Seasons Have Changed and Storm's are Brewing!
"Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD. But the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up." Jonah 1:1-4
I was reading the Book of Jonah recently. As I was considering what I had just read, I thought about some real important lessons we should learn from Jonah's experiences.
The parallels of the times we live in, compared with Nineveh and Jonah's account of what transpired, are almost identical. That should be quite sobering. Nah. Alarming is probably the better word!
The circumstances and events concerning Jonah and his mission to Nineveh have been repeated throughout history. Just different names and locations. People are people. We seem to be able to go good for a while, and then, well, that stops being fun. Then trouble begins. Just like Nineveh. One of my goals is to give us a few perspectives that enable us to not only understand the reasonableness for the Lord's judgments upon Jonah and Nineveh, but to actually desire for ourselves His judgements. Individually. Nationally. Around the world.
Because people are people. Just like Nineveh. Just like today.
"Judgement is mercy".
I know many wouldn't understand that right now, but I trust we will when I'm done.
Wake up. Speak Up.
Nineveh was in trouble. Big time. The Lord was ready to destroy that city because it was so evil. Yes, the Lord has patience, and lots of it. As well, His patience does run out. It always has. It always will.
Time was up for these guys. So. What was God going to do?
Well, the same thing He always has in these situations. When God is about fed up, He sends a messenger to warn the people that, "Hey, God's fed up! He sent me here to tell you that you're about to be toast because He's had enough!"
This is an important point. The Lord sent the man of God to tell every last citizen of Nineveh, including the women and children, the truth concerning their spiritual condition!
When "time was up" so to speak for Nineveh, we should notice that the prophet's message was very different than what we might hear today.
Jonah didn't arrive all showered up from that three night excursion in fish guts and announce to Nineveh:
"Hey guys. Don't get nervous. We don't have a spirit of fear. I know that none of us are perfect and I certainly am not here to judge. God's commandments are old fashioned and the "law" was only meant for Israelites in the desert. Those commandments? No worries. They were phobic and no longer relevant since Moses was pretty uptight over that water and the rock thing and he never got over it. We've all come to know in our modern thinking that the commandments passed away with Moses and Joshua anyway! God's totally ok with all of us, just the way we are! No worries! Go ahead and eat, drink, and be merry while you worship your idols at your orgies and drinking your brains out. Oh and don't forget how much Moloch and Baal really appreciate you burning alive your children to worship them! That really touches their heart!"
The Lord's message through Jonah was not that Nineveh was ok...but that they were doomed!
"Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted." Galatians 6:1
The job description of the preacher hasn't changed. It is incredibly important we learn from Jonah. Especially those that have been called into the ministry. The man of God, without hesitation, is responsible to tell folks the truth concerning their spiritual condition, in the same way a cardiologist does not hesitate to tell their patient in cardiac arrest that they are in some serious trouble! A doctor not warning the patient of their critical condition, should be charged with malpractice.
Sin is spiritual sickness. And the pulpit that refuses to confront sin is guilty of a malpractice much greater than the illustration above. A heart attack may kill someone. Yet if they are good with God, all will be well. A person spiritually infirmed, not only can lose their life here on the earth, but lose their soul. And that my friends is forever!
"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:11-12
"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience..." Ephesians 2:1-2
I want us to consider that there is much more going on with this "sin and judgment thing" than getting grounded to our bedroom or having our license taken away.
Without getting too much in the weeds, the Lord throughout the Scriptures informs us that there are forces in another realm that without ceasing, desire to trespass into ours here on the earth. "Spiritual forces in the heavenly places...now at work through the sons of disobedience." Devils are not nice. They play for keeps. And we are in mortal combat with them. Unfortunately, there are other humans, "sons of disobedience", that are more than happy to listen to their evil intents and facilitate them on the earth.
The first instance we are made aware of these non-human evil entities is when their chief fallen angel Satan. tempted Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. The moment Satan heard God inform mankind they would die if they ate from the forbidden tree, he instantly began tempting them to do that very thing! "Eat away" he said! "You're not going to die. C'mon. God's not judgmental. And think about how smart you'll be!"
The devil entered our world, opened his big mouth maligning God's intentions, subverting Eve's soul. Adam tagged right along. Satan knew if he could get mankind to abandon how and what the Lord designed them to be, their minds and their spirit would instantly be "distorted" and "disfigured". Sin disfigures and distorts the original intent of the Lord when He designed us.
