The book of Nahum comes some one hundred years after the prophecy of Jonah. This book tells the conclusion of the saga of Nineveh, which God spared from destruction for an entire century.
Nations and empires actually do have "life cycles." This has been studied by many historians throughout the years and they all have come to about the same conclusion: a lifetime of about two centuries. And they all seem to go through the same life cycle: "from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependency; from dependence back again into bondage (Alexander Tyler, 1750)."
Where are we in this cycle? We, too, have gone from bondage to spiritual faith; from faith to great courage which established our precious liberty, which, in turn, has given us unprecedented abundance that has made us the envy of the world. That abundance, however, has led to complacency and apathy. (If you ask the average person, What is the biggest problem in America? Is it ignorance or is it apathy? They will probably respond, "I don’t know; and I don’t care!")
This apathy will ultimately lead to dependency and then return us to the very bondage that this nation was founded to deliver us from. Robert Bork was right when he said that, "The only hope for America is a grass roots revival." Is America ripe for judgment? Billy Graham quipped many years ago, "If God doesn’t judge America He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!" Thomas Jefferson summed it up well: "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; and that His justice cannot sleep forever."
However it is not hopeless….
Perhaps one of the biggest miracles in the Old Testament is found in the book of Jonah. I know what you’re thinking, but the miracle I am talking about doesn’t involve a whale.
God called Jonah to minister to Nineveh, which had served as the capital of the world for several centuries. Nineveh was the bitter enemy of Israel, so instead of obeying God, Jonah boarded a ship bound for Tarshish. However God had other plans and after a series of extraordinary events Jonah finally reached the great city.
When Jonah arrived in Nineveh he didn’t present a polished, "seeker friendly" sermon. God had declared that they were 40 days from being destroyed. Jonah went through town proclaiming, "40 days and you get yours!" He was hoping they would get wiped out. In fact, his biggest fear was that God might spare them (in fact he went up on a hill and pouted when God did spare them).
It is interesting that Jonah didn’t preach repentance. He simply announced their impending doom. It is astonishing to realize that within those 40 days, the king speculated that, just maybe, if they repented God might change His mind. They did, and God did. From the king on down, they put on sackcloth, the traditional ritual for repentance, and cried out to God (they even put sackcloth on the cattle). The repentance of Nineveh is astonishing when you think about it, perhaps one of the greatest miracles in the Old Testament.
If we were to change and repent, as a nation… God would forgive us and might go back to protecting us.
In an Interview after 911, Jane Clayson asked Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Rev. Billy Graham, "I’ve heard people say, those who are religious, those who are not, if God is good, how could God let this happen??” What do you say to that?
Lotz replied, "I say God is also angry when he sees something like this. I would say also for several years now Americans in a sense have shaken their fist at God and said, God, we want you out of our schools, our government, our business, we want you out of our marketplace. And God, who is a gentleman, has just quietly backed out of our national and political life, our public life; Removing his hand of blessing and protection. We need to turn to God first of all and say, God, we’re sorry we have treated you this way and we invite you now to come into our national life. We put our trust in you. We have our trust in God on our coins, we need to practice it."
Instead of heading this warning… now we are taking “In God We Trust” off our coins. It is like a disrespectful child turning his back on his parents yet continuing to hold out his hand for help. At some point everyone needs to grow up!