About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman

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Culturally Conflicted


Upon completing my rewrite of my commentary on the Book of Jonah, I'm convinced that the book's abrupt ending that reveals the sad state of Nineveh's existence resembles our sad existence here in the West today.  Jonah 4:11 in the Christian Standard Bible reads:


"But may I not care about the great city of Nineveh, which has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot distinguish between their right and their left, as well as many animals?"


There's no doubt about it.  God's evaluation of those living in Nineveh was sad.  They did not know their right from their left.  History tells us that during Jonah's life the residents of Nineveh lived in a state of chaos, confusion, and conflict with each other.  Just as Jonah himself was conflicted because of God's call on his life, so chaos,  confusion, and conflict ran wild in the streets of Nineveh, and that due to various factions battling it out for political prominence.  Interestingly enough, Jonah was in the same conflicted sinking ship, so to speak, as those to whom he was called to preach against.    


God's evaluation of Nineveh could easily be His evaluation of our western-world today.  Look around you on the streets of your city.  Watch the news on the device of your choice.  Read away on your favourite social media site.  Listen to the multitude of conflicting voices vying for your attention.  Our social, political, and religious worlds are chaotic, confused and conflicted.  They cannot distinguish between their right and their left.  As with Nineveh, so it is with the West.


Even as Jonah, the prophet of God, was emotionally conflicted, so is our Christian culture today.  The Christian right and the Christian left, a segregation that must repulse God, is battling it out in public for all to see.  Those caught in the chaotic centre are confused and conflicted, not knowing their right from their left.  As with Jonah, so it is with us.


The Lord gave those in Nineveh one last chance to forsake their evil through a reluctant and conflicted prophet.  Jonah's reluctant obedience resulted in a grass-roots revival, a revival that sadly lasted only one generation.  Assyria, including its capital city Nineveh, eventually fell in 612 BC to Babylon, which I believe, was an act of divine judgment.


Our God is the Sovereign ruler over all nations (Daniel 2:21, 4:17, Jeremiah 18:7 - 10, Matthew 28:18).  He will eventually bring all nations to their knees in judgment (Revelation 18 and 19).  Until that day crashes down on us, nations will rise and nations will fall at the hand of God.  Is the fall of the West inevitable, or even imminent?  How many godly revivals will we let slip through our Christian fingers before the fate of Assyria becomes the fate of the West?  I certainly don't know the answer to those questions, but this I know.  Much of western Christianity, like its surrounding culture, is in a state of conflict, not knowing its right from its left.  


Less than fifty years after Nineveh's repentance, and one hundred and ten years before its fall, it overthrew Israel in 722 BC as an act of divine judgment.  In part, Israel's demise was due to its preoccupation with its pagan surroundings.  This is a warning to us.  If I were you, I'd plant my feet firmly in the Kingdom of God.  I would not be so preoccupied with the godless nation in which you live that you neglect the affairs of God's kingdom.  Rather, give yourself whole-heartedly to the Kingdom of God, because, when it's all said and done, it will be the only kingdom left standing on this planet.


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