Wednesday, July 22
The Nineveh Generation
Read Jonah 3. What great message is found here in the context of outreach and evangelism?
“Then the world of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you’” (Jon. 3:1, 2 NIV). Two verbs are important in the text. First, this is the second time God says “Go!” God does not give up. He grants failing humans a second chance. Here again we have the New Testament mission concept, which is the idea of going to the nations, as opposed to expecting the nations to come to you.
The other important verb is “proclaim”. Proclamation has always been important in the Bible. It is still the most effective way of spreading the gospel message. God emphasized to Jonah that it should be the message I give you. That is, the message we proclaim must be God’s, not our own, or even a tweaked, modified, or bowdlerized version of it.
God’s message is generally threat and promise, judgement and gospel. His stark proclamation was “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown” (Jon. 3:4, NIV). That was the judgement. Yet, there was also the promise of hope, of deliverance, of salvation (there must have been because the people heeded the message and were saved).
Even with the “everlasting gospel” at the heart of it, Revelation 14:6-12 also warns about judgment. Gospel and judgment go hand-in-hand: the gospel offers us God’s ways to avoid the condemnation that judgement would justly bring upon us all.
No preaching of the gospel is fully effective unless these elements are present. “Political correctness,” which leads to a watering down of these stark elements and downplaying differences between religions or even between different Christian traditions, as risky. Though in mission we need to adapt our presentation of the people we are trying to reach (contextualization), we must never do so at the expense of the message God has given us to proclaim.
In Jonah 3:3:5-10, what happens? The Ninevites believed, acted on their beliefs, exercised their faith, and were saved.
God has given us some wonderful promises, and stern warnings, too. What should this story teach us about the conditionality of these promises and warnings?