, all they had to do was maintain – failed to do that, instead took unauthorized liberties with worship

continued to keep up externals of lawful worship but with idolatrous additions – burning incense to bronze serpent (2 Ki 18:4), Baal worship, sacred pillars, wooden images; even added Assyrian model altar to Temple worship

God just as displeased with syncretistic worship as idol-worship – both corrupt heart of true worship, become idolatry

D. with this result v.6-7

Samaria will be leveled

“land flowing with milk and honey” turned into wasteland – everything people sought to gain by corrupt worship destroyed

not going to be slap on the wrist, probation, commuted sentence – God takes especially this kind of sin seriously, will not be longsuffering indefinitely

her idols destroyed

Yahweh will make his supremacy over all other gods absolutely undeniably clear – idols and all they were used to acquire demolished beyond recognition

shattered gods, helpless idols, as worthless as Dagon who had to be stood up when knocked over, …and shattered dreams and fantasies of their worshipers

will be as if they never existed

gods leave no lasting imprint, something impossible re: true God – his fingerprints on all his creation… forever

Two things: the LORD is coming… again, to bring final judgment, bring this age to end and usher in new heavens/earth. Knowing that and that God takes sin seriously should encourage us to boldness in witness. Second, God is closely attentive to what we call worship, what we do in his name. Must be careful to do what we are certain will please him.

 

Prophet to the Cities

Micah 1:1

Overall theme for study of minor prophets, Redeemed from Ruin. Redeemed from ruin, yes! Redeemed from slavery, absolutely!! Is message usually emphasized in typical evangelistic presentations – clearly articulating mankind’s fallen sinful condition, the consequences of that according to God’s law, and then good news of salvation from sin through faith in Christ. Too often is where conversation stops… when it needs to keep going. Micah in particular makes plain there is more to full gospel message than what God redeems his people from.

All prophets “as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21) spoke a balanced message. Confronted and condemned sinful behavior, threatened judgment for continued rebellious disobedience, also promised hope for people of God. No hope – no change; if all gonna die anyway, what difference does it make how we live? Prophets made that clear, also – how we live is important, does have consequences. God has redeemed from certain ruin, and redeemed to what? Submission and service to the Righteous Ruler, the Redeemer King, the Lord Jesus.

Micah summarizes what other prophets declared Mic. 6:8 = Luke 10:27 = Luke 9:23

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?’

“So he answered and said, ” ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.'”

“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

Micah was a preaching prophet so what we have in book is collection of transcripts. Can be divided in 3 major sections starting with imperative “Hear”, “Listen up!” Chapters 1-2 address judgment on Samaria and Judah, on all who reject God’s call to submit to the God-ordained Redeemer-King. Chapters 3-5 underscore the contrast between present devastating judgment and future exaltation – those who rule their own lives will be condemned but those who put their trust in the God-ordained Redeemer-King will enter into glorious days. Chapters 6 & 7 present Yahweh and Israel in a judicial contest over the way to salvation; the ingratitude of the self-ruled life is contrasted with the blessedness of the Christ-ruled life.

A. who was he

from Moresheth

25 miles southwest of Jerusalem, near border with Philistia – area overrun by Assyrian army under Sennacherib

likely prophesying during time of capture, likely that family members killed or captured and enslaved by Assyrians

area throughout Israel’s history in Canaan had experienced conflict, skirmishes between Philistine raiders and locals

750-686 BC outside

during time of particular kings: sets date boundaries during time when Assyria dominated Near East, time of trouble for both Israel and Judah

can probably safely narrow range to 735 to 700 BC – no mention of Uzziah, spoke of distress at time of Assyrian invasion in 701

much upheaval, uncertainty because of threatening moves made by neighbors, lots of military activity throughout region

country boy

yet with significant name: Micah, short for Micaiah (compounded from parts of 3 words), “who is like the Lord”; introduces play on own name 7:18, “Who is a God like You”

an outsider to city life, not a part of corrupt political and religious circles at core of country’s problems stemming from failed leadership

perhaps better known to contemporaries than us but little direct information about him in Bible other than this verse, reference to his ministry by Jeremiah, 26:18

B. who were his contemporaries

Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah

Jotham son of Azariah, aka Uzziah, given all responsibilities of king but without title at time Uzziah afflicted with leprosy

had some successes, subdued Ammonites and required tribute from them for a time; completed father’s building projects, undertook some on his own incl. entrance to new court of Temple

was in some ways good / successful regent but mostly in material ways; moral condition of leaders and people in sad shape

