Jonah goes to Nineveh and proclaims the words of the Lord. The Ninevehites hear, heed and turn to the Lord. The Lord repents, and Nineveh is spared.
V. 1, the second time... Jonah gets a second chance, but, really, Jonah did not have much of a choice.
We serve the God of the second chance. He can still use us if we will get back on the right track with Him. No matter what kind of a mess we have gotten ourselves into, we can still be used by God if we are willing to humble ourselves and submit to Him.
Maybe He cannot use us as He might have been able to before, but it is never too late to serve God as long as their is breathe within our bodies. We might even lose all of man's trust, so we cannot serve the Lord openly, but we could at serve the Lord with fastings and prayer.
I like the Geneva's note here:
This is a great declaration of Gods mercy, that he receiueth him againe, and fendeth him foorth as his Prophet, which had before fhewed fo great infirmity.
We fail to comprehend how merciful of a God we serve.
V. 2, "Get up, Jonah, and go say what I tell you to say."
A) A point that gets my attention is that the Lord does not 'chide' with Jonah: "Why didn't you go do this the first time I told you to go?"
No! The Lord spoke; Jonah rebelled; God chastened him; now Jonah turns back to the Lord and obeys.
I am sure we would have a problem again trusting a person like Jonah, yet when we turn back to God in honest repentance, He is willing to start over again. Once we repent, it is under the blood of Christ; He is not only willing to forgive, forget and restore, but He is anxious to do these things.
It is our enemy who drags up the past to try to hinder our clear conscience. This destroys our effectiveness for God, I Tim. 1:19.
B) another point here is that the Lord spent 3 days and nights in the bowls of the earth, then rose again. After the earth "vomited" out the Lord, He then commanded His disciples to go preach to the heathens. They had the assurance of His death, burial and resurrection behind their preaching, II Cor. 4:13- I Cor. 15.
We have the same assurance: because He is alive and reigns in the heavens over all His creation today, we should have boldness.
V. 3, the first time the Lord spoke to Jonah, he arose and fled from the presence of the Lord. Now he is just as quick to arise and obey. I still imagine that he felt the same concerning the whole situation, but he goes anyway.
True repentance will just as quickly arise to obey God as the rebellion was to arise and flee from God.
Also there will be the same vigor: the energy put into serving self (or other gods) will now be just as energetic toward serving the Lord God and obeying Him.
(Marg., of God). Nineveh was a great city to God. To Jonah, it was a miserable city, and he wanted nothing to do with it. But to God it was great.
Remember Peter, who was typical of all the first preachers of the new Gospel of Christ. God wanted him to go to the Gentiles, but Peter was determined not to go. So the Lord had to move in a supernatural way to convince Peter that it was indeed the Lord commanding him to go. The Gentiles to the Jews were no more than unclean dogs, yet to the Lord they were great in His plan of redemption of the world to Himself through Christ, Rom. 9:24, 25.
We mentioned in the first chapter that Nineveh was probably about the size of Interstate 465 around Indianapolis. History indicates that many times the tillable ground was also included in the walls in order for the city to have its own food source in case of siege.
V. 4, he preaches no more and no less than what God told him say.
I would guess that he is pretty "put out" with the Lord anyway about having to go, so he probably says no more than what he must say. But this is a good example to follow. We should say no more nor less than what God has instructed us to say.
In fact, did not the Lord warn us about taking from or adding to His word?
Note his message: "Within 40 days Nineveh will be history." God's mercy is over. His patience with your sin is over...
God will not hold off His judgment forever. One day it will be full (Rom. 2). EB Pusey, writing in 1860, in his commentary on Jonah writes
I believe Pusey makes a very important and overlooked point:
[T]aught by that severe discipline, he discharges his office strictly. He cries, what God had commanded him to cry out, without reserve or exception. The sentence, as are all God's threatenings until the last, was conditional. But God does not say this. That sentence was now within forty days of its completion; yet even thus it was remitted. Wonderful encouragement, when one Lent sufficed to save some 600,000 souls from perishing! Yet the first visitation of the cholera was checked in its progress in England, upon one day's national fast and humiliation; and we have seen how general prayer has often-times at once opened or closed the heavens as we needed.
