"...the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them... ...When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that He had said He would do to them, and He did not do it." Jonah 3:5, 10 Jonah, the prophet with a bad attitude, preached a sermon in the streets of Nineveh. Nineveh was known for its cruelty, idolatry, and blasphemy. In Hebrew Jonah’s whole sermon was just five words, translated to English: “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be destroyed.” Jonah didn’t like the people of Nineveh. Even as he preached he secretly hoped they would be destroyed; they were truly terrible people. They bragged about inventing new and more brutal ways to torture their prisoners, and they were a growing threat to his own nation of Israel. But God had compassion on the people of Nineveh and sent Jonah to call them to repent and be forgiven. God loved the people of Nineveh. He also knew that in just thirty-eight years He would be using the army of Nineveh, the Assyrians, to conquer and destroy Israel for its own wickedness. In His compassion for His own people He brought the Assyrians to repent of the extreme cruelty for which they were known, before sending them against Israel. The book of Jonah ends with God showing Jonah that instead of self-righteous anger and judgmental hatred of the people to whom God had sent him, he should have compassion. He should love and forgive them, as God Himself did. It seems to have worked. Jonah apparently served the rest of his life in Nineveh and when he died they honored him by building him a tomb on top of the palace of Sennacherib, the king of Assyria. It’s still there, in the ancient city of Nineveh, which is now called Mosul, Iraq. God calls us to reach out in love - not In self-righteous judgment - to the people around us. We are to “speak the truth in love,” so that God can use us to truly reach souls for Christ. The seed is in the fruit, as always. Lord Jesus, help me to see the people to whom You send me with Your eyes of compassion, Your heart of forgiveness and Your love, especially when I have to deliver Your call to repentance. Fill my heart with the attitudes of Your heart, so that You are seen, even in me. Amen.
Pastor Dan Giles