Running From the Character of God & Offended By His Nature

Today’s selected reading is found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Obadiah which he saw concerning Edom, as well as the Old Testament prophetic book of Jonah which describes a prophet who was instructed of the LORD to journey unto Nineveh—the capital city of the Assyrian Empire—and prophesy judgment upon it. WE HAVE HEARD A RUMOUR FROM THE LORD! AN AMBASSADOR IS SENT AMONG THE HEATHEN! ARISE YE, AND LET US RISE UP AGAINATS HER IN BATTLE! BEHOLD, I HAVE MADE THEE SMALL AMONG THE HEATHEN! THOU ART GREATLY DESPISED! THE PRIDE OF THINE HEART HATH DECEIVED THEE! THOU THAT DWELLEST IN THE CLEFTS OF THE ROCK, WHOSE HABITATION IS HIGH; THAT SAITH IN HIS HEART, WHO SHALL BRING ME DOWN TO THE GROUND? THOUGH THOU EXALT THYSELF AS THE EAGLE, AND THOUGH THOU OSET THY NEST AMONG THE STARS, THENCE WILL I BRING THEE DOWN, SAITH THE LORD! HOW ARE THE THINGS OF ESAU SEARCHD OUT! HOW ARE HIS HIDDEN THINGS SOUGHT UP! THE MEN THAT WERE AT PEACE WITH THEE HAVE DECEIVED THEE, AND PREVAILED AGAINST THEE! SHALL THEY THAT EAT THY BREAD HAVE LAID A WOUND UNDER THEE: THERE IS NONE UNDERSTANDING IN HIM! SHALL I NOTE IN THAT DAY, SAITH THE LORD, EVEN DESTROY THE WISE MEN OUT OF EDOM, AND UNDERSTANDING OUT OF THE MOUNT OF ESAU? AND THY MIGHTY MEN, O TEMAN, SHALL BE DISMAYED!

FOR THY VIOLENCE AGAINST THY BROTHER JACOB SHAME SHALL COVER THEE, AND THOU SHALT BE CUT OFF FOR EVER! IN THE DAY THAT THOU STOODEST ON THE OTHER SIDE, IN THE DAY THAT THE STRANGERS CARRIED AWAY CAPTIVE HIS FORCES, AND FOREIGNERS ENTERED INTO HIS GATES, AND CAST LOTS UPON JERUSALEM! EVEN THOU WAST AS ONE OF THEM! BUT THOU SHOULDEST NOT HAVE LOOKED ON THE DAY OF THY BROTHER IN THE DAY THAT HE BECAME A STRANGER; NEITHER SHOULDEST THOU HAVE REJOICED OVER THE CHILDREN OF JUDAH IN THE DAY OF THEIR DESTRUCTION; NEITHER SHOULDES THOU HAVE SPOKEN PROUDLY IN THE DAY OF HIS DISTRESS! THOU SHOULDEST NOT HAVE ENTERED INTO THE GATE OF MY PEOPLE IN THE DAY OF THEIR CALAMITY: YEA, THOU SHOULDEST NOT HAVE LOOKED ON THEIR AFFLICTION IN THE DAY OF THEIR CALAMITY! NOR HAVE LAID HANDS ON THEIR SUBSTANCE IN THE DAY OF THEIR CALAMITY! NEITHER SHOULDEST THOU HAVE STOOD IN THE CROSS WAY, TO CUT OFF THOSE OF HIS THAT DID ESCAPE; NEITHER SHOULDEST THOU HAVE DELIVERED UP THOSE OF HIS THAT DID REMAIN IN THE DAY OF DISTRESS!

FOR AS YE HAVE DRUNK UPON MY HOLY MOUNTAIN, SO SHALL ALL THE HEATHEN DRINK CONTINUALLY, YEA, THEY SHALL DRINK, AND THEY SHALL SWALLOW DOWN, AND THEY SHALL BE AS THOUGH THEY HAD NOT BEEN!

BUT UPON MOUNT ZION SHALL BE DELIVERANCE, AND THERE SHALL BE HOLINESS; AND THE HOUES OF JACOB SHALL POSSESS THEIR POSSESSIONS! AND THE HOUES OF JACOB SHALL BE A FIRE, AND THE HOUES OF JOSEPH A FLAME, AND THE HOUES OF ESAU FOR STUBBLE, AND THEY SHALL KINDLE IN THEM, AND DEVOUR THEM; AND THERE SHALL NOT BE ANY REMAINING OF THE HOUES OF ESAU; FOR THE LORD HATH SPOKEN IT!

Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is com up before . But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD”

BUT THE LORD SENT OUT A GREAT WIND INTO THE SEA, AND THERE WAS A MIGHTY TEMPEST IN THE SEA, SO THAT THE SHIP WAS LIKE TO BE BROKEN! THEN THE MARINERS WERE AFRAID, AND CRIED EVERY MAN UNTO HIS GOD, AND CAST FORTH THE WARES THAT WERE IN THE SHIP INTO THE SEA, TO LIGHTEN IT OF THEM. BUT JONAH WAS GONE DOWN INTO THE SIDES OF THE SHIP; AND HE LAY, AND WAS FAST ASLEEP! SO THE SHIPMASTER CAME TO HIM, AND SAID UNTO HIM, WHAT MEANEST THOU, O SLEEPER? ARISE, CALL UPON THY GOD, IF SO BE THAT GOD WILL THINK UPON US, THAT WE PERISH NOT!