"A few years ago," relates Augustine, (de excid. urb. c. 6. (L.) add Paul. Diac. L. 13.) "when Arcadias was Emperor at Constantinople (what I say, some have heard, some of our people were present there,) did not God, willing to terrify the city, and, by terrifying, to amend, convert, cleanse, change it, reveal to a faithful servant of His (a soldier, it is said), that the city should perish by fire from heaven, and warned him to tell the Bishop! It was told. The Bishop despised it not, but addressed the people. The city turned to the mourning of penitence, as that Nineveh of old. Yet lest men should think that he who said this, deceived or was deceived, the day which God had threatened, came. When all were intently expecting the issue with great fears, at the beginning of night as the world was being darkened, a fiery cloud was seen from the East, small at first then, as it approached the city, gradually enlarging, until it hung terribly over the whole city. All fled to the Church; the place did not hold the people. But after that great tribulation, when God had accredited His word, the cloud began to diminish and at last disappeared. The people, freed from fear for a while, again heard that they must migrate, because the whole city should be destroyed on the next sabbath. The whole people left the city with the Emperor; no one remained in his house. That multitude, having one some miles, when gathered in one spot to pour forth prayer to God, suddenly saw a great smoke, and sent forth a loud cry to God."
The city was saved. "What shall we say?" adds Augustine. "Was this the anger of God, or rather His mercy? Who doubts that the most merciful Father willed by terrifying to convert, not to punish by destroying? As the hand is lifted up to strike, and is recalled in pity, when he who was to be struck is terrified, so was it done to that city." Will any of God's warnings "now" move our great Babylon to repentance, that it be not ruined? (Barnes' Minor Prophets I, pg. 414.)
Thus we see that modern medicine and vaccinations are used as a substitute for general and national humiliation, confession of sin and turning to the Lord. The result is that modern medicine is being rendered useless.
I like Geneva' note here:
He went forward one day in the city, and preached, and fo he continued till the citie was converted
We have been studying Heb. 3 and Deut. 1. All of these passages
have to do with God losing patience with his people. His people
resisted his voice, hardened their hearts and refused to turn
in obedience to him.
I know you feel I am a prophet of gloom and doom. But let me read you a newsletter I received this past week. Just a small part of it. I'll put it in the bulletin next Sunday.
God is not going to tolerate the attitude which I preached against last Sunday. He will not tolerate forever his people fleeing after prophets who will prophesy smooth things and deceits, Isa. 30:9, 10. He will not tolerate the laying aside of his law-word for a "make me feel good" message. He won't tolerate it today anymore than he would 2,500 years ago.
I believe we can rest assure that when he brings judgment against his people who refuse to acknowledge His authority over them that he isn't going to remove them from that judgment against them. For we know him that hath said, vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, the Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Paul here is quoting a couple of OT passages and applying them
to the church. First we see Paul is applying Deut. 32:35. To me
belongeth vengeance, and recompense: their foot shall slide in
due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things
that shall come upon them make haste. For the Lord shall judge
his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth
that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left.
Another reference here also is Ps. 50:4.
Ps. 50 is a hard Psalm. It is speaking of God's judgment against
his people, as is Deut. 32:35, 36.
Notice what his people have done, Ps. 50.
vv. 7-14. They have made all kinds of sacrifice to him. Of
everything except themselves.
vv. 17-20 (esp. v. 17), they have made sacrifices to or for God, yet they ignore his law. His word is left behind, put behind them, ignored.
v. 21. God in his patience has kept silence. In his silence his people think he is like they are. They kept silence when they saw the wickedness around them and that silence was taken for approval. God's silence is not approval it is patience and it will run out.
Paul takes Deut. 32:35, 36 and Ps. 50 and applies it to God's people of all ages. He applies it to the church in Heb. 10. His people, those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Those who are covered by the blood of the covenant of Heb. 10:29.
If we are covered by this blood this passage is for us.
Now, what does he say? He says that God is going to judge his people who ignore their responsibility. Christianity is not a spare tire religion. A good thing to have in case of problems.
God is going to bring judgment against his people who only serve him as they have time. Those who have made him a god of convenience. Those who place their job before him, leisure before him, rest before him, family before him, money before him, reputation, social standing, before him.
We are living in a covetous generation when pleasure is more important then pleasing God and we feel that because God hasn't taken action against it yet that he approves of it.
Our kids are the same way. They will try us. They will sass and quietly rebel against us. By our silence, by our lack of action against that attitude they take it as approval.
I know some parents who had better get a hold of that attitude
or they are heading their kids to destruction.
