The People of Nineveh Believe

Man is born with his back toward God. When he truly repents, he turns right around and faces God. Repentance is a change of mind. Repentance is the tear in the eye of faith. (D.L. Moody) … More

Repentance

In these verses we see the consequence of obedience.

  1. Repentance (vv. 5-9) - These verses record the response that Jonah’s message received. The people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth. When the message came to the king’s attention he even took off his robe and covered himself with sackcloth and sat in the ashes. Also, he caused it to be proclaimed throughout Nineveh that every man and beast was to be covered with sackcloth, and cry unto God. The response of the city was immediate. Two outward signs of repentance were demonstrated by the Ninevites; fasting and putting on sackcloth. The young and the old, the famous and the insignificant all believed God and demonstrated their repentance with these outward signs. The King’s order to put sackcloth on the animals (v. 8) showed how intense the King’s desire for total repentance was. Some people today are upset by “hellfire and brimstone” preaching and claim that it does great harm. They say that it creates fear and feelings of guilt. It is true that this may be the product of judgment preaching, but who is to say whether this is all bad.
  2. Deliverance (v. 10) - Certainly the scriptures teach that the citizens of Nineveh repented. God did not change His intentions toward the Ninevites. Rather, they changed in their attitude toward Him. As a result God could deal with them in grace, rather than in judgment. Jesus said, “I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."  Luke 5:32

Application

Despite the wickedness of the Ninevites they were open to God’s message and repented. If I simply proclaim what I know about God, I may be surprised at how many people will listen and what He will do in their hearts and lives.

Jonah 3:5-10 (English Standard Version)

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. The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, "By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, 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. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish." When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.

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