Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Modern Jonah & My Nineveh

We all like to have new beginnings...a fresh start, a clean slate. You can get this every day by staying renewed in the Living Word of God...and living truthfully in Him. If you are honest with your life and give it to God, asking for change, He will move the world for you. He gave His son for us, so why not the world? He so loves us and wants so much to be in our presence. As that wonderful Daddy, wouldn't we want to share in His presence as well?

I had a huge revelation recently. God placed the word, "Nineveh" into my mind the other day, and I had no idea why. I really should have read on it, but I misplaced that thought until a few days ago...and again, just moments ago. I read a blog entry by Tiffany Myers (a link is provided) and someone had commented that Nineveh had been on her mind on the same exact day it was on my mind too! It's amazing how God moves on our lives and how He reveals information to us each day about His amazing plans for our lives...

So the big question is, what is Nineveh?

Nineveh was a city in ancient Assyria, near the Tigris River and in the country we now know as Iraq. It is first mentioned in Genesis as Asher went forth to build this massive city: "From that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah"(Genesis 10:11). The city stood for many, many years, amassing to be the capital of the Assyrian Empire. This information can be found in Kings and Chronicles. In the Bible, Nineveh was known for violence and conquering neighboring territories, thus destroying what was already there, and terrorizing the lands and their peoples. 

 Jonah, a prophet, had been called by God to go and preach the Gospel to the criminals and evil-doers in Nineveh. " The Lord gave this message to Jonah, son of Amittai: 'Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.'" (Jonah 1:1-2). As this city had a terrible reputation for being cruel and inhumane, Jonah fled hoping to escape his calling out of fear. You may know the fascinating and amazing testimony Jonah had to share afterward as he was the man who was swallowed by a fish...If you've seen the Veggie Tales version of the Jonah story, I'm sure you would remember it...Remember The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything? hehe It's a very catchy song. =)

Because Jonah disobeyed God, and went so far as to run away from Him, God created the merciless storm, wreaking havoc upon the ship and its crew...who in turn tossed Jonah overboard when they discovered Jonah's sin. The skies cleared thereafter, and God, being so very merciful, allowed Jonah to live, by sending a giant fish, who swallowed him whole. He lived in the fish for three days and three nights...only until he repented of his sin.  Jonah survived and went into Nineveh hoping God would destroy the evil city as He had destroyed so many evil cities in the days of Deuteronomy. He prophesied to the people, declaring that in 40 days time, they would witness a great massacre to their beloved city unless they repented (3:3-6). Full of a Godly fear, the people fasted and wore burlap as a sign of humility and disgrace. Even their powerful king removed his elegant robes to wear burlap and fast. The entire city repented! Oh what a joyous day that was for the Kingdom! This city was so huge that "it took three days to see it all" (3:3). For a city that large, its population would have been booming...isn't it amazing how God could touch the hearts of all those sinners for them to repent and humble themselves in such a fastidious and obedient way? God forgave them and decided against punishing them. What an amazing God! 120,000+ people were spared because of God's compassion! (4:11).

The theme of his Jonah's story is to show God's He creates seeds of desires in us to fulfill a purpose. His mighty purpose. I think the word "Nineveh" coming into my mind was no simple and coincidental thing. God wants me to reflect upon the ancient story, finding how to relate it to my life...

So, let's continue with the story...

Jonah wasn't happy about God's compassion for the city of Nineveh... You know why? Pride. The pride he felt blocked the ability for him to rejoice in God's victory... He stated that he ran away from God knowing that if he prophesied to the people, God would forgive them. He didn't want to be wrong. When Jonah ventured east from the city into the desert, he suffered under the scorching sun and proclaimed that he would rather die "if what [he] predicted [would] not happen" (4:3).God, very clever indeed, set a plant with broad leaves to grow where Jonah's shelter, shading him from the burning sun. However, He also placed a worm there, who ate the nutrients the plant desperately needed, killing it. Jonah cried out, asking for death, full of anger and retort. The Lord said, "'You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn't I feel sorry for such a great city?'" (4:10-11). 

Can I stop there and just say, WOW? I think the greatest thing to learn from this book is to understand compassion and mercy for others, finding forgiveness for weaknesses and faults. God loves everyone, and He felt so very sorry for Nineveh, who proved to Him that they truly did feel remorse for their actions--even their own king had set a decree that all in the city had to wear the burlap and fast--not even feeding their animals because the evil in the city was so great. 