"But they are to strong-willed." You are bigger than they are. Get a 2 x 4 if you have to but if you don't get it under control now they will take it as your approval. The same as we do God's approval when we violate what he wants for us and he doesn't take action right then. Ps. 50, silence, lack of action is the message of consent of their actions, Ps. 50.
His patience is holding the vengeance against his people back but one day that patience will turn lose and the vengeance against the sin of refusing to glorify him as God over our time, education, money, occupation, music, family, service, leisure (anything you can name), tv, food, and drink.
His patience will be gone. His silence is not consent. It is patience and Paul clearly points out that this is for the Christianity today.
If God's people don't get back to his word and clean up their
actions according to his word, then, it is a fearful thing for
his people to fall into the hands of the living God, (Heb. 10:31).
This is not addressed to the heathens.
The 'promise' for his people who refuse to glorify God with their actions as well as their words is, Ps. 50:22, Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.
Let me ask us, who will you glorify tonight about 6:00 P.M.? Who will we glorify next payday with your paycheck? Who will we glorify the next time that child sasses back to us or makes a smart remark or refuses to obey us? Who will we glorify as we talk to those around us or over us on the job tomorrow? Who will we glorify as we talk to those around us or over us on the job tomorrow? Who will we glorify next Wednesday at 7:00 P.M.?
God patience silence with those who refuse to glorify him is not his consent. It is his patience in hope of repentance but it will wear out and judgment will result.
But now the other side. Ps. 50:23, Who so offer praise glorifieth me; and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.
This is as much for every child of God today as it was when Moses wrote Deut. 32 and when David wrote Ps. 50. Paul makes this very clear.
How do we view the silence of God, like our kids do our silence? I'm afraid our actions show that we do because we continue on in our indifference to him and his word and his work. Our actions show who we glorify with our time and energy.
The use of our money proves where our heart is because where our treasure is there will our heart be also, Matt. 6:21. Is our heart in the kingdom of God, Matt. 6:33, or in the kingdom of men and pleasure?
The use of our talents will show where our heart is, Matt. 25:24-28. Are we more interested is using our talents and abilities to establish our own security than we are to establish God's kingdom and glorify him?
Vengeance will come from God against hose who refuse to glorify him in these areas.
But the blessings will come to those who will glorify him in these areas.
If God's people here fail to see the need to glorify God in every area of their lives then there is no way we can expect God's people elsewhere to and only judgment lies ahead. Those who do want to glorify him had better be prepared and God will take care of them.
V. 5, believed God--
Extra on FAITH, Matt. 12:39-41; 16:4; Lk. 11:29-32. Our Lord said that Jonah was a sign to the people of Nineveh. Evidently they knew Jonah's story. They knew what had happened to him. They knew of his supernatural deliverance. I think it is significant here that Nineveh worshiped fish figures. Their gods wore robes representing fish (which I might point out, the Church of Rome still wears the fish head).
These people evidently knew of the huge fish which swallowed Jonah, and they could rejoice: their god had power over a man.
But not only did Jonah's God deliver him from the clutches of their fish-god, but Jonah's God delivered him alive. Jonah's deliverance showed how much more power his God had than their puny fish-god. And now here is the one whose God delivered him from their god walking the street preaching, "turn to my God or be destroyed."
Some other things here:
1) It was in God's plan to save Nineveh, so He prepared a fish, message and messenger just for them. A particular man and a particular message.
We could well be the one prepared by God to reach those around us. We need to be faithful in delivering the message prepared by God for them.
2) I am sure they saw not only the power of Jonah's God, but also His mercy to those who will repent. The story indicates that the people of Nineveh knew the story behind Jonah's message, see chp. 1.
3) God had to work in their heart. The natural man cannot do what is given in this verse. He is incapable of seeking God, Rom. 3. Only God can give the spirit of repentance, II Cor. 4:1-6; II Tim. 2:25-26. Our responsibility is to deliver the message which God has prepared us to deliver.
I heard David Hunt being interviewed about his book, "Seduction of Christianity." He said that as he tried to approach the big name preachers about their false gospel of success, feel good and self-acceptance, they only became more hardened.
I have found the same over the salvation book when we try to expose the false gospel. I wrote Dr. Howard of ACE and he only wrote back defending, "Ask Jesus into your heat," and their failure to use something which more closely reflect trusting in Christ's work upon the cross. He became only harder in his possession of ask Jesus into your heart.