Ahaz – shortened form of Jehoahaz, perhaps truncataed on purpose – like father Jotham in early/mid-20’s when came to power

early on encouraged revival of Baal worship throughout Judah, also despicable worship of Moloch incl. sacrificing own children (2 Chron. 28:1-3)

described as following practices of evil kings of Israel, not doing right in sight of the Lord as his ancestor David had done

Hezekiah – much different character from his father, at one point described as doing “what was good and right and true before the Lord his God” (2 Chron. 31:20)

abuses and sinful behaviors Micah addressed a problem to be sure when Hezekiah came to power; under influence of Micah and Isaiah, made significant progress throughout his life

Isaiah, Amos and Hosea

Isaiah – if Micah one of common folk from country town, Isaiah at other end of social spectrum, perhaps even related to Uzziah

both a preaching and writing prophet with literary style unmatched or even rivalled by any other

prophesied over longer period both before and after Micah, was used by God to firm up Hezekiah’s resolve and preserve Jerusalem from capitulating to Sennacherib

Amos – like Micah not a professional prophet nor from big city; native of southern Judah, called to prophesy to northern kingdom

time of outward prosperity in Israel, guarded peace between Israel and Judah; however, all of evils present and criticized in surrounding nations alive and well in Israel also

Hosea – along with Amos a prophet to Northern Kingdom, modeling for people faithfulness of God to an unfaithful people

in addition to words of his message, demonstrated in personal life love and compassion God shows by pursuing his wayward people, restoring to right relationship

C. to whom did he prophesy

Samaria and Jerusalem

prophecies pertain to both parts of divided kingdom (still one people in God’s view), ministry more focused on Judah

probably about halfway through his ministry Samaria, having been under siege for 3 years, fell to Sargon – then began major resettlement program

Jews carried off into exile, dispersed around Assyrian territory, colonists brought in from other places to replace them

all you peoples

warnings and condemnations in Micah’s prophecies have application far beyond Israel and Judah – relevant for people in other places and times including our own

also equally applicable to all strata of society, social or economic; has especially strong language for spiritual and political leaders acting in ways displeasing to God

D. what were the issues

“The sins he rebukes are peculiarly those of cities: Oppression and violence, corruption of princes, prophets and priests, bribery, robbery, dishonesty, pride.” G. Campbell Morgan

oppression and violence

society changing in Judah, becoming more urbanized – people’s expectations changing, increasing disparity between rich and poor

corruption

more and more of “economy” dependent on some kind of currency, less on barter – investors buying up family farms… against specific principles in God’s law

not just tangible products exchanged – favors and concessions available for purchase by highest bidder both domestic and international

dishonesty

when one involved in transaction has no sweat equity in what is being traded, greater tendency for dishonest practices

pride

increasing pride in possessions, wealth, societal position; on national level… ability to defend against outside aggressors by combination of military strength and strategic alliances

E. what was his message

judgment is coming, but there is hope

certainly deserved God’s judgment for their rebellion; at same time (on human reasoning level) needed assurance if they changed, the outcome be different

God appears in order to judge but he will shepherd the remnant (2:12-13)

promised disaster on those who willfully disobeyed his laws, treated neighbors unjustly – at same time promises a remnant that He would care for

Disaster will come but not permanently (4:1-7)

political and religious leaders who oppressed and deceived their people would be judged – yet in latter days, great blessing for all nations in the mountain of the Lord

2 reasons for future hope: God’s character and God’s promises (7:18, 20)

God’s character as revealed to Moses: forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin; longsuffering; merciful and gracious

God’s covenant made with Abraham: offspring become mighty nation, victorious over enemies, all nations blessed

calls people to follow God’s standard – 6:8

here’s what you are doing (6:6-7), now this is what God expects (6:8) – turn from sinful rebellion, do that and live

only possible through submission to Christ, the Righteous Ruler

the Good Shepherd who leads his people, the flock of his heritage

Micah is ideal follow-on book to Jonah – when 6:8 describes us, will delight in greatness of God’s missionary heart to bring Gospel to nations, work he is doing to accomplish it, perhaps using us in process.

God Will Be Gracious

Jonah 4:4-11

Two verses, frequently used as proof texts – Exodus 33:19; Rom. 9:15. Used to “prove” God’s absolute sovereignty – see, God does what he wants to whoever he wants, so get over it. What God said does show that. Yet also shows something much more important (there are other places that make his sovereignty clear) – God says “I will have mercy”. God under no compulsion to be merciful, yet he freely chooses to be abundantly merciful.

