To me, one of the most fascinating truths mentioned in the Bible in conjunction with the Jonah saga, and one which I believe directly applies to us, is only touched on by the SS lesson. I think this is so because we Christians are so preoccupied with our individual salvation we don’t give God’s plans for His coming kingdom on earth much, if any, thought.
I’m speaking of a quote of Jesus that was mentioned in passing in the Sabbath afternoon lesson. Jesus said, ‘The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they relented at the preaching of Jonah.’ (Matt 12:41).
The Greek word translated as ‘condemn’ (katakrino) can mean to act as a judge and thus pronounce judgment against someone (and set out consequent punishment), or, by one’s good example, to render another’s bad behaviour more evident and censurable. It seems to me the latter definition applies here to the Ninevites.
The Bible tells us that truth is established by two (or more) witnesses and God likes to have (a representative of both) heaven and earth in agreement about truth. So, that begs the question: at the end of this age, will you be prepared to act as an earthly witness and testify about your relationship with Christ if you are called upon during someone else’s judgment proceeding?
To go even further, as this age ends and the next one begins, consider that Jesus told His disciples that in the regeneration they will sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt 19:28). Also, Paul scolded the Corinthian believers and told them to shape up because saints will judge men and angels (1Cor 6:1-3).
Have you ever wondered about this? It appears that God will choose certain believers to actually pass judgment not only upon other people, but also heavenly beings.
In several places the Bible mentions the characteristics of a fair judge. Of course, knowledge of the law is essential but is only one prerequisite. I wonder if any of us will measure up and be honoured by being given such an important position as the kingdom further unfolds.
Note: in rereading this comment, for clarity I think it important to mention an essential element of my theology: I do not believe in unending torment or incineration for those who have not come to a belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ during their lives in this age.
Thus, judging other human or heavenly beings will not include sentencing them to either of those punishments which, to me, are horrific and contradict the very nature, the agapé love of God. So whatever verdict is reached at the judgment can certainly entail chastisement but its basis and purpose will always be correction leading to ultimate reconciliation with God.