Scripture Reading: Jonah3:5-10
“And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.” (Jonah 3:5)
When Jonah preached the message of God’s judgment, an amazing thing happened. The people believed what God had told Jonah to preach — “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (v. 3). They responded in repentance. They put on sackcloth, all of them. There was a movement of repentance from the greatest of them to the least of them. Even the king himself put on sackcloth and issued an order — “But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands” (v. 8).
How do we explain what happened in Nineveh that day? The answer is simple — repentance is a work of God. Paul wrote these words to Timothy — “God may perhaps grant them repentance, leading to a knowledge of truth” (II Timothy 2:25). It is God who gives people the desire and the ability to repent of their sins. Repentance is a work of God’s grace, not something we conjure up within ourselves.
Jonah preached judgment and God granted repentance to the people of Nineveh. The king rightly said — “Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from HIs fierce anger, so that we may not perish” (v. 9). The king was right — “When God saw what they did, how they turned form their evil way, God relented of the disaster that He had said He would do to them, and He did not do it” (v. 10).
We should long for such a day today. We should pray for repentance of the evil, violence, oppression and social injustice that are so prevalent in our day. And we should pray for God to grant each of us repentance for our own sins. Repentance is a gift from God!
Gracious God, thank You for the gift of repentance. Thank You for bringing conviction upon my heart, for showing me my sin, and for granting me a repentant spirit. I pray for a movement of repentance in our nation. I pray for a fresh work of Your Spirit among us.
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