August 10

Jonah 3-4

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Lord give us hearts that mirror your own so that we too want people to be saved.  Amen.

3 – Here’s Jonah back on the beach – again.  He had been here before just south (a longs day’s journey to the south in Joppa).  Now he was north near Tyre.  He had been traumatized beyond what 99% of the population ever experiences.  He was a different man, perhaps not completely, but he was broken at least enough to obey this time.  So – here goes – round two –> and when God calls him to Nineveh, he goes. It is a 500+ mile journey for Jonah.  He goes and preaches doom for the city. Notice he does not give a pastoral urging to repent and confess, using comforting inspiring illustrations.  He just preaches doom.  And the whole city repents; all 120,000 of them and the king is leading the charge to repent.  God took note, changed his plan to punish and Nineveh was not destroyed.  Jonah, knowing of this city’s history, was certain in his mind that Nineveh would dismiss this fruitcake Israeli herald and keep on the path of iniquity and trespass.  Oh was he quietly excited to sit back and watch the city burn! But they repented.  And other studies reveal that the repentance was widespread.  If Nineveh was penitent, and y’better follow Nineveh!, then other areas repented too. And they did.  The conversion rate was massive. Granted this isn’t in the Bible, but it did happen.  Many other provinces followed suit and the souls that were touched by the God of Abraham was the greatest conversion to date the world had ever seen.  And it all happened due to the service of a reluctant evangelist!  Amazing when we simply obey. . .   And what is the evangelist’s follow-up plan?
4 – Jonah is angry; suicidally angry. He chanted his bitter “I told you so” at God. He wants to die, he is so disappointed. And listen to the bloke: “I knew you are a God who is kind…I knew you would choose to not harm…!”  Well, gee, Jonah. Would you like God to not be kind to Israel? Would you like God to hurry up and punish Israel [where you are from] for their 150 years of vile, sinful living?!  It’s a strange yet common trait that we want swift justice for those who upset us while we want simultaneous mercy for ourselves and our loved ones.  Memo to the selfish: WE are not the center of the universe.  And yet Jonah still thinks he is in the right and still goes up on a hillside to watch as he hopes he can witness the city get punished.  He makes a shelter and God brings even more shade. Jonah is thinking, “ah, this is great. Kick back and watch the city get roasted…yes!”  Then, the next day the shade is gone, a warm wind blows in and Jonah is faint with heat stroke symptoms.  He wants to die again.  One thing we learn of Jonah from this “wish to die” a third time is that his selfishness is on great display. Suicidal people are pondering the height of a selfish deed to finish themselves off. [hey, everyone’s been through it.  Jonah is selfish and he wants to die on the boat. He wants to die when they convert [and God won’t kill them].  He wants to die when by now he has a heat rash.  God is trying to point out Jonah’s selfishness and hatred to him.  He does the same to us.  Let’s ask ourselves, for the sake of honesty, –> do we want Hamas, Al Qaeda, Taliban, Hezzbollah, PLO, ISIS, ISIL, ad infinitum – do we want them to find Jesus and be saved or do we want God to hurry and catapult them into outer darkness and eternal punishment? Would we feel any differently and/or moreso if they were burning our door down like they were in Jonah’s home turf back in Israel?
The repentance in Nineveh was a generation-long.  The next came along, resumed the sin, suited up and stormed Israel and obliterated it 48 years after Jonah’s 3-days of preaching. Jonah did have a point in hating Nineveh – but it was not a true one.  We were not born to live spite.  Nineveh got their due for their deeds. All can relax – nothing slips God.  He’s the best record keeper and bookkeeper ever.  Jonah prophesied their doom in 770 B.C. as did Isaiah around 710 B.C. Nahum spoke of the same in 650 B.C. along with his contemporary Zephaniah.  It all came to pass in 605 B.C. when Nineveh and the Assyrian Empire collapsed in a cloud of dust and defeat.
We today can lead great people conversions of regions and nations and continents. For we have the Holy Spirit who gives limitless supply. Hopefully we have [as well] a better ?attitude than Jonah ?

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