Prophets to the Gentiles
Jonah, Nahum, & Obadiah:
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 there are three short books that focus on Gentile history, and each has specific application to you and me today.
Two of them were from Galilee! (The guys in John 7:52 hadn’t done their homework...)
They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.
Both Jonah and Nahum came from the Galilee area: in fact, Capernaum (Caper Nahum) means the “Village of Nahum.”
The Biggest Miracle
Perhaps one of the biggest miracles in the Old Testament is in the Book of Jonah. And it wasn’t the big fish story! God called Jonah to minister to Nineveh, which had served as the capital of the world for several centuries. It was the enemy of Israel, and Jonah was not attracted to the assignment until God explained it to him a bit more clearly!
And when he finally did go there, 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, “Forty days and you get yours!”
He was hoping they would get wiped out. In fact, his biggest fear was that God might spare them (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 sack-cloth (the traditional ritual for repentance). They even put sackcloth on the cattle!
The repentance of Nineveh is astonishing when you think about it. Forty days from “ground zero.” And they were given another century…
When Nations Die
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 bond-age to spiritual faith; from faith to great courage, which established our precious liberty and 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 re-turn us to the very bondage that this nation was founded to deliver us from. Robert Bork was right:
The only hope for America is a grass roots revival.
Slouching Toward Gomorrah
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.
Thomas Jefferson, 1781
The story of Nineveh in The Book of Jonah is the only case I am aware of in which this typical cycle was broken! They were given an additional century! Until another prophet from Galilee had to announce their fall. The Book of Nahum was, literally, their final chapter.
The enemies of Israel are in the front pages of every news-paper and newscast. It may surprise you to learn that they are also summarized—and prophesied over—in the shortest book of the Bible: The Book of Obadiah.
There are more Bible passages pronouncing judgment on the Edomites than on any other nation. But who are they? What relevance do they have for us today? As diligent students of the Word of God, it is essential for us to understand who they are and what eschatological implications they may have on our present geopolitical horizon.
This book also provides insights into the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and why some countries will apparently escape the rule of the Antichrist.
We have just completed an expositional review of these three little books and invite you to join us in this surprising endeavor! Our newest commentary release is now available on DVD, audioCD, MP3 CD-ROM and download.