In last week’s lesson, we were able to understand the background of the book of Jonah, the purpose and the message of the book of Jonah and how Jonah refused to go Nineveh to prophesy. But in today’s lesson we will focus on, several sources. The first source is what’s the location of Nineveh? Second, we will see, the way in which Jonah prophesy to Nineveh. And third, we will find out that once an assignment is given, that God will take you to the people and/ or location to fulfill HIS assignment.
As we concentrate on these three sources, I pray that you become motivated to think closely about what your assignment is in the Kingdom of God. Or if you already know your assignment, please continue to be faithful, committed and dedicated to it. Our assignment in the kingdom of God is what pushes us to be fruitful, grow spiritual and remain dedicated to the things of God.
Now let’s look at the story of Jonah and see how we have an assignment in the kingdom of God. We find Jonah’s experience in the fish belly provides him with a unique opportunity to seek a unique deliverance. His initial act of disobedience leads not only to his personal revival, but to that of the Ninevites as well. The revival which Jonah brings to Nineveh was one of the greatest evangelistic efforts of all time.
During this period of history, Assyria was a powerful, evil nation and Israel’s most dreaded enemy. The Lord spoke to Jonah and told him to go to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, and preach to the Ninevites. (Jonah 1:2) Jonah was commanded to warn the Ninevites to repent or suffer the consequences of their wickedness. But why was Jonah wrong to hate the Assyrians, similar to the way David said he hated those who hated God in Psalm 139:21-22, 21 Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? 22I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.
It could be that the Assyrians did not have much hatred for the true God; they barely knew who he was. In Jonah 4:11 God speaks of the Ninevites as not knowing their right hand from their left, or in other words, scarcely even knowing right from wrong, 4:1-2
Where was Nineveh?
Jonah's fear and pride caused him to run from God. He did not wish to go to Nineveh to preach repentance to the people, as God has commanded, because he feels they are his enemies, and he is convinced that God will not carry out his threat to destroy the city. Where was Nineveh? Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria. It is first mentioned in the Bible in Genesis10:11, 11Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah”. The next time it is mentioned is in the book of Jonah. Described as a great and densely populated city, it is also identified as the capital of the Assyrian empire in II Kings 19:36 and Isaiah 37:37.
Nineveh was a mighty, thriving city surrounded by three moats and five walls, the tallest of which rose up 100 feet and stretched for 60 miles around the city. It was known for its wide avenues and squares, its extensive public and private libraries, and the beauty of its temples, parks and gardens. Water was brought in from a reservoir located approximately 30 miles away through a system of aqueducts. Language, religion and culture united the people to Nineveh. Nineveh was a distant city. In Jonah 3:3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey. And had a population numbering more than 120,000, thousand according to 4:11And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?
Understand that Jonah believed in God, wanted to worship and serve God, and undoubtedly wanted to obey God in general. However, Jonah did not want to obey God in this specific area; Jonah gives us the reason why he did to protect the Nineveh’s in Jonah 4:2. Jonah did not question God’s power, knowledge, or love. Rather, Jonah did not love the cruel Assyrians and God did love them. Jonah did not appreciate the fact that God loved the cruel wicked. Curiously, one cannot excuse Jonah’s reluctance by saying he did not have all the facts, or that he did not know enough about God. Rather, Jonah chose to hate the cruelty of the Assyrians, and knowingly turned his back on the fact that God loved them.
Now, instead, of boarding the ship headed for Nineveh, he boarded the ship bound for Tarshish, which is in the opposite direction. And Tarshish is a city of the Phoenicians in a distant part of the Mediterranean Sea or is the name of a village in Lebanon and a place where Solomon set up a trade with Tarshish and received ivory, apes, and peacocks in 2-Chronicles 9:21-22, 21For the king's ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram: every three years once came the ships of Tarshish bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks. 22And king Solomon passed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom, But after Jonah changed his position there was a great “wind” the Hebrew there is ‘ruwach’ and means, Breath, Mind, Spirit, Wind of heaven, and God's spirit. And because of Jonah, this causes the crew to cast lots and determine that Jonah is the problem. They throw him overboard, and he is swallowed by a great fish. In its belly for 3 days and 3 nights, Jonah repents of his sin to God, and the fish vomits him up on dry land (we wonder what took him so long to repent). Jonah then makes the 500-mile trip to Nineveh and leads the city in a great revival.
We find that Jonah is a type of Christ, which is clear from Jesus’ own words. In Matthew 12:40-41, 40For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
We find that Jesus declares that He will be in the grave the same amount of time Jonah was in the fish belly. He goes on to say that while the Ninevites repented in the face of Jonah’s preaching, the Pharisees and teachers of the Law who rejected Jesus were rejecting one who is far greater than Jonah. Just as Jonah brought the truth regarding repentance and salvation to the Ninevites, so too does Jesus.
We cannot hide from God. What He wishes to accomplish through us will come to pass, despite all our objections and foot-dragging. Ephesians 2:10, 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. God’s plans for us and his will is to see to it that we conform to those plans. How much easier it would be if we, unlike Jonah, would submit to Him without delay!
God’s love manifests itself in His accessibility to all, regardless of our reputation, nationality or race. The free offer of the Gospel is for people of every, culture, creed, nationality, age and gender. The story ends with Jonah arguing with God about why Nineveh was spared. Our biological Father would probably have shrugged Jonah off in disgust and find someone else more willing to take his message to Nineveh, but God. If God has a purpose for someone he will make sure that its’ fulfilled through that person. Romans 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. I love what the Amplified Version of Romans 11:29 For God's gifts and His call are irrevocable. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call.] The Message Bible in Romans 11:29 God's gifts and God's call are under full warranty—never canceled, never rescinded.
Jonah prophesy to Nineveh
Jonah 3:4-10 Jonah prophesied that Nineveh would be destroyed within forty days because of their wickedness. When people will change, God reveals HIS will toward that people change. This prophesied destruction was due to their not repenting of their wickedness. It is implicitly conditioned on their non-repentance. When they decided to repent, God did not see the need to destroy Assyria at this time. Likewise, when God prophesies destruction, the judgment will be delayed or removed if the people repent.
This principle, of allowing repentance in the face of judgment, is spelled out in Jeremiah 18:7-8, 7At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; 8If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.
While it cannot be proved that Jonah came during either of these two years, he came at approximately that time, and Jonah’s preaching is a good illustration for why a whole nation of career soldiers chose not to fight for two years. Later the Assyrians went back to their old ways, and they were destroyed in, Nahum 2:1-3:9 and Zephaniah 2:13-15. Since we now have an understanding of how Jonah prophesy to Nineveh, let’s focus on how God will take you to the location that He has for you to do an assignment according to Jonah 4:4-11.
When you have an assignment God will take you there himself if he has to:
Even though Jonah did not want to fulfill his assignment he still had to do it. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to go and do the work God has for you, God will make sure that it’s done by you because there are certain people that only you can reach that others cannot. Although Jonah had wanted to die after he had fulfilled his assignment, God made preparation for him: In Jonah 4:1 He was displeased ‘yara` /yaw-rah’ (tremble quiver, grieved) and exceedingly (disagreeable, malignant, bad, unpleasant) angry ‘charah /khaw-raw' (burn, displease, wroth, distress. Because he was displeased, he waited as mentioned in verses five to see what would become of Nineveh.
Next week has we conclude this lesson, we will focus on the four things that God provided for Jonah and how God can also provided for us as we are going through the process for an assignment. I pray that before the end of this searies of lessons that you will know, what’s your assignment?