Sunday, July 15, 2012
I’ve been listening to Victor Hugo’s great book; Les Miserables, which encourages compassion and hope in a world of adversity and injustice. I found it fantastic! The main character, Valjean, was hounded—even after his jail sentence was fulfilled of 19 years, by a graceless officer of the court. The yearning of the former criminal to “really make right” for the things he had done wrong was Herculean in scoop. The pull into the dark side had almost taken him over except for the love of a young girl he was caring for. Cosette was his ray of hope, his salvation, if you will. And that of a priest who forgave him helped him as well. I know the ending. I have seen the musical, the movie and heard the soundtrack a few times and it is very much like our book of Jonah.
A criminal of France and a run-a-way prophet of God, フランスの犯罪者と神の逃げ出した預言者 both were trying to deal with life—a life that they do not have any control in what so ever. I have never heard these two books put up against each other, but I wonder if Mr. Hugo had it in mind as he penned this story. They do not in all points figure out but here we have we have two offenders - running away from something. They both really feel sure of what they were supposed to be and now, a second chance was offered them. Both recognize the God of complete mercy and of justice was in control. Not fatalistic in any way. And it is here at this point; we leave the French novel for the real drama of Jonah.
Where is Jonah at this time? ヨナはこの時点ではどこにいるのでしょうか？ Sitting in fish vomit on the shores of the Mediterranean. Where is he supposed to be? 彼はどこにいることになっているのでしょうか？ About 500 miles east on the east bank of the Tigris River. What had happened to him? 彼に何が起こったのでしょうか？ In short, he was disobedient to God’s call on his life and he ran away only to be thrown into the deep blue sea and be swallowed by a fish and spent three days and three nights in his host’s belly working out a better theology of life than he had before. He came to his Spiritual senses and agreed that he must give God the Glory. He is vomited out on the beach—looking a bit worn out, and hears for the second time in his prophet’s life, a call to serve.
Then the Word 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.” 神は言った： "偉大な都市ニネベに行き、そこであなたを与えるメッセージを宣べ伝えなさい。"
Off he goes. Jonah obeyed the Word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. This city, in chapter one, was called “a wicked city” and was a city on the Tigris River that was made up of four cities. Not yet the capital city of the Assyrian Empire, but a very wicked city indeed. So much so, God, in His mercy, wants to reach out and touch someone…wipe them off the earth—unless they repent. How bad was it there? Very bad. Whatever happened in Nineveh, did not stay in Nineveh. Its sin was spreading over the land and Nineveh was going to be dealt with by God’s Powerful Hand…one way or another.
At the end of verse 3, it says: “it took three days to go through it”. Some say it is a cultural expression that is lost today but I feel it says it took three days to walk through the city because it did take three days to do that. And on day one of Jonah’s journey into that wicked city, he proclaimed “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” "40日ののちニネベは打ち倒されます。” This sentence bears no conditional clauses, no loopholes, and no fluff. The punishment was unmistakable and very clear. Overthrowing a city means an enemy captures and deduces it to ruins.
Talk about an early warning system! 早期警告システム My iPhone has an app that will tell me when an earthquake would happen and it happens RIGHT after I get the message warning. Not much time to prepare. The Tsunami Warning System (TWS) in the Pacific, comprised of 26 participating international Member States, has the functions of monitoring seismological and tidal stations throughout the Pacific Basin to evaluate potentially tsunami genic earthquakes and disseminating tsunami warning information. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) is the operational center of the Pacific TWS. Located near Honolulu, Hawaii, PTWC provides tsunami warning information to national authorities in the Pacific Basin. The buoys out in the ocean tell us when a major earthquake happens and gives us a number of minutes warning of ‘the big one’, but having a 40-day warning system like Nineveh’s! Nice!
I find that the response to the warning so encouraging to me! The first day out, there is response. And the response is a good one! Had this happen in Jerusalem, the people would have stoned him. Other prophets had tried it and they were killed. But not here in this pagan city. They believed God. The local leaders started to get their hearts ready for this by setting up a fast. And ALL of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth (あら).
AND when the message made it to the king of Nineveh, look at the way it affected him! He rose from his place of power—took off his royal robes—covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. This was a real sign of submission and of being humbled by this message from GOD. He did not turn to his idols! He did not take counsel with his wise men. He did not run from this message. He got out of the way and really led his country in repentance. There was already a fast that had been proclaimed by the people west of the city but now HE lead the NATION by sending out this great public statement you can read from verse 7-9.
Sackcloth is not very comfortable and cozy. Esp. after you had been wearing silk. And this was the garment of choice. No eating or drinking—even the animals. Every one was to put on sackcloth—even the animals! Every one was to call URGENTLY on God. Every one was to GIVE UP their evil ways and their violence! 何をするか？
In every way, their life style was to be every different from what it was before Jonah entered their area.
And God saw what they did. 神は見た
And God saw how they changed their living. 彼らは何をしたか 彼らはどのように変化したか
And He relented and did not bring destruction to them as He had threatened. 神の答え：答えられた祈り ~ 彼が屈した Questions for us today: Why wait for such a proclamation? Change now. What would you have said to that warning? What testimony can you share of God’s Call on your life?
What has God done in your life that you want to/need to share with us today?