You will find the insert this week, Brother Sileven has observed the same thing. God seems to be holding back the spirit of repentance from America. (look at the attendance today. Where is the love for God and his word and his people?)
Of course the only one I now of is Brother Dixon. He took immediate steps as soon as we pointed out what is happening to the gospel. But he seems to be by far the exception. So what do we do? Give up? Of course not. I told the preachers last week, if judgment does come our money won't be worth anything anyway. We might as well invest it in God's work now. We might as well lay up treasures in heaven now where they will not be affected by the judgment by God against the sins of His people.
I was quite surprised when we sent the salvation book out: I really thought there would be more of a response back although I do know some pastors are being more careful now as to what they emphasize for salvation. But it is in God's hands. If he sees fit to give a spirit of repentance to modern Nineveh, praise the Lord. If he doesn't, then that is His business. Our only responsibility is to do all we can to get out the message which He has given to us, and it cost money. But if judgment does come, what good will money do in that day? We must pray that God will see fit to give the spirit of repentance.
We are living in an age of covetousness, pride, stubbornness as well as a love of leisure. All of these things tend to make the heart cold and indifferent toward God and His word. Far too many of God's people are unwilling to pay for what they believe in sacrificing time, effort or finances.
4) I believe a reason the Lord moved with Jonah as He did was for the illustration needed for Christ to use. Christ pointed to the religious leaders of Israel and called forth the men of Nineveh as their judges. They heard and repented, Israel would not.
5) just as sure as the opening of Nineveh's eyes was the work of God, so was the closing of the eyes of Israel, Rom. 11:9.
Why? Jonah 1:14, ..for thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased thee. Compare with Rom. 9:11, ..that the purpose of God...might stand. Rom. 9:18 is even stronger: Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
We see a beautiful example of this here as we compare the heathen Gentiles of Nineveh with the religious leaders, national leaders of Israel. God had mercy on the fish worshippers, yet He hardened those who professed to worship Him. He sure works in strange ways. We would have thought it would be the other way around: judging Nineveh and opening Israel, but this was not according to His purpose in Christ Jesus.
We can rejoice in this because the result of Rom. 11:8 is our salvation.
We are seeing this also today: the bigger name a preacher or teacher has seemingly the more hardened they are in their traditions and unscriptural beliefs. Moreover, the more money that is involved, the more determined to keep it rather than obey God.
Now, this king takes it even further. Ashes today's public "sack cloth" is the altar.
Geneva: For he declared that he was a Prophet fent to them from God to denounce his iudgements againft them.
V. 6 For word came... It is hard to say whether the people or the king repented first. I believe that because the events of v. 5 are recorded first, the people repented first. The king, though, proclaimed the national fast, and the people willingly followed.
We could have a geinine conversion of the president, he could proclaim all the fasts in this country he wanted to, but the people would not follow his lead. There must be a change of heart in the people. The change of heart comes from one on one evangelism.
V. 7 caused it to be prclaimed... that the beast be covered in this repentance.
Scripturue is full of instances of the beast included in God's judgment against man's sin. Remember Ahab's drought? The animals suffered in it along with man. Here even the animals are included in the call for mercy.
The king proclaimed a fast, but notice this fast was not restricted to a separation from food alone, but a seperation from sin. God's fast is to do right, for God could care less about the laying aside of food. The avoidance of food is to be an outward sign of avoidance of sin. He is far more concerned about our attitude toward authority, our fellow man and toward Him and His word than He is about fasting.
Should we fast? Certainly. But a fast without a separation from sin is useless in God's eyes: prayer and fasting is coupled with turning everyone from his evil way. Repentance involves turning.
The major sin listed here is violence; thus they not only avoided the fleshly desire for food, but they also avoided the fleshly desire of lust, pride, unbelief, indifference toward the world of God. Repentance over unscriptural debt involves repaying the debt.
When the strong sin that holds us is laid aside, the rest of our sins will fall off of themselves if we remain committed to following the word of God.
V. 9, Who can telll... This pagan city knew nothing of the mercy of God first hand, but they would soon find out.
Of course this also is our responsibility, turn from the sin that is in our hands and cast ourselves upon his mercy, Prov. 28:13, 14. Do all we can and leave it in his hands.
