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March 5, 2020 1:00 am
God wants His servants focused on God’s agenda, not their own. It took extraordinary measures to get Jonah back on the road to Nineveh, but he finally went, in body if not in heart. Let’s learn how Jonah’s lessons continued, and the importance for us today.Click here to listen (Duration 25:02)
One reason is before us, looking to Jesus, founder and perfecter of our God wants his servants focused on God's agenda taken extraordinary measures. Jonah back on the road to Nineveh, but now he's going in body if not in heart today is lessons continue as to a church in Chicago this is when books are whose clear teaching helps us make cross the finish line. Jonah has had to die to self, will and self reliance. What kind of death is next day but I could put it in a single phrase.
I think it would be death to self reliance. Yes, but also death to self interest. He's going to find himself in a culture that he doesn't like. And in that regard. He is a negative example to us, but nonetheless God uses him mightily.
This is going to be very interesting because Joan is going to be the preacher in one of the greatest revivals in history and you speaking about revival and speaking about America were living during a political season when so much is being said and people debate whether or not Christianity was actually the basis for America. But obviously Christianity played a very important part in the beginning of this nation.
The question is what would it take for America to become a Christian nation. Well, not just a new Congress, not just the right president, it would take the message of the cross of Jesus Christ widely believed.
I've written a book entitled Christians politics and the cross love for you to have a copy. I think it would be beneficial to you, especially during this time of year. Here's what you can do for your gift of any amount, and thanks in advance for your generosity. By the way, for a gift of any amount. It can be yours. Go to RTW offer.com is RTW offer.com or you can call us if you prefer to call 1-888-218-9337 Christians politics and the cross and now we go to Nineveh and we understand once again what God can do through his servant, who preaches a very clear message. Some people find it difficult to swallow the story of Jonah, but Jesus evidently believed that in it. Jesus believe that that's good enough for me.
One of the things that we see very early on in the story of Jonah and you may turn to it in your Bible is that Jonah was very stubborn. I he was a very stubborn prophet and you and I are stubborn prophets, but we read in the third chapter of the book of Jonah than the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, arise, and go to Nineveh, God is the God of second chances. God is the God of new beginnings. There are some people who will not give you a second chance is they look at you through their own homemade microscope. But God is the God who gives people a second chance and so the word of the Lord comes to Jonah and you'll notice in verse three it says so Jonah arose and went to Nineveh.
It does not say, but if it had said so back in chapter 1 verse three.
So Jonah rose to go to Nineveh the whole story would've been different, but back there yet.
Jonah had a bunch he was willing to stand against God, and then it says in verse four, but the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and now Jonah is finally willing to give into God.
Having spent 72 hours in the belly of the fish. Sometimes we give the impression that Jonah was spewed out by the fish in the suburbs of Nineveh and then when he did is eat, he arrived in the city and he was wearing very smelly clothes. The very smelly clothes. As a matter of fact, and we think that he had some seaweed, still wrapped around his head and his body was white because of all of the gastric juices that he had encountered in the creative Learning Center actually that's not the way it happened because if you look at a map, you'll notice that Nineveh is at least 400 miles from any place in the Mediterranean and so it may have been three weeks or a month later that Jonah arrives in Nineveh to preach his very short message now Nineveh was this great city, and Jonah was intensely nationalistic and filled with hate toward those people because he knew that Nineveh had a reputation for violence and he also knew that the Ninevites might come against Israel as they had plundered many other countries and so because of this intense nationalism. He greatly resented the fact that God was going to possibly be gracious.
These evil people who really deserved judgment. They didn't even deserve a chance. Judgment would be like you being asked to go speak to the terrorists who are blowing up cars and blowing up American troops in and preach to them and say that there is going to be judgment and then God converts them and makes them stronger than ever. While in so Jonah resents it. There were 120,000 children in the city of Nineveh.
But Jonah did not care about those children and there are more than 120,000 children in Chicago and the question that we have to ask, particularly in the next message in this series is do we care about those children all right what God does now is he gives Jonah a lesson in compassion. Jonah is going to deeply resent that he didn't mind of grace and compassion is given towards him or towards those who he deemed to be the people of God. That was understandable because they were worthy of that kind of compassion and concern, but he deeply resented the possibility that God might be gracious to wicked, evil, sinful Ninevites, so how does God get him to say yes for not sure if he ever really got him to say yes I guess I should change that and say how does God try to get Jonah to say yes. First of all by where he was sent. The Bible says that he goes back to Nineveh and Nineveh was an exceedingly great city it says three days journey in breath.
Verse four Jonah began to go into the city.
Going a day's journey, and he called out yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown. You'll notice that when he was running from God. He was running took from God because of Nineveh, God brings them back to Nineveh. The very issue from which he was running the reason why he was running, God says Jonah you can't be in my stream a blessing unless you go back in your detour to where we began. I am directing you to where you should have gone in the first place. Listen when God is us a second chance he brings us back to those issues that caused us to run from him in the first place and it is those issues that we need to deal with. Whether it is resentment or anger or disappointment or situations. God says if you want to be in my blessing you go back to where you were supposed to be and so Jonah arises and goes to Nineveh three times. The Bible says that Nineveh was an exceedingly great city. It was great geographically. Three days walk through it.