God doesn't do distortion!
Sin causes us to look just like that picture above next to the title of this section. We become malformed. Ugly. Unrecognizable. The Lord hates "distortion" for these reasons and more. So should we.
The devil and the evil spirits working with him want us "distorted". Then they want to kill us. They want us to be aberrations of the original beauty and glory the Lord created us to be. They have from the beginning. Concerning mankind, we can narrow it down to just a few things that they want to accomplish. Insult God and cause Him pain through the abuse and distortion of mankind, whom the Lord created in His likeness to be by His side forever. Their ultimate goal is to take us to hell with them.
The moment our minds awaken to what I'm discussing, we will get why the the Lord is the way He is concerning sin and living right. None of it is about God's restrictions and overbearing "can and cannots" to stop our fun. Remember. He was the one Who came up with the whole free will thing in the first place! He was the One when He created mankind on day one to say, "You can have all that I created. It's for you. There's just one thing I want you to stay away from. And to let you know how serious I am, you're gonna die if you eat from it. You got that, Sport?"
Free will is a wonderful gift that He gives to all His creation. No Arigato Mr. Roboto's! His love toward His creation and their love toward Him depends on it. As well, there is something else that is very important to Him. Non-negotiable even.
In other words, our actions and lifestyles and forms should be expressions of His glory and rightness and purposes. Without a single scratch or blemish, morally or physically. Being true without disfigurement to that which was in the Designer's mind when He created. The Scriptures on multiple occasions when describing heaven, the Lord and His throne and those around Him, use the word "holy". Crystal clear purity. No blemishes. No marks. No distortion.
"Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6
God Himself is truth. "Truth" is a Person. As He is "Truth", He defines what truth is. Humans may discover "truth", but we do not have it in our powers to create or define it.
"Discovering" is not the same as "defining".
As Originator and final say so of all things, the entirety of creation everywhere would be confined within the boundaries and definitions of how He made them. Walking in truth then is simply walking in design. From the atom to the universe, there are parameters by which they were created and which they function. The laws, definitions, and motions that govern their existence, is "truth".
"Truth" in context, is "it is what it is" the moment the Lord creates. To leave that original design, no matter the reason, means we no longer are walking in "truth". This is why living right is so important to Him.
We are about to bring some things together concerning Jonah and the principles I just took time to discuss. Here are a few examples in "real time" to illustrate.
-There is only One Creator. No competition. So to worship a rock, or the sun, or yourself, is to worship something either He or other humans created. This is called "idolatry". Idolatry is misplaced allegiance. As well, it's incredibly insulting. It is a "lie" and not the "truth". to believe that a rock or a statue is meant to have homage paid to it. That is distorted reality, "sin", and believing a lie.
-The Lord is wholeheartedly dedicated to people. To our last breath, He advises us that He will pursue us with the same diligence the shepherd goes after his lost sheep. He proved that through His death on the cross. He was committed to rescuing us from the powers of darkness. So a lack of commitment to another person, to include sex outside of marriage or adultery, which is sex with someone you're not married to, is sin, distortion, and lack of purity. To use someone elses body selfishly and to discard them afterwards is foreign to the Lord and His total commitment to His people. It is a "lie" and not "truth" to believe we can use a person's body or emotions for our own selfish means. To make us feel we are "loving". Heaven would never do that to someone.
Serving, not using, is the Lord's way of demonstrating that we love someone.
-By design, a man can not place his seed in another man and create a child. Neither can a women with a women. Nor is a twelve year old child supposed to be encouraged and protected even from their parents to warp and maim the very image and sex they were given at birth. God decides male and female. Not a school counselor, a psychologist, or a youth that has little social and individual awareness development. These are heinous distortions, sin and lack of purity, as a result of abandoning the Lord's designs. It is a "lie" to believe homosexuality or transgenderism would ever be acceptable to the Lord.
Our Lord is the Great Designer and Engineer of all. We have no right in any realm to take upon ourselves liberty to distort His designs. To believe so is to believe a lie.
