Thursday, August 15, 2013

jonah: the sequel (part 4)

Then 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." Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh.

"Jonah, take two!" Can you hear the Hollywood director yelling out these words as his assistant runs in front of the camera with a clapboard? That's what I think of when I read Jonah, Chapter 3. Of course, the only difference with this new scene is that Jonah acts out what God has directed him to do. He obeys. He goes to Nineveh. (Yea, Jonah!) Don't you love when the sequel is better than the original story?

Also, don't you love that our God is a God of second chances? Praise our patient Lord! How wonderful to know that a child of God may stumble and sin, but God is always ready to receive His beloved when they sincerely turn to Him again. Hallelujah to the King of kings!

OK, let's continue with the story...

Now Nineveh was a very important city - a visit required three days. On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned."

Wow. What a wake-up call for Nineveh to hear! Think about it... what would you do if you realized you had only forty days left to live? Really, what would you do? What would you change? What activities would you spend your time doing? Who would you talk to? What would be most important?

The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: "By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish."

Don't you love how everything selfish about an individual is left aside when it comes to repentance? Here in Nineveh, the greatest to the least were deeply convicted because they knew they were living unrighteously. They heard God's message and received His Word as truth - irrespective of their own personal circumstances, past choices, wealth or status. Everyone turned to God. What an amazing revival! From the king down, they knew they needed redemption and wished nothing more than to be saved from God's eternal judgement. Even more incredible, they changed their ways immediately and irrespective of knowing the earthly outcome. Sure, they hoped God would show mercy and extend His grace... but they were not guaranteed a future. Jonah's message didn't offer that possibility. None the less, they still chose God over themselves and left their fate to rest in the Maker's capable hands. Who knows what God may decide to do with such a willing heart? Who knows what a life may become when in complete submission to the Father's good ways? Wow... what a testimony. What a change. What a new life!

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened. (Jonah, Chapter 3)

Perhaps we should call this chapter "God: the Sequel!" For again, the blessed love of our Redeemer offers a second chance to save a wicked people. Again, the Father opens His arms and receives his prodigal son - not as a servant, but as an heir to His kingdom! How great is the love of our Almighty Father, ladies? For He loves us more than we cold ever imagine. He wishes for us to avoid judgement and harm. He longs for us to enjoy eternal peace and the splendor of His richness!

Who would have thought that the largest Assyrian city, deeply engaged in all forms of wickedness, would receive and believe the Word of God? "The Ninevites believed God." How glorious! This is all that God has asked of every one of us... to simply believe Him. Believe what He has done. Believe that Christ came to earth and died for sinners. Believe that Jesus was raised again and now sits at God's right hand interceding on behalf of those who claim Him as their Lord. Those who believe that His word is absolute. Those who believe that His ways are good. Those who believe that He has great plans for His own. Those who believe that He will provide.

Furthermore, we see the changed life of the Ninevites. They not only believed God, they demonstrated their belief. They exhibited their faith by wearing sackcloth, and fasting, and changing their evil ways. They didn't say, "I'll reconcile with God after I get my life in order," or "I'll follow Jesus once I enjoy this or that." No, they believed God and repented just as they were. They immediately knelt down before His throne and asked for His forgiveness. Then, they kept believing and trusted His sovereign rule. Yes, this once lost, cruel, brutal, wicked city turned. They turned, and God saved them. Whenever people turn to God, He will always save them, regardless of who or where they are from. Amen!

Now, let's stop and read the words of Jesus from the book of Luke:

Jesus said, "This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here. (Luke 11:29-30, 32)

What is the sign of Jonah in our wicked generation? Jesus. Jesus, the only Son of God, urges us to repent and turn to Him. Jesus, the One greater than Jonah or any other person to ever walk this planet, invites us to a second chance - a new life in His Name. Jesus, God in human form, personally extends His message to everyone and warns all mankind to, "Repent... for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matthew 4:17) And it is sooo near, ladies. The end of this age is just around the corner. Each day we all witness the birthing pains announcing Christ's return.

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. (Matthew 24:6-8)

Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. (Isaiah 66:7)

Remember my questions above? What would you do if you knew you only had so much time left on this earth? What would you do if you found out Jesus was returning as Judge and King in forty short days... or in twenty days... or in a week... or today? What would you change? What activities would you spend your time doing? Who would you talk to? What would be MOST important?

Wake up, oh Ninevah! Wake up, oh wicked generation! Wake up, ladies of DW. The time is NOW to believe God! The time is today to repent from sin and live following Christ. The time is this very instant to change your life and turn to Jesus. He will receive you with open arms. He will welcome you just as you are. This is the day to rejoice in our wonderful Savior - for He loves us and wishes to extend His gracious kingdom to us TODAY!

And what then will He do with our willing hearts? What will our lives become when we choose to live in complete submission to the Father's good ways? Here is what He promises...

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

So, will you receive the sign of Jonah? Will you embrace the second chance of Jesus' new life? Will your sequel be soooo much better than the first part of your story? I encourage you to prayerfully think on these things, dear DW. Embrace the compassion and promises of Christ. Let each of us call urgently on God and turn from our evil ways! Let each of us seek first His kingdom and His righteousness!!!

Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15-16)

Believe God. Just repent and believe.
(What a blessing this study has been so far, huh?)

Until tomorrow... Blessings!
Blog Posting Written By Victoria Anderson

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