I don’t want to give a shameless plug to a book my wife convinced me to read, The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn, BUT… I will, because God’s Spirit spoke to my spirit while reading this passage in Chapter 20, The Things To Come:
The Prophet and Nouriel (character names in the book), were discussing the hope for America and referencing JUDGEMENT rendered by God in times past; Sodom, the kingdom of Judah, who had once known God and yet had fallen.
The king, Josiah, comes on to the scene and attempted to reverse Israel’s spiritual descent. He banned the pagan practices, destroyed the idols, smashed altars, and sought to restore the nation to God. He was “on fire” for God!
Now this brings you to where the Holy Spirit gave me a direct message; where He said, ‘Mel, I want you to make a confession from your spirit in your next blog-post’. So try to stay with me in your reading till the end to see MY CONFESSION.
Exert from The Harbinger–
NOURIEL: “So judgement can be delayed.”
THE PROPHET: “Yes, even for the sake of one man. And then there was Nineveh, the great Assyrian city.”
NOURIEL: “As in the Assyrian Empire?”
THE PROPHET: “As in merciless, arrogant, brutal, cold-blooded Assyrian empire. Its judgement was also decreed. God called the prophet Jonah…
I’ll stop the conversation there before I get in trouble with the “copyright police”. But I want to give the exact moment God’s message entered my ear; into my spirit…
THE BOOK OF JONAH:
JONAH had been called by God to go to a city to proclaim God’s Word and their destruction. But JONAH did everything he could do to avoid answering His call.
The character in Mr. Cahn’s book then asks the question, “Because JONAH didn’t want to proclaim the upcoming BAD NEWS?” “NO,” said the Prophet, “because he didn’t want them to be saved. He knew that God’s will was not for judgement but MERCY.”
A “JONAH’S SPIRIT”:
Jonah 4:2 (KJV)
But it [Nineveh’s repentance ] displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, “I pray thee, Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that thou art a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and repentest of evil.”
Jonah 4:2 (The Message)
“God I knew it–when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen. That’s why I ran off to Tarshish! I knew you were sheer grace and mercy not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness.”
Nineveh, an “Exceedingly great city of three-day journey in breath”–
Normally, a day’s walking distance in ancient times, consisted of twelve hours. Now in Jonah’s case, when he arrived after his “fish” experience, might have gone up and down all the different streets to check out the lay of the land. But the Bible doesn’t say that, so I won’t go down that path (no pun intended).
Nineveh was settled as early as 6000 B.C. according to scholars and by 3000 B.C., was an important religious center where they worshiped many gods (polytheism), with the Assyrian goddess Ishtar, the fertility and war-goddess (sexual & warfare) a prominent idol. Does America have anything that you know of that’s similar?
During my investigation, I discovered a map that showed the great city could have been consisted of several nearby city.
“…Resen, which is between Nineveh and Calah–which is the great city” (Gen. 10:12).
I lived in Southern California for 38 years, and the City of Los Angeles consisted of many smaller cities within the City Limits.
Wickedness and Violence – The Sodom and Nineveh Parallel.
I could go on in length on the cultural similarities and the morality of the “great cities”, but I think 1 Peter 5 lays out the issue of the yesterdays and the today’s similarities:
“…clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time” (1 Peter 5:5-6 NASB).
Discovering THE IDENTITY:
So in reading in the Book of Jonah, we discover that Jonah’s identity didn’t sound like some random pilgrim; someone who had a primitive idea of who God was and regarded Him as a tribal deity for Israel alone. No, this isn’t why Jonah wanted to avoid Nineveh. The answer is…Jonah knew God too well and that is why he didn’t obey God’s calling.
The Great City Was Spared–
Why did the Nineveh’s inhabitants, the non-believers listen to the prophet Jonah’s message?
“…and he [Jonah] cried, Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
If that message was given in today’s “great cities”–countries–the response would be, “Just another nut-case”. But here in Jonah’s time, the people reacted differently to the message:
“So the people of Nineveh believed in God and proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth [in penitent mourning], from the greatest of them even to the least of them” (verse 5 AMP).
