Why did Jonah go to Nineveh?

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by Ben W, Apr 22, 2005.

  1. Ben W

    Ben W
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    In reading again the book of Jonah, I have come to consider something that I had not thought about before and wondered if you might give me some clues as to why this happened.

    Jonah was to go to Nineveh, yet Ninevah was not in Israel, the people of Nineveh were not Israelites, whereas Jonah was a Jew and and Israelite.

    Jesus said to the Cannanite woman is it right to take the childrens bread and throw it to dogs? (Mt 15:26) Which seems to me to reinforce that He went to the Israelites, not the Gentiles like those from Ninevah.

    So why could it have been that Ninevah was chosen of all the pagan nations to be reached by Yahweh through Jonah?
     
  2. Stephen Mills

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    The problem is that Jonah doesn't gives us very much background info. To say that Nineveh is "pagan" doesn't mean that YHWH wasn't worshiped there in some way, shape, or form. It seems to me almost certain that the people of Nineveh knew who YHWH was, otherwise why would they be so quick to repent? Perhaps they were being told to repent of all there other gods and to turn solely to YHWH.

    This is all conjecture of course, but you get the point. Because Jonah doesn't provide the details of the situation, it is difficult to answer.
     
  3. jdcanady

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    God is the God of all peoples and nations. He has mercy on whom He will have mercy. Nineveh will later be part of the Assyrian Empire that overthrows and scatters the Northern 10 tribes of Israel. Maybe God kept them for that purpose.
     
  4. av1611jim

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    I have a different take on the matter.
    Although primarily Jonah was sent to gentile folks to preach repentance, the bigger picture is that God was establishing a type for the future.

    God in His wisdom and foreknowledge had already determined that the gospel would be preached to Gentiles. Jonah pictures the Jews (at a future time) who would have a very hard time with that concept becuase of their national pride. They are the "chosen" ones after all. Nineveh pictures the whole world of gentile nations who would hear the gospel and repent and turn to the true God.

    Jonah was just one man. One lonely Jew amongst a gentile city-state which took three days to travel through. In type, he represents the Jewish nation, small as compared to the rest of the world, yet entrusted with the gospel and commision to carry it to all the world. And like Jonah, they rebelled until God dealt with them. And then they (Jonah) went and preached repentance.

    Nineveh represents the Gentile people. They represent to the Jew all that is loathsome. I am not so sure about this next thought but here goes. Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian empire. So if they represented the gentile nations who would receive the gospel preaching and repent, then they would also picture the Roman empire at the time of Christ and their power over the Jewish/Israelite people. The Assyrians were hated then, and the Romans were hated later.

    So, Jonah's mission was not just for him and the people he was told to preach to, but also for they who later would hear Jesus' disciples and respond in the same way as those hated gentiles responded to Jonah.

    Many times in OT Scripture God is not just dealing with a particular individual, He is also establishing a type for later believers. Remember Moses and the Rock? Why did God get so angry with Moses when he struck the Rock? It is because he broke the type. Christ was to be smitten once. Moses already smote the Rock and brought out water. Later on he was told to speak to it. In Hebrews we are told that Rock was Christ in the wilderness with them. When Moses struck it, it was the same as if he smote Christ twice, but Christ was to be smitten only once for all.

    In a similar way, Jonah was the Jewish people entrusted with the gospel but rebelled. Only after God dealt with him did he repent. The same will be true of the Jews/Israelites.

    [I also understand that Christ used Jonah to picture His death, burial, and resurrection. My thoughts do not discount that in any way. OK? Just in case someone wants to pounce!]

    Also, we are only told of a very brief form of what Jonah preached. We really do not know if that was his entire message. We do know that was all God cared to tell us about. Nevertheless, we do know that as soon as they learned of impending judgment, they repented. Gentiles today do the same. When folks who know not God, hear of their coming judgment, they repent. Not always of course, but they do repent.

    Just a thought or two. What do ya' think?

    In HIS service;
    Jim
     
  5. jdcanady

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    Very interesting take. I had never seen it that way before. I'll have to meditate on it for a while.
     
  6. David Michael Harris

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    A simple answer is it is the wickedness of Nineveh which actuates God to send a prophet to that city.

    Is come up before me 1:2

    Behind this phrase lies the conviction that what happens among men is made known before the presence of God.

    David
     
  7. Bluefalcon

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    Right on, brother Jim!

    Yours, Bluefalcon
     
  8. Gold Dragon

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    This does have Christological implications but who is to say the blessings didn't happen before Christ?
     
  9. robycop3

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    God has a place in His heart for Assyria, as is evidenced in Isaiah 19. I cannot find a Scriptural reason for it, however. Assyria(and Nineveh) was founded by Nimrod's son Asshur, and later they were described as pagans.

    A while back, I asked who the modern Assyrians were, and I received a variety of answers, every one of which could be right, or all of them right. At any rate, Assyria will be restored, and very possibly under the same name, as Egypt is known by its ancient name. But again, I cannot find anything that would merit God's special favor, especially in the light of one of their high officials(Rab-Shakeh) openly insulting God in front of Jerusalem.

    All I know is that God has pronounced blessing upon Assyria and Egypt for reasons all His own, and therefore I know it will come to pass in God's good time.

    As for Jonah's message...He most likely had been empowered to perform a miracle before the Assyrians to prove he wasn't simply some madman. Just think how YOU'D react if someone paraded down Pennsylvania Ave. yelling, "Within 40 days shall DC be destroyed!"
     
