An Ancient City and God’s Judgment

I recently reread the book of Jonah in the Old Testament. You know, the story of the prophet of old who was in rebellion to the call of God on his life. And, in the process of running from God is thrown overboard and swallowed by a great fish. Now, don’t get caught up in the nonsense of arguing big fish – little fish. I have worked in several countries and actually seen fish (not whales) that are big enough to swallow a person. I recently wrote a blog in this regard (see:        “Swallowed By a Huge Fish” – blog for February 24, 2022).

Let’s look at the history of the City of Nineveh, the then capital of the Assyrian Empire to which Jonah had been sent to prophesy its doom if it did not repent.

Archaeology has shown that ancient Nineveh was indeed a ‘great’ city in terms of its size and scope. The capital of the Assyrians, it housed anywhere from 120,000 inhabitants to nearly 600,000 and was perhaps the world’s largest metropolis in Jonah’s time.

When the French archaeologist Austen Henry Layard unearthed the city of Nineveh, he found the city’s hub to be one mile in width and two and a half miles in length. Its metropolitan area, however, stretched up and down the Tigris River for more than 20 miles. The outward perimeter of the city — which included other “suburbs” – was determined to be more than 60 miles in length. The 60-mile wall around the city was estimated to be 100 feet tall. In addition to this wall, there were 1,500 towers that were 200 feet in height.

As great as the city was, however, its people – the Assyrians – were equally cruel and wicked. These idol worshippers were especially wicked toward the Israelites. All of Israel hated the Assyrians for their cruel, barbaric ways. The armies of the Assyrians often skinned their captives alive, removed tongues, gouged out eyes, and mutilated the population of entire cities by driving over people with chariots affixed with iron spikes. They also burned children alive and committed other atrocities that were designed to terrorize their adversaries and make them submit.

The Ninevites may have been guilty of much cruelty and injustice even among their own people. That their king decreed they should “turn from [their] evil way and from the violence” when they heard the prophetic message may refer to repenting from violent crimes within Nineveh. It is recorded in Jonah 3:8. “Every person and animal must put on sackcloth and must cry earnestly to God, and everyone must turn from their evil way of living and from the violence that they do” (NET).

I was thinking of how this large city repented in response to the prophetic message brought to them by one man who was from a nation that they hated and almost destroyed. A message from the God that they did not believe in and did not recognize or worship as God. It was a powerful time of God’s grace and mercy moving upon non-believers and calling them to repent and turn to Him. 

My point: We could use prophetic voices like this today in both the Church and to the nations. Too often the prophetic voices today speak only what we want to hear and not what we need to hear. Too often the teachers of the Word today are teaching pleasantries and things that we want to hear. The Bible calls this “teachers who tickle our ears.”  It seems that the message of the radical and revolutionary Gospel of the Kingdom has been muted and is seldom heard any more. 

An example: We are currently witnessing a war started by Russia and destroying an innocent nation of Ukraine and her people. Where are the prophetic voices speaking for God? Where are the prophets who should and could bring a word to the Russian leaders (and nation) regarding the need to repent and turn back to Him? In the same light, where are the prophetic voices to the Ukrainian people bringing comfort and hope in a very difficult time? The Church seems to be silent. Even in my nation I don’t hear prophetic voices – or even the voice of Christian leaders – speaking against what is now taking place or giving a God-point of view in the midst of very trying times. As a number of young men I mentor who live in the regions of the war have noted – the Church is saying nothing, maintaining the false separation between religion and politics. They are not impressed. Neither am I.

It is time for a new generation of prophets like Jonah to rise up and bring the Word of the Lord to current situations in many troubled areas of the world. 

Prophetic Words and Visions

I had a person send me a verse that had really spoken to them during their time with the Lord. It was Proverbs 29:18a which reads, “When there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint…” (NET)

A vision was an encounter with the living God – auditory or visual – that gave God’s people direction for the coming season in the nation of Israel.

The Prophet Joel had a prophetic revelation about the last days – the Church Age that we currently are living in…

Joel 2:28-32 “After all of this I will pour out my Spirit on all kinds of people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your elderly will have revelatory dreams; your young men will see prophetic visions. Even on male and female servants I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

(Time lapse – now a future event) I will produce portents both in the sky and on the earth – blood, fire, and columns of smoke. The sunlight will be turned to darkness and the moon to the colour of blood, before the day of the LORD comes – that great and terrible day! It will so happen that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be delivered. (NET)

Peter, in the first sermon of the Christian Church, quoted Joel in relation to what they had just experienced – the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the release of the gift of tongues. However, he altered it slightly adding an extra reference to “prophecy” as the early Church was birthed to be a prophetic voice to the nations … not a pastoral church simply caring for the sheep.