AND THEY SAID EVERY ONE TO HIS FELLOW, COME, AND LET US CAST LOTS, THAT WE MAY KNOW FOR WHOSE CAUSE THIS EVIL IS UPON US! SO THEY CAST LOTS, AND THE LOT FELL UPON JONAH! I AM AN HEBREW; AND I FEAR THE LORD, THE GOD OF HEAVEN, WHICH HATH MADE THE SEA AND IN THE DRY LAND! WHY HAST THOU DONE THIS? FOR THE MEN KNEW THAT HE FLED FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD, BECAUSE HE HAD TOLD THEM! WHAT SHALL WE DO UNTO THEE, THAT THE SEA MAY BE CALM UNTO US? FOR THE SEA WROUGHT, AND WAS TEMPESTUOUS! TAKE ME UP, AND CAST ME FORTH INTO THE SEA; SO SHALL THE SEA BE CALM UNTO YOU: FOR I KNOW THAT FOR MY SAKE THIS GREAT TEMPEST IS UPON YOU! WE BESEECH THEE, O LORD, WE BESEECH THEE, LET US NOT PERISH FOR THIS MAN’S LIFE, AND LAY NOT UPON US INNOCENT BLOOD: FOR THOU, O LORD, HAST DONE AS IT PLEASED THEE! SO THEY TOOK UP JONAH, AND CAST HIM FORTH INTO THE SEA: AND THE SEA CEASED FROM HER RAGING! THEN THE MEN FEARED THE LORD EXCEEDINGLY, AND OFFERED A SACRIFICE UNTO THE LORD, AND MADE VOWS!

NOW THE LORD HAD PREPARED A GREAT FISH TO SWALLOW UP JONAH! AND JONAH WAS IN THE BELLY OF THE FISH THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS! THEN JONAH PRAYED UNTO THE LORD HIS GOD OUT OF THE FISH’S BELLY!

”I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and He heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. Then said I, I am cast out of thy sight; Yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depths clothed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountain; the earth was with her bars was about me for ever: yet thou hast brought up my life from corruption, o Lord my God. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple!”

AND THE LORD SPAKE UNTO THE FISH, AND IT VOMITED OUT JONAH UPON THE DRY LAND!

AND THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME UNTO JONAH THE SECOND TIME, SAYING, ARISE, GO UNTO NINEVETH, THAT GREAT CITY, AND PREACH UNTO IT THE PREACHING THAT I BID THEE! SO JONAH AROSE, AND WENT UNTO NINEVETH, ACCORDING TO THE WORD OF THE LORD! NINEVEH WAS AN EXCEEDING GREAT CITY OF THREE DAYS’ JOURNEY! AND JONATH BEGAN TO ENTER INTO THE CITY A DAY’S JOURNEY, AND HE CRIED, AND SAID, YET FORTY DAYS, AND NINEVEH SHALL BE OVERTHROWN! SO THE PEOPLE OF NINEVEH BELIEVED GOD, AND PROCLAIMED A FAST, AND PUT ON SACKCLOTH, FROM THE GREATEST OF THEM EVEN TO THE LEAST OF THEM! FOR WORD CAME UNTO THE KING OF NINEVEH, AND HE AROSE FROM HIS THRONE, AND HE LAID HIS ROBE FROM HIM, AND COVERED HIM WITH SACKCLOTH, AND SAT IN ASHES! AND HE CAUSED IT TO BE PROCLAIMED AND PUBLISHED THROUGH NINEVEH BY THE DECREE OF THE KING AND HIS NOBLES, SAYING, LET NEITHER MAN NOR BEAST, HERD NOT FLOCK, TASTE ANY THING: LET THEM NOT FEED, NOR DRIN WATER: BUT LET MAN AND BEAST BE COVERED WITH SACKCLOTH, AND CRY MIGHTILY UNTO GOD: YEA, LET THEM TURN EVERY MAN FROM HIS EVIL WAY, AND FROM THE VIOLENCE THAT IS IN THEIR HANDS!

AND GOD SAW THEIR WORKS, THAT THEY TURNED FROM THEIR EVIL WAY; AND GOD REPENTED OF THE EVIL THAT HE HAD SAID THAT HE WOULD DO UNTO THEM; AND HE DID IT NOT!

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. And he prayed unto the LORD< and said, I pray thee, O LORD< was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live”

SHOULD I NOT 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?

RUNNING FROM THE CHARACTER OF GOD! RUNNING FROM THE MERCY OF THE LORD! RUNNING FROM THE NATURE OF GOD! KNOWING THE NATURE OF GOD AND YET FLEEING FROM THE MANIFESTATION OF IT! GOD I KNEW WHO YOU WERE, AND YET I RAN FROM IT! GOD I KNEW WHO YOU WERE AND YET I RAN FROM THE MANIFESTATION OF IT! [THE DIRECT LINK BETWEEN THE FIRST AND FOURTH CHAPTER OF THE PROPHETIC BOOK OF JONAH]. [IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE OFFENDED WITH THE NATURE AND CHARACTER OF THE LIVING GOD?] While today’s reading begins with the prophetic book of Obadiah and then transitions to the prophetic book of Jonah, I feel compelled to start with the prophetic book of Jonah and then work my way back to what is found in the book of Obadiah. I have to admit that you would be hard pressed to find anyone who wasn’t familiar with the prophetic book of Jonah and the narrative surrounding this son of Amittai. I would dare say that there are countless students and scholars of Scripture alike who are familiar with the narrative of Jonah and how Jonah was that prophet who dared run in the opposite direction of that which the LORD his God had called him to do. You cannot read the prophetic book of Jonah and not encounter the tremendous reality that it is a book that is centered around one man’s hearing the voice of the LORD his God and knowing what the LORD had called him to do, and yet doing everything he could to not only run and flee from the presence of the LORD, but also to run away from that which the LORD had called him to. If you take the time to read the events which are found in the first and opening chapter you will find that after Jonah received the call to rise from the land of Israel and journey unto Nineveh—that great capital city which was situated in the midst of the Assyrian Empire—he immediately decided and determined within himself to flee from the presence of the LORD. In fact, in the first three verses of this prophetic book we find the foundation which stands at the very heart of this narrative—namely, that which Jonah had been called to do, and his attempt to resist it by journeying in the opposite direction. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the opening three verses of the first chapter of this prophetic book:

Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Jppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD” (Jonah 1:1-3).