The above examples and those even more shameful to discuss, are ideas and imaginations that for the most part did not originate in this realm. They were developed in the cauldrons of despicable hate within the minds of demons. Then they whisper into the minds of those that will listen and entertain those imaginations, which becomes fuel to set ablaze the passions and lusts of the flesh. This is how the "sons of disobedience" become just that. Offspring of the devil.
These "children of wrath" are not just the dregs of the earth. They can inhabit positions of great power and influence. Presidents, political or civil leaders, teachers and school boards, etc. When these endorse public policy targeting children for pornography to include homosexuality...drag queens reading "See Spot Run" in public libraries...sex organ mutilation being made acceptable and to be commended...they in effect become "marketing firms" for these devilish imaginations. Policies that are sewage infested "doctrines of demons". These people are working hand in hand with fallen angels, principalities, spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies...and both will experience harsh and gruesome repercussions.
When we consider the principles I just took time to discuss, we understand more fully that the Lord's judgments are not simply about "bad people" getting a time out. We see that in the larger scheme of things, He judges because He has had enough of malicious spirits and humans that will agree with them, overwhelming a people group through temptation and subjugation to the most awful ideas and practices. The Lord is putting an end to men and demons throwing parties and flipping their noses and middle fingers at God!
I took the time that I did to help us understand the "bigger picture" when it comes to right and wrong and the Lord's judgment's and why.
You can run...but you can't hide!
Now, let's talk about Jonah.
I like the way the New Living Translation describes Jonah's actions.
But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the LORD." Jonah 1:3
This man knew exactly what he was called to do. He knew about Nineveh and how terrible it was. The Lord clearly and unmistakably told Jonah to get over to Nineveh and tell them what was about to happen. Unfortunately, for a time anyway, he not only ignored what God had told him to do, he got as far away from doing his job as he could!
"...for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God." Acts 20:27
At this point, I am asking us to consider that just as Jonah, many ministries have gone in the opposite direction as to what God wants spoken to this generation. Instead of warning people that our culture has crossed the line with God in our attitudes and behaviors and that we need to change course immediately, their sermons are continuing to emphasize subjects like grace, prosperity, and/or that the Lord is happy with all of us just the way we are. These may be true and should be emphasized regularly. Yet these alone are not "the whole counsel of God." Folks certainly need to understand the goodness of God and the benefits of serving Him. Yet they need to hear as well that there are judgements as a result of willfully snubbing Him.
I've studied many revivals through history specific to America. Generally speaking, the primary themes of those meetings, where tens of thousands at a time came to Christ, were messages on the wickedness of the human heart outside of God and the necessity to get right with the Lord. It was reported at times that people would be hysterical in the meetings as the Spirit convicted them of their sin and let them know in no uncertain terms that if not changed, they would be lost forever! That it was crucial to get rid of every and any thing that would hinder their repentance toward God and good works.
Yes, it is the "goodness of God that leads to repentance." (Romans 2:4). Yet in context, that "goodness" is not always the blessing of Abraham and five new houses. The goodness of God toward lost mankind starts at the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross and His resultant mercy. That He forgives us not on our own merit, but His grace alone. And as a really great benefit, He will not throw our rear ends into the depths of hell if we call out on His name!
I'll take that "goodness" over a Cadillac anyday!
We've made a mistake teaching people the benefits of living in God's house without being sure our audience was even in the house!
Notice when Jonah had walked away from the word of the Lord and refused to do what the Lord told him to, that his world was immediately engulfed in peril as the storms raged against the boat he was in. Not only was Jonah in great danger, but those on the ship with him were in peril as well. Consider that no one on the boat had any idea what was causing the chaos on the seas.
But Jonah did!
There are storms reeking havoc on our world today. Terrible dilemmas, enigmas, wars and diseases, arising everywhere we look. The earth is perplexed, heaving, and looking for answers. Instead of blaming climate change, we should consider the possibility that it is the sins of mankind and their allegiance to demons that are causing these tribulations on the earth. Many today have gone after almost unspeakable distortions to mankind in their behaviors and treatment of one another. From demon inspired drag queens wanting to be around children, to burning down whole cities in whipped up anger over perceived injustice. The multitudes are as unaware of what is really going on as the sailors on the boat with Jonah.
"But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God..." II Timothy 3:1-4
As children of God warned multiple times to take great effort and not be deceived, we are expected to know exactly what is happening in our world and why. Just like Jonah. Jesus and His New Testament writes minced no words and described with great clarity the times we are in and how they got there!