People say will that's not possible because the inner city was actually quite small. It had a wall of a circumference of about 9 miles but were told that the wall was nearly 100 feet high and was 50 feet wide on top so that you could have several chariots going on on the wall at the same time those walls were huge fortifications when it says that it was a three days journey maybe what we should understand is that that includes all of the outlying areas.
There was also a further wall and and beyond that, there were various towns in various settlements and maybe that's what took three days to walk, but Jonah goes one day's journey, and he begins to preach. Yes, it was great geographically was also great. Culturally, by the way. In fact, archaeologists tell us that there was a library in Nineveh at that time. Clay tablets, thousands of them so that they had culture and they had advancements and they had education. It was great. Culturally it was also great in terms of its wicked as I will not in a public setting give you the details of everything that they did, but the Ninevites impaled the children a baby is skinned people alive in a host of other things that you don't want to hear about that.
They were really cruel. They majored in cruelty and an evil and in violence.
Now those of the Ninevites, the Assyrians of many, many generations ago and as I like to point out this is no relationship to the Assyrian that we know Assyrians were here today worshiping with us but to be.
These were the people to whom Jonah was sent in and you look at this seven business of being sent there and you find out that God did an incredible miracle, as we shall see in a moment because there were certain limitations. We have never expected God to do this.
Think about it for a moment. First of all the limitations of method. Jonah came to the city and he didn't have advanced personnel. He didn't have cottage prayer meetings before he arrived. He didn't have television.
He didn't have radio.
He didn't have newspapers to pick up the story so that others could hear about what God was doing. He didn't even have a flannel draft board as far as I know he simply went there and and began to preach and maybe it's the way in which he looked. Maybe it's because of what the Ninevites were going through.
There's some stories there that they were at a very pivotal point in their history. They began to respond to this message. Not only was there a limitation in terms of the method, but the message itself, yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown Jonah where's Grace here were something about God's forgiveness where something about God's compassion if he told him about that the text doesn't tell us.
The main part of his message must've been that one. The statement yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So you have the limitations of the message. You also have the limitations of the messenger. Jonah did not want to preach this probably went like this yet 40 days and none of us will be overthrown any hope to God that it would be overthrown.
That's the way in which he preached he preach with anger.
Shall we say, and he needed a course in anger management which God tries to give him in the next chapter he reads Sands. He raised Sands. This idea that may be will repent and God will be merciful to God tries to grind down his stubbornness.
First of all by where he was sent the very place he did not want to go. His feet took him where his heart was, not secondly, God ground him down if we can use that expression by what he saw. All he did not want to see this. You'll notice it says in verse five and the people of Nineveh believed in God, and they called for a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest of them to the least of them.
Fasting, who told him to fast, they somehow knew that if we're going to get in touch with God.
We want to show our desperation and so they fasted their.
What a church we have a day of fasting twice a year and it's hard to get people to fast for all day feasting.
While that's a different story when we call the feast we have people show up who we thought died during the days of Ironside, I mean everybody's here during the day is when we have a feast that we have a fast attendance is a little lower. We have more people in the supper room than we do. The upper room.
We notice that, and then these people they put on sackcloth. Sackcloth. My friend was gold hair now just think about that that was prickly. It was terribly uncomfortable what they were saying is we want to show our desperation in God's presence, and we even rid ourselves of creature comforts so that we can call on God, and God knows how serious we really are, in fact it says in verse six. The word reached the king of Nineveh. We don't know whether or not this was like the mayor or whether or not it was the whole king of the Assyrian Empire and he arose from his throne removed his robe covered himself with sackcloth sat in ashes. Could you imagine Mary Daly going back to Grant Park, sitting in ashes and then giving the city of Chicago.
A proclamation now.
I've been to many of these prayer breakfasts and so forth.
Where there is a proclamation from the president from the governor and from the mayor and if I may be a little bit facetious.
It read something like this whereas prayer is not a bad idea, and whereas there is some religion in our previous history. And whereas we're into tolerance and whereas were relatively free country that we exhort anybody who wants to to say a prayer today like that. Notice of this proclamation. Wow verse seven by the decree of the king and his nobles let neither man nor beast, heard, nor flock taste anything, let them not feed or drink water but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth and let them callout mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger so that we may not perish. Now there's a proclamation you know when God sends revival everybody's on the same level. The mayor, the king, those who are in positions of authority.
The president they all bow in the presence of God.
They all acknowledge their sinfulness and here we have this Universal Revival Taking Pl. in Nineveh and we read it and we say, could this really have happened.
I mean even even they put sackcloth on the animals. The animals were supposed to have repented. I member a dog in our neighborhood who should have repented and we had a cat or two that I tried to get to repent was very successful.