FOR THEIR WICKEDNESS IS COME UP BEFORE ME! Before I delve into the narrative surrounding Jonah’s flight from the presence of the LORD—a reality which is mentioned three times within this opening chapter of this prophetic book—I feel it necessary and imperative to call and draw your attention to that which the word of the LORD had called and instructed Jonah to do. As you read the words which are found in these opening verses you will find that the word of the LORD instructed and called Jonah to go unto Nineveh, that great city, and to cry against it because their wickedness is come up before Him. I am convinced that we dare not miss and lose sight of that which the living and eternal God was calling Jonah to do during his generation—particularly and especially when you consider the declaration that the LORD said the wickedness of Nineveh had come up before Him. It would be very easy to quickly glance over these words, and the fact that when the LORD called Jonah to go unto Nineveh and preach against it, Jonah sought to flee from His presence, however, it is actually something worth noting and pointing out that when the LORD spoke unto Jonah concerning Nineveh he declared unto him that their wickedness had come up before him. Pause for a moment and consider this reality, for it was true the wickedness of Nineveh with its inhabitants had come up before and in the presence of the LORD, however, the LORD would not allow that wickedness to continue without sending them a warning. What makes this even more intriguing is when you think about the fact that this wasn’t merely a warning that was sent to the people of God and unto the Hebrews, but this was a warning that was sent unto heathens and Gentiles. You cannot read the words found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter the awesome truth that the LORD was very much aware of the wickedness of Nineveh, for their wickedness—perhaps their idolatry, their immorality, their iniquity, the fornication, their adultery, and the like—had come up before Him. It is this concept of the wickedness of men coming up before and unto the LORD that is worth mentioning and noting, for there would be at least two other instances in Scripture when the wickedness of men rose up before the LORD. If you study the Old Testament book of Genesis you will find the narratives of the days of Lot, as well as the days of Noah—both of which were used by the Lord Jesus Christ to describe the Last Days leading up to His second coming and return.

If you turn and direct your attention to the sixth, seventh and eighteenth chapters of the book of Genesis you will find the days of Noah and Lot being given great emphasis and focus by Moses the servant of the LORD when he wrote of two specific times during the history of man when the wickedness of man would come up before the LORD. You cannot read the narratives of the days of Noah and the days of Lot and not encounter the awesome truth and reality that the wickedness of men went up before and in the sight of the LORD. As you read the words found within these chapters you will quickly come face to face with the awesome reality that the LORD was very much aware of the wickedness of the inhabitants of the earth during the days of Noah, and not only instructed Noah to build an ark, but also through Noah would preach righteousness unto that generation concerning their wickedness. It would be during the days of Noah the wickedness of men upon the earth would be so evil, so vile, and so filthy that the LORD would determine and purpose to wipe out and destroy all flesh from the face of the earth—save those eight souls which were within the ark as it would rest upon the waters. The LORD would speak unto Noah and declare that He would send such a rain upon the face of the earth that He would cause the whole earth to be flooded, and all the fountains of the deep to be broken up so the inhabitants of the earth would be destroyed and consumed in the flood of His wrath and fury. THE FLOOD OF WRATH! THE FLOOD OF FURY! THE FLOOD OF JUDGMENT! You cannot read the narrative surrounding Noah and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and tremendous reality that it would be during the days of Noah when the wickedness of man upon the earth was so gross, so vile, and so filthy that it would not only come up before the LORD, but the LORD would also purpose to destroy everything that lived and moved upon the face of the earth save that which was upon the ark. During the days of Lot there would be the cities of the plain—mainly and namely the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah—whose wickedness would rise up before and in the sight of the living God. Scripture makes it very clear that the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah also rose up before and in the sight of the LORD, and how the LORD spoke unto Abraham how He would destroy these cities of the plain. With all of this being said, consider if you will the following words which are found in the Old Testament book of Genesis concerning the days of Lot and Noah:

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. AND GOD SAW THAT THE WICKEDNESS OF MAN WAS GREAT IN THE EARTH, AND THAT EVERY IMAGINATION OF THE THOUGHTS OF HIS HEART WAS EVIL ONLY CONTINUALLY. And it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. Bot Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:1-8).

These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. THE EARTH ALSO WAS CORRUPT BEFORE GOD, AND THE EARTH WAS FILLED WITH VIOLENCE. AND GOD LOOKED UPON THE EARTH, AND, BEHOLD, IT WAS CORRUPT; FOR ALL FLESH HAD CORRUPTED HIS WAY UPON THE EARTH. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (Genesis 6:10-13).

And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevents, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Of the fowls also of the air be sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth. For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth. And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him” (Genesis 7:1-5).

And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in Him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him. AND THE LORD SAID, BECAUSE THE CRY OF SODOM AND GOMRRAH IS GREAT, AND BECAUSE THEIR SIN IS VERY GRIEVOUS; I WILL GO DOWN NOW, AND SEE WHETHER THEY HAVE DONE ALTOGETHER ACCORDING TO THE CRY OF IT, WHICH IS COME UNTO ME; AND IF NOT, I WILL KNOW. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD” (Genesis 18:16-22).

It’s interesting and worth noting the words which are found within these passages of Scriptures, as well as during the days of Noah and Lot, for they were days filled with great violence upon the face of the earth, and days which were filled with great iniquity and transgression before the LORD. You cannot read these words and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome reality that during the days of Noah and Lot evil and wickedness was upon the earth, as during the days of Noah evil would fill the earth, and during the days of Lot evil and wickedness would be found within two specific cities of the plain of Jordan. In both of these instances we find the LORD being very much aware of the wickedness that was present upon the earth, for the wickedness—and not only the wickedness, but also the cry of the wickedness—would go up unto the LORD. During the days of Noah, as well as during the days of Lot we find men committing gross immorality and wickedness before and in the sight of the living God, and that wickedness being so grievous in the sight of the LORD. It would be during the days of Noah and Lot such wickedness would be present and prevalent upon the face of the earth, and it would be because of this wickedness upon the face of the earth the LORD would bring judgment against and upon it. In the days of Noah the LORD would bring judgment against and upon the whole earth with all the inhabitants which lived and moved upon it—everything which had the breath of life in their nostrils—that He might cleanse and purge the earth of the wickedness that would consume and cover it. In the days of Lot we find these two cities of the plain being guilty of such great wickedness in the sight of the LORD, and the cry of that wickedness being so great in the sight of the LORD that the LORD would not only come down to see and behold it, but also to bring judgment upon it. As surely and as much as the Old Testament book of Genesis is a book about beginnings—the beginning of man upon the face of the earth, the beginning of generations, the beginning of Abraham, the beginning of Isaac, the beginning of Jacob whose name would be Israel, and even the beginning of the house of Israel which would become a mighty nation and people, it would also contain two distinct events that would be referenced in the New Testament by both Jesus, as well as the New Testament authors.