V. 10 Nineveh repented and turned every one from his evil way, so now God repents. This was a true Bible repentance. Our Lord held this up as an example many years later, Matt. 12:41. They believed the message and, evidently, were as saved as anyone could be, or our Lord would not have used this as an example of true repentance. Salvation came to the Gentiles even in the OT.
While God's people were persecuting and killing God's prophets because they warned of impending judgment, here the most heathen of the heathens repent and are saved, Isa. 58:1-2.
As we said, this is genuine repentance. God didn't see the sackcloth nor the fasting; what He saw was their works. There could have been all the sorrow in the world over their wicked ways, but there would have been no mercy from God without works. A person can "repent" seven times every day, but if there are no works to back it up, he is wasting his time. God sees the works.
I hear many times, "God sees the heart, God looks upon the heart and judges or rewards accordingly. As long as the heart is pure..." But the Lord makes it clear here in Jonah that if there are no outward changes, there is no heart change.
Christ exalted the Nivenehites as true repentance. Is this not the book of James? Faith withoug works is dead, being alone. Both go together. Saving faith will bring a change in life. True repentance involves a change in our ways. Of course the change does not result in salvation. Salvation results in a change because if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation.
It is hard to imagine: a great city totally given over to wickedness of all kinds. But overnight it changes from a city of wickedness to a city of mourning, sorrowing, humbling, self-abasement over sin. Can't you just see someone who was on a journey maybe for a week or so. One day he left admist all kinds of wickedness. He comes back and sees people of all classes, moaning and crying out in sorrow over their wicked deeds, refusing to eat food, refusing to take part in any "frolicking" at all. I'm sure he would check his map to be sure he was at the right place. I'm sure he would ask many questions.
Now, I think vv. 5-10 is very significant. This started as a publicly proclaimed fast and ended in a nation (Assyria) being converted, Isa. 58.
Now notice a few points. This would be II Cor. 4:1-6.
First notice Jonah: he walked down the street, preached his message and left. From the attitude of chp. 4, I am inclined to believe he walked quickly through the town as he preached his message, making his message short and harsh.
Obviously, therefore, the message was spread 'mouth to mouth:' one person telling another. I believe scripturally, this is the most effective method of spreading the gospel. One on one, a little at a time. I'm afraid one of our major faults as Christians is that if we can't see big progress overnight we have very little to do with it. The world's crowd will put a plan into action a little at a time. It may take hundreds of years for their results to come to pass, but they will quietly work and wait.
Second, we see the absolute and total necessity of the Holy Spirit giving the spirit of repentance. Jonah didn't corner people on the street and tell them, "turn or burn," etc. Rather, he preached the message the Lord gave him and God drove that message home to the people. God opened the heartd; God showed the need.
Third, observe that no matter how hopeless the situation may look or seem, there is always hope. As long as there is a God in heaven, there is hope that He might see fit to give His spirit of repentance in any given situation or to any people.
Notice Jonah's message was not renounce your SS number, quite paying taxes, nor was it take up arms against the king. Jonah's message was to the people to repent or parish.
As we see the wickedness around us, where do we place our confidence that the situation can or will be changed? In changing laws? In the political process? In protest? Or in our obedience to God and then His movement moving in the situation?
Because of the strong stand I take on the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ over his church and over His people, I have been identified with the "patarotic tax-protest" movement. I protest high taxes just like everyone else. I protest the misuse of taxes just like everyone else. The unjust taxes are there because God's people refuse to give to God what belongs to him, in their money, honour, reverence and service.
Moreover, until God's people humble themselves, seek His face and turn from their wicked ways, God will not hear from heaven and heal their land. High taxes, oppressive government is only the sign, the outward boil of the inner infection of the society. That boil cannot be cured without the inner cleansing.
I preached a message just after I got here, "repent-not revolt," and I still stand by it. When God's people get right with God, He will heal the land. I am not talking of being passive. We should protest loudly and stand, even picket, wickedness wherever it is found.
Fourth, the only thing which would work in this situation was Jonah obeying God, and leaving the results up to Him. I firmly believe that our only hope in any situation lies in our obeying God and leaving the results up to Him. God gave the increase. Part of that obedience is protest against evil. Every responsibility we have falls under this.
Our hope in this nation does not lie in a return to the constitution but a return to the Bible by His people. Certainly, abortion is wicked and ungodly but not as ungodly and destructive as God's people refusing to acknowledge or recognize Him as God and all of His law over every area of life. Abortion, sodomy, fornication, drugs, all of these are only an outgrowth of a people turning from God. We must protest these things because God tells us to.