Grace and mercy go together, opposite sides of same “coin”. Mercy vs. grace: hold back what is deserved, give what is not deserved; hold back what has been earned, give what cannot be earned. Message of Jonah: God will be merciful and gracious to lost of Nineveh, nothing will hinder his intentions and purpose for them, not even Jonah. And… God remains gracious to Jonah in spite of bad attitude.

Jonah pouting, Jonah resentful, Jonah angry with God, yet God graciously continues to teach his prophet about grace, adding to personal experience, further equipping for ministry.

A. a gracious question v.4, 9a

God doesn’t ask questions for his own benefit

“Adam, where are you?” – God knew, giving Adam opportunity to respond; “is it right?” keeping Jonah engaged in conversation

someone calls suicide help line, keep them talking – leaving to stew facilitates downward spiral of thinking, never good

intended to challenge / instruct

God also expecting Jonah to give due consideration to his question, come up with reasonable (if wrong) response

helps us remember God is gracious – doesn’t automatically smack us down when we speak or act wrongly.. even toward God

keeps us engaged so will be influenced in right direction – truth is if God left us alone, Satan right there to fill in the blanks

provides opportunity for re-thinking and repenting

remember Adam, Eve, Cain – where are you? who told you? what have you done? why are you angry? – God not on detective mission

each question should prompt re-thinking… from God’s perspective – if He’s asking, must be something ought to give more weight to

since God is asking questions, must be something wrong, must be need for repentance – question offers ideal opportunity

two different responses

silence – guilty conscience (4)

at this point, still had enough God sense to be ashamed, not want to talk – preferred to walk away, hope God didn’t follow

had not yet worked through full justification for sinful attitude, not that ready to challenge God and his actions

was uncomfortable being in God’s presence… again – had yet another reason for thinking God was wrong in dealings with now both Ninevites and Jonah

quick retort – defiance (9)

24 hours later, more firm in his resolve (code for hardened in his rebellion), defiantly defensive and overly dramatic

this time answers question… plus – yes, I’m right, even more right than before, right enough to die whether God agrees or not

is interesting: as drama / dialogue progresses Jonah displays less maturity and more childish petulance, not acting physical or spiritual age

B. two lessons v.5-8

the helpful plant

God’s provision after man’s sorry attempt – just like the Garden – made coverings that were temporary, God graciously replaced

Jonah sat in shade he made for himself, only temporary and certainly insufficient – what happens when rely on human genius

should have prompted thanksgiving – Jonah didn’t ask God for shade, yet God provided… for wayward prophet, and still no response of thankfulness – taking for granted if he even grasped that God had done it

God regularly and often makes up for lack in his people, supplying what they need and have no power to acquire

the hot wind

God prepared plant, now prepares a worm that loves that kind of plant – cut off supply of nourishment so plant began to die

then God prepared a wind – plant, worm, wind all specifically designed and sent by God to teach Jonah about God and his grace

three everyday things, unremarkable in appearance, all sent by God – how many times has God done similar for us, are oblivious to it and his intended lesson for us or someone else

discomfort, perhaps even danger – combination of wind and sun can quickly go from uncomfortable to deadly in that climate

don’t forget… Jonah sitting in hot sun by his own choice – no requirement whatever that he endure such hardship

could just as easily have chosen to go find shelter and safety – except bad attitude prevented that, fueled anger toward God

should have pushed Jonah toward God – still not at point where Jonah would acknowledge he needed God’s grace – still thinking he had earned God’s favor

C. an encouraging rebuke v.9-11

truly a rebuke but not delivered that way – are you sure you’re right?? you really need to think about it from different POV

patiently leading Jonah toward truth, not smacking him silly – really accurate rendering of how God treats all his children from time to time

much God could have criticized in Jonah – could have told him how little he deserved, how much aggravation had cost God, how wrong his attitude toward Nineveh was

and that’s just for starters – if God fully revealed to Jonah (or to us) full extent of our sin as he sees it, would drive to despair

instead pointed out what was commendable

you had compassion for the plant, wanted Me to spare it – true, partly selfish… benefit of shade that meant a lot to Jonah

but yet, Jonah wanted God to show compassion to a plant, something that has little value beyond its immediate usefulness

should I not have compassion for 120,000 lost men, women, boys, girls and spare them? – Jonah begrudged compassion on Ninevites, made in God’s image, “worth” his redeeming love

appears Jonah had hard time making that kind of connection, seeing the contradictions in his own thinking, grasping just how contrary to God’s perspective his own was

Most important thing Jonah did not get: if God did not love his enemies, show compassion toward them, be gracious to them, every last soul would die in their sins. Was because God loved his enemy that Jonah was a prophet. Same true for each and every one of us. If we are to truly follow Christ, we must demonstrate same loving compassion to God’s enemies and ours. We must depend on him to use us, even when our “message” doesn’t seem very evangelistic, to draw lost to himself.