Even the king of Nineveh REPENTS and makes a declaration to all the citizens (verses 6-8), and ends with HOPE:
“Who can tell, God may turn and revoke His sentence against us [when we have met His terms], and turn away from His fierce anger so that we perish not” (verse 9).
AND THE RESULTS OF THEIR REPENTANCE; THEIR TURNAROUND FROM DISOBEDIENCE TO THE ONLY GOD?
“And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God revoked His [sentence of] evil that He had said He would do to them and He did not do it [for He was comforted and eased concerning them]” (verse 10).
A much different reaction from God than what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah. God told Abraham that if he could find but 10 righteous people, He would spare the city. History revealed shows there were not 10 righteous people to be found in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah!
Why did Nineveh’s inhabitants listen to the Prophet’s Message?
JESUS Himself supplies the clues in the answer in the Gospel of Luke, in chapter 11, where our Lord and savior refers to this account:
“For [just] as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will also the Son of Man be [a sign] to this age and generation” (Luke 11:30 AMP).
JESUS said, “Jonah–the man, the prophet–was himself a sign to the city of Nineveh, and in just the same manner, I, the Lord Jesus Christ, be a sign to the whole generation.” After all, Jonah had been inside of a large fish for three days and JESUS in a tomb for three days. He was referring to Israel but meant the whole race of man beyond that; and as Jonah was a sign to Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be a sign to this generation.
The Last Chapter and the Spirit of Jonah revealed–
In Chapter 4 of the Book of Jonah, we read of the encounter between Jonah and God. You might think the story would be over in Chapter 3 after ALL the people of the Great City covered themselves in sackcloth and ashes–a true sign of humbleness and repentance before Almighty God. Repentance meant more than “I’m sorry God”– it was a 180 degree turn in direction from where they were headed–God-lacking, immorality, disobedience, idol worship…
JONAH’S SPIRIT -MAN:
“BUT IT displeased Jonah exceedingly and he was very angry” (Jonah 4:1).
I speak with my mouth how angry I am with what I am hearing from our President, our Congress, local politicians, our Mayor and town council, regarding their beliefs and practices and imposing them on me. Topics like “same-sex marriages”; the killing of the unborn by abortion; the debt crisis; Law & Order in our inner cities, and on and on. It’s so frustrating, I get so angry with the situation and I CONFESS with my lips, “God, bring your wrath down on this godless society I live in! Enough is enough!”
This is where the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear, “Mel, you have the same ‘spirit’ as the prophet Jonah. Pay attention to the Word.”
JONAH was angry with God because the outcome he expected, his plans, didn’t pan out. The Assyrians, were a brutal and godless people who needed to be damned, not saved. They deserved God’s punishment. After all, isn’t that the reason for me being here?
There is a lot of Jonah in all of us I think. We act as though we would be delighted to turn on the Evening News and hear that Iran, Syria, Russia, China, you name them…lay smoldering in ruins. But God loves the people of IRAN, SYRIA, CHINA, RUSSIA…anyone who we might consider our enemies…just as God loved the enemies of Israel.
The “Gourd” Above Our Heads–
Jonah had just prayed to the Lord that he was fed up with this whole idea, that when sinners turn to Him and meet His conditions…“You revoke the sentence of evil against them” (Jonah 4:2). Then said the Lord, “Do you do well to be angry?” (verse 4).
Now Jonah wasn’t ready to answer the Lord’s question and admit to his failings and neither am I. My grandfather use to say when things reached his “boiling point”; becoming frustrated about the way things were turning out in his life would say, “I’m going up into the mountains and just eat worms!”
With Jonah’s disappointments, the mountains were out of the question; so he decided to go to the east of the Great City; make a Tabernacle or “booth”, getting out of the hot sun and into the shade.
“And the Lord God prepared a gourd and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head…” (verse 6).
The Hebrew Word in verse 6 for “gourd” is for the castor oil plant, or literally “the vomit plant”. If you have ever tasted a spoonful of “castor oil”, you get the picture here.
