Wednesday, February 29, 2012

2/29/12 - The Repentance of Ninevah

Jonah 3:1-10

The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time:
"Set out for the great city of Nineveh,
and announce to it the message that I will tell you."
So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh,
according to the LORD's bidding.
Now Nineveh was an enormously large city;
it took three days to go through it.
Jonah began his journey through the city,
and had gone but a single day's walk announcing,
"Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,"
when the people of Nineveh believed God;
they proclaimed a fast
and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.

When the news reached the king of Nineveh,
he rose from his throne, laid aside his robe,
covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes.
Then he had this proclaimed throughout Nineveh,
by decree of the king and his nobles:
"Neither man nor beast, neither cattle nor sheep,
shall taste anything;
they shall not eat, nor shall they drink water.
Man and beast shall be covered with sackcloth and call loudly to God;
every man shall turn from his evil way
and from the violence he has in hand.
Who knows, God may relent and forgive, and withhold his blazing wrath,
so that we shall not perish."

When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way,
he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them;
he did not carry it out.


The Ninevites ultimately responded to God. They heard Jonah, they believed him, and the whole city repented from the path they were on. At least for a time.

Can you imagine Jonah walking into Washington DC (or Chicago, or New York, or Los Angeles) and delivering this message? How do you think he would be received? Would the people believe God? Would our leaders rise from their thrones and put on sackcloth? Would they put our a decree that we all must turn from our evil ways?

Not to get too political but ... OF COURSE NOT!

We are so fallen, collectively and individually. What I like the most about Lent is that it's a time for stopping and considering just HOW fallen we really are, and how much God really loves us. Once you allow God to show you even a small glimpse of how sinful you are, you're at a decision point. Either I do something or I don't.

The road of repentance may seem so daunting that it can't be done. But look at what God did with Jonah. He sent Jonah alone to Ninevah, and a miracle of repentance occurred. That all happened ultimately because Jonah responded to God's call. He did what God told him to do, and he trusted that God would take care of everything else.

We have the same choice in front of us. Believe in Christ -- have faith in Him, do what He says, and trust in Him completely. That is the path to salvation.

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