God’s Grace in an Evil Empire

By Qaton Ebed Mashiah. SAMARIA, Israel – A popular prophet of Samaria returned from an unusual trip to Nineveh which revolutionized his life. Jonah ben Amittai returned from his three-day campaign in the capital city of Assyria, the empire which has become a serious threat to Israel’snational existence.

What revolutionized his life was that while pouting over the turn of events, God spoke softly to him about his sense of pity and priorities. God was far more interested in people and infant children than the prophet. For that matter, God was even concerned for livestock and, by inference, in all of His creation. The prophet closed his Sabbath homily by saying, “People of God, we have for too long been too narrow and provincial. God has a far greater plan for this world than we have ever imagined.”

He told his parishioners of preaching many times at shopping malls and municipal halls. He had only one message: “In Forty Days, Nineveh, Will Be Overthrown.” He personally wanted Yahweh’s judgment to fall on them for expanding their empire into Israelite territory and exacting heavy taxes from the people. With fear andtrembling, he expected to be banished to the torture chambers at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.Instead the people of Nineveh – led by their mayor and city council – repented with genuine humility. They called on Yahweh to forgive their sins. God pardoned them and “that made me angry,” he said.

The prophet admitted he had not wanted to go on this crusade. Many times he had preached on Exodus 34:6-7 and knew that Yahweh was a “gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in covenant love, One Who relents from doing harm.” He cited many instances from personal and national life which supported this thesis.

Jonah ben Amittai rose to prominence in the NorthernKingdom when he predicted that the fortunes of the nation would turn – under the leadership of King Jeroboam ben Joash. Born in Gath Hepher in Zebulon, the prophet was called to the great Samaritan Synagogue around thirty years ago when his predictions were fulfilled.

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