We landed at 7 A.M. and our tour bus took us through the city of Tel Aviv, and then to the ancient city of Joppa (also referred to as Jaffa). Lon Solomon gave a wonderful talk/sermonette about the two most famous references to Joppa in Scripture. The first is recorded in the Old Testament book of Jonah. Jonah was a prophet in Joppa, and God asked Him to preach to the evil Ninevites to warn them of His impending judgment. Jonah refused God and ran away. Why? Jonah knew that if he warned them, they might in fact repent, and if they repented God would then extend mercy. Jonah did not believe that the Ninevites deserved mercy. God gave Jonah another chance to obey, and ultimately Nineveh did repent and God delayed His judgment.
The other reference to Joppa is in the New Testament—Acts Chapter 10. While in Joppa, Peter had a vision in which God told him to kill and eat certain animals that had not been made ceremonial clean under the Jewish laws. Thereafter, Peter declared, “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:35). The point of the vision was to demonstrate that God had come to fulfill the Law of Moses so that Gentiles and Jews alike could be saved through Christ.
While there is a lot more to both stories, I realized today that in addition to taking place in the same city, they both share the same main lesson, despite that they occurred hundreds of years apart. Simply, God is the same merciful God yesterday, today and always, and His blessings are available for all people, and all nations!