Judgment can do a lot of things to a person. It can cause some to tremble and plead for forgiveness. In others it may embolden them even further as they refuse to bow the knee. As history and archaeology have attested, humanity did not change course when God judged them at Babel. Instead, they went off with different languages and created new people groups throughout the world, exporting the same pagan worship practices they were engaged in on the Mesopotamian plane of Shinar.
What’s interesting as you read the Bible is the fact that while God’s future focus would be on Israel, He also showed grace and mercy to vile, pagan Gentiles at interesting times. I think a good case can be made for the salvation of Nebuchadnezzar. And, for today I want you to look at the Book of Jonah (feel free to read it on your own).
The story of Jonah is often bypassed by adults because we’ve been fed the fairy tale version while in Sunday School. But, as you read the book look closer at the storyline. You have a Jew who from birth has been told that Gentiles are so unclean that he needs to distance himself lest he become defiled. In fact, the Jews often hated Gentiles. To make matters worse, Jonah is told to go to Assyria to the city of Nineveh and preach a message of judgment against them. Assyria was not known to be kind to Jews (their methods of torture are a bit too gross to discuss here). So, while he hates the brutal, wicked Ninevites, and maybe even fears them, he decides to run the other way. After God slaps Jonah around a bit in the belly of a large fish, Jonah decides he’ll obey and heads off to Nineveh and preaches that they have 40 days to repent or God would destroy them. Then came the biggest surprise to Jonah: Nineveh repented! Now Jonah is really ticked off. He wanted Nineveh to be destroyed, yet God is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, full of love, and forgiving (Jonah 4:2)—all traits that Jonah despised when it came to those he hated.
- It’s Thankful Thursday, and today we’re thanking God for His grace. Just as God graced Nineveh by changing their hearts and forgiving them, He has done so with each of us who have placed our trust in Him. Thank Him now for His “great salvation so rich and free”.
- Keep in mind, grace doesn’t mean God saw something good in you, but that for no other reason than to glorify Himself, He chose to save you. The Ninevites were on their way to Hell the same as you and I were before the Spirit reached in and convicted us and drew us to Himself. To me that deserves even more thanks to God as I know I don’t deserve even my little toe arriving in Heaven in the presence of His glory.
- And remember, being graced upon with God’s salvation means we will not experience His wrath and judgment.
- Revelation 6:9-11 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.
- Revelation 11:16-18 And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.”
- Emerson Eggerichs (of the Love & Respect marriage counseling) discusses in his seminar that we are out of balance as a society, that we overemphasize love to the exclusion of God’s other traits. As such, discussing God’s judgment is even harder in our day and age. It’s not very Aloha that He would wipe people off the face of the earth, or destroy nations, or judge the wicked. But then, God isn’t trying to be our version of Aloha, is He? He’s God, and we are not. He is perfect in every way, we are not. So, while the fact that God judges is hard to stomach, we must remember He does so because of His own glory which is far above our understanding. He does so because sin cannot be allowed to have the final triumph. And His final judgment will be a complete purging of sin for the rest of eternity.
- Thank God now that He proclaims His sovereignty and glory to the world!
- Thank God now that He promotes His righteousness and Holiness in His judgment.
- And as odd as it may seem, but just like these in Revelation 11, thank Him for His being a God Who judges and pronounces judgment on the nations.
- Lastly, as Jonah recognized, God is slow to judgment. In our case, as the largest producer and exporter of pornography, as a corrupt country that calls the things of God evil while calling sexual immorality and other sins good, as a nation who hates God and His moral law, a country that has had the truth proclaimed throughout but has rejected it, a nation where violence is promoted and self-worship is exalted, and every thought of our culture is wickedness, thank God that He has graciously stayed His hand of judgment against us for He will judge the U.S. just as He has and does other nations who oppose Him.
- Yet, while thanking Him for His longsuffering, pray also for the lost of our nation. Maybe if we would go and proclaim His judgment and His salvation we would see a great repentance as Nineveh did in Jonah’s day.
- Romans 8 & II. Corinthians 5 tells us that as Christians our beings groan out wanting to be in our home with the Lord, but we have been left here to proclaim His love and mercy to a lost and dying world. Thank God even now for this great opportunity to call more people to become worshippers of Him!