Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Nineveh That Great City

"The Dying Lion" A stone panel from the North Palace of Ashurbanipal, Nineveh 645 BC

The Iraq War has made household names of cities in the fertile crescent. The ruins ancient Nineveh is near the modern city of Mosul. Nineveh plays a large role in the Book of Jonah. She is "that great city" whose sin has "come up" to God like a bad smell. Since the livestock windup in the fast someone has called Nineveh the town that was so bad even the cows needed to repent.

The Assyrians were skilled at the use of terror as a tool of government. They also displaced peoples from their lands swapping with them with people from other places. This kept things off balance and made control easier. They were famous for their inventive creative cruelty. It is not difficult to understand why Jonah left town on the next ship when the word came. He had a sinking feeling that God might forgive the monsters at Mosul. And God did when the monsters repented. Jonah's worst fears were realized.

We must guard against succumbing to the temptation of trying to use God as a weapon.

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