The Bible Project is a non-profit animation studio that produces short-form, fully animated videos to make the biblical story accessible to everyone, everywhere. Website – thebibleproject.com; YouTube channel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLIabZc0O4c 9min.

Disappointed by Grace

Jonah 4:1-3

Is really easy to find all sorts of fault with Jonah – should have been like this, done that, thought this way, acted that way. Many times, though, Jonah is who we see in mirror. God directing us to do something, we run in opposite direction. God has particular way of thinking about people or circumstances, we persist in thinking differently. Story of Jonah should give us encouragement – like people of Nineveh, God didn’t leave us to our doom. Like Jonah, God patiently uses less than perfect instruments to do his work. Praise him for that!!

Given how Ninevites responded to God’s message, Jonah should have been delighted, not displeased. Should have rejoiced, not resented God’s grace. What should have brought Jonah before God in worship brings him to complain. Example given here not to encourage copying Jonah but to give hope in God – he will pursue ruined sinners, will use redeemed sinners, his purpose will not be frustrated or derailed.

Jonah displeased, not with events, with God! Jonah disagreed with what he knew God’s plan was for Nineveh. Was disappointed to be right about God. If was baseball instead of Bible, Jonah a classic strikeout who swings wildly at precisely wrong time.

A. displeasure v.1

not just little difference of opinion

more like directly opposing views of redemption – Jonah wanted maximum benefit for minimum crowd, God intended maximum benefit for maximum size group

two or three kids, huge box of toys, dump out and one scrambles to grab all toys if possible, guard for own use – Jonah wanted Gospel grace dispensed on terms he was comfortable with

Jonah understood basics of God’s character – gracious, loving, longsuffering… consider Israel’s history, how God treated them

seems Jonah only saw and appreciated that character in relation to his people, not at all interested in sharing

Jonah did not grasp breadth of God’s purpose – finally got it that God had good things in mind for Nineveh, at least for his generation

probably would have had huge meltdown if suspected Nineveh simply one example of all God intended for rest of world

see in next verse Jonah familiar with Exodus – should have gone back to Genesis, God’s immense promise to Abraham (12:3)

or the infinite supply of God’s grace – like everything else related to God, his supply of grace has no limit, cannot be measured

at least did not work out practical implication of that truth – God can bestow grace on 5 people or a million w/o diminishing what is available… to all of them and more

have little frame of reference, all we work with has limited supply, not so with God; side note – why we can ask big things

intensely displeased

strong expression of conflicting ideas – Jonah had his idea / mental picture of how it should be, refused to accept any other version

convinced not only that his way was a right way, strongly believed his way of understanding and applying redemption the only right way

wasn’t simply that Jonah was “afraid” God might be gracious – knew from history, esp. personal experience God is gracious

problem was Jonah’s list of candidates for God’s grace far shorter than God’s list, and Jonah not interested in modifications

Jonah firmly convinced God was wrong to be gracious to Ninevites – was matter of principle, not preference, for him

offended preference doesn’t generate death wish – this a principle Jonah believed of ultimate importance… he was right

if YHWH could only be proper God for Israelites and none else, YHWH is too small to be kind of God fallen world needs

led to anger… and pride

anger God didn’t see it his way – put kid in timeout, often says what he thinks expected to shorten stay whether genuine or not

Jonah said lot of right things in prayer from fish’s belly… doesn’t mean he embraced those truths and all their consequences

perhaps some said through clenched jaw, angry that God used his prerogative to do things his way – anger one of first sins mentioned… “Cain was very angry” (Gen. 4:5), some other parallels there, too

pride because his way was best – Jonah convinced he was right, God should have listened, offended because he didn’t

B. disagreement v.2

I knew this would happen

no doubts about unchanging character of God – knew how God had acted in past was how would continue to act in future

also recognized good principle – God always acts consistent with his character: names describe, actions display character

so convinced it would happen, took matters “in own hands” – was rational belief, not irrational like some who go to even greater extreme

20 years ago, Heaven’s Gate cult, Hale-Bopp comet had spaceship in tail, would take souls to higher plane

were many valid reasons for Jonah to maintain conviction that God would indeed continue to be unchanging in character

seemed to forget God’s unchangeable plan included Jonah! – God had tagged Jonah for mission, was not going to back out

God could use reluctant prophet to do his work just as easily as change hearts of Ninevites to genuinely repent