We cannot, we must not, we dare not miss what is found within the Old Testament book of Genesis concerning Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as the earth during the days of Noah, for the wickedness of men during both times would be so great upon the face of the earth that it would actually come up before and in the sight of the LORD. The wickedness of man upon the earth was so grievous and so great upon the face of the earth that the LORD would raise up Noah in his generation as a witness and testimony unto those who dwelt upon the earth concerning judgment which was to come, and the wickedness of man was so great within the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that the LORD would purpose to destroy it with fire and brimstone which He would rain down upon the cities until they were consumed and utterly destroyed. Of course we know that when the LORD revealed unto Abraham what He was going to do in the midst of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham besought the LORD through intercession concerning His destroying the righteous with the wicked. As a direct result of Abraham’s intercession we find him entreating the LORD whether or not He would spare the cities of the plain if there was a certain amount of righteous men and women living in the city. Abraham would initially begin with fifty righteous in the city, and would ultimately get down to ten righteous within the city, and would entreat the LORD to spare these cities if there were found ten righteous in the midst of them. I have written before how assuming Lot and his wife were righteous, assuming their two daughters were righteous, and assuming his two sons in laws were righteous, that would still leave four remaining within the land. If those six individuals were righteous in the sight of the living God, then there would still be a deficit of four individuals who might very well have helped spare the cities of the plain. Of course we know from Scripture that the LORD would not find ten righteous souls in the midst of these cities, and of all the inhabitants which were present therein—only Lot, his wife, and their two daughters were brought forth from the midst of the city and spared the judgment that would come upon them. We know that Lot and his two daughters would escape the judgment of the LORD and would make it unto a place of shelter and rest, however, Lot’s wife would turn back to gaze upon the destruction that was being rained upon the cities of the plain, and would become a pillar of salt.

Now you might be wondering why I would choose to include these two passages of Scripture and write concerning the days of Lot and Noah when writing and speaking about the days of Jonah and the great city of Nineveh. The answer actually lies in the declaration of the LORD that the wickedness of this great city had come up before Him. In the days of Lot the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah would come up before and in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD would purpose to destroy these cities with fire and brimstone which He would rain down upon them from heaven. In the days of Noah the wickedness of the inhabitants of the earth would come up before and in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD would purpose to destroy every living thing that had the breath of the living God in its nostrils. The LORD would bring upon the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah such a great judgment that the cities together with all the inhabitants therein would be completely and utterly overthrown and consumed in the judgment of the LORD. The LORD would bring upon the face of the whole earth during the days of Noah such a great judgment that would completely cover the face of the whole earth, and would consume every living soul that moved upon the face of the earth, and every thing in whose nostrils was the breath of life. It’s worth noting and pointing out that in both the days of Lot, as well as the days of Noah—as surely as the LORD would indeed bring judgment upon the face of the earth—the LORD would also spare certain souls from the judgment which He would release and unleash within the earth. During the days of Noah the LORD would spare Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives (in addition to every living thing which was upon the ark Noah had built), and during the days of Lot the LORD would initially spare and save Lot, his wife, and their two daughters, however, Lot’s wife would turn back to gaze upon the destruction and judgment of the LORD, and as a result would become a pillar of salt in the midst of the earth. While it was true that the days of Lot and Noah were days of judgment and wrath of and from the LORD, they would also be days of mercy and grace from the LORD, as the LORD would save eight souls from the flood which would cover the face of the earth, and as the LORD would save three souls from the judgment which would consume Sodom and Gomorrah.

What makes the days of Jonah so incredibly intriguing is when you think about and consider the fact that the wickedness of Nineveh had come up before the LORD. In the opening verses of the first chapter of this prophetic book you will find the LORD declare unto Jonah that the wickedness of Nineveh had come up before the LORD, and as a result of that wickedness, the LORD instructed Jonah to arise, to go unto that great city, and to cry against it. Please don’t miss the awesome significance and importance of what is found within these opening verses, for despite the fact that the wickedness of the city of Nineveh would come up before the LORD, the LORD would not immediately unleash judgment and destruction upon it. Perhaps one of the fundamental differences between the days of Lot, the days of Noah, and the days of Jonah is that during the days of Jonah the LORD would actually raise up and send one of His own unto that great city to cry out against it because of the wickedness that had gone up before Him. Perhaps the greatest question is what we are causing to rise up before the LORD within the earth and from our lives—whether it is the sweet and fragrant aroma of a sacrifice and offering made by fire, or whether it is wickedness which was committed in the sight and presence of the LORD. Scripture makes it very clear that the wickedness of man can indeed and can in fact go up before the LORD in the midst of the earth, and that wickedness can rise up before and in the sight of the LORD much like incense can rise up before Him. As surely and as certainly as the incense of the people of God, and even the aroma of sacrifices upon the altar can rise up before the living God, so also can wickedness rise up before the living and eternal God. The wickedness of the inhabitants of the earth during the days of Noah would come up before the LORD, and the LORD would destroy the earth with a flood. The wickedness of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah would come up before the LORD during the days of Lot, and the LORD would destroy the cities together with the inhabitants therein with fire and brimstone which He would cause to rain and come down upon them. During the days of Jonah, however—despite the fact that the wickedness of the inhabitants of Nineveh that great city had come up before the LORD—the LORD would send a prophet among them in their midst to cry out because of the wickedness.

