The repentance of the Ninevites

Published June 13, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

Gentle Breeze

By  Nelly Favis Villafuerte

Nelly Favis Villafuerte
Nelly Favis Villafuerte

Nineveh was one of the oldest cities of the world.  It was the capital of the Assyrian Empire and considered the Queen City of the earth at the height of Assyrian power. The city was founded by Nimrod after the flood (Genesis 10:12). Assyria was a constant enemy of Israel.  It is mentioned in Genesis 10:11-12.  During the time of King Sargon II (722-705 B.C.), Nineveh became the capital of Assyria.  There is a passage in the Old Testament about a night when the angel of the Lord went out and put to death 185,000 men in the Assyrian camp. So Sennacherib, king of Assyria, broke camp and withdrew.  Sennacherib is also recorded as burning Babylon in (II Chronicle 32). Nineveh is also mentioned in the records of Hammurabi who lived between 1792 and 1750 B.C.  The destruction of Nineveh occurred in August, 612 BC, by the alliance of the armies of Medes, Babylonians, and Scythians, thus fulfilling the prophet Nahum’s prophecy of the destruction of Nineveh (Book of Nahum 2:6; Book of Nahum 3:1-2).

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The ruins of Nineveh were identified on December 22, 1853, by the archaeologist Henry Layard.  Layard excavated the principal mound which contained the palaces of Sennacherib and Assurbanipal.  The palace of King Sennacherib was the most significant of all the excavations in Nineveh.

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          The Assyrians were more savage and merciless than the Babylonians and the other Biblical people. One archeological account said “Assyrians buried their dead with knees drawn up to their chins.”  Dr. Henry H. Halley, one of the foremost Bible scholars, has this to say of the cruelty of the Assyrians:  “They skinned their prisoners alive; or cut off their hands, feet, noses, ears; or put out their eyes; or pulled out their tongues, and made mounds of human skulls, all to inspire terror.” Wilmington, another Bible scholar, said “the cruelty of the Assyrian armies was unparalleled in ancient history.”

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          Many of us are familiar with Jonah, one of the Old Testament prophets of Israel.  Jonah proclaimed to the Ninevites: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be destroyed.”  (Jonah 3:4)  The number 40 is often quoted in the Bible. The Israelites roamed for 40 years in the wilderness after they left Egypt (Numbers 13:25.  Moses was on Mt. Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights before bringing to the Israelites the Tablets containing the 10 Commandments (Exodus 24:18);  the flood rains kept rising for 40 days  (Genesis 7:17);  and 12 Israelite leaders sent by Moses from the Desert of Paran to explore Canaan returned after  40 days  (Numbers 13:1-25) Jesus Christ fasted for 40 days and 40 nights  (Matthew 4:2).  Jesus appeared to men for over a period of 40 days after resurrection and before He ascended to heaven (Acts 1:3). 

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          Chapter 3 of the Book of Jonah also records one of the greatest spiritual revivals in Biblical history – a touching picture of all the Ninevites fasting and putting on sack-cloths including the King of Nineveh.  His royal decree read:  “Do not let any man or beast, herd of flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink.  But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth.  Let everyone call urgently on God.  Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.  Who knows?  God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”  (Jonah 3:7-9)  True enough.  God did not bring to the Ninevites the destruction He had threatened.  (Jonah 3:10)  Repentance did it.

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          Repentance simply consists of two acts – turning from sin and turning to God. Repentance is a critical topic in the Holy Bible. It is mentioned over 100 times in the Bible. It is variously cited as Gospel repentance, Bible repentance, saving repentance, repentance unto life, repentance unto salvation, and true repentance. Repentance to be meaningful must be complete. It is not just turning away from certain sins and retaining others. It’s not giving up almost all of your sins and maintaining other vices like sexual lust or corruptness. All sins must be entirely renounced or Christ will never enter one’s heart. It’s like plugging all leaks in a ship – otherwise the soul will sink.

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This column continues to give out copies of the Holy Bible for free to those who cannot afford to buy their own copies. If interested, please send your letter-request to Ms. Nelly Favis Villafuerte, 5233 Fahrenheit St., Palanan, Makati City. Kindly mention if it is the Tagalog, English, Cebuano, or Ilocano Bible that is preferred.  

          Be joyful and forgiving! (Comments may be sent to Ms. Villafuerte’s email: [email protected])

 
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