The Altar IHOP, Tokyo

building His altar of worship in earth's largest cities


Jonah, Missionary of Mercy

In the book of Jonah, God reveals a deep tenderness and passion towards cities -specifically megacities- as was Nineveh in ancient times. Jonah, functioning as a missionary of mercy, delivered God’s message of impending judgements upon the city. Judgements, set to arrive as natural and manmade disasters* through fire, flood and military offensive. Thus causing serious humanitarian crises ending with Nineveh’s removal from the face of the earth. Harsh as these consequences seem, they were not without cause.

Assyria was a major world power and Nineveh, the governmental center of Assyria. Nineveh was an economic powerhouse, the prime regional center of commerce and trade, a hub of technological innovation, a pioneer in civil engineering, architecture and agriculture. Their military was the most advanced in the known region- also the most sadistic. Their chief tactical objective: to cause as much bloodshed and pain for as long as possible, to as many as possible in order to inspire as much fear as possible. They did so with utmost pride and no mercy. And if this weren’t enough, the city was also the center of idolatrous Ishtar worship that included blood letting through child sacrifice, and other profane pagan rituals. Assyria was a nation that wholeheartedly pursued evil in those days.

Hated for their barbarianism and greatly feared, Assyria viciously came against Israel multiple times— the unhappy consequence for Israel’s disobedience** against God’s laws. Fed up with Assyria’s pride and arrogance,  the Just Judge offered Nineveh an opportunity to repent. He gave them Jonah and He gave them an ultimatum:

“In forty days, Nineveh will be overthrown!”

Jonah 3:4 (WEB)

And so it was, that that “great city” heard Jonah’s message. Shaken to their core, the entire city responded:

“So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them… Then word came to the king…. he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by decree… saying,

Let neither man or beast… taste anything; do not let them eat or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will… relent… from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?

Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil… and God relented from the disaster… He did not do it.

Jonah 3: 5-10

Misunderstanding God’s heart and angry, Jonah wanted to see the strong arm of God’s judgements fall down on his nefarious enemies. God, desiring mercy to triumph over judgement, wanted the city to turn towards Himself. With incomprehensible kindness, God responds to Jonah’s frustration in the verse below:

“… should I not have pity on Nineveh, that great city, in which are 120,000 persons who can not discern between their right hand and their left- and many animals as well?”

Jonah 4.11

This explanation from God to Jonah epitomizes the severity of His love and mercy poured out on all flesh— without reservation. Peter understood this concept when stating, “…[He] is patient towards you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9 ESV)

Tokyo, Nineveh and the Prayer and Worship Movement

What have Jonah, Nineveh and ancient Assyria to do with The Altar IHOP, Tokyo and the global end of the age prayer and worship movement? Why does it matter?

Tokyo is the largest metropolis on the planet; 250 times larger than the ancient city of Nineveh with over 30 million human beings. Japan, as a nation, has over 1,000 times the population of Nineveh and more than 120 million souls living on her land. The 3rd largest economy, Japan is also a global and regional powerhouse with Tokyo the driving force. Careful study on the country reveals many, if not more, similarities with Nineveh beyond population stastics or economic capabilities. Historical and present day parallels are astounding.

The fact the Lord chose to establish a house of prayer in this “great city,” a city with a very dark history of its own is a beautiful sign and a testimony that His mercies still stand. It is also proof that God’s pity, compassion, and fierce love are manifesting within ALL “great cities” of the earth in this generation.

God Loves Cities

The truth is this: God loves cities and he desires entire cities to turn towards Him. The concept of a “city” was entirely His from the beginning. He makes His home in a city and one day soon, that city (Yes, the entire city! Rev. 21.2) is going to relocate and come down from heaven to earth, dwelling permanently among us.

God, willing to contend with Jonah’s humanity, sent him on one of the most marvelously beautiful “Mercy Operations” to the most evil and pagan city in the world at the time. Jonah (and countless others) wanted the Assyrians slaughtered in return for their evils.  Out of pain, Jonah rooted for judgement. Nineveh chose humility and instead of destruction, God released incomprehensible mercy.

Imagine the lengths God goes to launch similar campaigns in the “great cities” of our generation?

Modern Mercy Missionaries

In the house of prayer context, we function like Jonah— as “missionaries of mercy.” How? First and foremost, through prayer and worship by exalting Jesus as the High and Holy one that He is. And by interceding for Tokyo, Japan and Asia— that His justice will come rolling down like a mighty river. For injustices made right, disasters mitigated and trafficking ended. That through His just judgments, His infinite mercy upon this city, this nation and the greater region of Asia will prevail. Our desire is to see “all heaven break loose” in Japan and on the Asian nations. That they will turn – like the ancient inhabitants of Nineveh – and experience God’s unending mercies.

Making His name famous & exalted in the East,

The Altar IHOP, Tokyo

* Flood

Nahum 1:8 | “…but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh…” (NIV)

Nahum 2:6 | “The river gates are thrown open and the palace collapses.” (NIV)

Nahum 2:6 | “the gates of the rivers are opened and the palace is dissolved.” (NKJV)

* Fire

Nahum 3:13 | “… fire shall devour the bars of your gates.” (NKJV)

Nahum 3:13 | “the gates of your land will be opened wide to the enemy and set on fire and burned.” (NLT)

Nahum 3:15 | “But the fire will devour you…” (NLT)

* Military Offensive

Nahum 2:1 | “An attacker advances agains you, Nineveh. Guard the fortress, watch the road…” (NIV)

Nahum 2:1 | “Your enemy is coming to crush you, Nineveh…” (NLT)

Nahum 3:15 | “…the sword will cut you off…” (NKJV)

Nahum 3:15 | “Swords will cut you to pieces.” (MSG)

* Humanitarian Crisis

Nahum 3:7 | “It is decreed that Nineveh be exiled and carried away.” (NIV)

Nahum 3:8 | “…soldiers slip away, deserting…” (TLB)

Nahum 3:9 | “Soon the city is an empty shambles hearts melt in horror; knees quake; her people stand aghast, pale faced and trembling.” (TLB)

* Total Desolation

Zephaniah 2:13 | “And he will stretch out his hand against the north, destroy Assyria, and make Nineveh a desolation, as dry as the wilderness.” (NKJV)

** Penalty for Israel’s Disobedience

Deuteronomy 28:49-52 | “The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar… a nation of fierce countenance, which does not respect the elderly nor show favor to the young. And they shall eat the increase of your livestock and the produce of your land, until you are destroyed; they shall not leave you grain or new wine or oil, or the increase of your cattle or the offspring of your flocks, until they have destroyed you. They shall besiege you at all your gates until your high and fortified walls, in which you trust, come down throughout all your land; and they shall besiege you at all your gates throughout all your land which the Lord your God has given you.” (NKJV)

Isaiah 7:17 | “The Lord will bring the king of Assyria upon you…” (NKJV)