I didn’t want this to happen

given no clear reason why Jonah thought as he did – apparently God thought specific reason not important for us to know

leaves us to look for principle(s) to apply in variety of circumstances, not just one kind that looks like Jonah’s

could have been expected threat from national enemy – Assyria on/off hazard to Israel for many decades, no desire to show them favor, encourage them in any way

could have been fear response, thought Gentiles a sub-species – might not have had clear basis, just afraid of them because of past reputation

note: same basic attitude has persisted in church down to today – at one time, blacks viewed as less than human, not deserving of the Gospel or opportunity to worship

present culture: fear of Muslims, distaste for homosexuals and others, attitudes that have serious impact on evangelism

I ran so this wouldn’t happen

Jonah figured he was God’s Plan A, God didn’t have Plan B – was right, not because God couldn’t, he didn’t need one

Jonah didn’t figure on God’s persistence, creativity – for at least a while, Jonah thought he could frustrate God’s plan all by himself… he’s repeatedly finding out otherwise

and… Jonah didn’t figure on God’s plan for Jonah for Jonah – not told final outcome for Jonah, would be reasonable to think God eventually brought him around to right perspective

I knew you would make it happen

perhaps getting at root of Jonah’s problem: notice what Jonah quotes – even in anger/frustration Jonah goes to Bible, kinda think was misusing it though… applying in way God did not intend

goes back to God’s revelation of his name to his covenant people – Exodus 34:6-7, Moses on way to get 10 Commandments, 2nd issue

Jonah didn’t want God to have covenant kind of relationship with any but Jews

happens in personal relationships, particularly controlling types – you can have any kind of relationship you want… with me, no one else

happens in Christian / religious circles – hostility toward Gentiles in Jesus’ day; Gnostic secrets exclude all but chosen few

if don’t dress particular way, use certain version of Bible, show anointing of Spirit by outward signs, not “real Christian”

C. disappointment v.3

death is better than this

Jonah too angry / resentful / disappointed to want to live… too chicken to take own life – could also be attempt to manipulate God!

doesn’t’ seem to get the irony – he prefers death because he has hope, a hope he would deny Ninevites

apparently has already forgotten 3-day submersible experience – was willing to concede certain things if God would get him out of fish’s belly

yet he would consign Ninevites to far worse in spite of God’s intention to show them love and grace – shows how unrestrained anger feeds itself and grows

better to die than see them live

if Jonah lives, he gets to see Ninevites live, too – not his idea of fun – had worked himself into such state, no longer cares about people on any level

may have understood God’s grace, did not fully grasp God’s judgment / wrath – had taste of abandonment, had no real experience of God’s wrath… means also didn’t fully grasp awfulness of sin

if he did, was meaner, more lacking compassion than an prophet had right to be – had no right to be vindictive toward Assyrians, vengeance if / when warranted belonged to God

totally upside down from Paul – Rom. 9:1-4

I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit,that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart.For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,who are Israelites”

Paul, like us, knew that was impossible – even apostle’s death wouldn’t save anyone – is clear way of showing Paul’s commitment to do all he could to bring them to faith

it’s the thought that counts – should reflect depth of our compassion for lost, whether Americans or not

actually only one race, the human race; two kinds of humans, saved and lost – those are categories God uses, so should we

when God brings lost to country, city, neighborhood, workplace, should respond in way that shows God’s grace and mercy

when are around saved people, need to do same – show God’s grace and mercy as we encourage one another

Only way to do that – make sure our tank is full all the time. Focused on Christ, listening to Christ, depending on Christ, becoming more like Christ day by day as we draw nearer to him.

 

The “Results” of Jonah’s Preaching

Jonah 3:5-10

When Christians report on work of evangelism, is common to write or speak in way that fails to do justice to what really took place. Much of time emphasis is on numbers – “11 people sought Christ” – “we converted 21” – “hundreds responded to the invitation” – “29 salvations, 8 re-dedications”. The impression given is that evangelist, short-term missions team, camp ministry, represented one half of equation, responders the other half. I/we did this, they did that in response. Contrast that sort of ministry reporting with Bible – Ac 2.41Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” Ac 2.47 “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”

I’m sure if challenged, some at least of those who make report would acknowledge better way to state details, to make clear who is responsible for conversions. Is easy for us to give priority to what we see, let what we know to be true fade into background. Story found in Jonah good reminder not to do that. What we see today as results of evangelistic presentation no less a work of God than conversion of people of Nineveh. We look at what Jonah preached – simple message of impending destruction, are blown away by how many salvations there were. Would be more accurate to look in chapter 4 to find results of Jonah’s preaching, instead see here in chapter 3 mighty moving of Spirit of God giving gift of repentance to thousands in Nineveh. This in perfect keeping with closing statement of Jonah’s prayer, Jon. 2:9Salvation is of the LORD.”