You know the difference between dog theology and Theology dog says you feed me. Therefore, you must be God accounts as you feed me. Therefore I am God is not true.
You see these people realize that their sin was affecting even the animal kingdom, and the animals. I'm sure didn't know what was going on because they never understood Jonah they never understood the message but but they said we are so desperate that we are even putting sackcloth on animals and we're forcing them to fast so that we might turn to God, you know it's interesting that this is not recorded in any of the various annals of Assyrian history and so some people of said could this have happened. Maybe it was a temporary repentance. Maybe their repentance ended when their fear ended. We don't know we don't know the depth of their repentance, though, as we'll see in a moment Jesus Christ did acknowledge this is a great moment in history but but the people repented and and because they repented we read in verse 10, when God saw what they did, how they turn from Their Evil Way, God relented of the disaster that he said he would do to them and he did not. Which was exactly Jonah thought might happen you know the time when Jonah should be rejoicing.
He was sulking because of the goodness of God to these pagans. What a story.
What insight into the human heart, you know, whenever we here at running to win receive letters of encouragement just want you to know that we never get used to that we never take it for granted. I have in my hand a letter from someone who is in Australia and he talks about the fact that he has a heavy transport business and he is discovering that there is so much evil and depravity around him. He said that the walls are falling in on us but please know that the word you preach helps us get through the day and our struggles. My friend the reason that we can receive reports like that is because of you. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner. Here's what you do go to RTW offer.com. Click on the endurance partner button. Endurance partners are people who stand with us regularly with their gifts and with their prayers.
RTW offer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337 now for another chance for you to ask Pastor lutes or a question about the Bible or the Christian life Pastor lutes or there is a difficulty in the common view that Jesus died on a Friday and was raised on a Sunday.
Charlotte listens in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and has this question in Matthew 1240 Jesus said that as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth as hard as I try I cannot get three days and three nights from 3 PM Friday until before daybreak Sunday, even applying the partial day theory. I still have problems with the three nights.
What do you think you're absolutely right, Charlotte you can't get three days and three nights out of that 10 no one else can either. So were faced with the question as to whether or not Jesus Christ word should be taken literally and I take that they should be literal. Three days and three nights now the answer that I'm going to give is the one that has come to me from a friend who did some research on this topic and I tend to think that what I'm going to share is correct course, we can't go back and rehearse what happened. They didn't keep records in the same way that we might today but at the same time we can piece it together we can make the words of Jesus Christ to be taken absolutely truthfully and literally and in the process actually harmonize some of the puzzling texts of Scripture.
I'm going to give you the bottom line the bottom line is this, that it is very probable that Jesus Christ was crucified Wednesday and he was put in the grave on Wednesday and that he was raised from the dead. Saturday evening after sundown, which according to Jewish custom is actually the beginning of Sunday.
If you look at that sequence, Jesus will have been in the grave.
Three full days and three full nights. Now the reason that this makes sense also is that it is clear from the New Testament that there must be something else going on there in the text. Other than the regular Sabbath, which occurred every week there is another Sabbath that is spoken of, and we know that because it talks about the preparation that was being made for the Sabbath.
The next day.
It speaks about that in conjunction with the crucifixion of Jesus and the Passover in the Old Testament there were several different kinds of sabbaths. This was a Sabbath that always took place every year in conjunction with the Passover and that would've occurred on Thursday. Now, obviously, on this broadcast. We can't take time to look at all the different passages of Scripture Matthew Mark Luke and John, and to put it all together but if you take the point of view that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday and rose from the dead after sundown Saturday evening. You can actually harmonize all these passages of Scripture that a question you're going to ask is, does Moody church have a special service on Good Friday answers yes and we aren't going to change that because the real issue isn't when Jesus was crucified. The real issue is, do we worship him acceptably because he was crucified and it is a very worshipful service here at the Moody church on Good Friday. Let me say that the same is true regarding Christmas we don't know exactly when Jesus was born almost certainly he wasn't born December 25, but that doesn't mean that we change the day that we celebrate Christmas because it is the celebration is the honor and the worship that we give him on those days, which is important, even though our chronology might be off. Good question.
Keep studying the Bible. Keep reading and keep taking it literally. Thank you Charlotte and thank you Dr. listserv for that interesting analysis if you'd like to hear your question answered. Go to our email@example.com and click on ask Pastor lutes or or call us at 1-888-218-9337 that's 1-888-218-9337 you can write to us at running to win 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 running to win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life.
Some of God's servants have to go to the school of hard knocks before they learn to obey God. Jonah finally went to with a hardhearted he had no real concern for the people of the great pagan sitting next time I'm running to win will continue this series on openness, God gives us to say yes. Will be back in Jonah chapter 3 learning about death, the self-interest seeing an entire city repent after hearing Jonah's message.
Thanks for listening for Dr. Erwin lutes or this is going to win is sponsored by the Moody church