Fifth, why was Nineveh going to be overthrown? Was it because of her wickedness, or was it because Jonah refused to obey God? We know the answer, because look at what Jonah tells the Lord, 4:2.
This book makes this doctrine abundantly clear. It was Jonah's lack of obedience to the word of God which was going to bring about their destruction. This is the very first principle established in Scripture, Gen. 3.
note that one man obeying God conquored the greatest pagan nation of his day.
God said, "Adam, how about it?" Adam said, "Lord, it was Eve and you gave her to me Lord, so actually, it's your fault that I sinned." Eve said, "Don't look at me, it was that serpent you turned lose in here Lord." Each one of us tires to blame someone else that things are falling apart. "It's the liquor establishment's fault; it's the pornography's fault; it's the abortionists fault; it's big excessive central governments fault. It's anyones fault but mine. My inability to exercise self-control does not affect things around me."
We as Christians need to understand: it is not the wickedness of the heathens which will cause their destruction, it is the indifference to God and His Word by the people who claim to be Christians which is bringing destruction. I understand about election, but God told His people to go win all nations for Christ. Therefore, He will hold them responsible for not obeying His command.
Indifference to the plight of the unsaved or the wicked will bring God's judgemt upon us, Ez. 3:18.
Indifference to our Godly responsibilities and His word will bring judgment.
Nineveh was going to be destroyed because of Jonah's indifference to God's word. Nineveh was going to be destroyed because Jonah would not accept his responsibility to God over his personal feelings toward Nineveh.
Families, even Christian families, are being destroyed because family members will not accept responsibility before God. They are not being destroyed because of the preacher, the church nor for the worldly influence. There was no place Jonah could place the blame for Nineveh's destruction except upon himself.
The society as we know it is in the process of crumbling. It is not crumbling because of the many one-world conspiracies. It is crumbling because Christians setting in church (or home in bed or blowing before the American idol, the TV), will not accept their responsibility to God and His word. They are to busy pursuing the American dream of pleasure and prosperity: the most destructive thing there is to Christianity.
They have rejected the word of God.
Let me ask, are we serving God more today than we did last week, month, year, ten years ago, etc? If not, then Jer. chps. 7 and 8 discribes us as perpetual backsliders, Jer 8:7.
Are our co-worker, our neighbours, friends, loved ones being destroyed because of indifference to our responsibility to God's word?
Nineveh was going to be destroyed. Nineveh was probably the most wicked city/nation of its day. Fish worshipping idol worshipers. They were scheduled for God's destruction because of their wickedness, yet they were spared. Why? Because Jonah finally obeyed God. Jonah finally acted upon God's word. Jonah accepted the responsibility which God placed upon him.
Are we willing to accept the responsibility for our community? For our family? For our friends? How? By accepting our responsibility to live a godly life before them, and taking the gospel message of Christ to them.
This is probably one of the hardest things for us as Christians to grasp: it is not the wickedness of the wicked and the heathenness of the heathen which will cause the destruction of a community or of a society (or even a church). It is the indifferent of God's people to their responsibilities before God.
Cirtainly, the rejection of Christ has God's condemnation and wrath upon it, Jn. 3:18-36. But it is the rejection of God as God over everything by His people which carried His judgment against a society, II Chron. 7:14; I Cor. 15:34; Rev. 1:21, &c.
It is the indifference of God's people toward His word and toward His service and toward their responsibilities to God which sends a society to the devil. Their refusal to accept their responsibility to God's principles of His word which sends their friends and family to destruction. (Again, I Pet. is clear on this.)
The Jewish nation was not destroyed because Rome and Greese were wicked, nor because the world was stronger and had more money, people or influence. Israel was not destroyed because they didn't influence enough Canaanites or Egyptians to become Jews and follow the God of Abraham.
In fact, the Jewish nation of Christ's day was not even destroyed because they were a wicked acting people. They were very religious on the outside. Their judgment came because they rejected Christ and His claim upon them as their King. Judgment came because they would not be called back to their God. They refused to render the just fruit to the landowner, Matt. 21-24.
America and the free society our fathers knew are gone down the tubes: Not because of the FED banking, conspiracy, new one world government conspiracy, not because of the abortion mills, murder, not because more people than ever are living together without marriage, not because of sodomy, not because of pornography, not because the supreme court has kicked out prayer, God, Bible reading or the constitution.