THE WARNING BEFORE JUDGMENT! It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand what is taking place in the prophetic book of Jonah, for what we find within the opening chapter is the wickedness of this great capital city of Nineveh rising up before and unto the LORD, and as a direct result of that iniquity and wickedness the LORD would send a prophet. The LORD would send one of His own from the land of Israel unto this great city to warn them of the coming judgment and wrath of the LORD, and to cry out against the wickedness of the LORD. What makes the opening chapter of this prophetic book so intriguing and captivating is when you think about consider the fact that although Jonah had been called of the LORD to go unto this great city to cry out against it because of their great wickedness, he sought to flee from the presence of the LORD—and even believed that He would be able to flee from His presence. As you read the words found in the opening chapter of this prophetic book you will find that in the third verse “Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD,” as well as Jonah paying the fare thereof and going down into the boat “ to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.” Jonah was given a great and powerful command and commission of the LORD to journey unto this great city of Nineveh that he might cry out against the wickedness that was found within it, and instead of [initially] fulfilling the command and word of the LORD, he would attempt to flee from the presence of the LORD. There would be three distinct times within this chapter we find mentioned how Jonah’s paying the fair to board a ship going down unto Tarshish was so he could somehow flee from the presence of the LORD. It’s actually interesting that Jonah actually believed he could somehow flee from the presence of the LORD—particularly and especially considering the words which David the psalmist and king of Israel wrote which are recorded for us in the one-hundred and thirty-ninth chapter of the Old Testament book of Psalms. I am convinced that any discussion concerning Jonah the son of Amittai must have at the very heart of it the words of David, for it was David who spoke of man’s attempt to flee from the presence of the LORD, and how such an attempt was both futile and fleeting. Consider if you will the following words found in this particular chapter beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse:

O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? OR WHITHER SHALL I FLEE FROM THY PRESENCE? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee” (Psalm 139:1-12).

These words which the psalmist David wrote and penned in what is the one-hundred and thirty-ninth chapter of the poetic book of the Psalms must be carefully considered and understood when considering the narrative of Jonah the son of Amittai, for Jonah actually thought and believed that he could indeed flee from the presence of the LORD. Jonah received a very specific command and word from the LORD—namely, that he go unto Nineveh that great city in Assyria—and cry out against it because of the wickedness that had come up before the LORD. Initially, however, Jonah sought to flee from the presence of the LORD, and sought to run from his calling and that which he had been ordained to do. Jonah heard the word of the LORD, and Jonah knew what the LORD had called him to do, and yet he deliberately and intentionally chose to run in the opposite direction that he might not fulfill that which the LORD had called him to do. What makes the narrative of Joseph all the more intriguing and all the more astonishing is when you think about and consider the fact that he was running and fleeing from more than just the presence of the LORD. There is not a doubt in my mind that the first and fourth chapters of this prophetic book are intrinsically linked and connected to each other, as it is in the fourth chapter we encounter the awesome truth and reality that Jonah not only attempted to run from the presence of the LORD, but also from the very character and nature of God. In all the years and all the times I have read this prophetic book of Jonah I have always viewed it through the lens of Jonah fleeing from the presence of the LORD, and Jonah running from the call that was upon his life, and yet the fourth chapter actually reveals something even more captivating and intriguing when you think about and consider it. If you turn and direct your attention to the words found in the fourth and final chapter of this prophetic book you will find Jonah and the LORD having a dialogue with each other as after Jonah had preached unto the city of Nineveh and cried out against the wickedness thereof the entire city repented before the LORD in sackcloth, in dust and ashes. As you come to and approach the fourth chapter you will find Jonah feeling as though it was enough for him and what he have done, and the only thing that was left for him was to die. In the fourth and final chapter of this prophetic book we find that after he had preached to the capital city of Nineveh—a city which the LORD referred to as “that great city”—everyone from the king down to the lowest servant in the midst of the city repented in sackcloth, in dust and ashes, and how the LORD repented Him of the great evil He would bring upon it. It wasn’t necessarily the response of the Ninevites that so offended Jonah and caused him grief, but it was the response of the LORD—a response that was based on His nature and character that so grieved him. Consider if you will the following words which are found within the fourth chapter beginning to read with and from the first verse:

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: FOR I KNEW THAT THOU ART A GRACIOUS GOD, AND MERCIFUL, SLOW TO ANGER, AND OF GREAT KINDNESS, AND REPENTEST THEE OF THE EVIL. THEREFORE NOW, O LORD, TAKE, I BESEECH THEE, MY LIFE FROM ME; FOR IT IS BETTER FOR ME TO DIE THAN TO LIVE. THEN SAID THE LORD, DOEST THOU WELL TO BE ANGRY? SO JONAH WENT OUT OF THE CITY, AND SAT ON THE EAST SIDE OF THE CITY, AND THERE MADE HIM A BOOTH, AND SAT UNDER IT IN THE SHADOW, TILL HE MIGHT SEE WHAT WOULD BECOME OF THE CITY” (Jonah 4:1-5).

In all the times I have read the prophetic book of Jonah I have never looked at it through the lens that although the first and opening chapter describes how Jonah fled from the presence of the LORD, the fourth chapter reveals something even greater than simply fleeing from the presence of the LORD. As you read the words which are found in the final chapter of this prophetic book you will find that not only did Jonah become increasingly angry with the LORD as a direct result of His response to the actions of the Ninevites, but he would also pray unto the LORD concerning His very nature and character. Upon reading the words found in the opening verses of the fourth chapter you will find Jonah speaking directly unto the LORD and reminding Him of why he sought to flee from His presence. In the first and opening chapter we merely find it mentioned how Jonah sought to flee from the presence of the LORD, however, it’s not until the fourth chapter we actually find out why Jonah sought to flee from His presence. It’s worth noting and pointing out that Jonah wasn’t necessarily seeking to run from that which the LORD had called him to do, and he wasn’t fleeing because he didn’t want to journey unto this great city. Nowhere in this prophetic book will you find Jonah expressing any argument with the LORD for instructing him to go unto this great city and preach against it, nor even the LORD calling him from his country that he might cry out against the wickedness of heathen and Gentiles. Jonah’s argument wasn’t with the calling of God, but rather with the character of God. ARUGING AGAINST CHARACTER OVER CALLING! WHEN YOUR ARGUMENT IS NOT WITH YOUR CALLING BUT WITH THE CHARACTER OF GOD HIMSELF! The more you read the words found in the prophetic book of Jonah the more you will encounter the awesome reality that Jonah’s argument wasn’t with that which the LORD had called him to do, nor even with the journey the LORD had instructed him to take, but rather with the very character of the living God. Jonah had preached unto the great city of Nineveh, and the entire city experienced a revival of repentance as everyone from the king to the lowest servant repented in dust and sackcloth with fasting before the LORD, and it was the LORD’s response to that repentance that so angered Jonah. Jonah saw how the LORD had repented Himself of the great evil He had purposed against the city, and in the opening verse of the fourth chapter we find Jonah sitting outside the city on the east side that he might watch and see what might become of this great city that was so consumed with wickedness.

