“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – Vol. 28, NO. 27&28 – CAN A NINEVITE GO TO HEAVEN?
The book of Jonah may be the most significant book in the Old Testament, as well as in scripture. It’s a wonder it made it into Old Testament canon. It would seem the appeal was so great that to not include it would have been a denial of God-breathed truth.
As a child listening to the story of Jonah, I had no knowledge that Ninevah was in Arab country. I also found that the folks in that area, especially in Nineveh, were rather barbaric. They beat the stuffings out of Israel about any time they wanted. So we can understand why Jonah would not want anything good for Nineveh. I’ll leave it up to the honest reader to make modern day comparisons.
I realize there is no strong doctrine of an afterlife in the Old Testament. Notice I said “strong.” So my concern is more about justification. Can a Ninevite (and anybody else) be justified (saved) by God? If so, how? How were the Ninevites “saved”? After Jonah’s delightful message of “Forty days from now, Nineveh will be destroyed” reached the king’s ears, the king put on sackcloth, sat in the dirt and made this proclamation: “Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything: do not let them eat or drink. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.” (NIV) They did and it worked, even if Jonah didn’t want it to.
That’s it?! That’s all?! What about the Sabbath? God rested on the seventh day and it seems all humankind was to do the same, so what about the Ninevites? Did they have to keep the Sabbath? Was the Sabbath just a Hebrew thing? What about all the other things in the Law of Moses which had to be done or avoided to please God? If there were things which were universally abominations to God, wouldn’t anyone who violated them commit abomination? Did the Ninevites have to observe the food laws? Not according to Jonah. It says, “When God saw that the people had stopped doing evil things, he had pity on them and did not destroy them.”
Jonah’s response is, “You are a kind and merciful God, and you are very patient. You always show love, and you don’t like to punish anyone, not even foreigners.” Who was a foreigner? Anyone who was not an Israelite, or convert.
What did the Ninevites get? Covenant? Reprieve? Relationship? Reprieve, yes, as long as they stopped doing evil. Was that a covenant? “I will not destroy you as long as you do good.” What about relationship? “You are a kind and merciful God, you always show love.” Did that mean they went to heaven if they continued to avoid evil? Or just safety from being destroyed? Take your pick. What “evil” were they guilty of, or was it the ‘general’ evil of humanity?
Question: Does what worked for the Ninevites still work for anyone, regardless who they are? If not, why not?
What about Amos 9:7? “Are not you Israelites the same to me as the Cushites?” declares the Lord. Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?”Did these people of other “exoduses” keep Hebrew law? If not, what law were they judged by?
The prophets were the first reformers of Hebrew theology. They were the ones who saw God as did Jonah. Hosea attacks the sacrificial system, the foundation of Israel’s obedience to God, and says for God, “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” (6:6)
Reading the prophets it is clear that God is seen as judging all people for their evil ways, and not just the Hebrews. When that judgement took place it had nothing to do with a failure to keep Hebrew laws such as the Sabbath, or laws of purity. It had to do with a lack of knowing who God was, and therefore giving themselves to idolatry and the results of the evil practices of that belief
Paul, in Romans 2, says “When Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law , they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.“
Those natural things were not the law of Moses, they were what the Ninevites knew to do to be what God wanted them and all of us to be. That’s what saves us.
CONCERNS: Teresa Robertson has asked our prayers for her aunt, Patricia Hall, and another aunt, Reva Almond. Melisha Scruggs asks prayers for her cousin. Jim White’s mother, Carol Jones. Teryn Gaynor’s mother has finished her cancer treatments. Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjorie Wilson, (cancer) Melanie Gentry is recovering from a stroke. Joni Beach’s parents both have health issues. Also her aunt, Pat Voss, and a niece, Jamie Cole. Jim Hunter had a good report last week. He’s getting stronger each day. Wayne Phlegar, David Albert, Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas, Ray and Darnell Barns, and Gil Richardson. Deana McRoy, Jim and Mary Smith, Jenni Cullum and Tim Elder.
OUR DAILY BREAD: AUGUST 8-13
Monday: Daniel 5:17-28
Tuesday: Matthew 13:44-52
Wednesday: I Samuel 17:41-54
Thursday: Psalm 70:1-5
Friday: Matthew 7:13-29
Saturday: Psalm 1:1-15
OUR DAILY BREAD: AUGUST 15-20
Monday: John 4:27-42
Tuesday: Ecclesiastes 11:1-10
Wednesday: Psalm 86:1-17
Thursday: Genesis 3:8-21
Friday: II Timothy 3:1-17
OUR WOMAN IN GUATEMALA
If we ever had an ambassador to Guatemala, it would be Susan Jordan. Working a week each year at the Ezell Clinic has become her passion. So passionate is she about this medical mission work, that this year her sister and two teacher friends went with her, at their own expense!
Pray for their safety and that these new workers will catch the fire of service that everyone who has gone has experienced. We look forward to hearing from them when they return.
THE MEDIA PROGRESS
Everything is installed to enable the display of the words and music from our hymnals. The PowerPoint songs should be here by next Sunday. In a test run, after James Downing installed the equipment, the display was clear and readable from all parts of the room. (Thanks James)
As we learn more about what we can do, our hope is to display the announcements before the service starts (hard copies of the order of worship will still be available) and the call to worship. Also, the sermon text can be displayed to make it easier to follow as it is read. The system is wireless and can be operated from a laptop or some ipads. In some cases the song leader may decide to control the display, in other cases there will be a media person(s) taking care of that
THE ANNUAL BAR B QUE
Saturday, September 3rd is that date for this year’s Bar B Que. A sign-up sheet will be on the table in the foyer. It is important to let it be known if there is enough who will be in town, or are interested in doing it. Please let your feelings be known as soon as possible.
T. J. And Judy Hall are now looking at a home in Clemmons NC, not Mocksville as stated before. Pray for them as they make this move. More details about the time will come later.
The Bolins are on a family vacation to England before the boys go back to school. With the unrest in Europe, keep them in your prayers. Among others, the Foys are on vacation at Niagra Falls and the Gaynors in Gatlinburg.