  10. Keith M

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    Did anyone ever stop to think that Jonah was to go to Nineveh because God told him to? Now before you start rolling on the floor laughing, consider that God may have been trying to teach Jonah a lesson in obedience. Remember when God tested Abraham to see if he would sacrifice Isaac, his son? Didn't God intend this as a lesson in obedience to Abraham? In the same way, it could be that God was trying to teach Jonah a lesson, and Jonah's being sent to a non-Jewish people would have been a good way for Jonah to learn to swallow his pride. Think about it...
     
  11. wopik

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    so did God want the Ninevites to keep His holidays and weekly Sabbath?.........think about it.

    Afterall, they are for all mankind who want to "join themselves to the LORD" (Isa 56:1-8 / 1Cor. 6:17 / Zech. 2:11).
     
  12. TexasSky

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    Nahum tells us why. It is actually about Ninevah. Nahum 1:11 says that Ninevah was plotting evil against the Lord.

    Matthew 12:41 says, "The men of Ninevah will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah."

    Following time lines. Ninevah was on the verge of destruction by God, and He sent Jonah to them as a warning. They listened to Jonah, repented for awhile, and then turned against God again. The second time they turned against God they were even worse than before, and just as Nahum predicted, Ninevah was overthrown.
     
  13. MNJacob

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    I'm with TS. God does not destroy nations or peoples without opportunities for repentence.
     
  14. mountainrun

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    God sent Jonah to the Ninevites because they were evil and unrighteous.

    Jesus said it is the sick who need a doctor, not the healthy.

    MR
     
  15. Ben W

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    So what is bizarre is that Ninevah was chosen over all the other nations, why not send prophets to all the nations of the earth to turn them away from their idol worship?
     
  16. TexasSky

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    Ben,

    Again, look at Nahum. Ninevah wasn't just "turning away from God," they were "plotting against God."

    There were nations listed in the Old Testament who did not believe in God, but who more or less treated God's people with respect for their personal believes. There were also nations that tried to destroy believe in God. The second group, invariably, was destroyed. Ninevah was one of the second groups.
     
  17. wopik

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    To tell those gentile people to stop sinning by breaking Jehovah's laws.
     
  18. Gershom

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    Why did Gershom go to the Nineveh thread?

    To tell the non-Baptist wopik to stop breaking the BB rules of posting in the "Baptist Only" forums.
     
  19. wopik

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    God bless you all.


    Some Baptists can think for themselves, and can read the Bible.


    God's laws are for all mankind. Israel was to be the shinning light to the Gentiles.


    REPENT always means to repent of disobeying the LORD GOD.
     
  20. robycop3

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    A while back, I asked who could be the Assyrians of today, and I received many good answers. Let me now add some of what I've since found:

    There is a minority of over half a million people living in the Hasaka province of Syria who call themselves Assyrians. How true this is, we cannot know, as the ancient Assyrians didn't keep genealogies as the Jews did. Also, it's known that most of them merged with the Chaldeans, Medes, Persians, and Scythians after Nineveh was sacked in 612 BC. But it is also known that some of them, along with many Israelis, migrated to the area of the southern Volga River in what's now Ukraine.

    We have more material and writings from Assyria than we do from any other ancient civilization, including Egypt, Greece, and China.

    After Nineveh was sacked, some Assyrians returned there, along with some of the merchants among their conquerors. However, some of the Babylonian kings hauled away much of the building material from Nineveh to build onto Babylon. People continued to live at the site of Nineveh until about the time of the KJV, but it was never an important place again, and is but an archaeological dig today. Both Nineveh and Babylon are now uninhabited just as Scripture said.

    I am still trying to find out why God has a special place in his heart for Assyria. He has prospered many of the Arab peoples because of Abraham's asking Him to bless Ishmael. But I've found nothing in the ancient roots of Assyria indicating that any of the first Assyrians were Godly people, or were related to Abraham. The closest I can find is that a great number of Assyrians were converted to Christianity during the lifetimes of the Apostles and it is speculated(not at all known for sure) that Thomas went specifically to the Assyrians for awhile.

    It is said(not at all confirmed) that Jonah continued to live near Nineveh, and once God had corrected him, he realized that those people were important to God, same as anyone else, and he began to teach the Assyrians more about God. Jonah's tomb is said(not at all confirmed) to be within a Moslem mosque near the site of Nineveh. Islam recognizes Jonah as a major prophet.

    But none of this shows why God chose Assyria to some day be almost as important to Him as Israel. We know that Israel had a long and harmonious relationship with Egypt, beginning during the judgeship of Samuel, lasting until just before Nebuchadnezzar's conquest of both Egypt and Judah. And the first Israelis interacted with Egypt for a good while. When Joseph died, Egypt didn't immediately make slaves of Israel; this came about several decades later. But thus we can see that ancient Egypt was a friend of Israel during most of the time before the Babylonian conquest, carrying on a lively trade with Israel for centuries(Egyptian horses, chariots, & camels for Israeli myrrh, frankincense, other herbs & spices, and various kinds of cloth & wool products). Thus, we can see many reasons for God favoring Egypt in the future. Egypt is still under God's punishment, remaining a poor nation, unable to be a conqueror again, afraid of the Jews as God said she would be.

    Apparently, Assyria rated God's favor before He sent Jonah, and like you are, I'm still searching for the answer.
     

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