The word of YHVH came to Jonah, commissioning him to, “arise, [and] go to Nineveh, the great city, and cry out against it, because their wickedness has come up before Me.” But instead Jonah got up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of YHVH” (Jonah 1:1-3).
Jonah was a bona fide prophet who had a spiritually sensitive awareness of Nineveh’s evil, both morally and in world politics. Yet for some reason he did not want to bring a message of repentance to that wicked country. He had even argued with YHVH at his original commissioning about agreeing to obey the call:
- But it greatly displeased Jonah, and he became angry. Then he prayed to YHVH and said, “Please YHVH, was this not what I said when I was still in my own country? Therefor in anticipation of this I fled to Tarshish, since I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in mercy, and One who relents of disaster. So now, YHVH, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.” (Jonah 4:1-3)
Assyria – an evil people
Although Jonah eventually preached God’s message of coming judgment and repentance to pagan Assyria, the text states that he didn’t want them to repent and avoid destruction. Jonah had anticipated that God would extend the scepter of mercy to a penitent Assyria, but he wanted no part of that.
Perhaps Jonah was spiritually aware of the great damage Assyria would soon do to the ten Jewish tribes barely one century later, cruelly carrying them away into Exile in the late 700’s B.C. (2 Kings 17:23-24; Hosea 10:14). The Assyrian siege of Lachish (depicted on the Lachish Bronzes in the British Museum and mentioned in 2 Chronicles 32:9) witnessed Judean soldiers crucified alive on Assyrian stakes, while other Jews had their flesh ripped apart with burning iron rakes.
Jonah could have had many reasons not to go to Assyria. That nation’s repentance lasted barely 100 years, and after that they brought murderous destruction to Israel. Why bring a message of God’s love and mercy to such a corrupt nation? Yet God still chose Jonah to ‘deliver the letter, the sooner the better.’
“A people who can’t discern between their right hand and their left” (Jonah 4:11)
Jonah had received a clear commission and message. Perhaps he even had the prophetic discernment to know that Nineveh’s repentance would end up being as stable as the morning mist. Yet Jonah missed out on grasping the love God had for these corrupt people. The aching of YHVH’s heart is revealed in Jonah 4:11 – He saw 120,000 people (whether children or adults) totally lacking in spiritual sensitivity and discernment. Therefor He was sending His prophet to them, to share His heart of mercy and forgiveness with that crooked nation, and to call them to repentance.
The first of a three part newsletter
This is the first of a three-part newsletter considering Russian propaganda and disinformation regarding their purported reasons for invading and destroying Ukraine. Their main supposed justification, repeatedly stressed by both President Putin and state-controlled Russian media, is that Ukraine is run by neo-Nazis.
The first newsletter (this one) looks briefly at some charges being propagated by Russian sources and even by some in the West who are not that well-informed about relevant history and biblical presuppositions. The second newsletter will deal with Russia’s historical and present role in officially and unofficially propagating anti-Semitic theories and practices. The third newsletter will consider Ukrainian anti-Semitism and fascist/neo-Nazi movements – their history, influence and threat. These facts are necessary for anyone who wants to draw accurate conclusions about this aspect of the propaganda war.
Do you want to have the heart of Jonah?
“Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?” (1 Corinthians 6:3). The Apostle Paul assumes that healthy believers in Yeshua will continually be growing in maturity, able to discern matters from the perspective of the God of Jacob. That was a challenge for Jonah, and it is the same for us.
At this moment in Ukraine, it can be said that “her cities have become an object of horror” (Jeremiah 51:43). Hour by hour there are aerial bombardments and artillery barrages of cities. Civilians are penned in by enforced sieges at the hands of Russia’s armies, and famine is weakening and killing over a million people. The words of Isaiah the prophet cry to us: “And [God] was amazed that there was not one to intercede” (Isaiah 59:16).
While it is true that some are interceding, others are manifesting a self-satisfied judgementalism regarding the body blows raining down on the Ukrainian cities of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol, Kherson and Chernihiv. Some American cable TV personalities, some Evangelicals and charismatics, some (but not all) in the prophetic, apostolic and messianic Jewish movements, are declaring:
- that Ukraine is an evil and corrupt state
- that Russia is God’s righteous rod of judgment on Ukraine
- that Putin is justified in bombing and shelling civilians, stampeding the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since WWII, all because Ukraine is corrupt
Others are proclaiming:
- that both Ukraine and Russia are evil, that there is a moral equivalence here between the two countries’ actions – ‘a plague on both their houses’
- that believers must not take sides in this war, but instead choose the stance of non-aligned pacifism (as Gandhi did with Hitler)
Here is a telling quote from an open letter penned by India’s advocate of non-violence Mahatma Gandhi, on July 2, 1940. In it he offered advice to Winston Churchill, the British King George VI, and everyone in between on how to deal with the Nazi menace:
- “I hope you do not wish to enter into such an undignified competition with the Nazis. I venture to present you with a nobler and a braver way, worthy of the bravest soldier. I want you to fight Nazism without arms, or, if I am to retain the military terminology, with non-violent arms. I would like you to lay down the arms you have as being useless for saving you or humanity. You will invite Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to take what they want of the countries you call your possessions. Let them take possession of your beautiful island, with your many beautiful buildings. You will give all these, but neither your souls, nor your minds. If these gentlemen choose to occupy your homes, you will vacate them. If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourself, man, woman and child, to be slaughtered, but you will refuse to owe allegiance to them. This process or method, which I have called non-violent non-co-operation, is not without considerable success in its use in India”
Those who label Ukraine as ‘a corrupt state’ are probably not thinking in percentages: is Ukraine more corrupt that China, than Russia, than Yemen, than Syria, than the USA – and if so, by how much? And what if the God of Israel decides to focus His divine rod of discipline on all the corrupt nations of the world, all at once? “If You, YAH, were to keep an account of crooked deeds, O YHVH, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness, so that You may be feared” (Psalm 130:3-4).
