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The Consequences of Prophecy-The Infamous Metropolis & Fleeing Messenger

God’s desire has been for people of all nations and tribes to bring themselves in alignment with His Goodness & Truth. Very often those He longings to save, represent the exact opposite of what we consider to be Good or Just. Whether they are our political opponents, national enemies, or economic rivals, we have a responsibility to extend God’s Message to those we disagree with or detest. Even when prophets turn away from their responsibility to proclaim His Word, God ensures that His Voice is heard.

Jonah, was a prophet of God, who lived during the reign of Jeroboam, ruler of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, after the nation split apart. Prophet Jonah received a Word of the Lord, telling him to go to the great City of Nineveh and preach against it because it had become increasingly wicked.

Nineveh was the capital of the Neo-Assyrian Empire which would later bring Samaria (the Northern Kingdom of Israel) into exile. The Neo-Assyrian Empire had recently won major victories against Samaria’s neighboring country Damascus, which King Jeroboam took advantage of to reestablish his country’s previous borders (ref. 2 Kings 14:26-27). A renewed sense of ultra-nationalism began to take over Samaria after King Jeroboam took back the country’s ancient borders and began to build up its defenses since the people of the region feared that rising political tensions over territory would lead to warfare with Assyria. This fear of war with their neighbors on all sides led to a deep distrust of those who were not Samarians and a desire for God’s Judgment to fall upon the outside nations which were not of the line of Abraham.

Jonah may have experienced this corrupted sense of national pride and actually looked forward to seeing the capital of a competing and threatening nation utterly annihilated. So rather than going to Nineveh as God had commanded him, Jonah instead planned to head away from that direction toward Tarshish, the precious metal rich region that supplied the gold, silver, and copper King Solomon used to build the Temple in Jerusalem (ref. 1 Kings 10:22; 2 Chronicles 9:21). Jonah went to the port of Joppa where he boarded a boat headed to Tarshish to flee from the Lord and from his responsibility to try to turn the people of Nineveh away from their evil ways.

While the ship was on the water, God sent an intense storm, which was so violent that the ship began to break apart. The sailors on the ship threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship and called out to their gods to save them but the storm continued. The captain of the ship found Jonah sleeping below deck and asked him to appeal to God to stop the storm. The crew cast lots to see who was causing the storm, which fell on Jonah. They demanded an explanation and Jonah explained that the storm was caused by the Lord, the God of Heaven, Who made the Sea and the Dry Land, whom Jonah was fleeing from.

Jonah explained that the sea would calm if they threw him overboard, but they tried to row to shore instead, but the storm only intensified. They prayed to God for forgiveness as they tossed Jonah out of the ship and the raging sea grew calm. Terrified at the power of God, they made sacrifices and vows to the Lord.

But Jonah did not die in the water, but was swallowed by a huge fish that God had provisioned, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights (ref. Jonah 1). Within his aquatic rescue, Jonah composed a prayer of praise for God’s Salvation, despite Jonah’s previous refusal to follow his direction. Seeing his changed heart, God commanded the fish vomit Jonah out onto the dry land (ref. Jonah 2).

God commanded Jonah a second time to “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim My Message”. Jonah obeyed and went to the Assyrian capital, but the city was so large, that it took Jonah an entire day to reach a centralized public space for him to begin to preach the message that “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown”.

Perhaps the people heard stories from the sailors who had thrown Jonah overboard to calm the sea and how the Lord calmed the waters that once threatened to destroy their ship but Prophet Jonah’s message struck utter fear into the hearts of the Ninevites who believed in God and began a fast and put on sackcloth. The entire city participated and even the king took off his royal clothes and declared that the city fast, call urgently on God, give up their evil ways and their violence with the hope that God would bring compassion on the once wicked city.

Upon seeing what they had done and how they turned from their previous evils, God relented and did not bring about the destruction He had threatened (ref. Jonah 3). This angered Jonah, who had desired to see his nation’s enemies crushed. Jonah argued with God, saying that he fled away from Nineveh since he knew that God was gracious, merciful, and compassionate and did not take pleasure in sending calamity on those ignorant of His Law. God responded that it was not just to destroy a city of one hundred twenty thousand without giving them the opportunity to repent and change their ways.

Though Jonah was eager to see the capital city of Nineveh destroyed, God need His Message of Mercy to be spread throughout the region first to give them an opportunity to align their hearts and ways with His. While it is tempting to want to see those across the political aisle to blunder, our economic challengers fail, and nations that threaten us to crumble, we must remember that Judgement belongs to God. A prophecy unspoken will find a way to be voiced.

Prepared by, Kent Simpson, Apostolic Prophet & Eric Sepulveda, PMT Administrator

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