Message From Achen - Nineveh Lent

 

nenevehlentMy dear loving brothers and sisters in Christ,

Our church is preparing to observe the lent of Nineveh from January 17 to 20th. This lent is known as the lent of repentance, humility and the return to God. That is why many of the young and old in the church hold fast to this specific lent and abstain totally from food and drink for long periods of time, some even abstain for three continuous days.

The primary message of the book is clearly that God's interest and mercy extend far beyond the Jews to the human race. In the book of Jonah, we see how God was concerned not only for the Jews, but for the Gentiles too.

 

 

 

Even though the book of Jonah is only four chapters, it is considered as one of the special books of the Bible since it combines the prophetic element with the historical element. When we examine this book, we find many deep spiritual meanings.

WHO IS JONAH ?

The name Jonah or Jonas is derived from the Syriac and Hebrew dialect version of the Hebrew name Jonah meaning "dove". Jonah, the prophet,  son of Amittai, from the tribe of Zebulon (Joshua 19:10), came from the city of Gath-hepher located about 3 miles away from Nazareth. It is said that he is the son of the widow of Zerephath (1 Kings 17:17-24) who was raised from the dead. Some critics have attacked the story of Jonah as a symbolic story, but the words of the Lord Jesus indicate the literal interpretation of this book: "This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet... The men of Nineveh shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here" (Luke 11:29-32).

LESSONS FROM THE BOOK OF JONAH

1. God Wants the Individual and the Group

The title of this book refers to the people of Nineveh, but the book itself talks about God who seeks for salvation, repentance and return of His people. In doing that, God uses many methods in order to arrive at the end that He has in mind which is the salvation of the people of Nineveh, Jonah and even any strangers such as the pagan sailors on the ship.

2. God Uses Nature for the Salvation of Man

Here we see, throughout the book, the nature of God and man; man who is disobedient and rebellious and God who uses the sea, wind, waves, gourd, eastern wind and hot sun, which all work towards one goal - the goodness of mankind. It is for this reason that we see in the beginning,God preparing paradise and then creating man to be lord over it. In just the same way, God uses nature at the time of Noah and to free His chosen people from their slavery under Pharaoh. He also used animals to warn the prophet Baam, through a talking donkey (like Mr. Ed). In just the same way, we see the prophet David saying "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork" (psalm 19:1). And again "Praise ye him, sun and moon... Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens" (psalm 148:3,4).

3. The Intense Care that God Has for His Children

God cares for His children even at the time of their rebelliousness and evil. That is why we find God's promises towards his children truly marvelous. "Can a woman forget her sucking child... they may forget, yet will I not forget thee" (Isaiah 49:15). "But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered" (Luke 12:7). "For he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his (God's) eye" (Zechariah 2:8). All these promises we find fulfilled in the person of Jonah even when he was under the sin of disobedience. That is why St. Paul talks about God being faithful even when we are unfaithful. He cares for His children irrespective of their condition, appearance, or the circumstances under which they live. That is why David talks about this heavenly care as he experienced it: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want" (Psalm 23:1). David also says "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread" (Psalm 37:25). This is God and we are His children.

4. Jonah a Symbolical Representation of Jesus

Here we find many points, some of which are the following:

•    The book of Jonah is a message intended for people to understand that repentance is important. In just the same way, Jesus came carrying a message to the world: "Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand."

•    Jonah goes into the ship, and Jesus Christ goes into  the altar. Jonah is condemned to death by the sailors, and Jesus Christ is condemned to death by the high priests or the people who existed in the temple at that time.

•    Jonah is thrown in to the sea and we find him discovering the river around him. Jesus Christ came for the salvation of the whole world.

•    Jonah remains in the whale for three days and while there, he cries out and talks to God. Jesus Christ dies and goes into the tomb, remaining there three days. During those three days, He went down to Hades and takes  all those who have slept, and take them into paradise.

•    We must not forget that Jonah was part of Jesus' family tree and thus Jesus literally became the son of Jonah.

I am requesting all my family members to observe this lent with prayer and fasting.

May God bless you all.