A Change of Heart ?
By Linda Gallia
For the most part I do not agree with our President and the kind of change he has tried to bring to
our country. I will agree with President Obama in the regard that I do believe our country needs
"change". After lots of thought about this subject and some inspiration from other people I have
listened to and some things I've read, I have come to another conclusion regarding the change we
need. What kind of change will really help America? I wonder quite often how many Americans
truly want to hear truth? I also wonder if our President believes he speaks the truth or if he is
truly as deceived as he seems to be?
I was observing a discussion about Jonah and all that had happened with Nineveh when God sent
him there. Usually we focus on Jonah and how he ran away and ended up in the belly of the
whale, or "great fish". There are great lessons to be learned in what Jonah did. I have rarely seen
much focus on the city of Nineveh or the people and why they repented. It really got me to
thinking about the question: "Why did Nineveh repent?" It certainly seems that everyone in town
repented, but it still begs the question: Why?
Many times in history God has sent prophets to warn Israel or other people about their behavior
and unless they 'straighten up and fly right' bad things will happen. Most of the time people did
not listen. So what made Nineveh different?
I thought about why most people repent. Most of the time a person comes to a very low point in
their life or they come to understand they truly need a relationship with God. The realization of
who God is and why we need Him must also be part of that process. The realization that God is
great beyond our ability to even understand and in our heart we realize we are nothing, and God's
love is also outside our realm of understanding.
Jonah 1: 2 says that God said to Jonah regarding Nineveh: "their wickedness has come up before Me." Is it possible this could be similar to a bad odor that can not be ignored any longer? It is only an analogy of course. However, if their evil was so great that God couldn't ignore it, what about the Ninevites themselves? Is it possible they had become so evil that they even saw it? Is it possible they realized that unless they did something to change and get help, they were doomed? Is it possible they "stunk" so bad they couldn't stand themselves any longer and knew they needed to clean up? Even God compares sin to uncleanness. (Ezek 36:29) It seems obvious to me the reason Nineveh had a change of heart was because they already realized the results of their wickedness and wanted something better. They realized this was their opportunity for salvation, just the way Christians often do when they come to Christ. We must come to the place that we realize Jesus is "the way, the truth and the life".
Jonah was angry when God changed His mind about Nineveh. Nineveh historically was known for the cruelty and ruthlessness of their kings. Nineveh was for many years the capital city of the Assyrian Empire. Assyria had invaded and pillaged Israel numerous times by the time of Jonah. It is obvious Jonah was fearful of going to Nineveh in the first place and even more upset when God granted the city His mercy and grace.
At the end of the book, God really lets Jonah have it for feeling sad for the plant that had provided him shade but having no thought or care about the children that lived in Nineveh. Sometimes I hear Christians say "it is our job to warn our country but if they don't listen and shape up it's not our fault". I agree with that statement partially. What concerns me is; that we could be calloused and hard hearted towards our fellow country men and women. We often talk about the horror of abortion and it is a horror for sure. We need to remember the children that are alive in this country though. I sincerely hope that deep in our hearts we aren't thinking "people deserve whatever they get". I don't believe God thinks that way. I think it grieves Him deeply when a nation, city or people reject Him and harden their hearts toward Him, because He truly loves all people.
Jonah asked God to take his life because God's love for a pagan people was deeper than His messenger could understand or accept. I hear people talk as if they would be different than Jonah if they were in Jonah's shoes. I think that is a bit naïve.
Jonah is often compared to Jesus Christ because of his "3 days and 3 nights" in the belly of the whale. Jonah was nothing like Jesus Christ will be at His second coming. How will we react when we see people who have been wicked and vile, turn from their wicked ways and repent and are spared?
A change of heart is what is needed for people to repent. Perhaps we need a change of heart in how we perceive our role and also those who desperately need the Gospel. Would we be disappointed if our nation repented and God decided to once again bless us greatly? We should only be disappointed to the extent that Jesus has not returned but excited about His grace and mercy. Isn't that, after all, the core of the Gospel and the mission Jesus came to fulfill the first time? Isn't that, after all, His goal for the future as well? It's not the recompense to the wicked we should be longing for but His grace and mercy and the peace He will bring.
There will be a highway for the remnant of His people who will be left from Assyria, as it was for Israel in the day that he came up from the land of Egypt. And in that day you will say: "O LORD, I will praise You; though You were angry with me, your anger is turned away, and You comfort me. Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; 'For YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song; he also has become my salvation.'" Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And in that day you will say: "Praise the LORD, call upon His name; declare His deeds among the peoples, make mention that His name is exalted. Sing to the LORD, for He has done excellent things; this is known in all the earth. Cry out and shout, O inhabitant of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel in your midst!" (NKJ Isa 11:16-12:6)
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