I was on a Christian website reading an article on Disney’s recent release of Beauty and the Beast that portrayed overtly homosexual scenes in a movie intended for children. One person commented deriding and mocking the church’s failure to boycott the movie that was a box office success.
Baited, several Christians responded some with vulgar comments condemning the person. One used the term “bum holer,” a comment that was later removed.
To be honest, I felt a similar resentment towards this pro-gay commenter.
I have been a Christians for years but a verse from the Gospel of John cited in a devotional I received recently caught my attention. I wondered if someone had just added this verse to the Bible in the last couple of years, because it seems so contrary to current Christian practice.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn (Greek krino) the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17 NIV)
The Greek word ‘krino’ means to judge as the NASV translated it or to condemn as the NIV translated it.
God did not send Jesus to judge or condemn the world, but rather to save it.
So if Jesus was not sent to condemn the world, are Christians now supposed to take up that call? Are we called to condemn and judge or are we called to save it.
I am beginning to wonder in this rapidly changing world if the church has lost its message. I don’t think it’s wrong to oppose evil, but many Christians have veered into condemnation and judgement.
It seems to have become our primary focus. It is so easy to be caught up condemning sin because it is everywhere. Instead, does God want us to lift up Jesus (John 12:32)?
Maybe it’s just a coincidence, or perhaps God timed the recent discovery of the palace of the Assyrian King Sennacherib beneath the traditional site of Jonah’s tomb in Mosul, Iraq for such a time as this. The remains of Nineveh, the ancient capital of Assyria, are found on the outskirts of Mosul.
After ISIS ransacked Jonah’s tomb in search of antiquities, they dug caves beneath the tomb and stumbled upon the palace of Sennacherib. After Mosul was retaken by Iraqi forces earlier this year, they discovered this palace that confirmed the Biblical record.
But more importantly, it’s also a reminder of the message of the book of Jonah.
God wanted Jonah to call Nineveh to repentance, but he initially refused because the prophet was concerned its citizens might respond and escape God’s judgement.
People have no idea of how brutal the Assyrians were. In his article the Grisly Assyrian Record of Torture and Death, Erika Belibtreu briefly outlines their wickedness.
He didn’t get this information from how others described them, but from the Assyrians themselves who gloated about their exploits on obelisks and walls.
This culture reveled in evil.
The following descriptions are from the Assyrians own records.
Such as skinning their captives alive:
“I flayed as many nobles as had rebelled against me [and] draped their skins over the pile [of corpses]; some I spread out within the pile, some I erected on stakes upon the pile … I flayed many right through my land [and] draped their skins over the walls.”
Burning children alive:
“I felled 50 of their fighting men with the sword, burnt 200 captives from them, [and] defeated in a battle on the plain 332 troops. … With their blood I dyed the mountain red like red wool, [and] the rest of them the ravines [and] torrents of the mountain swallowed. I carried off captives [and] possessions from them. I cut off the heads of their fighters [and] built [therewith] a tower before their city. I burnt their adolescent boys [and] girls.”
Cutting off people’s arms, legs, noses, ears and genitalia while they were still alive:
“In strife and conflict I besieged [and] conquered the city. I felled 3,000 of their fighting men with the sword … I captured many troops alive: I cut off of some their arms [and] hands; I cut off of others their noses, ears, [and] extremities. I gouged out the eyes of many troops. I made one pile of the living [and] one of heads. I hung their heads on trees around the city.” †
Many of the drawings show hundreds of decapitated heads littering the ground or displayed on stakes as decorations in the city.
For those spared, they cut holes into their lips and cheeks, linked them together with ropes and marched them off into brutal captivity as slaves and where the Assyrians forced some to live in cages no bigger than a dog kennel.
This was one of the most brutal cultures the world has ever seen, but God loved them, and when Jonah finally showed up:
5 Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. (Jonah 3: 5 NASV)
And God forgave them just as Jesus wants us to do today.