God of The Second Chance #03
What About Nineveh?
Is Repentance For Everyone?
You ever wish you had a do over?
Ever missed a chance to obey God .. .missed it or miserably messed up and wish you had a 2nd chance?
Well, the Word of the Lord came to Jonah a SECOND TIME “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you”
Now, we are going to find out that Jonah obeyed God the second time, but the question I want us to consider this: What was it about Nineveh that was the root of Jonah’s disobedience?
The short answer:
Jonah didn’t think Nineveh worthy of the Gospel, worthy of repentance, worthy of forgiveness.
So the question then …
God said “Go to Nineveh” and Jonah RAN, because he didn’t believe they were worthy of the gospel.
What about Nineveh … God said “their wickedness has come up to me” … another translation says “it stinks to high heaven”.
Across the Tigress River from the modern day city of Mosul in Northern Iraq are a couple of mounds that are all that is left of the Great City of Nineveh.
Nineveh was founded by Nimrod in Genesis 10:11 in very ancient history.
The city was an important city throughout thousands of years until its fall is recorded by Nahum in 612 BC.
The city had walls that were 100 feet high and contained 1500 watchtowers that were 200 feet high.
But it was not simply being a great city that caught God’s attention.
At Jonah’s time, the Assyrian Kingdom had shrunk to where only the city of Nineveh was prominent. But it was their great wickedness that caused God to send Jonah to say “I have had enough”.
King Ashurbanipal was known to tear of the lips and hands of enemies.
King Tiglath-Pilesars took the skin off of his victims alive and covered the walls of their city with it, and piled up their skulls as a warning to their enemies.
They also burned enemies at the stake hundreds at a time.
They displayed their feeling of immunity from any justice and retaliation. They believed they were immune from prosecution …
Were they worthy of the Gospel?
But God proclaimed their wickedness and thus the offer of forgiveness
READ Jonah 3:1-10
Now … it should be noted that Nineveh turned to God
Nineveh believed and repented and God relented … BUT
That was only for a few generations
In 612 B.C. Nineveh was destroyed … never to rise again
1:3 The Lord is slow to anger and great in power. The Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished
1:7 He cares for those who trust him
1:8 But with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh
1:14 you will have no descendants to bear your name
And then at the end of Nahum it says
3:19 Nothing can heal your wound your injury is fatal. Everyone who hears the news about you claps his hands at your fall, for who has not felt your endless cruelty?
The systemic wickedness of Nineveh survived this awakening under Jonah’s ministry.
But for THIS time in the 8th Century B.C., Under Jonah’s preaching … Nineveh turned to God and I believe then that there will be Ninevites in Heaven.
Scripture says there will be people in Heaven from every Race, Tribe, Color, and Tongue … so many from Nineveh will be there too.
NO, Nineveh wasn’t worthy of the Gospel …
But there is another important truth today
Genesis 6:5-6 - The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.
And so God destroyed the world and started over with Noah
But in the book of Job it says
Job 4:17-19 Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker? 18 If God places no trust in his servants, if he charges his angels with error, 19how much more those who live in houses of clay whose foundations are in the dust, who are crushed more readily than a moth!
Job 15:16 says man is vile and corrupt and drinks up evil like water!
Psalm 14:1-3 says the fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside they have together become corrupt there is no one who does good, not even one
Psalm 51:5 Surely I was sinful at birth from the time my mother conceived me”
Proverbs 20:6 many a man claims to have unfailing love but a faithful man … who can find?
Ecclesiastes 7:20 There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins
7:29 God made man upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes
But we figured it out right?
Romans 3:9-12 says what shall we conclude the? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written: ‘there is on one righteous, not even one; there is on one who understands no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is on one who does good, not even one’
We lie, steal covet, murder, take the lives of 1000s of innocent babies every day, we abuse ourselves, abuse others innocent and otherwise and can do nothing to stop it
We could start listing our sins now and be here forever, I suppose
Folks … here is my point …
Is there is anyone that you think or have thought was not worthy of the Gospel?