It would be very easy to read the prophetic book of Jonah and think about how Jonah attempted to run from the call(ing) that was upon his life to go unto the great city of Nineveh and preach against it because of its wickedness, however, the truth of the matter is that this simply isn’t the case. The more you read this prophetic book, and the more you truly take the time to understand the words which are found and contained within it, the more you will be brought face to face with the awesome reality that Jonah did in fact attempt to run and flee from the presence of the LORD, however, there was an underlying reason behind his attempted flight from the presence of the LORD. In fact, when Jonah was speaking with God after the entire city had repented in sackcloth, dust and ashes with fasting before the LORD, and after the LORD had repented Himself of the great evil He had purposed against the city, Jonah spoke unto the LORD and revealed the reason he was angry. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that in the first and opening chaper of this book we find Jonah attempting to flee from the presence of the LORD, while in the fourth chapter we actually find Jonah growing and becoming angry with the LORD. The words which are found in the opening verses of the fourth chapter reveal Jonah’s anger—not necessarily with the response of the Ninevites after he had preached unto them righteousness and judgment, but because of the LORD’s response to their repentance. Jonah wasn’t angry with the response of others, but was actually angry with the response of the LORD toward the actions of this heathen and Gentile people. Oh dear reader, please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of this awesome and incredible reality, for it shines an entirely different light on to what we find and read within this prophetic book. Jonah’s argument and anger with the LORD entirely and altogether surrounded and was based on His character, for it was His character that seemed to offend Job. What’s more, is that in the fourth chapter you even get the sense that when Job was still in his country, and when the LORD first spoke to him about going unto the city of Nineveh Jonah had a conversation and dialogue with Him about His very nature and character. Notice if you will the words Jonah spoke unto the LORD in the second verse as he declared unto the LORD, saying, “Was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish.”

What so amazes me about the narrative of Jonah and his attempt to flee from the presence of the LORD—and not only his attempt to flee from the presence of the LORD, but also his argument with the LORD after Nineveh repented before the LORD with fasting, with dust, sackcloth and ashes. Jonah knew and understood the character of the LORD while still in his land, and while still in his country, and the text actually seems to indicate that Jonah wrestled with that character and nature when the LORD first spoke unto him about going unto Nineveh to cry out against it for its wickedness which went up before the LORD. The text seems to indicate the awesome and incredible reality that Jonah knew and was aware of the character of the LORD while he was still within his country, and we almost get the sense that he sought to use the character of the LORD as the basis of his argument against going unto Nineveh. If there is one thing we must recognize and understand regarding the words found in this prophetic book it’s that Jonah was no stranger to the character of the living God, and he knew the same thing Moses knew and heard directly from the LORD as the LORD passed by him while he was in the cleft of the rock. Jonah’s words which were spoken before the LORD in the fourth chapter reveal his knowledge of the nature and character of the LORD, and it was that nature and character that Jonah actually tried using as an excuse to flee from the presence of the LORD. Scripture reveals how Job thought and believed he could run and flee from the presence of the LORD, and yet in the fourth chapter we are brought face to face that what Job was really running from was the character of God—and not just the idea of the character of God, but actually his knowledge of the character of God. Notice if you will how in the second verse Jonah actually speaks before and declares unto the LORD that he knew tat the LORD was a gracious God, and that He was a merciful God, and that He was slow to anger, and was of great kindness, and repents Himself of evil. Please don’t miss the awesome truth surrounding Jonah’s words and exchange between himself and the LORD, for Jonah actually reveals his intimate knowledge concerning the character of the LORD. Jonah revealed unto the LORD when speaking to Him that he knew the LORD was gracious and merciful, and knew that He was slow to anger and of great kindness, and it was that knowledge which Jonah could not justify in direct connection with the heathens and Gentiles in Nineveh.

Time and time again I have read the prophetic book of Jonah and I have thought and believed that what Jonah was running and fleeing from was the call of God which was placed upon his life, and the assignment the LORD gave him to journey unto Nineveh and cry against it because of the wickedness which went up before the LORD. The truth of the matter, however, is that Jonah wasn’t really running from the call of God upon his life as much as he was running from the character of God. Jonah knew and understood the character of the LORD—the same character which was revealed unto Moses atop Horeb in the midst of the wilderness of Sinai—and it was that character which Jonah attempted to flee and run from. In the garden of Eden Adam and Eve attempted to hide themselves from the voice of the LORD because they realized they were naked and were ashamed, while Jonah attempted to flee from the presence of the LORD because of the character He possessed. This is actually quite remarkable when you take the time to think about and consider it, for while Jonah was still present within his country he knew and was very much aware of the character of the LORD, and was aware of the graciousness and mercy of the LORD, and yet despite that knowledge there came a point when the character of the LORD offended the agenda—and perhaps even the character of Jonah. I sit here today and I can’t help but think about and consider the awesome reality that Jonah was very much aware of the character of the living God, and Jonah knew that character, and yet he had reached the place where the character of God offended his own character. THE COLLISION OF THE CHARACTER OF GOD AND THE CHARACTER OF MAN! Jonah’s flight from the presence of the LORD was a direct result of his inability to handle the collision and conflict of the character of God with his own character. In all reality, I would dare say that there are many of us who when we experience this collision and conflict between the character of God and our own character, we tend to respond just as Jonah did. Oh we do in fact know that the LORD is gracious and merciful, and we do in fact know that the LORD is slow to anger and of great kindness, and there are times when that knowledge is not only too wonderful for us, but might in fact offend our own character, and perhaps even our own agenda.