God is most pleased when his servants obey willingly with sincere heart, proclaim truth with genuine desire for God to bring about results. However… God can use any instrument, willing or not, to achieve his purpose. At one time even used donkey to speak truth to wrong-headed prophet! Jonah, grudging and reluctant all the way, did speak God’s truth to residents of Nineveh, outcome was indeed what Jonah expected. More on that in next chapter. Also had precise outcome God intended, city of Nineveh was turned upside down.

A. the people v.5

heard

impression given by our text – people heard God’s proclamation, immediately responded to it – if aerial view, see waves of action spreading out in all directions w/Jonah at center

this a perfect illustration of Paul’s statement Rom. 10:17So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

also Isa. 55:11 “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

believed

immediate reaction to preached word: belief, confidence that this God Jonah represented would do exactly as threatened

why did they have greater confidence in Elohim than gods they worshiped? because God enabled them to recognize truth, gave desire and will to respond appropriately

mourned

fasting and sackcloth typical traditional activities associated with mourning, humiliation – not limited to Jewish people

what were they mourning? gotten caught? their sin, exposed by nature of threatened consequences? would seem the latter

right response never comes about when message begins with God’s love instead of his holiness and righteousness

what seems harsh often most loving thing we can do – God is love, also holy/ just – sinners need to be warned, not stroked

all without distinction

from greatest to least – no social or economic distinctions, not even political – a message that could be understood by absolutely anyone as Spirit of God moved

given conclusion of story, perhaps author means to include idea of “oldest to youngest” given who God said he had in mind

but not without exception – whatever exact numbers were, overwhelming majority responded properly even if a few holdouts

B. the king v.6

heard

not given strict timeline, expect news traveled quickly as effect of hearing God’s word snowballed, reaching highest levels

no indication that was Jonah who brought message to king, most likely not Jonah – was reports of what was happening

when Spirit of God at work, can and will use all sorts of ways for people to hear truth – yes, appointed prophet necessary, but not only means God used

humbled himself

completely out of character for king to remove all signs of authority, level the playing field, stoop to take his place beside everyone else in city

king goes step beyond everyone else – replaced royal robes with sackcloth and sat in ashes – even greater act of humiliation along with mourning

accepted responsibility

for himself – shown by his actions, showing no desire to pull rank, no evidence of attitude of superiority – taking heat along with everyone else, expressing sorrow over his own guilt

for his people – king stood for people as their representative, also shown by his actions – did not stand by himself and issue decree only for people

set an example

showed first how all should respond, then gave further instruction through his edict – the way any good leader acts, far too rare in today’s world

had right effect on those in government – “decree of the king and his nobles” – universal gov’t approval of national response

side note: this the kind of character we should look for in elected officials at all levels of government, kind we should display in our leadership roles

C. the edict v.7-8

fast

this one a strict fast – no food or water, for unspecified duration – long enough to demonstrate sincerity of their grief

included animals, domestic beasts, who added their voices to those of people – together, from greatest to least, man and beast to participate in national repentance

mourn

all without exception to show outwardly their inner state of mourning and humility; showing also their unity, having put aside outward measures of distinction

pray

king by example and decree focusing people’s attention and activities… together crying out to God for deliverance from threatened calamity

not just a few sentence prayers, instead continued strong, vigorous, insistent and persistent crying out loudly to God

not the kind of ritual repetition prophets of Baal engaged in on Mt Carmel – this the genuine outpouring of people sorrowing over sin… seeing their evil ways as God did, worthy of God’s anger

repent

king’s edict included himself… “let everyone turn” – king understood and impressed on people: must be more than just words

if any hope at all of receiving mercy from God, must be radical change of behavior, complete turning away from evil/violence

mre evidence that king truly understood point God was making – conduct of king and people had been evil, sinful… king calling their actions what God did

D. the attitude v.9

humility

not taking anything for granted – if we do this then God must do that – no stated or implied reasons why God should respond favorably to their prayers

did not question justice of God’s fierce anger – simply accepted God’s assessment of their conduct without making excuses

dependence

king’s final statement leaves outcome entirely in God’s hands – they will persist in prayer and repentance depending on God’s mercy for reprieve

E. the result v.10

God saw they repented

doesn’t say God heard their cries, says he saw their works – of course prayer included in works… but not the only thing

saw they turned from evil way – not just stopping the next planned evil thing or two, actually beginning new way of life

“In 1951, Red Skelton and a party of friends flew to Europe, where Skelton was to appear at the London Palladium. As they were flying over the Swiss Alps, one of the airplane’s engines failed. The situation looked very grave and the passengers began to pray. Skelton went into one of his best comic routines to distract them from the emergency as the plane lost altitude, coming closer and closer to the ominous-looking mountains. At the last moment, the pilot spied a large field among the precipitous slopes and made a perfect landing. Skelton broke the relieved silence by saying, “Now, ladies and gentlemen, you may return to all the evil habits you gave up twenty minutes ago.””