Maybe you haven’t said that … but the call and opportunity was there to share and you didn’t share because you thought that they wouldn’t have it, couldn’t have it, or shouldn’t be able to respond.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Hebrews 3:13 /Encourage one another as long as it is called ‘Today’ so that no one will be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness
And what are we to encourage them?/
Hebrews 3:15 Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts
And the good news is that as long as we still have today …
Hebrews 4:1 says “the promise of entering his rest still stands
Because what we should see today is that we are NOT worthy of the Gospel and Nineveh wasn’t worthy of the Gospel
But God proclaimed it and Nineveh experienced the Grace and Mercy of God
So then …
I am here to say today that if God can Grace me … the he can grace you
In Matthew 12:41 Jesus said that Jonah was a sign to the Ninevities an so Jesus death and resurrection would be a sign to HIS Generation of the power of God.
A sign to Nineveh?
In 1891`James Bartley, a whaler, was washed overboard and swallowed by a Sperm whale. He was assumed dead, but a couple of days later the whale was caught and killed, cut open and inside was an unconscious but alive James Bartley. He returned to his whaling business, but it is said that for the rest of his life, he was known for having a strangely bleached skin. It was no doubt from being in the 105 degree belly of a whale and under the influences of stomach acids on his skin.
When Jonah showed up at Nineveh … can’t you just see him, bleached white, perhaps looking disheveled like the Doc in “Back to the Future” …
So it says he was to “call out” or “proclaim” … the word is qowre = (ko-ray) … we don’t have a big sermon recorded but simply “40 days … and Nineveh will be overturned”
It took Jonah 3 days to get through the City
I guess after 3 days in the depth of the sea, he knew he could make it 3 days in Nineveh.
But if God could deliver Jonah from the depths, then He could deliver Nineveh from the Open Grave of their Sin
And folks … this wicked people from the King on down to the least everyman … TURNED to God …
The King said “let everyone call urgently on God, give up their evil ways and violence. Who knows? God may relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish”
These People truly Repented
V5 says “The Ninevites Believed God, declared a fast … an all of them … from the greatest to the least”
God said through Isaiah “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth. For I am God and there is no other”
God still calls out to ALL the World
And he called out to Nineveh and there was a city-wide Awakening
Remember the message in verse four –“40 days and Nineveh will be overturned”
This word of judgment “overturned” or “destroyed” is haphak=(haw-fak) was a word of possibility. It means to be “overturned” OR “turned upside down”
The revelation from God of our sin is a realization of condemnation but also an opportunity for transformation
We can either be overturned by God in judgment our pride and sin; or turned upside down by God’s grace and Forgiveness
He can turn us inside out or turn us out of his presence.
In Matthew 21:44 Jesus said He who falls on THIS stone (meaning himself) will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed
Jonah, the wild eyed, bleached out, preacher came to a doomed city with urgency as he “cried out” with clarity – “Be Overturned” But there was HOPE in his message … and they believed it
I wonder today, does God want to use YOU … your life, your testimony, to call someone else to the life transforming power of Jesus Christ?
I wonder what it would take for awakening to set fire across North County, St. Louis, Missouri, and the U.S.A.
I don’t know what it will take … but could it be that WE are the key; or could it be that we are IN the way?
Can God turn the world upside down through us?
In Acts 17, Paul went to Thessalonica … he explained and proved Jesus to a crowd there and a large number of Jews and Gentiles followed Jesus. And the result was a mob of persecution and in verse 7 the accusation comes “these men who have turned the world upside down have come here"
Oh could we be a place that turns a community upside down
What is our message?
Acts 20:21 “I have declared to Jew and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in Jesus Christ.”
Are you willing? Are you a little scared?
Jonah was scared … but once he had survived 3 days in that fish … he knew he could survive 3 days in Nineveh
What has God brought You through? What has he saved you FROM?
If Jonah can be graced and delivered from the depths … Then Nineveh can be delivered from Judgment
If Nineveh can be delivered from Judgment … If Nineveh can be Graced with forgiveness, then So can You and I
If You and I can be graced and forgiven, then who are WE to be a SIGN to … so that they might be turned upside down and inside out by the Power of God?
Nineveh testifies that anyone who believes God can experience forgiveness and life
Nineveh also testifies that anyone who rejects him is without hope
God is Great and
Greatly to be praised