Stop for a moment and think about the fact that Jonah indicated that while he was in his own country he knew and understood the character of the LORD, and he understood the same thing Moses himself understood by revelation of the LORD at Horeb, and that knowledge was acceptable in the sight of Jonah until it entered into a place of conflict and collided with his own character. Scripture seems to indicate that Jonah would have been willing to the inhabitants of Nineveh to perish in the judgment and wrath of the LORD and the entire city to be completely and utterly destroyed. Scripture seems to point to the fact that Jonah would have been content hearing that Nineveh had been destroyed and devastated in the face of the wrath and judgment of the LORD, and would have perhaps even reveled and marveled in it. Much to his chagrin and surprise, however—not only would the LORD instruct Jonah to go unto the city and cry out against it because of its wickedness, but the LORD would respond to their repentance and humility before Him. Pause and think about the fact that this wasn’t a Hebrew city in the land of Israel that would repent before the LORD in dust and ashes with sackcloth and fasting, but it was a heathen and Gentile city. What’s more is that it wasn’t merely a select few within the city of Nineveh that repented before the LORD, nor was it merely the king of Nineveh who repented before the LORD of hosts, but it was the entire city. Now, we would like to think that if we experienced such success in preaching that we would be elated and ecstatic about such a marvelous and beautiful response before the LORD, however, despite the fact that the entire city of Nineveh repented before the LORD, and despite the fact that Jonah also witnessed the LORD repent Him of the evil which He purposed against this city, Jonah grew angry and offended with the LORD. It’s worth noting and pointing out that after Jonah witnessed all of Nineveh repent before the LORD, and knew the LORD had repented Himself of the evil which He had purposed against the city and its inhabitants, Jonah sat outside the wall of the city on the east side of the city that he might see what would become of the city. One might even get the strong sense that Jonah thought for sure the LORD would judge the city of Nineveh—even in spite of their repentance before Him in sackcloth, dust and ashes. One gets the strong impression that Jonah might have even wanted the LORD to judge Nineveh rather than turning away His wrath and effectively cancelling out His judgment.

As I sit here this morning thinking about and considering the fact that while it was true the LORD sent Jonah unto Nineveh to cry out against it for all the wickedness that was present therein, it might be possible the LORD knew the inhabitants of the city would repent before Him. If we truly believe the LORD knows the end from the beginning then we have to get the sense that the LORD knew that by Jonah going unto Nineveh to preach against it because of its wickedness they would respond by repenting before Him. There is not a doubt in my mind that when the LORD sent Jonah unto Nineveh he knew that upon hearing the word of the LORD and the declaration of impending judgment the inhabitants of the city would repent themselves of their wickedness, and would indeed humble themselves before the LORD. The question I can’t help but ask myself as I sit here this morning is whether or not Jonah was sent unto Nineveh to cry out against it because of its wickedness because the LORD not only knew they would repent before Him of that wickedness, but also as a witness against the house of Israel. Is it possible that that the LORD would send one of His own people unto this heathen and Gentile city to preach and cry out against the wickedness therein because He wanted to have a demonstration unto the house of Israel concerning the repentance of Nineveh, but their refusal to repent before Him, and their refusal to turn themselves once more to the LORD would bring judgment against and upon them. It’s actually quite intriguing to think about and consider how the LORD would send one of His own unto a heathen and Gentile city to cry out against the wickedness therein, and they would respond to the preaching of Jonah and repent in sackcloth and ashes before the LORD. This heathen and Gentile city would hear the preaching of the word of the LORD, and they would hear a warning of impending judgment and wrath, and it would so shake them that the entire city would repent in dust and ashes. What’s more, is that this repentance would start at the very top of the city of Nineveh with the king, and it would be the king who would call the city to repentance before the LORD. Jonah went a day’s journey into the city and proclaimed the word of the LORD, and when the word of the LORD reached the king’s ear he would issue a decree that no would eat anything until they saw what the LORD would do unto them. It might be that perhaps the LORD would repent and relent Himself of the great judgment and wrath He purposed against this great city.

The more I read and consider the words found in this prophetic book the more I can’t help but be directly confronted with the awesome and incredible reality of this heathen and Gentile city which did not worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob hearing the word of the LORD prophesied and proclaimed by this Hebrew, and it would shake the entire city to its core—and so much so that they would turn themselves to the LORD, and would repent of the great wickedness found in the midst of them. There is a part of me that wonders if the LORD sent Jonah unto Nineveh as an indictment against the house of Israel much like the LORD would send the apostle Paul and the apostles unto the Gentiles as an indictment against the Jewish people during the days after the Messiah had come, died on the cross, was buried in the grave, raised to life on the third day, and ascended unto the right hand of the Father forty days later. I can’t help but see a direct link and connection between Jonah being sent unto the Gentiles in the Old Testament and the apostle Paul being sent unto the Gentiles—and both because of the rejection of the Jewish people of that which was right before them. The house of Israel rejected the word of the LORD and the prophets whom the LORD raised up before them, and almost as a direct result the LORD would raise up one of their own and send them unto a heathen and Gentile city preaching repentance and warning of judgment and wrath. Jonah’s being sent unto the Gentiles in the days of the Old Covenant was not that much different from the apostle Paul together with the other apostles being sent unto the Gentiles in the days of the early church because of their rejection of the physical person of the Messiah, as well as their rejection of the apostles and their teaching concerning the Messiah. It’s interesting and worth noting that what ultimately drove the apostle Paul unto the Gentiles was the persecution of the Jewish people in response to his preaching of the gospel—and not merely their rejection of the preaching of the gospel, but also their continued rejection concerning the Messiah.

