First impressions are lasting impressions. I shall never forget my first visit to Nineveh in the northern part of Iraq. We travelled there in a very old bus.
The very first thoughts that came to me when I looked at the excavated city walls, was about Jonah. I was on the exact same spot where Jonah walked.
I had the privilege of taking my daughter Laurettatjie along. While there I reminded her of what Jesus said about this ancient Hebrew prophet:
Matthew 12:39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah: For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and, behold, a greater than Jonah is here.
There was a time when the critics questioned the authenticity of the Bible as far as Nineveh was concerned. Nobody could tell where this ancient capital of the Assyrians was.
And then came the spade of the archaeologist and Nineveh was unearthed. For more than 2000 years the Mesopotamian sands preserved the ruins of this once mighty city.
I had the privilege of visiting the ruins of the places where great Assyrian kings like Sennecherib ruled. I was more than excited when I visited tell Kuyunjik where Esarhaddon’s palace had been excavated. Here you are looking at one of the seven bulls with human heads that were discovered at this site.
Whenever I visit the Louvre in Paris or the British Museum in London, I visit the Assyrian halls and thank the Lord for the accuracy of the Bible. It is the only safe source that you can trust with all your heart.
Many of the names of Assyrian kings that are mentioned in the Bible, could be read on inscriptions from Nineveh, Korsabad, Nimrud and Assur.
When the Lord told Jonah to go and evangelize in Nineveh he took a boat to Tarshish. Why? This relief of the cruelty of the Assyrians explains his hesitancy.
And by the way – who likes cruel people? We like people who are kind to us and we have a tendency to retaliate.
There are many things that I like about God. One of them is the fact that He cares about cruel people. In the time of Jonah, the Assyrians were the cruellest of the cruel.
It took my quite a long time to eventually locate the town where Jonah lived. 2 Kings 14:25 give us the following information:
Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher.
Perseverance is the master of defeat. The new name of the site is called Meshed not far from Nazareth.
A mosque is built over the traditional tomb of Jonah. What was so special about this prophet? Why did Jesus mentioned him? Both of them grew up in the same area.
Walking amongst the ruins of ancient Nineveh the following decree of the Assyrian king came to my mind:
Jonah 3:8-9 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. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
During our next presentation we will check on the archaeological details of this statement. You are going to hear amazing facts. And by the way. Jonah is a type of Christ and worthy of our study.