“Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.” (Jonah 1:1-2)
Nineveh was a city in Assyria. The Assyrians were warlike and cruel. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach for them to repent. Jonah didn’t want to go, so he boarded a ship. God sent a storm that threatened to destroy the ship. The sailors prayed to their false gods which did no good. The captain then told Jonah to pray to his God. The sailors also cast lots, similar to drawing straws, in order to find out whose fault it was that the storm had come—Jonah got the short straw.
Jonah told them that he was a Hebrew and was running from God. They were afraid because they knew that the Hebrew God was the true God. Jonah told them to throw him overboard. They reluctantly agreed, and while throwing him overboard, they asked God for mercy. The storm stopped. The heathen sailors became followers of the true God. Then the whale came and swallowed Jonah. Jonah spent three days and three nights in the whale’s belly before the Lord commanded the whale to vomit Jonah onto the dry land.
God told Jonah the second time to go to Nineveh. This time Jonah obeyed. He went to Nineveh and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” (Jonah 3:4). God got the hearts of the people, and they repented deeply for their sin, wickedness and violence and prayed for God’s mercy. Jonah 3:10 says, “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.”
However, Jonah wasn’t happy that God had spared them. He said angrily, “…I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.” (Jonah 4:2). God said to Jonah, “And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:11). Jonah didn’t care about them, but God did.
As a cop, what do you see and hear much of the time when you deal with people?—crime, dishonesty, indecent clothes, wild hair, disrespect, ratty homes, money wasted on personal pleasure, immoral living, foul language, pounding music, and a Godless culture. Most likely the people don’t know or even care about serving or pleasing the true God, just like the people of ancient Nineveh which helps explain why they act as they do. Do you have a “Jonah” attitude of “I don’t care about these people?” It’s easy to be that way.
If you know Jesus as Saviour, though, think of how He sees them. Matthew 9:36 says, “But when he [Jesus] saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” The worst problem with most people is not their behavior. Their worst problem is that they’re headed for hell without Christ. By the way, Jesus referred to the story of Jonah and the whale as a true story, so it really happened.
As a cop, you have to deal with people’s bad behaviors, but even as you do, ask the Lord to help you see them as He sees them and have compassion on their souls. Ask the Lord to work in their lives to reach them with the gospel. God can work miracles in their hearts like He did in the hearts of the Ninevites. Jesus also said, “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:38). So as you pray, be ready also to labor with the Lord to reach precious souls.
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“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thy hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)
Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were among the Jews, along with Daniel, taken captive by the Babylonians. Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king, saw that some of the Jews were young and bright, so instead of making them slaves, he chose to have them educated in Babylonian culture so they could serve him. The king also gave them Babylonian names: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Nebuchadnezzar had a giant statue made and commanded all the people to worship it—anyone refusing would be thrown into a fiery furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had decided in advance to refuse. The Chaldean fortune-tellers who worked for the king heard of their refusal and told the king.
Ironically, Daniel and his three friends had previously saved the Chaldeans’ lives. Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream one night but couldn’t remember it. He asked his fortune-tellers to tell him the dream and what it meant. They couldn’t tell him the dream, so he became angry. He suspected that they were phonies, which they were. He commanded that all the wise men should be destroyed, even Daniel and his three friends. Daniel and his friends got together and asked God to give them the dream and the interpretation—God did. Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar the dream and what it meant. Nebuchadnezzar was pleased. The Chaldeans’ lives were saved. This is how the Chaldeans showed their gratitude.
When the king confronted the three Jews about bowing down, they said, “…we are not careful to answer thee in this matter…” They already had their answer ready. They also knew that God could deliver them from the furnace. Then they said, “…and he will deliver us out of thy hand, O king…” They didn’t know that God would spare them, but even if they burned to death in the furnace, they would be in heaven with God. What a wonderful hope for eternity! So they said,”…But if not,…”, that is, if God let them burn to death, the last thing the king would hear from them was that they would not bow down to the image.
The king had them bound and thrown into the furnace. Not only did they not burn, but the fire didn’t hurt them, and the king saw the Lord Jesus in the furnace with them. He ordered them removed from the furnace, promoted them, and commanded that no ill word should be spoken against their God. Consider this thought: when they defied the king and looked death in the face, they had no idea that their story would be included in Scripture, that countless sermons would be preached from this passage, and that many people’s hearts would be touched and challenged to take a stand for Christ as they did, regardless the consequences. How mightily God used this one episode of faith and courage by these young men!
You’ve probably seen YouTube videos of cops doing a kind deed. The cop doing the deed isn’t looking for fame, but the deed is caught on video, goes viral on the Internet, and the benefit of the deed goes beyond what the officer had imagined. Now think what happens when you do something in Christ’s service: invite someone to church, strive to live right, hand out a tract, or pray. Don’t ever think that what you do to serve Christ isn’t that important. You never know how God will use even some small deed that you do to touch lives in a mighty way, as he used the faith and courage of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
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