Lessons From Nineveh

From the February 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

Of all the Bible’s prophets, perhaps Jonah is the most famous—the man who was called to deliver a message and ran from that duty, only to be swallowed by a great fish, then spat back out three days later.

Some may know details beyond that point, but many do not. Jonah fulfilled his commission: to warn the greatest city within the most powerful nation in the world at that time that its sins were so great, it would be destroyed. Once Jonah delivered that warning, then came one of the most amazing and unique events in the entire Bible. That great city repented.

As we mark the 13th anniversary of the Trumpet with this issue, a study of the story about Jonah and Nineveh will explain a lot about this publication’s purpose.

God originally told Jonah, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me” (Jon. 1:2). When Jonah finally went to preach his warning, he said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jon. 3:4). We call this magazine the Trumpet because we want it to blast a warning, like Jonah’s, about the calamities soon to overtake this world because of its sins—calamities like those that would have hit Nineveh, but much worse.

The Bible prophesies of a “great tribulation” that will be a time of great worldwide suffering—a time like no other before or after it (Matt. 24:21-22). We believe that, like Jonah, we can’t avoid delivering this message, or we will be held accountable for that suffering. God says in Ezekiel 33:7-8, “… I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. … [I]f thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.” That is a fate worse than three days and nights in the belly of a giant fish—God will require our blood!

But the other lesson from Jonah’s story is that there is hope for all the nations being warned now through this message. Carnal people who didn’t even know the true God realized Jonah’s message came from God! They “believed God” (v. 5). Anyone can prove when a message is from God. When Nineveh repented, God “repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not” (v. 10). This great Gentile city, which had wickedness so rank that it even caught God’s attention, was spared destruction.

The Great Tribulation that we so often speak about could be avoided if the nations of this world would repent! The Day of the Lord—the time of God’s wrath on the Gentile nations—could be avoided too if the Gentiles heeded our message! That is why Nineveh was “that great city” (v. 2), or as the Hebrew reads, “a city great to God”: It was a shining example of what can happen to evil nations that repent. This should be an encouragement to the nations today. And it will be an example for nations in the World Tomorrow—after Christ returns to restore order and peace to the Earth—to see what could have been.

God promises in His Word, specifically by this example of Nineveh’s repentance, that He will save us physically from what is prophesied to occur if we repent—whether globally, nationally, as a community or family, or just as an individual.

Notice Jonah 3:5-6: “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.” The repentance began with the leadership and extended over the whole city. If our leaders would repent today and turn their nations around, all the suffering we speak of so commonly in this magazine would be stopped!

Even if all the nations do not repent, we can repent individually. But notice the kind of repentance it took: “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way …” (v. 10). God didn’t see merely their fasting or their weeping; He didn’t see only that they were sorry for what they did; He saw that they changed their lifestyle—they turned from doing evil.

This is what motivates us at the Trumpet. The fact that one person—maybe you—or a family, a city, even a nation could repent and turn to God! That is why we persist in this warning. We don’t want to write off these nations and fail to deliver God’s urgent message to them, or we will suffer a worse fate than Jonah! We want as many people as possible to turn from their sins and be spared the coming devastation, described in the Bible as the worst time of suffering on this Earth.

Those truly repentant will be spared this suffering, and they will join the ranks of God’s loyal end-time remnant—those who support this magazine. Because God has given us this message, we have a warning to deliver—and we must deliver it! The story of Nineveh gives us hope that some will repent and escape destruction.

For more information on these subjects, request our booklets Jonah—A Strong Warning to God’s Church and Repentance Toward God. All our literature is free and requires no obligation.