America is doomed because those who profess to be Christians will not accept their responsibility toward God and His word. They are to busy trying to please the world and the flesh and God, all three at the same time. It just won't work.
The answer for societies' ills and our families' ills, and that friends ills lies right in here today. It starts with each one of us determining in our heat that we are going to accept our responsibility before God as Jonah did and we can see God turn Nineveh around.
To pursue this on a little here.
My job then as a pastor is to teach the word of God. Equip the saint, Eph. 4:12. I can't teach the saints who are not here. People want to know what the Bible teaches on certain subjects yet won't come to find out.
1. In faith. To have confidence of their relationship to God to have confidence in his working in them.
2. In works. How to apply God's word to every area of their life so that by their good works they can silence the foolish statements of wicked men as well as have the answer for every situation they may face.
3. In word. The Christian is required to be able to give an answer for the hope that lies within him. I must be able to train God's people int he word of God to where they can answer from scripture for their hope.
4. In example. The pastor's responsibility is to build a people in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. As the people apply this faith then God is glorified and His kingdom advanced against the very gates of hell.
Is there a responsibility you are avoiding today? Are you trying to place that responsibility on someone other than accepting it yourself, the responsibility doesn't belong on the devil for that sin or indifference.
Are you saved? The tax protestors that I have met as a whole, don't want to be responsible to anyone, including God.
While Nineveh was fasting and laying aside sin, we have a record of what God's people were doing, Isa. 58:1-2.
Here God commands his preacher to cry out with the full strength of his voice as a trumpet, bugle or a loud horn. With this loud voice that demands to be heard. The preacher here is to point out to the people their deep moral wounds. Their deepest hidden secret sins which they even hide from themselves. Yet it is hypocrisy. It cannot be kept hidden from God. The sin which they try to keep hidden from their God every day as they try to approach him.
This is almost exactly what is said over in Ezekiel 20:1. Here the elders came to Ezekiel to find out what god wanted for them. (Just like those of Isa. 58:1, 2.) They came boldly to Ezekiel just like a godly people would do to find out what God had for them.
They come (Ex. 20:1), God speaks (v. 2), the message is not pleasant at all, vv. 3-4. As sure as I live, I will not be inquired of by you. (I'm not going to talk to or answer them.)
Then he goes on to say why, v. 5.
1.) He chose them to serve him.
a.) Ex. 5:1, 3, and etc.
b.) This is confirmed in the NT, in many ways. Our Lord said that the duty of man is to love God with all our mind, soul and strength. He also said if we love him we will please him, keep his commandments.
c.) Peter made it clear, the purpose of redemption is that we could serve and please God regardless of our upbringing, I Pet. 1:18.
d.) Paul said that to do any less is to trod underfoot the blood of Christ, and the results is to fall into the avenging hands of a living God, Heb. 10:24-29.
Many times I get the impression that people think the purpose of salvation is so they can live as they please, avoid the results and still go to heaven.
People want a salvation which requires no personal sacrifice. No putting away of sin. No commitment to a cause, no cost to them. Someone told me after the message the other day on how to have revival, (repentance, humility), self-denial and prayer. That they had heard a sermon just the previous week on revival and it said nothing about self-denial, sacrifice for God and turning from sin.
God redeemed us to serve him, sacrifice to him, put away sin, he give us the grace to live above sin and the desires of the flesh.
It is as others see our commitment to Christ and his word with our life, over the desires of the flesh that they will glorify our father in heaven.
I get almost completely discouraged as I see those who claim to be God's people more committed to a tv set than to the God they profess to love. They tell you how they can sit still for an hour church service, yet they can sit for hours in front of a tv.
More committed to a shopping trip than to God. More committed to sleep or leisure than to God. More committed to money. More committed to tobacco and alcohol. More committed to even a car or material possessions. More committed to family reunions. More committed to personal ease and pleasure.
Many times his people are more afraid of offending friends than of offending Him.
They are more interested in dressing like the world and how they want to, than in dressing to properly represent their profession of Christ.
a.) Let me hit this. You older ladies. How many of you would have dressed 25-30 years ago like you do now? Then why do you do it? Has God changed?