God is showing us that Jonah’s heart wasn’t in the right place. He needed to vomit out the evil of his heart; the bitterness, the judgmental attitude toward Nineveh. When I saw this message to Jonah, it was the same message I was assimilating from God’s Spirit:
“Mel, you need some CASTOR OIL and vomit up your anger towards America’s leaders and the ungodly who are surrounding you.”
Some Choice Words to ‘Chew On’ that follow…
“God prepared a plant, appointed it”.
The plant grew up and covered Jonah’s head, evidence of God’s gracious provision in spite of what it looks like around us.
But on the second day of his pouting in the sun, God prepared a worm:
“…God appointed a worm which attacked the plant so that it withered” (verse 7).
The WORMS EFFECTIVENESS and Turning the “Heart Lights On”–
“You are the LIGHT of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck measure, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16 AMP).
We are LIGHTS, not to be covered up, no matter what the condition is of our cities we live in, our state, our country or even our churches we attend. “Let the REDEEMED say so!”
God has sent us to where we reside in this world to DECLARE the word of Jonah. Do you see as I have seen how suddenly and subtly the Holy Spirit has insinuated us into the picture? Around unsaved people–the “godless”, we call them, the “lawless and the disobedient”. I wanted to dismiss this group from my life saying, “Revolting, disgusting people who deserve damnation!”. We sing of God’s tender grace and His mercies and His compassion but avoid saying anything about JESUS to them. After all, we don’t want to offend anyone.
Some Choice Words Given–
GOD prepared a plant, appointed it. And the plant grew up and covered Jonah’s head, the evidence of God’s gracious provision in a day of frustration and disappointment.
BUT…on the second day, God prepared a WORM: “…God appointed a worm which attacked the plant so that it withered” (Jonah 4:7).
Many times in my long life, thinking that I was defeated in a thing–frustrated, angry and then…God provided some shade in the shadow of His arms. And then, when perhaps I forgot the blessings, lo and behold…a WORM comes along and I find myself back where I started from. And that’s a good thing!
A Hot East Wind Blows–
Poor Jonah just sat there sweating, suffering and suffocating until he fainted; he even asked that he might die:
But God said to Jonah, “Do you have the right to be angry about the vine?” “I do,” he said. “I am angry enough to die” (verse 9).
You know, it’s easy to point a finger at a situation, a condition, a person in your life, but haven’t you ever said to your Heavenly Father “I want what I want. I don’t care what You do Lord. Of course I’m angry at what’s going on in society and in my country. I don’t like what’s happening! Take me away. Take me to heaven and let the trumpet sound!”
NOTICE WHAT GOD SAID:
Jonah 4:10, 11:
“The the Lord said, ‘You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work, and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight.” 
“And should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?” 
That is the Hebrew way of describing children; 120,000 little children. He said, “You can take pity on a ‘worm-infested’ plant but you can’t take pity upon a great city filled with children and people who don’t know their God.” And then…the Book of Jonah ends abruptly. Why? Because that is where it’s suppose to take us–the revelation of the heart of God.
I have become like Jonah; I have let the “JONAH SPIRIT” take hold of my spirit. Am I demonstrating to others the heart of God who loves the world, who are staggering on in blind willful ignorance and doesn’t know where they are going?
He has sent me, and you as disciples, as Ambassadors for Christ and to be a sign to this generation. What is the sign of Jonah? It is the resurrection, the sign of people who were once dead but who have been made alive in Christ Jesus. Let the Redeemed say so!
Abba Father, Daddy, thank You for directing me
to the Book of Jonah this past week, through it,
a look at my heart-light. How like the stubborn prophet I am
intent on my own goals, my own comfort, and my unconcern about those
around me whose hearts cry out for You and touch Your heart of compassion.
Lord, grant that I may feel like You feel, to have pity on the people
of this Nation who cannot tell their right hand from their left.
And Lord, help my heart reflect your heart and show them Your
LOVE and COMPASSION in declaring the Gospel Message of truth, in Jesus’ name.