One of the greatest cities in antiquity was Nineveh. A few years ago, the Islamic State rampaged in Iraq destroyed some of the archaeological evidence of Nineveh. According to the National Geographic, the city of Nineveh, at its helm, featured numerous temples and sprawling 80-room palace (specifically the one that was used by King Sennacherib). It was surrounded by a wall that was punctuated by 15 gates. Streets were full, and some had stone paving, houses were plenty, and gardens provided. It is a fact that the city was impressive and a marvel.
Nineveh was the seat of the Assyrian Empire, and with this in mind, one can appreciate the anguish of Hezekiah when Sennacherib breathed fire and brimstone.
The Biblical accounts corroborate the historical ones. In the Book of Jonah, we find God referring to the city as ‘Great City’.
“Arise, go to Nin′eveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.”
Despite all the glitz, glamour and sophistication, not all was well within the great city. The greatness of Nineveh city was only physical and thus a façade. It was a lawless and cruel city. It was a city that eats her inhabitants. Even the Greek literary giants Herodotus, Diodorus of Sicily and Aristotle paint it as awfully wicked.
What people thought to be great was all synthetics. To the outside, the city had thrived and arrived. It was at the zenith of excellence. But God could see beyond the artificial greatness. What would bring Nineveh down is what was inside it and not outside. The history pages of Nineveh as a city went in flames as civilisations changed hands. Its citizens and their rulers found themselves in a bog of evil. In this quandary state, they could not keep their state intact. They had sown the wind, and they would reap the whirlwind. The leadership had drawn cheques that citizens could not cash. They tried to grasp at the straws, but the Medes, Babylonians, and Persian forces swooped in with devastating effect. It is now wrack and ruin. It is ground zero.
Appearance is not always the reality
God as an Omniscient Being has the sole privilege of knowing what lies behind our smiles, giggles and showiness. He knows the condition of every heart and understands what is hidden from people.
When Jonah preached to the people of Nineveh, they changed their evil ways in repentance. Even the great king of the city rose from his throne to address the internal maladies and malfeasance of his kingdom. Nothing real can happen in our lives until we relinquish our thrones and run to Jesus. After all, He is the one elevated higher than mortals.
It is time to abandon our high places, titles, prejudices and positions so that Jesus can take over. Contrarily, the road we are travelling on is perilous – self-delusion.
We can only be real and live authentically by passing through the lathe machine of the one who mints real McCoy. Genuine lives involve the acknowledgement that I am a sojourner on this earth and that I cannot make it without God. It is imitating Him daily. Chickens come home to roost when we intentionally chose to look through rose coloured glasses. This is the time to get down to brass tacks.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.