Ninevites did not do that, at least not in near term – repentance widespread and sincere enough that God saw and approved

God relented

not that God changed his mind – for him to bring calamity after they repented would not have been just, perceived threat had desired effect

and… really a sense in which Nineveh was overthrown/overturned – anyone who visited Nineveh day before Jonah’s arrival, then 41 days later would think were in totally different city

Ninevites turned over new leaf, completely different priorities, behaviors, attitudes – no longer prime for judgment

same for us

when God confronts with message about something we need to change, rather than get defensive or make excuses, should respond….

as quickly as Ninevites – didn’t dilly-dally, rationalize or justify… simply heard and responded in sorrow and repentance

as sincerely as Ninevites – was genuine enough to “convince” God so he withheld threatened judgment

And remember: our job to communicate God’s truth as he directs us, his job to bring about results he intends. He may intend hardening as with Pharaoh, may also intend repentance as with Nineveh. Either way, is God’s call and he who gets glory.

 

The Power of Five Words

Jonah 3:3b-4

Over and over Bible makes clear principle Paul declared to Corinthian believers:

God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;” (1 Cor. 1:27)

How can God do that… repeatedly?

“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Cor. 1:25)

Classic illustration of this in story of Jonah. If main plot line highlights length God goes to in order to bring men, women, boys, girls to salvation, secondary theme is this: expect to be surprised by God. He doesn’t do things in ways we would or use resources we view as suitable. Fact is at times we wonder how God’s methods can actually work… and for good!

What mission board would accept a candidate who didn’t want to go, didn’t think target people group should hear Gospel, resented idea God might save some of them? Add to that, already tried to escape going to that place, now only considering it because in quotes “God told them to”. Jonah had no heart for people of Nineveh, no burning desire to see them saved / escape destruction. Besides, absolutely no known converts among Ninevites, none who wanted missionary to come. No way Nineveh could be considered “waiting city”, ready to fill church planted by someone from away.

Yet this was individual God used to accomplish unbelievable results, the agent God worked with and through to provide deliverance from destruction for thousands. May think of Nineveh as being much different from today’s cities – in some ways yes, other ways no. No more or less godless than many modern places, same kind of people with same problems and needs – lost sinners headed for hopeless eternity unless God intervened… which he intended to do… in spite of Jonah’s reluctance. Truth is Jonah’s reluctance further highlights God’s persistence, determination, desire to save the lost in Nineveh.

As Jonah approached target city, faced large and daunting task; started out small; didn’t say much.

A. a large task v.3b

enormous city

one of great cities of ancient world – became capital of Assyrian Empire (followed by Babylonian, Medo-Persian), rising superpower of Jonah’s day

among most brutal oppressive world powers in all of history – first to establish large effective army to project power over wide area

Sennacherib moved capital to Nineveh, used brutality toward captives to intimidate and control, think ISIS tactics and worse

booty taken in war financed building program, captives provided skill and labor – Sennacherib built palace for himself in Nineveh

reliefs, sculptures depicting Sennacherib’s exploits, from palace alone side by side would stretch for 2 miles

Nineveh becoming an international city, estimated size: 1800 acres, population in heyday: 175,000; Jerusalem only about 160 acres, population of entire region of Judah smaller than Nineveh

3-day walk

uncertain exactly what the “extent” or “breadth” refers to – walk all streets in city itself or cover Greater Nineveh urban area

located in heart of enemy territory, weeks away from border and safety for someone on foot… who likely pretty distinctive in appearance

Jonah certainly observed during travel, maybe had minder assigned to him and reporting activities and whereabouts to king

even if Jonah said nothing, walking around in Nineveh for three days almost certain to draw attention, perhaps even following

surrounding area

by some estimates could have been home to upwards of 500,000 to 1 million people or more, maybe some less than that during Jonah’s visit

by ancient standards, a megacity and major population center of world… and God expected one reluctant prophet to effectively warn

long before public safety messages, emergency broadcast system, social media, other forms of mass communication

entirely dependent on word of mouth to blanket entire area and… had less than 6 weeks to make it happen

