Summary: As God looks America, I look at how He dealt with Nineveh. He is slow to anger . . . but God does get there, America.
July 15 2012
A In the ANE Nineveh was the capital city of the Assyrian Empire (modern day Iraq.)
1 The city was a wicked city, full of sinful people who practiced all kinds of sin.
a This was a pagan, secular, lost city whom had never known of the Living God of Israel.
aa The city was great in splendor & influence of the Assyrian Empire. (One wall was eight miles long/1,500 towers)
bb Also great in sin: cruel people (impaled live victims on poles/roast to death in the desert sun; beheaded people by thousands & stacked their skulls up by the city gates; skinned people alive)
cc They respected neither age nor sex and followed a policy of killing babies and young children so they wouldn’t have to care for them (Nahum 3.10).
10 Yet she was taken captive and went into exile. Her infants were dashed to pieces at the head of every street. Lots were cast for her nobles, and all her great men were put in chains. Nahum 3:10 (NIV)
b These people needed God desperately.
aa They were either going to receive His forgiveness/grace for their sin or receive His wrath/judgement for their sin.
bb The choice was theirs to make.
2 God sends a Hebrew prophet named Jonah to Nineveh to preach a message of God’s imminent judgement
2 "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me." Jonah 1:2 (NASB)
a When Jonah got to Nineveh, he didn’t give an altar call, invitation, appeal to be saved, sinners prayer.
aa 4 Then Jonah began to go through the city one day's walk; and he cried out and said, "Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown." Jonah 3:4 (NASB)
bb In 40 days, God’s going to destroy you.
b 40 is often linked to testing or judgement in Scripture
aa Noah (40 days/nights: Gen 7. 4, 12, 17);
4 "For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made." Gen 7:4 (NASB)
12 The rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights. Gen 7:12 (NASB)
17 Then the flood came upon the earth for forty days, and the water increased and lifted up the ark, so that it rose above the earth. Gen 7:17 (NASB)
Jewish spies explored Canaan for 40 days; Israel tested in the wilderness for 40 years.
34 'According to the number of days which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall bear your guilt a year, even forty years, and you will know My opposition. Num 14:34 (NASB)
bb Goliath taunted the army of Israel for 40 days;
16 The Philistine came forward morning and evening for forty days and took his stand.1 Sam 17:16 (NASB)
c Cry: Cry aloud, pronounce, preach, to invite, shout to get the attention, declare a prophetic word, summon for a specific task.
aa IL. Town Criers were people who announced to the town a new law, information, announcements 200 years ago.
bb God’s Crier has not a message of turn or burn: no get right or suffer the consequences: he didn’t beg them to seek God’s forgiveness, turn from their wickedness . . . but that is what the citizens of Nineveh did do!
B 5 Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.6 When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes .7 He issued a proclamation and it said, "In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water.8 "But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands.9 "Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish."Jonah 3:5-9 (NASB)
1 The entire city, from the King to the poorest citizen in Nineveh turned to the God of Israel (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.)
a In standard Hebrew narrative form (v.5), we see the outcome first and the way it came to pass afterwards.
aa They believed, firmly trusted in the Lord.
bb They got their by repenting, fasting, sackcloth.
cc Sackcloth is usually made of goat hair, worn by poor/servants/prisoners, also by prophets & people in mourning. Nineveh could have been mourning over their sin!