More committed hate, bitterness, anger, wrath, hard feelings, than to love one another, patience, tolerance, which is called for in our commitment to our God. Our anger words show the truth.
More committed to that thing we know is wrong than to laying it aside so we can serve God.
More committed in spreading around how you feel about something than you are about how God feels abut something. I know some people, if they were as interested in God's business as they are in the business of others the whole community would be won for Christ.
If they were as committed to telling everyone how God feels about something as they are about how they feel about something, we would have revival.
More committed to that job than to God. I know folks who will walk to work in the snow, yet a drizzle will keep them from church. They would crawl to work they are so sick yet headache keeps them from church.
Now, I expect this kind of commitment to the world, flesh and the devil out of the world's crowd but Christ redeemed his people out of Egypt to serve him. He gives grace, not to escape hell but to give the power, strength to be more committed to him than to these things.
People will do just what they want to do. I know people who will drive consistently to Indianapolis to work five to six days a week but you ask them to drive five miles to church and suddenly it is to far, to expensive, or to much time and trouble.
Christ redeemed us that we might serve him. Christ set us free from the world, flesh and the devil by his work on the cross that we might serve him, that we might be committed to him and his cause and live by that commitment.
The world is going to the devil. Friends and neighbors are going to hell, yet God's people won't live a life that reveals Christ in them, their hope of glory.
We say we are concerned about that friend, co-worker, family member, yet we are not concerned enough to change, the way we dress, the way we talk, the way we spend our time, our faithfulness in church, our habits, our desires, what we want to do.
I know some people right now, if they would trade their will (what they want) for God's will, it would shock those they are concerned about to their very soul and they would see many get right with God.
Isa. 58:1-2, "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins."
Ezek. 20:1, God's people think they love God and the ones they are concerned about yet their actions prove different. Their actions show hatred and anger and unconcern.
Ezek. 20, God says they come to him, weeping, moaning and groaning, yet he is not going to listen to them.
Verse 5-21, He redeemed them from Egypt that they might serve him but rather they still served the world, their fleshly desires and the devil.
Isa. 58. God tells his preacher. "My people think they are serving me. They act like they are a nation of righteousness, v. 2. They act like they delight in studying my word, seeking my face, obeying my law. Even like they enjoy fasting and prayer.
Yet preacher, cry aloud. Cry as a trumpet. Sound so that those who are close will have their ears hurt. Cry loud enough that they cannot help but hear you.
Show them they are more committed to a tv set than to me and my word.
Let me meddle here a moment.
I will sometimes record a tv program which I don't want to miss. Alf is one of them. How many of God's people will ask for a recording of a sermon which they might have to miss? This shows which we hold more important to our well-being.
God says, "Preacher, cry aloud so they can't ignore what you are saying. Get a blunt and pointed as you must so they cannot miss it.
Cry aloud because they are self-deceived. They think they are righteous yet they are not.
Cry aloud, he says, so that they can see where their hidden sins are and make them right.
Cry aloud, He says, so they can see where they place me in their priorities.
Cry aloud, he says, so they will repent and return.
Now for probably the saddest thing.
Jonah is in Nineveh, walked through town one time, preached one message to this wicked city.
They fell on their faces with great cries, fasting, prayers, crying out for mercy and grace from God. They abandoned their heathen ways. They lay it all aside that they might find mercy in God's eyes and be spared that God would not pour out his fury upon them.
Yet here is Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and a multitude of preachers crying out to God's people. Trying to show them that they cannot escape God's fury over their indifference to their God. Yet these who were redeemed by the very power of the living God in a very supernatural way only say, "preacher, we aren't as bad as you make us out to be. Tell us how good we are. Tell us we are okay. We get tired of you crying out against sin. We are pleased with what we are. We are going to heaven and that is all we care about. Leave us alone so we can enjoy life."
The people of Nineveh said, "Woe is us, we are undone, let's cast ourselves upon the mercy of God and maybe he will see fit to spare us."
Those who had been redeemed said, "leave us alone, we are happy the way we are. We enjoy serving the world, flesh and the devil." And the results caught up.
God said, "Preacher cry aloud, spare not." The people of God turned him off, went on their merry way to death and destruction, yet the preacher delivered his message and also he delivered his soul from judgment which he would have inherited if he hadn't, Ezek. 3:15-22; 33:7-14.
What are his people going to do with it?
1.) Are you saved?
2.) Where is your commitment to the world, flesh, devil or to God?