B. a small beginning v.4a

Jonah’s mindset

could easily have been discouraged, overwhelmed – approached city, saw magnitude of task before him, sat down and questioned God

“you sure about this?” – more to accomplish here than 10 prophets could, and I’m only one,, still recovering from the fish thing

could have figured great size was in his favor – no way he could do enough in allotted time to have effect he thought God wanted… but Jonah would be pleased

perhaps grumbling “don’t want to do this, don’t think it’s gonna work, afraid it is gonna work, will do exactly what you said, however turns out is your problem”

whatever Jonah was thinking, seems clear from Biblical record he did what God expected in spite of having bad attitude

began to enter

first day’s walk – expected would take at least 3 days to do minimum amount God expected, more to thoroughly blanket area

notice how all of modern techniques for evangelism and church planting are missing – preplanning, leadership team, surveys, arrangements for large venue, and on and on

as soon as reached sign “city limits”, started to cry out message God had given him – did not wait until at certain place, encountered group of people, saw likely prospect

as soon as someone to declare message to who looked like belonged to Nineveh, Jonah began prophetic task as he was called

Jonah, for all his shortcomings, avoided common trap – people who look at magnitude of task, are overwhelmed by it, give up before starting

whether he could achieve what he understood goal to be, Jonah started… “he began to enter” – continued his obedience by doing what came next

step-by-step obedience helps keep focus off outcome/results – first duty is to do as God expects, God responsible for outcome

cried out

not what we might think of as prophet of doom – guy with sandwich board proclaiming end of world standing on street corner

nor is it situation like ice cream truck playing music while driver makes rounds looking for customers to come running

much more like fellow who makes you real uncomfortable – homeless or panhandler who gets your attention, makes eye contact, engages you in conversation

Jonah does similar – cries out so as to get individual’s attention, delivers message to one or group of people

doesn’t care if is embarrassing, if others stop / look / listen… when they do it makes his job way easier, ensuring message is heard by maximum number of people in shortest possible time

is warning directed to entire population of Nineveh yet delivered personally – notice how persistent and specific God is

God not interested in sky-writing, notice on town bulletin board, communication that could be overlooked or ignored as not pertinent to particular individual

C. a brief message v.4b

complete message only 5 words in Hebrew – od / ar.ba.im / yom / ve.nin.ve / neh.pa.khet:

this God’s message in God’s words Jonah was to proclaim to people of Nineveh – v.2 makes clear Jonah had no liberty to improvise

a gracious introduction – 40 days

just as God did through Moses to Egyptians – gave warning that included built-in delay… not momentarily, not tomorrow

time enough for all who would be affected by calamity to get message and respond, not react – God does not require people to act without thinking, comprehending what they are doing

God expects prompt obedience but not blind loyalty – say jump, ask how high on way up

40 days long enough period for sincerity to be apparent – if response is quick, resolve would begin to weaken if no obvious threat

a specific target / focus – Nineveh

not Assyria in God’s immediate view, not Tigris River valley – instead, the city itself, its surroundings, really the 100K+ people

similar situation to Sodom and Gomorrah – those two cities had become so evil their neighbors complained; perhaps similar true for Nineveh, certainly would be that way eventually

no reason not to expect God’s judgment to be precisely targeted – he didn’t need laser-guided munitions to achieve his purpose

good to remember God is just as particular in his judgment as he is in showing mercy – Ninevites certainly deserved judgment as much as S&G, Egypt, any other place we might name

a clear warning – overthrown

city would be overthrown – God has liberty to carry out his purpose directly or use other means as his instrument of justice… e.g., a foreign army or aggressor like Babylon

people would understand clearly what God meant, what was being threatened – overthrow of a city signifies what you think it does: death, destruction, pain, suffering

the word Jonah used – neh.pa.khet – used number of times in OT, one of first and common uses with reference to S&G… overthrow, as in destroy

yet also used in sense of turning or overturning – forty days and Nineveh shall be overturned – could be direct synonym for overthrow, …or have different sense… stay tuned

Are things both positive and negative to learn from Jonah as he begins ministry to Nineveh. Obedience is good, doing as God commands / expects. Attitude is not good – should obey willingly, should desire same outcome as God, whatever that might be. Beginning the assignment just as important as finishing, even when task looks to be impossible.

Really, Jonah was picking up from where someone else left off, continuing what they had started. In big picture, Jonah would complete his portion of task, yet would require many more generations to completely finish. We today are part of bigger picture, taking message of love for lost, hope for sinners to needy world. God has same desire to save lost today as he did for Nineveh… he expects us to do our part wherever he leads us to share truth with others. We can expect God will move future generations to continue what we have been part of until day Christ returns.