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The Heart of God in the Heart of the Sea

Devotion Four

April 4, 2024

Call Out against that Great City

Daniel Barta

Although the author does not disclose the detailed contents of the message given to Jonah for Nineveh, one feature is clear. The message accused Nineveh of transgression and sin.

When God sent Jonah to "call out against" Nineveh (1:2, 3:2), he sent him to confront their sins. To call out against them meant to expose their sin and rebellion and to announce God's accusations against them. This confrontation with sin and transgression by the message and the messenger stands as a constant feature of the prophets’ role.

Isaiah 58:1 ESV “Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins.

The evil and sinful works of Nineveh "[went] up before [the LORD]," and He sent Jonah to reveal their guilt to them.

God Mercifully Confronts Man’s Sin

God, pitying the plight of the Ninevites, graciously acted to point out their error. He sent a messenger to put their sins in front of them.

God did not expose their sin to humiliate them but to rescue them. He did not uncover their guilt in an attempt to bring them harm and ruin. Instead, He drew near with His Word so that they might know their true condition, their pitiful state, and their desperate position.

Like a caring and concerned doctor who confronts a patient with a difficult diagnosis, so God sits down with man, and with tears in his eyes and compassion in his heart says to sinners, "You are guilty. Your sin is abundant. You have transgressed me here, here, and here. You are not  ‘O.K.’ You are not good. You are dead and condemned. Here is the evidence."

Bring Sin to Light and Expose the Works of Darkness

If the church looks on the world with the same compassion in their hearts that Jesus experienced in His when seeing Nineveh, she will not fail to expose sin. Bringing the word of God to people requires a true and honest diagnosis of their most pressing issue - they have sinned against the holy God. The church cannot at the same time pursue the salvation of the world and affirm the world in their sin.

Ephesians 5:11 ESV | Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

Showing mercy and pointing out transgressions against God are not mutually exclusive. The church does not choose between showing mercy and exposing guilt. Rather,Christians in the pattern set by Christ show mercy by uncovering sin to sinners. They work in love to show the world their guilt in hopes that through the evidence presented the world will know a godly grieving over their sinful condition and in faith turn to God for the remedy.

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