When Jonah entered Nineveh, he didn’t offer them an escape, he didn’t say ‘God just wants to love you,’ or ‘Just turn to the Lord,’ or even, ‘Repent and God will not destroy this city.” He didn’t even use the word “Repent.” He didn’t offer an “if.” God told him to go to Nineveh and “cry against it” (Jonah 1:2) because “their wickedness is come up before me” (Jonah 1:2). He was told to go to Nineveh and “Preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee” (Jonah 3:2), which was simply and only, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown,” (Jonah 3:4). AND ..
THE PEOPLE REPENTED. They repented of their own accord. They “believed God and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them,” (Jonah 3:5). The king himself got up and put aside his royal robe and proclaimed a fast saying, “Let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?” (Jonah 3:8-9)
“And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.” (Jonah 3:10)
We know that their repentance was in truth and altogether real – it was not for a moment or a day or a season or just long enough to bring God to repent of the destruction that he had determined upon them. Jesus witnessed of the repentance of that people: “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here,” (Matthew 12:41).
Of the day in which we live, it was said: “The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound,” (Isaiah 30:26). “Believe God” and repent unto life.
“To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts,” (Hebrews 4:7).
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