Are you a modern-day Jonah?
Pray for your country to repent.
I’ve written and spoken on this before and it bears repeating: DON’T be a modern day “Jonah”. I think unwittingly that many of us can – at least at times—be a Jonah out there.
Sometimes we have such a strong sense that God has had it with this present evil world and is SO ready bring to send back our King of Kings—that we can end up being like Jonah. What’s that mean? It means sometimes I see some believers ready to almost wish for God to just blast this planet in his righteous anger and of course wipe out all unbelievers in the process. Have you ever thought like that, honestly? If so, that’s just like Jonah felt towards Nineveh.
Jonah preached a “warning message” to the ancient wicked Assyrian huge city-state of Nineveh, in modern day Iraq. He assured them that their doom and their last days on earth were imminent due to their monstrous sins. But he really didn’t want -- or expect – such sinful people to repent. Neither did he ever suppose they could. God had spoken, and in 40 days he expected to personally witness a divinely originated destruction of the city perhaps similar to what happened to Sodom and the 5 cities of the plain.
Just as Jonah had specific things to say to Nineveh, you and I know there are very dire prophecies for the last days before Christ’s return.
But is it too late for our people, our nation or even other Gentile nations, to repent? If enough righteous people could be found in the land, might we see Yahweh willing to change the course of prophecy? After all, even for Sodom, had there been but 10 righteous people, Yah said he would spare that wicked city full of every vice imaginable, way beyond what we normally think of Sodom. The story is told in Genesis 18. But please also read Ezekiel 16:48-50 for a more complete list of Sodom’s sins. It went way beyond sodomy. It included pride, idleness, not caring for the poor, haughtiness and committing all kinds of abominations. Sounds just like today, right?
But even with just 10 righteous, Sodom would have been spared. Just ten. I think Abraham – who was petitioning God (even if indirectly) for Sodom – thought Lot and his family would easily add up to the ten people he needed (Lot, his wife, 2 unmarried daughters, three other married daughters and their husbands). And we haven’t even started with any of Lot’s servants and shepherds. In other words, just as God wouldn’t require the entire city of Sodom to repent to spare the city, we wouldn’t need the entire nation to become righteous for God to possibly change the course of HIS own prophecies. God will do what God will do. God had spoken about Nineveh and yet—GOD changed his mind! We know our great God is a merciful Being who does not delight in the death even of the wicked. So don’t assume He can’t change his mind again. God will do what God will do. And he reserves the right to change what He was going to do when people – righteous or wicked – change, as you shall see.
Jonah chapter 4 tells the story of how in Nineveh’s case, apparently the vast majority, maybe everyone, fasted and turned from their evil way to such a degree that God did in fact change His mind.
As far as I can tell, those people didn’t have God’s instruction or teaching, or any of Yah’s scriptures. And apparently Jonah was in no mood to teach or help these same people whose descendants would come years later and brutally carry off the House of Israel into captivity (the Assyrian conquest of 721-718 BC). So how much changing could these people of Nineveh actually do? But apparently they changed enough, and their heart and intent changed enough, that Yahweh did not wipe them out at that time.
SO what did Jonah do – and what did he omit doing – that marked his style? These are written down for OUR admonition. Could you and I be doing “a Jonah” right now, today? Beware how we view the people of this world – if your view makes you a “Jonah”.
Please click on “Continue reading” to be sure you’re not a Jonah. Discover the hallmarks of a modern-day Jonah.
Is 2 Chronicles 7:14 still in the Bible or not?
2 Chronicles 7:12-14
Then YHVH appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: "I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Even in the story of the gold calf, Yah was ready to obliterate Israel and start over just with Moses. But apparently not only did Moses powerfully intercede for the nation (in spite of their wicked sins), but the people also largely repented especially during the next 40 days that Moses was up in Mt Sinai interceding for them.
And once again, YHVH changed his mind. Israel and Aaron were all spared. Partly because of the people’s changed attitude for a time, but also largely because someone interceded for them.
Would you have interceded for the nation of Israel back then if you had been Moses? You know if you would have back then or not -- by whether or not you’re interceding for your nation - - today! Please ponder what I just said. It’s a key to this whole blog.
Then there’s Ezekiel 9:4-5, 8 – about God placing a mark on the forehead of those who genuinely feel for the evils they see in the land and are crying and sighing out to God in passionate prayer begging him to lead the nation to repentance or perhaps imploring his mercy on a sinful nation. Would you be one of those with a mark placed on your forehead because you feel so badly about what’s going on? Ezekiel begged for God’s mercy in verse 8 even for these wicked people. God may go ahead and wipe out a generation, as that is his prerogative, but I’m sure he likes seeing that his children (us) have a deep feeling for people, just as He does. Remember God did not send Christ into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved (John 3:17).
