Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Woe and Repentance

Devotion: Jonah 3:3b-5

One of the largest misconceptions about Jonah is his ministry in Nineveh. Nineveh was a massive city, capital of the fearsome Assyrian Empire. We are told that if you started on one side of the city, it would take you three days to walk to the other end. That walk could be that length for sheer size or just the twists and turns you would need to navigate an ancient city. At any rate, the city is big and important.
When Jonah arrives in Nineveh he begins to preach a sermon of woe. In essence, that the destruction of the Lord will fall on Nineveh.
"Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them." -Jonah 3:3b-5 ESV
Never once does Jonah call the people to repent. Jonah simply announces the coming wrath of God and the impending destruction and overthrow of the great city. He is announcing that the people of Nineveh are hopeless. Of course, this is not God's message to Nineveh or to us, but it is what Jonah wants to preach.
Jonah is right to pronounce that the city of Nineveh would be overthrown. As we will see later in the text Jonah is actually quite angry about the way that overthrow takes place. Jonah wants brimstone, or perhaps, fire to be called down from the sky (see Luke 9:51-55). Yet, God is not really interested in destroying people. The destruction of wickedness is God's choice because He will not abide sin. That destruction takes place with either the wicked being destroyed completely or the wicked no longer being wicked.
What happens in Nineveh as Jonah pronounces woe and impending destruction is the people repent. They see the sin in their lives and their need for God. They take up ancient symbols of repentance and remorse, namely, fasting and wearing sackcloth. We will see the exact extent of this repentance next week. At any rate, the people feel the righteousness of God and His judgment over wickedness and they move to the second option of no longer being wicked and thus worthy recipients of destruction.
Today in the Church we have much the same duty as Jonah. We pronounce judgment of evil, sin and wickedness. We trouble those who are complacent in their disobedience and rebellion before God. Unlike Jonah, however, we preach grace. We do not merely inform people of the wrath to come, but we offer Jesus Christ, the friend and savior of sinners like us, and the only hope we have. Jesus Christ in his salvation removes sin from us and gives us righteousness in its place. In this way we are no longer wicked, but filled with Christ. Again, the choice is stark, face God's wrath and destruction as a sinner, or be made new in Christ Jesus.

Music this week is from Indelible Grace, "From the Depths of Woe."

News for You:

  • We want to give members the opportunity to pay their Per Asking fees of $43 per person. Please mark your checks or envelopes Per Asking.  
  • CPC is looking for a part-time nursery worker to fill in for Terri Cunningham. If you, or anyone you know is interested, please contact church staff.
  • Pick A Party:  CPC Youth Camp Fund Raiser: Volunteer your time and resources to host a party during May and June.  If you don’t want to host a party, sign up to attend one.  Watch the fellowship hall for sign ups!  All donations received will be used to offer an incredible camp experience to our youth! Sign up for a Pick-a-Party event in the fellowship hall. Thanks for all your support to help with fund raising for the Youth Camp!  Parties run from May 13 through June 8.  Cost:  $15 for adults, $5 for children, $35 max for a family.
  • Walk & Talk: For the next 4 weeks, join a group of ladies to "walk and talk", every Saturday at 8 AM, at Eastside Park. Starts May 12th. Fellowship & exercise together. Invite a friend!
  • Small Groups: We are on the lookout for a few more small group leaders to lead our next Bible study on Titus. If you would like to facilitate a 5-week small group covering Titus, let Pastor Bill or Elder Dave Lamb know!

No comments:

Post a Comment