What is the impact of the Word of God on your life? When it all comes down to it, we have to respond to it in some way. As Jonah “called out” the people of Nineveh on their sin, the Apostles and Prophets call each of us out on ours. Jonah said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown!” and the people responded. They knew their sin and felt the weight of God’s displeasure.
Jonah 3:8-9 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. 9 Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?
The King himself knew what had to be done and the bearing it had on the entire city. He did not make excuses or minimize his sin. He did not try to blame it on someone else or put it off until later. “Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes” (Jonah 3:6). He humbled himself and threw himself on the mercy of God. He did not try to cut a deal with God. He did not try to manipulate Him. He certainly did not expect to stand on his rights and make demands. Even as a king, he was able to submit himself to the righteous judgment of Almighty God. True repentance does that to us. It makes us humbly submissive. That’s right, humbly submissive. That is what God’s Word does when it finally hits home. He is the Judge of the Universe, the Creator of all and the Ultimate Authority.
But He is not an evil tyrant. Jonah knew that. Once the city had repented he went of to pout because he was not pleased about what God had done.
Jonah 4:1-2 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. 2 So he prayed to the LORD, and said, “Ah, LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.
Jonah knew what kind of God God is. One who is more ready to forgive than we are to repent. Nonetheless, He is also One who will judge the wicked, those who, in their pride, think that they are just fine without his mercy. Those who continue on in sin without regard to His authority, His justice and His hatred of sin. Many think that because they take His name on their lips that He will be satisfied and look the other way while they continue on in sin.
Psalms 50:16-23 But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to declare My statutes, Or take My covenant in your mouth, 17 Seeing you hate instruction And cast My words behind you? 18 When you saw a thief, you consented with him, And have been a partaker with adulterers. 19 You give your mouth to evil, And your tongue frames deceit. 20 You sit and speak against your brother; You slander your own mother’s son. 21 These things you have done, and I kept silent; You thought that I was altogether like you; But I will rebuke you, And set them in order before your eyes. 22 “Now consider this, you who forget God, Lest I tear you in pieces, And there be none to deliver: 23 Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.”
We know that good conduct is not what “saves” us, but trust in the Covenant mercy of God. Repentance and good conduct is the evidence that we take God seriously. Do you acknowledge that God is the Sovereign Judge of the Universe and that He has the right to judge and find guilty all who live outside of His holy standard? If you do not, that is one more strike against you. Yet, as I have said, He is ready to forgive. Ready of His own initiative to extend mercy to the one who recognizes his own sin and is willing to fall on His mercy. That is why Christ came into the world. Not to overlook sin, but to give those who truly acknowledge their need forgiveness and mercy.
Acts 17:30-31 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
When the Greeks heard this, we read, “some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” So Paul departed from among them. “ (Acts 17:32-33) What is your response?
Audio of the message is available by clicking the link below.
The Consequences of Repentance – Jonah 3:8-10