The national archives of Israel have preserved a book from that very time – a book about a preacher named Jonah. Yes, Jonah of the Big Fish. Almighty God instructed Jonah – a minor prophet from Galilee in northern Israel – to go to Nineveh, the great Assyrian capital city, and to tell them that in three days their city, built upon the suffering of others, would be destroyed.
Jonah was none too happy to confront those barbarians.
Nineveh is today named Mosul. Mosul - Nineveh - since June last year - has been the headquarters of IS – the so-called Islamic State.
What did Nineveh do when Jonah gave them the three-day destruction message around 700 BC? From the Assyrian Emperor downwards they all repented, they did a 180 degree U-turn – they all changed their mindsets.
What can be done about barbarism today? Is there a present day Jonah with God’s message? Are tens of thousands of police officers with AK 47s all we have at our disposal?
From Matthew’s first-century biography of Jesus (see bold above), we know that Jesus referred to Nineveh and to Jonah. “The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation. By this generation Jesus meant with the people living in peaceful Galilee in Jesus’ day. The people of Nineveh will rise upwards at the judgment compared with people today, Jesus said, because they changed their minds when they heard Jonah and a greater than Jonah is here.
If you were radicalised, would a stream of AK 47 bullets make you change your mind – assuming they all missed you? What would? A preacher?
Matthew records that the folk to whom Jesus was speaking about Nineveh and Jonah (see bold above) asked for a sign – a miracle to help them to change.
His answer was very clear. Only one sign would be given to them: Jonah. Jesus added, “Just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” – in the grave.