Some quick questions to help us wake up and repent of being a Jonah:
**If you’re not ever praying for your nation, and for our nation to repent, and don't even think it’s possible or desirable for them to repent …. you may be a Jonah. If your theology says we’re not even supposed to pray for sinners, then please hear my sermon on that: http://www.lightontherock.org/index.php/message/part-2-it-s-really-not-too-late-father-really-wants-to-forgive-the-nations given in February 2012.
After all, there are SO many examples of God’s people and even God’s Son on the cross praying for a sinful nation around them.
I concede the likelihood of a national repentance is very low, or almost zero… but with God all things are possible.
** If you’re not heartbroken to see where our nation and the whole world is heading, if you don’t genuinely sigh and cry for what we see happening… you may be a Jonah.
Perhaps if God would see the ekklesia, his body of believers, praying for mercy, praying for a spirit of repentance to be sent to the nation -- maybe, just maybe, we’d see a miracle. But if we’re not praying hard for this, wouldn’t that say an awful lot about you and me? That we care? That we sigh and cry for the abominations in the land – as Ezekiel 9 says? Shouldn’t we – the children of the Eternal God YHVH—lead in this repentance, this humbling of ourselves in deep prayerful fasting and seeking after him to be merciful to us and all the land? 2 Chronicles 7:14.
**If the central focus of our message is a message of the coming condemnation and plagues, to flee from God’s Day of wrath, and how God hates sinners (or even focusing on his hatred for sin) … then you’re a Jonah. I know people who are very condemning of sinners. That’s God’s arena – but even there, God says he so loved the world that He sent a way for former sinners to have life! SURE, we also talk about the coming wrath of God if we don’t repent, but what people should be left with is a message of “even I, yes even I, can be forgiven, loved, accepted and saved by the Almighty God through His Son.” Or as Paul admitted “But by the grace of God I am what I am…” (1 Cor. 15:10). Paul famously called himself the chief sinner (1 Timothy 1:15). That’s the opposite attitude from Jonah.
**If you tend to prejudge whether this one or that one is being called to salvation right now, you’re a Jonah. If in your heart you look down on people not yet called by God to salvation, you may be a Jonah. By contrast, the Apostle Paul said he’d give up even his own salvation if that would mean all Israel could be saved (Romans 9:1-5). He said he felt heartbroken for them. Read it yourself.
** If you avoid people of the world, and want nothing to do with “sinners” . . . you’re a Jonah (and a Pharisee). God so LOVED the world that HE sent His son into the world to help them understand He does not want to condemn anyone but save them through Christ.
Yeshua was known as a FRIEND of the worst sinners who came to him. He was so merciful. He dined and drank with holier-than-thou Pharisees as well as despised tax collectors and their friends, like Zacchaeus and Matthew. One of those despised tax collectors wrote the first Gospel account of the life and teachings of Yeshua. So here’s the holiest being on earth – Yeshua – who made sinners feel at ease, accepted and comfortable around him. (And we’re all sinners trying to reform, right?) Imagine that! If we are truly a part of Him, if we are “in Him”, we will think and act just like Yeshua did. We will do the same. We too, will be considered a friend of sinners – while helping them come to salvation. Are you? Am I? The ones who didn’t like Yeshua were the religious folks! He did point out their hypocrisy and didn’t mince his words (Matthew 23).
**If your message for others or through your church is all about a “warning message” of impending doom, you may be a Jonah. Our message FOCUS should be one of the good news we have in Christ, who opens the door for us to the good news of the Kingdom of God. Our lives and our message should be so upbeat, so positive, and one that leads people to reconciliation with God and all people.
Our message should be one that extols the glories of the love of God and how He sent his one and only son to come and live and die for us sinners, that we can be reborn a new creation in Christ. And of course the message includes the alternative: no repentance, no change = you are turning your back on God and there will be severe consequences. But we must remind people they can repent and there is a loving Creator who wants them to repent and turn to him and he will lovingly accept each one who does.
Much more can be said. Be sure to hear my upcoming sermon on “Do you love the world?” It’s a bit of a trick question in a way, as you will see, but it has an important point or two to make from scripture.
And please hear these thought-provoking teachings also:
After hurricane Katrina I gave this next message in August 2005 – especially again for people who believe we are not to pray for the world. I give both sides of the argument, so I hope you benefit from hearing these.
Let’s not be a Jonah -- but someone who loves the people of the world just like our Messiah does. Let’s want the best for them. Let’s understand we will help lead them to Christ and in fact we’re doing that now by our life’s example and by the words we use with them.
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