TEEN TREE OF LIFE

God’s Goodness  –  Part 3

April 18, 2021

 

Before you begin, ask yourself a very important question: Do you believe that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins? If you answered yes, you will need to be sure that you are filled with The Holy Spirit. How do you do this? You name your sins to God The Father in His Son’s Name. This is called Rebound. As a Christian, you must rebound any time you sin. This is taught in 1 JOH 1:9: If we confess [name] our sins [directly to God], He [God] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins andto cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Now, if you have never believed that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins, all you have to do is say to yourself that you believe in Him and you are saved! The Bible verse which teaches us this is ACTS 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

 

Have you been wondering about the different Bible translations referenced throughout the Teen Trees? If you have, you should check out a very cool website named biblegateway.com. On this website, you can look at a bunch of different translations of the original text of God’s Word. The electronic bibles are easy to search so they may help you in your bible study. If you prefer the actual hard copy, use that one. It is up to you!

 

Last week we ended with an outstanding example of God’s Goodness: Then God spoke to the fish, and it vomited up Jonah on the seashore. (JON 2:10 The Message Bible) It’s kind of a strange statement, if you haven’t read what happened right before it! (So be sure to read last week’s Teen Tree if you haven’t already.)

 

Now go to your Bible to the end of JONAH 2 to the beginning of JONAH 3. Do you see the section heading? In The Message Bible translation, right after Jonah is vomited up onshore, the section heading reads: Maybe God Will Change His Mind. If you look at The New American Standard Bible, the section heading reads: Nineveh Repents. In the New International Reader’s Version, it reads: Jonah Goes to Nineveh. In looking at all three, the most fascinating one is The Message Bible, isn’t it? If you didn’t know about Jonah and the Ninevites, you might be glued to your Bible (or the website!), wondering if God did, indeed, change His Mind!

 

Well, here’s what happened next in The Message Bible translation:

…God spoke to Jonah a second time: “Up on your feet and on your way to the big city of Nineveh! Preach to them. They’re in a bad way and I can’t ignore it any longer.”

This time Jonah started off straight for Nineveh, obeying God’s orders to the letter.

Nineveh was a big city, very big—it took three days to walk across it.

Jonah entered the city, went one day’s walk and preached, “In forty days Nineveh will be smashed.”

The people of Nineveh listened, and trusted God. They proclaimed a citywide fast and dressed in burlap to show their repentance. Everyone did it—rich and poor, famous and obscure, leaders and followers.

When the message reached the king of Nineveh, he got up off his throne, threw down his royal robes, dressed in burlap, and sat down in the dirt. Then he issued a public proclamation throughout Nineveh, authorized by him and his leaders: “Not one drop of water, not one bite of food for man, woman, or animal, including your herds and flocks! Dress them all, both people and animals, in burlap, and send up a cry for help to God. Everyone must turn around, turn back from an evil life and the violent ways that stain their hands. Who knows? Maybe God will turn around and change his mind about us, quit being angry with us and let us live!”

God saw what they had done, that they had turned away from their evil lives. He did change his mind about them. What he said he would do to them he didn’t do. (JON 3:1-10 The Message Bible)

 

How’s that for a happy ending? God did indeed change His Mind about the people from Nineveh. What do you think about His Goodness now? But hold on! Not so fast!! Not so fast!! The story doesn’t end there. Read further and you’ll probably agree that Jonah’s reaction to the Goodness God showed the Ninevites is a mind-blower! Why?? Because Jonah got mad at God!! Can you believe that?? Look at JON 4:1-3 (The Message Bible): Jonah was furious. He lost his temper. He yelled at God, “God! I knew it—when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen! That’s why I ran off to Tarshish! I knew you were sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness! “So, God, if you won’t kill them, kill me! I’m better off dead!” Mind-blowing, right?? He yelled at God!!!!

 

Obviously, Jonah had a strong relationship with God – as we all should. He proved he knew God when he told Him He was “sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love” in JONAH 4 (above). So what was his problem? Why should God only show goodness to Jonah and not to all people???? Seems like might Jonah think he’s better than the Ninevites. He displayed extreme arrogance in questioning God. But remember what we learned at the start of this study: God is Absolutely Good and NO action or motive or thought or feeling or anything else about Him is NOT purely good.

 

So, God continued to treat Jonah with goodness. He had been the beneficiary of God’s Goodness throughout his life. Didn’t he find himself in the belly of that huge fish for three days and nights? And out of His Goodness, God spared him. But now, Jonah wants God NOT to spare the Ninevites. But God continued to show kindness to the prophet. One of the coolest things about everything that happened between Jonah and God is that God kept showing him how GOOD He is, despite Jonah’s bad behavior. This reflects God’s All-Forgiving Nature, as well.

 

It’s important to note that Jonah lived in the 9th and 8th centuries BC. Based on that historical fact, we know that the people of Nineveh were back in God’s Plan at that point in time. The Book of Jonah ends with a question that God posed to Jonah: … shouldn’t I show concern for the great city of Nineveh? It has more than 120,000 people. They can’t tell right from wrong. Nineveh also has a lot of animals.” (JON 4:11 New International Reader’s Version) Don’t you love knowing that God is so Good that He even showed Mercy and Goodness toward the Ninevites’ animals? That says so much about His Loving Nature. When you look around at what’s happening in the world today, remember how Good God is. Remember how He treated Jonah and the Ninevites. It will bring you great comfort.

 

Now, pick up your Bible and look at the list of Old Testament Books. Do you see Jonah, followed by Micah and then Nahum? As we learned last week, these men are minor prophets. Now we’re going to learn even more about the history of the Ninevites by studying The Book of Nahum. It’s a very short book and is actually a collection of poems which announce the end of the Assyrian Empire. As we learned, Nineveh was Assyria’s capital city. It was eventually destroyed by the Babylonians in 7th BC.

 

The Book of Nahum has been described as “an Israelite taunt-song over Nineveh’s destruction by the Babylonians.” Think about that description for a moment – it is a fascinating statement!

 

Little is known about the prophet Nahum except that his name means “comforter” and boy did the residents of Nineveh need comfort! For Nahum, Nineveh was a city of bloodshed and was a center of crime and wickedness. Look at what he wrote about Nineveh in NAHUM 3:1-4 (The Message Bible): Doom to Murder City—full of lies, bursting with loot, addicted to violence! Horns blaring, wheels clattering, horses rearing, chariots lurching, Horsemen galloping, brandishing swords and spears, Dead bodies rotting in the street, corpses stacked like cordwood, Bodies in every gutter and alley, clogging every intersection!

{to be continued}

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