I sit here today thinking about and considering the narrative surrounding Jonah, and I can’t help but get the strong sense that Jonah was a Hebrew who was called of the LORD to preach righteousness and warn of judgment in a heathen and Gentile city. What’s more, is that Jonah might have had an idea or suspicion that the Ninevites would respond to the preaching of the word of the LORD and would repent before the LORD. We certainly know that he was very much aware of the character of the LORD, and it was the character of the LORD which offended Jonah and caused him to flee from the presence of the LORD of hosts. With that being said, it’s actually quite interesting and astounding to think about and consider the awesome truth that the LORD would send one of His own people unto a heathen and Gentile city that he might preach righteousness unto them—and not only preach righteousness unto them, but also quite possibly provoke the house of Israel as well. It’s worth noting and pointing out that Jonah would go unto the heathen and Gentile city of Nineveh, would preach unto them the word of the LORD, and would experience them repenting before the LORD with fasting, with dust and ashes, and with sackcloth. What’s more, is that the city of Nineveh would respond more to the word of the LORD than the house of Israel had, and would even do. We know that ultimately the house of Israel would be invaded by the Assyrians, and how the house of Israel would be carried away captive into the nations and lands within the Assyrian empire. What’s more, is that at the very heart of the Assyrian Empire would be its capital city of Nineveh which would experience the preaching of the word of the LORD—and would not only experience the preaching of the word of the LORD, but would also repent before the LORD in dust and ashes. Imagine what it might have been like for Jonah to preach judgment to this heathen and Gentile city knowing what he knew about the character and nature of the living God, and he not only witnessed the repentance of the entire city, but he also witnessed the repentance of the LORD concerning the evil He had purposed against it. It would be this repentance of the LORD which would offend Jonah—even knowing what he did about the character and nature of the LORD—and it would be this repentance and turning of the LORD that would cause Jonah to become angry with the LORD. What a tremendous turn of events would take place within the prophetic book of Jonah, as Jonah would preach to an entire city concerning the coming judgment of the LORD and would witness an entire city from the king who sat upon the throne to the lowest servant repenting before the LORD in dust and ashes.

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close it is quite remarkable to consider the awesome reality that the LORD would raise up a Hebrew from the house of Israel and sent him unto a heathen and Gentile city to preach judgment and repentance—perhaps as a means of provocation to the house of Israel concerning their own failure and refusal to repent before the LORD. I can’t help but wonder if the LORD would have sent Jonah unto Nineveh—to this capital and chief city—to preach judgment and righteousness to it as a means to provoke the house of Israel concerning the words and warnings which they received. We know that in the New Testament the apostle Peter would be the first of the apostles who would be sent unto the Gentiles to preach the gospel of the kingdom, and it would be unto the house of Cornelius that not only was the gospel preached, but also the Holy Spirit was poured out filling them all. We know that the apostle Paul would ultimately become and be known as “the apostle unto the Gentiles,” for it would be he who would engage on three missionary journeys into Asia and Europe that he might establish churches among the Gentiles. What’s more, is that when writing unto the saints which were at Rome the apostle Paul would speak about the grafting in of the Gentiles during a period of time when the Jews would reject the Messiah, as well as the gospel and good news concerning the Messiah. We know that we are living in the times of the Gentiles right now, and that many Jews still reject Jesus as the Messiah, thus continuing the rejection that began more than two thousand years ago. When we read the prophetic book of Jonah we find a Hebrew being sent unto this heathen and Gentile city to preach judgment against and before it, and almost being sent to preach to a city that was ripe for repentance as a sign, as a witness and as a testimony against the house of Israel. Perhaps it is for this reason why Jesus declared that the generation of Ninevites which were present during the days of Jonah would rise up in judgment against the generation during Jesus’ day because they repented at the preaching of Jonah. Nineveh would repent at the preaching of Jonah while the house of Israel would not only choose not to repent before the LORD, but would also continue to turn their hearts further and further away from the LORD until they were ultimately swept away in the judgment of the LORD. Jesus indicted the generation that was present during the days He walked upon the earth for there was one greater than Jonah who was walking among them, and yet they not only rejected the Messiah, but also refused to humble themselves before Him in repentance.

Pause and think about the awesome and incredible reality that Jonah preaching judgment unto the inhabitants of Nineveh would have been a direct provocation of the house of Israel—and perhaps not merely a provocation, but also an indictment against them of the voices of all the prophets which the LORD had raised up among them to warn them, to sound the alarm, and to preach repentance before the LORD. Despite the countless voices the house of Israel would have among them in their midst they would harden their hearts and close their ears to the preaching of the prophets, and as a result they would find themselves hurdling toward judgment before the LORD. Jonah’s preaching to the city of Nineveh would be an example how a people should respond to the word of the LORD, and how the house of Israel should have responded to the message of the prophets. The city of Nineveh would in essence indict and condemn the house of Israel during that generation for their rejection of the word of the LORD and the voices of the prophets who were spoken among them. What’s more, is that that the grafting in of the Gentiles, the preaching of the apostle Paul and the other apostles unto the Gentiles during the days of the early church would be a tremendous indictment against the Jewish people—not only for their rejection of the Messiah when He walked among them, but also when the apostles preached the gospel and good news concerning the Messiah. The underlying question(s) we must ask ourselves when reading the prophetic book of Jonah is whether or not we are such who are somehow offended with the character of God because His nature and character offends us. Moreover, we must ask ourselves if we are those who when hearing the word of the LORD being preached, spoken and delivered unto us respond with humility, with brokenness, with submission and with surrender. Jonah was sent unto the city of Nineveh to preach judgment before and unto the inhabitants therein, and they would respond to the LORD by repenting in sackcloth, in dust and ashes. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible reality, for to do so would be to miss the incredible importance surrounding the book of Jonah and this man who attempted to flee from the presence of the LORD—and not just fleeing from the presence of the LORD, but the divine nature and character of the LORD when it went against what he believed within his own heart and soul.

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