Class Notes: 9/13/2020
Jonah, Nineveh, and Nemesis postponed part 2
2Chron 7:13-14; "If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people,
14 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Isa 55:10-11;As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
1Cor 4:5; Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.
We are presently in a study of Jonah and Nineveh where we see God's policy of grace before judgment. God always provides the opportunity for repentance before he executes judgment.
Jonah 1:3; Instead of setting out overland toward the east to Nineveh Jonah catches a boat that is going west to Tarshish that could have been as far west as modern Cadiz, Spain about 2200 miles away.
When we stopped last time we were noting God's awareness of circumstances on the earth He told Jonah that, "The wickedness of Nineveh has come up before me." This tells us that the odor of their evil had reached God. This is a Hebrew idiom that means that Nineveh "stinks to high heaven" because the stench of the people's wickedness from sin, and evil is so bad that God can smell it in heaven.
This is the same kind of description given to Sodom and Gomorrah who weren't spared because of their locked in arrogance rejected God's grace. Gen 14:16-24; Gen 18:16-21;
Tarshish was a famous Phoenician Mediterranean seaport west of Israel known for its smelters but recorded history doesn't reveal exactly where it was. It is interesting to note the fact that if one wanted to go in the exact opposite direction of Nineveh, which was overland about 500 miles east of Jerusalem, one would have to sail west into the sea toward Spain.
Jonah paid the fare, indicating that he had the money he needed to travel to Nineveh, except that he was going in the opposite direction and he erroneously thought away from God's presence.
We know from the story that Jonah never made it to Tarshish because he was thrown into the sea to stop the storm God had sent and he was swallowed up by some kind of large fish that God sent that carried him back to dry land and vomited him out on land somewhere. Jonah 1:4,15-17; Jonah 2:10;
The Bible doesn't tell us where Jonah was dropped off or how long it took him to get to Nineveh from where he was dropped off we only know that he was in the fish's belly for 3 days and 3 nights and that becomes the prophecy that tells us how much time Jesus' body would be in the tomb. Matt 12:40;
If the fish dropped him off on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea near the caravan highway to Nineveh Jonah would still have had a 500-mile overland trip to get to Nineveh that would probably have taken about a month.
If he was dropped off on the shore of the Tigris River at Nineveh God would have had to perform another miracle to move the fish from the Mediterranean Sea into the Persian Gulf or a miracle where the fish could swim 180mph so it could swim the 13000 miles required to circumnavigate Africa from the Med to the Persian Gulf in 3 days and 3 nights.
God sending Jonah to evangelize Nineveh the capital of Assyria around 733BC is all about the principle of God's grace before judgment. Nemesis is the name of the Greek goddess of retributive justice and vengeance so we could call this study the story of Jonah, Nineveh, and Nemesis delayed.
When grace is deployed and responded to, the arrogant negative volition of evil people is overcome with Divine good. Gen 50:20; 1Thess 5:15; but Nemesis is never far away because when arrogance returns Nemesis soon follows. Deut 32:39; Rom12:19;
After the fish deposited Jonah back on dry land God repeated His command for him to go to Nineveh. (Jonah 3:1; )And the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying... When God's gives his command a second time after you have disobeyed the first time that is more grace.
Jonah did not deserve to become the greatest evangelist recorded in the Bible. He did not deserve to be a missionary or to have the honor and privilege of presenting God's Word to the citizens of Nineveh.
Jonah 3:2; Get up and go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it what I am going to tell you (Jonah 3:3;). So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according o the word of the Lord .... He finally obeyed because he has learned that God is not going to relent and that God will chase him down if he runs because God is faithful even when we are faithless. 2Tim 2:11-13;
Jonah 3:3; Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey. That is, it would take a person three days to walk across it. If the average person could walk about twenty miles a day, it would be about sixty miles across the city. This would be comparable to Los Angeles.
Jonah 3:4; And Jonah began to enter into the city a days' journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown, Net note 8 He kept going till he had passed through the entire city and then sat down to watch what would happen. Jonah 4:5;
God's Word does not reveal what Jonah preached to them other than the final statement that if the people of Nineveh did not repent the city was going to be destroyed in forty days.
The principle here is that God always offers grace before judgment because the only thing we have that God wants from us is positive volition. God wanted them to express positive volition to His Word so He gave them forty days to repent.
If God was not interested in saving them He could have simply destroyed them like He did with Sodom and Gomorrah. But He didn't do that instead He sends in a preacher who presents God's Word and a warning of imminent destruction, a preacher who God had miraculously saved from certain death in the sea by a fish.
There have been discoveries of sculptures of Dagon the half man half fish God in the ruins of Nineveh. Dagon is the Mesopotamian version of the Greek god Neptune or the Roman god Poseidon.
Jonah's fishy experience could have been a basis for presenting the Gospel. Jonah's presence was a sign to the people of Nineveh that since God in His grace had delivered Jonah from death, He could deliver them from their bondage to sin, as well as from their idolatrous slavery to Dagon the fish god.
Jonah 3:5;The Hebrew word for believe is "amen," that is our Anglicized word "amen," and is the strongest word in the Hebrew language for faith. It is used of Abraham in Gen 15:6; where "Abraham believed ('amened') in the Lord; and God counted or credited it to him as righteousness
We see here that the whole city believed in God and as a result they began to do things to demonstrate that they were believers and to reveal their change of mind. Just has Jonah had repented they repented.
They proclaimed a fast. A "fast," is a time for occupation with the Lord, a time of prayer and self-examination, a time of meditation, and a time of refraining from the ordinary details of life, such as food in order to focus on God.
All of them believed in God. from the greatest to the least, from the highest person to the most insignificant including the Emperor of the Assyrian Empire. The entire city repented but within 3-4 generations they were back to their evil ways to the point where God would reverse and destroy them. Gen 20:5;
Jonah 3:6-9;When the word came to the king of Nineveh (Ashur-dan III), and he arose from his throne, and laid his robe from him, and covered him (self) with sackcloth, and sat on ashes.
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