PROPHETS TO THE GENTILES –
Did you realize that there are at least three prophets in the Old Testament that were called specifically to prophesy regarding the Gentiles? Obviously, most of the Bible deals with history – both past and future – through the “lens” of Israel. But these three short books focus on Gentile history and each has a specific application to you and me today.
The Biggest Miracle
Perhaps one of the biggest miracles in the Old Testament is found in the book of Jonah. I know what you’re thinking, but the miracle I am talking about doesn’t involve a whale.
God called Jonah to minister to Nineveh, which had served as the capital of the world for several centuries. Nineveh was the bitter enemy of Israel, so instead of obeying God, Jonah boarded a ship bound for Tarshish. However God had other plans and after a series of extraordinary events Jonah finally reached the great city.
When Jonah arrived in Nineveh he didn’t present a polished, “seeker friendly” sermon. God had declared that they were 40 days from being destroyed. Jonah went through town proclaiming, “40 days and you get yours!” He was hoping they would get wiped out. In fact, his biggest fear was that God might spare them (in fact he went up on a hill and pouted when God did spare them).
It is interesting that Jonah didn’t preach repentance. He simply announced their impending doom. It is astonishing to realize that within those 40 days, the king speculated that, just maybe, if they repented God might change His mind. They did, and God did. From the king on down, they put on sackcloth, the traditional ritual for repentance, and cried out to God (they even put sackcloth on the cattle). The repentance of Nineveh is astonishing when you think about it, perhaps one of the greatest miracles in the Old Testament.
When Nations Die
The book of Nahum comes some one hundred years after the prophecy of Jonah. This book tells the conclusion of the saga of Nineveh, which God spared from destruction for an entire century.
Nations and empires actually do have “life cycles.” This has been studied by many historians throughout the years and they all have come to about the same conclusion: a lifetime of about two centuries. And they all seem to go through the same life cycle: “from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependency; from dependence back again into bondage (Alexander Tyler, 1750).”
Where are we in this cycle? We, too, have gone from bondage to spiritual faith; from faith to great courage which established our precious liberty, which, in turn, has given us unprecedented abundance that has made us the envy of the world. That abundance, however, has led to complacency and apathy. (If you ask the average person, What is the biggest problem in America? Is it ignorance or is it apathy? They will probably respond, “I don’t know; and I don’t care!”)
This apathy will ultimately lead to dependency and then return us to the very bondage that this nation was founded to deliver us from. Robert Bork was right when he said that, “The only hope for America is a grass roots revival.” Is America ripe for judgment? Billy Graham quipped many years ago, “If God doesn’t judge America He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!” Thomas Jefferson summed it up well: “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; and that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
The enemies of Israel are in the front pages of every newspaper and newscast. It may surprise you to learn that they are also summarized – and prophesied over – in the shortest book of the Old Testament: the book of Obadiah.
Although specifically directed against Edom, the scope of this little book may surprise you. In fact, our review of this book covers far more than simply some ancient tribal animosities:
• What is the prophetic role of Ammon, Moab, and Edom (now known as Jordan)?
• Why do they escape the rule of the Antichrist?!
• What is the purpose of the Great Tribulation?
• Where does Jesus return? On the Mount of Olives? Or in Bozrah?
To learn more about these fascinating books, click on the link below.
• Jonah, Nahum & Obadiah – MP3 Download – Koinonia House
• Jonah, Nahum & Obadiah – CD-ROM Commentary – Koinonia House
– From Koinonia House News Letter