The thing I love most about the Living Word is that even though the content of each book took place thousands of years ago, and the times were so very different, we can still take each principle and parable and apply that to our lives.

Jonah is the perfect example of my life right now. I've been struggling to get my head above water, drowning in medical issues and debt, barely breathing between homework assignments and trying to pay for class, and keep ahead of all my social networking and media endeavors to better my situation. In the past few weeks, subtle words have entered my mind at moments of stress and irritation--thoughts too horrible to say, but nonetheless, ones dark enough to merit a long heartfelt conversation with friends, and deep prayers. When the word "Nineveh" came into my mind a week ago, I didn't really know what it was...I knew the story of Jonah--well, the gist of it, but I had never read the whole book. I saw the Veggie Tales version (hehe) and read about the book in essays and other books, but didn't really understand how I could relate this to my life.

Lately, I have felt very desperate for things that I need, moments of, affection, attention--loneliness to be spared so I could live normally again. I can empathize with Jonah because he didn't think he served a purpose in God's plan for Nineveh--but rather thought God just wanted him to do something for the sake of doing it. He didn't understand God's plan, nor did he care to understand, even later, how much of an impact he made on thousands upon thousands of lives. Instead, he found pride and anger. He didn't feel joy and rejoice in how God used him to fulfill this amazing miracle.

Almost a year ago I met a prophet and had an amazing prophesy placed over my life. It connected what feelings I felt as a nine-year-old, staring out into the night at all the twinkling city lights when I should have been asleep, seeing a huge world out there for me to be encapsulated in, and to prosper, with the destiny I know I am supposed to fulfill. I knew at a tender age that I have a huge purpose in this life, and yet, (at the time) even though I didn't know what that purpose was, it would make a big mark on the world. 

On those days when I feel sad, lonely...depressed and overly anxious, I lose sight of what that future is...of what it is supposed to hold. The enemy whispers thoughts into my ears, telling me that I'm not good enough for God to use, that all my friends don't want to talk to me, so why would I be able to make my impression on the world through God... such terrible thoughts...leading to "Why don't you just end it now? Come on. You're in such a mess right now and you're just spinning in circles...No one wants you..." 

The story of Jonah proves that awful enemy wrong! God could have easily destroyed the city without warning...or He could have made Himself appear in a burning bush to the king, announcing His plans for destruction unless the entire city repented. But He didn't. Instead, He chose Jonah to carry out His good works, knowing every mistake Jonah would make...including the running away. If God could grant mercy upon Jonah for even being angry with Him for not destroying the city, then maybe I do have a chance! Maybe what this whole "Nineveh" story was about God telling me He still wants to use me, but I've got to learn a few things first? The incredible thing about Nineveh is that over 120,000 came into agreement to repent for their sins--granting mercy and forgiveness from the only One who grants life.

For such horrid deeds, they were forgiven. 

A few months ago, I met the prophet again, who prophesied over me again, in a casual encounter with many of my dear friends surrounding me, standing in awe. He spoke over me stating that I have a purpose and God wants me to fulfill that purpose. When the Holy Spirit is dwelling in me, the light shines so brightly that those who see darkness will see the light... Could this be my Nineveh story? Could I be a Jonah of the 2000 millennium? Perhaps you are too!

God is amazing. I encourage you all to explore and research those random "ancient" words that come into your head--they just might lead you to an amazing lesson as it did with me! God has many things to tell us, to show us, and to give us, but we must be ready for them too! So let's get prepared! The best way to prepare is to arm yourselves in the Word of how do you do that? By simply reading it! 

It is my hope that once a week I will write a blog such as this one (maybe shorter though hahaha) regarding a lesson in any of the books in the Bible. I want this to be informational, yet encouraging, and not in a textbook kind of way. In no way am I going to paraphrase the whole Bible for the world, but rather I will use this weekly entry to gain the valuable artillery of the God's book. I want to be able to understand the history leading up to the New Testament. This is my own Bible study and may only be guided by God Himself with His inspirations...or by the request of another person. =)

So grab a comfy pillow, a cup of steamy hot chocolate, and cuddle up with the best selling book of all time: The Bible. 

With much love and joy,


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