Joshua the non-aligned general?
Over the years Christian pacifists have misinterpreted the meaning of Joshua’s encounter with the Angel of YHVH, mistakenly advocating that believers should not take sides in military conflicts.
- “Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, he raised his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you for us or for our enemies? He said, “No; rather I have come now as Captain of the army of YHVH.” And Joshua fell on his face to the ground, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my Lord to say to His servant?” (Joshua 5:13-14)
The context of this passage concerns the military attack that YHVH the Lord of armies has commanded Joshua to prosecute on the morrow. Note the clear use of the phrase ‘the Captain of the army of YHVH’ here. King David refers to God by His military title – “YHVH of armies, the God of the armies of Israel” (1 Samuel 17:45). According to David, the armies of Israel are also YHVH’s armies. At Jericho, Joshua is the acting general while YHVH is Joshua’s direct Commander. Make no mistake about it – the God of Israel is fighting on behalf of Joshua and against Canaan. God is explaining to Joshua that He is not simply another participant in a two-sided battle (that is the sense of the ‘no’ in Joshua 5:14), equal in stature to Jericho or Israel. He is above both Jericho and the Jewish people, yet at the same time Israel is on YHVH’s side and under His command. A ‘non-aligned’ interpretation of this passage owes more to a pacifistic worldview than to biblical exegesis or exposition.
At this point in history it is becoming progressively easier to fathom how, prior to WWII, so many refused to take a stand against the rising threat of fascist and communist dictatorships. In our day some people are looking straight into the face of 21st century totalitarian despots (whether in Moscow or in Tehran), but then blinking and quickly averting their eyes.
A non-aligned response to Hitler?
On September 1, 1939 the Nazi juggernaut crashed its tanks into Poland, and Stuka bombers dropped their blitzkrieg bombs onto defenseless Polish cities. How would we have responded on that day had we heard people commenting from the safety of foreign armchairs, that Poland ‘had it coming to them because they were a corrupt country’? How would we respond to hearing these ‘specialists’ stating that both sides (Nazis and Poles) are evil, so let us be content to simply pray for both sides – while Polish cities are being leveled and Jews are being herded into ghettos? No, reprehensible inactivity and cowardice never go over that well. Such pontifications would not stand the test of time, nor endure the unblinking gaze of the Holy One of Israel.
In the same way, I suggest that moral equivalencies between Russia’s evil and Ukraine’s evil are eminently unhelpful in terms of clearly understanding or pro-actively responding to the threats here. We need to grasp that Russian threats are not only coming against Ukraine – they apply immediately to the entire European theater, and their ramifications and blowback will affect the entire world.
We remember the words that Lutheran German pastor Martin Niemöller wrote after the defeat of Nazism: “First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.” Now is the time to ask ourselves, “How shall we respond when they first come for the Ukrainians?”
How should we then pray?
- Pray for safety, rescue and deliverance for Ukraine’s population who are facing widespread destruction and the biggest humanitarian-refugee crisis since WWII
- Pray for the safety, rescue and deliverance of Ukraine’s Jewish population – that they will be able to return from Exile to their prophetic motherland
- Pray for those Russians, Belarussians and Ukrainians in Russia-occupied territories who are resisting the evil decisions and policies of their Moscow-led leaders, often paying a severe personal price in the process
- Pray for a revelation of courage and an anointing of obedience for those hearing the prophetic call, not to respond as Jonah did initially, but to become pro-active messengers of God’s heart to all concerned
- Pray for all those who are reaching out to protect, preserve and share God’s light with Messiah Yeshua’s Jewish people
- Pray for the raising up of Ezekiel’s prophetic Jewish army throughout the earth
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
Donations can be sent to:
FINAL FRONTIER MINISTRIES
BOX 121971 NASHVILLE TN 37212-1971 USA
Donations can also be made on-line (by PayPal) through: www.davidstent.org