Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Runaway Fish Prophet, Part 7

What was he hearing?

He was king after all, couldn't he fix this? Change the outcome? Turn it around? His word should be law. But according to this man named Jonah, it was out of his hands.

The doors to the chamber had slammed open, reverberating loudly throughout the court. Immediately, everybody stopped, and all eyes were on the party entering. Two of his guards escorted a man about whom he had heard wild rumors for the last day or so. The man looked rough around the edges. He had bright red sores on his face, and judging from the stains, his tunic and robe had seen better days.
The man told him of the God whom he served. He said his God had seen the wickedness of his kingdom, and had condemned them all. In forty days, they would be overthrown. 

Now they were waiting for his decision.

He stood up slowly, and cleared his throat. "By the decree of the king and his nobles," his voice sounded horse. "Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything." Some of the guards expressions changed to shock, while others in the court nodded their agreement. "Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows?" He met Jonah's stony expression with his regretful one. "God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish." 

He may be king, but he was not God. He had failed. He had done wrong. He and his kingdom had run around acting as if their grotesque lifestyles held no consequences. How wrong he had been!
If bold action wasn't taken, he and all the kingdom would pay for it very soon. 

Walking through the chamber, he tore his robe in front of everyone. Gasps filled his ears. He walked to the roaring fire, and scooping some ash out, he sat down. "Get me some sackcloth. Everyone. Do the same."

Based on Jonah 3:6-10

I like this king's response to the forthcoming doom of his kingdom. It's not one of conceit. It's not arrogance. He doesn't go, "Heh, yeah right. Off with this lunatic's head!" He didn't try to blame it on the people and say he couldn't control their sins.

Instead he took responsibility for his and his people's sin. He did the only thing he could do in that situation, and he used his authority to issue a kingdom-wide fast and time of repentance. 

Look at so many other kings or leader types in the Bible. King Saul couldn't humble himself before God, and ended up losing the kingdom for it. King David tired to cover up a murder, affair, and illegitimate child. The apostle Paul was on a Christian murder rampage as Saul. The Pharisees were prime players in the capture and murder of Jesus. King Uzziah was struck with leprosy because of his haughty attitude towards things that are sacred. Lucifer, once a mighty archangel in the presence of God, became Satan due to his desire to gain God's power. The prideful response runs deep, but humbleness, the ability to say, "Yeah, I've screwed up," is a learned habit. Some of these guys learned to humble themselves, and admit when they were wrong. Some of them didn't, and they suffered the consequences. (Yeah, Satan. I'm talking about you.)

"Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself with be exalted."
Matthew 23:12

That's exactly what God did for the king of Nineveh. He saw the heart of the king and his people, and how they had humbled themselves. He spared them because of their repentance. Imagine if more fathers did this for their families. More pastors. More principles. More presidents. More people. We need to do this.    

A leader needs to know how to be humble before God. A leader needs to know when to repent. A leader needs to take responsibility. Leaders, take a minute to learn from the king of Nineveh. This guy got it right.

V. Joy Palmer

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