Acts 2:16-21 “But this is what was spoken about through the prophet Joel: ʻAnd in the last days it will be,ʼ God says, ʻthat I will pour out my Spirit on all people, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. And I will perform wonders in the sky above and miraculous signs on the earth below, blood and fire and clouds of smoke. The sun will be changed to darkness

and the moon to blood before the great and glorious day of the Lord comes. And then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.ʼ” (NET)

In the Proverbs verse, the standard understanding of this half verse is that it refers to exhortation to the community (Psalm 74:9). It is a Word of the Lord received through a vision of what the Lord is wanting His people to know and do. The verse goes on to say that without this prophetic direction – without the guidance of divine revelation, people abandon themselves to their own sinful ways. Of course, this happened frequently in Israel (Exodus 32:25; Leviticus 13:45; Numbers 5:18).

Israel had seasons when the prophetic revelations were not guiding and directing them either because they were disobeying what the Lord had spoken or, as these verses indication, it seems that God was apparently simply not bringing fresh revelation to his people. 

1 Samuel 3:1 says, “Now the boy Samuel continued serving the LORD under Eliʼs supervision. Word from the LORD was rare in those days; revelatory visions were infrequent.” 

This time of the Judges in Israel was a period of extremely limited prophetic activity. The few visions that God did give were not widely known. 

Amos the prophet also spoke of this … “Be certain of this, the time is coming,” says the sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine through the land – not a shortage of food or water

but an end to divine revelation! People will stagger from sea to sea, and from the north around to the east. They will wander about looking for a revelation from the LORD, but they will not find any.”

Today we seem to be receiving an avalanche of prophetic words. Day after day I receive messages from believers here in North America with links to new prophetic revelations that the Church is receiving. Just go on the internet and type in “prophetic words” and you will be good for a week or two of 10 hours a day reading and sifting through various people’s prophetic visions and words which they claim the Lord has given to them. 

I have several thoughts about this phenomenon.

1> It is amazing that the Lord is speaking so often and in such detail to and through the North American Church and yet seems to be fairly silent to the Church in so many other nations. Yet, the church in these other nations are more spiritual alive and alert than most here. And, definitely more actively engaged in the Great Commission.  (Note that Joel and Acts talks about people being saved as a result of the prophetic). 

2> Maybe a lot of these words being received are not from the Lord and thus a distraction from what the Church in North America should actually be doing. You know, what He has already spoken as recorded in the Bible – “seeking and saving the lost” (Luke 19:10).

3> It seems to me that there is little discernment being applied to the words being received. No judging the word according to God’s Word, the Bible, and the season that the Kingdom is in. It seems to me that if someone says “The Lord told me…” people automatically believe the word. Scripture tells us we are to test the words and check the source (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21).

4> Seldom do we hear a prophetic word that states the need to “repent and turn back to the Lord” and yet this is just the message that the Church and the people in North America need to hear. And, may I mention, that it is one of the basic messages of the prophets both in the Old and the New Testament including a now Word from the Lord Himself (Mark 1:14-15).

5> I have been following the Lord and prophesying for over 45 years and have been following the declared words of other ministries. The problem is I seldom see any of them bear fruit or come to pass. They often earn a good living for the ministry publishing the words but apparently there is little fruit for the church or the people to whom we are sent.

6> Often times I believe we are simply speaking to ourselves the things we want to hear. When actually the true prophetic word comes from the Lord through the Church and is for the society at large to hear. 

7> The Church is not growing or becoming stronger as a result of its preoccupation with all these prophetic words. In North America statistics show that we are growing smaller and smaller and are no longer influencing or impacting the culture and society that we live in.

8> Many of the prophetic words are so out of it that they are causing the church to be seen as out of touch, irrelevant, and of no value in the life of the community. In fact, at times, idiotic. 

Just some thoughts about the multitude of prophetic words floating around and occupying so much of the believers time.

Don’t get me wrong, I deeply believe in the true prophetic. But, I don’t see much of it active today in today’s church.