Tomorrow I will be talking about Sennacherib’s fall. But first let me jump to the end of his fall. 2 Kings 19:6 “So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there. 37 One day, while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisrok, his sons Adrammelek and Sharezer killed him with the sword, and they escaped to the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son succeeded him as king.” Now you know the end of tomorrow’s blog but I wanted today to focus on where the king returned. He went back to the city of Nineveh.
                Even though God used the Babylonians to destroy Israel, He would also pay them back for the destruction they caused. Jeremiah 51:55 “The Lord will destroy Babylon; he will silence her noisy din. Waves of enemies will rage like great waters; the roar of their voices will resound. 56 A destroyer will come against Babylon; her warriors will be captured, and their bows will be broken. For the Lord is a God of retribution; he will repay in full.” The book of Nahum describes the destruction of Nineveh at another time. We are told at the end of Jonah of the sheer size of this city, the Assyrian capital. This also tells us the condition of the people in the city. Jonah 4:11 “And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” Very similar to our country today! Nahum tells us Nahum 1:2 “The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The Lord takes vengeance on his foes and vents his wrath against his enemies. 3 The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.” Though God is gracious, in they end they were defeated. Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, 8 but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness.”
                It was during the time of Jonah that we see God’s grace poured out. It was that same grace Manasseh was given even though 2 Chronicles 33:9 “Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites.12 In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. 13 And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.” So God called Jonah and said, Jonah 1:2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” Jonah did not go and went the wrong way, ended up swallowed by a huge fish, then spewed onto land. Jonah 3:1 “Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you. 3 Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh.” As mentioned earlier this was a large city, which took about three days to walk through. Jonah then did as he was told and Jonah 3:4 “Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” This is the amazing part. Manasseh the king of Judah repented and he was part of God’s chosen people. Nineveh on the other hand was wicked and vile. Oddly so was Manasseh before he repented.
                After Jonah proclaimed this message from God, Jonah 3:5 “The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. 6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” 10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.”
                I share this because yesterday a decree was given by the government that all non-essential places of business would be closed in a province wide effort to defeat the coronavirus. I was actually astounded at how many business this really did not affect. All in all, a good effort to defeat this virus. As you can see in China and South Korea the number of cases / deaths are dwindling.
    This was a call for social distancing - staying home, avoiding crowds and refraining from touching one another is the effort that is working that is until the next pandemic comes along. The problem is that countries across the globe do not submit to God and something far worse than this virus could come just as it did for Israel when Babylon destroyed them. By the way don’t forget about all the deaths already happening from other sicknesses. In everything that I have read so far, there is no directive to submit to God, repent and turn from your wicked ways. What I have seen are articles talking about religions like christianity, Judaism, Islam making them all equal and then pointing out some of the nonsense taking place in some churches. (False teachers by the way) Yes the hospitals are doing the best they can with the resources they have but as you see from the news many people are dying. If the hospitals get inundated with the sick, they will run out of resources. The true church has unlimited resources in God. The latest numbers I have seen are Coronavirus Cases: 409,054; Deaths: 18,262 / In Canada Cases - 2583; deaths -25. / USA Cases -49,665; deaths – 622. / Sadly Italy has massive numbers. Cases - 69,176; deaths - 6820. Is this virus deadly and devastating, yes!
                I did a little research into the Bubonic plague. I won’t go into a description, as it was gruesome. One site I looked at gave a range of deaths from different pandemics. The Black Plague - 75 – 200 million; 1918 Flu - 20 -50 million. HIV/AIDS Pandemic (At its peak, 2005-2012) 36 million. But rarely do men with great knowledge direct the general populace to repent. Romans 1:21 “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” Yes I realize most will not acknowledge this but if they did, God in His mercy just may relent.  Joel 2:2 “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” 13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. 14 Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing.”
                Those numbers I just shared from our history are staggering. Now as man’s intellectual prowess grew, they would come up with solutions but usually with a lot of unknowns. They usually find a solution thinking that all is well but as our history shows is not the case. Here is another list that is a real eye opener. This list from World Health Organization shows disease outbreak news.  
                Now let me get back to the non-essentials. As I read through the list given to us by the government of Ontario, the church was not on that list as essential. Surprisingly there was a pretty good-sized list, which even included LCBO and Cannabis retailers. One article said, “LCBO closure could lead to significant health consequences.” Yes I get their reasoning. Now I realize that when people think church, they are thinking of people who gather on a Sunday morning. In their eyes church is just one of the many religions in this world. Canada is not a religious country nor does it claim to be one. It definitely is not “In God We Trust”, but in reality neither are our neighbors even if it is written on their money and their motto. This message could go to them also. What the government is actually saying, is God is not essential, that is the God whose son is Jesus Christ is not essential.
                So lets start at the top. Imagine if you will Prime Minister Trudeau or President Trump did as the king of Nineveh did and called their people to repent. “He rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish. 10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.” Okay if that is too much to imagine, lets say any of the Premiers / Governor did as Ford announced yesterday and said repent or if municipalities called for repentance. I know that is almost unfathomable but with God anything is possible. What if we started with the church so that just maybe it will once again be essential? What if leaders from denominations or like groups started to repent and turn from their wicked ways? What if churches themselves started to repent and individuals repented? The church would never be the same again. God would then do as he said and return to us and the church would once again rise up in power. 2 Chronicles 7:13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.” The church needs to repent from itself.
                You need to remember that when Jesus walked the earth, sickness was everywhere just like the list showed you; sickness is still everywhere.  One person “calls the milieu in which Jesus lived “filthy, malodorous and unhealthy.  A case of the flu, a bad cold, or an abscessed tooth could kill. This was Jesus’s world.” Our world hasn’t changed much. The world is still sick and the church still needs to repent. Manasseh and Nineveh give us the example of God’s mercy and grace. Jesus said Mark 1:15 “The time has come, the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” When the kingdom comes near, the world changes. Right now the world is being ravaged. But hear the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Matthew 14:14 “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Mark 6:13 “They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. 56 And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.” Acts 5:16 “Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.” John 21:25 “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”
                The church was meant to go out in power. Luke 9:1 “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” This is what the church was called to do. James 5:13 “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. 17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. 19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”
                Yes I agree the man-made church as we see it is non-essential but the church as it is supposed to be is more essential than anything we have. The greatest resource this world has is the church whose head is Jesus Christ. If the head is a man or women, non-essential for sure but with Jesus Christ “all things are possible” and the world will be turned upside down. The only thing to do is to repent. Yes the virus will subside but you will still need to repent. Matthew 12:41 “The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here.” Acts 2:38 “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call. 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, Save yourselves from this corrupt generation. 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” 2 Chronicles 30:6 “People of Israel (Canada, United States wherever you are), return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. 8 Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the Lord. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you. 9 If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” So as we saw with Nineveh, “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.” Continue to ask God for mercy. Psalm 40:1 “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.”