So we need to ask. Are we being irresponsible...just like Jonah?
Jonah's mission was not to comfort Nineveh, but to warn her. Jonah was commanded to "call out against" Nineveh. The Body of Christ has got to recognize there has been a change of season concerning what the Lord wants emphasized from His ministers and their pulpits. We needed to hear about mercy and grace. We needed to hear about faith. That we can cooperate with the promises of God for healing and material well being. It was important to remember and be sensitive to the lost, considering culture when we were designing our local churches. That Jesus is forgiving and meets us where we are at no matter how terrible our sins. That's all true and all of these and more need to be preached. They are important subjects within the "whole counsel of God".
We must consider though, the verses I just cited and multitudes more warn that perilous times are primarily caused by human obstinance and a rejection of all that is holy for the sake of self indulgence which, as I mentioned earlier, is the classic definition of "idolatry".
We need to "call out against these things" today, as Jonah was commanded then! This also is part of the whole counsel of God!
"And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire." Matthew 18:8
The season came for Jonah to to call folks on the carpet for their sins against God. Today it's the season for pulpits, and the men and women of God that stand behind them, to be filled with passion, compassion, and hold out mercy as we inform...no...warn...folks that:
-Time is short and we're running out of it as quickly as the final grains of sand in the hourglass! We can experience the goodness of God and His mercy, just as Nineveh did. But they had to be repentant and so do we.
-Jesus taught us that anything in our lives causing us to sin and hinders us from walking in the Lord's favor, get rid of it no matter the cost! That heaven and hell are real. And in this life the most important decision we can make is to be in good standing with God...at all costs!
It's not too late yet, but we're getting there! And folks need to be warned!
Once again as I am finishing up. People need to be made aware that our sinful behaviors have allowed evil and demented spirits to have access into the earth. Satan knew mankind would be judged when they sinned against God in the garden. He knew God doesn't lie. Well, Satan knows God doesn't lie today either. Satan has infiltrated our media, philosophies, and behaviours to such vile extremes, he knows God will at some point run out of patience. He's getting people to "pile it on" so to speak, knowing that one day the overflow will be so sickening the Lord's forbearance will run out.
America is beloved by the Lord. As are all nations. But as with all nations, America is not exempt from the Lord's judgements! If Israel wasn't exempt, we aren't either. It's not the season for America to hear messages about soft blankets by the fireplace and hot cocoa on a cold November night. America needs a smack between the eyes and warn her that her evils are getting to a place of no return.
The man of God, Jonah, was not only silent. He was running from his responsibility to warn people of their evils. The responsibility of the pulpit is not appeasement. But at critical times, like now, confrontation!
As I mentioned earlier, sin is spiritual sickness. The Lord does have mercy and patience. Lots of it. But it does run out.
It is the Lord's mercy and compassion to send continual warnings that, "Hey guys, you better straighten up or some serious badness is going to happen. And it's not My fault, it's yours!"
America, and too many in the Body of Christ, are oblivious to their spiritual conditions and lost in confusion as a result of our silence! The spiritual cancers of idolatry, foreign gods that certainly include marxism, humanism, pluralism, obscene sexuality to include mutilation of minors, disfiguring their God given identity, have caused terminal spiritual sickness. All of these things not only distort the Lord's designs, but dull us from any desire to even walk with God in the first place!
"For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus..." I Timothy 2:5
Jesus. His blood poured out on the cross. And a humble heart that takes accountability for their sins, forsakes them, trusting in Christ Jesus alone for mercy and then restoration into His graces. There is no other commodity worth enough to remove our sin than Jesus, His sacrifice at Calvary, and His resurrection into the heavens. You and I trying to pay for our own sins by "good works" is the same as wanting to pay for a mansion on Lake Winnipesaukee with a few tokens from the local arcade!
There is a season to learn about prosperity and the promised land. But not now.
America shall be saved!
Oh. Just thought I'd mention. Jonah got upset with God when He extended mercy to Nineveh. We need to learn from Jonah as well that God is merciful. That many will turn to God as a result of our preaching. And that no matter the darkness a person comes out of, just like Nineveh, we are going to rejoice with them. Not get upset that they didn't get what they had coming. A quick look in the mirror should help us with that one!
Till next time.