Summary: The LORD is merciful to those who repent.


Jonah 3.

The LORD has a case against cities and nations which are full of wickedness (Jonah 1:2)

It was not God who brought evil upon mankind, but man himself. No doubt man was created with free will, but he chose to disobey God. From that point on man's will remains free, but only free to follow the inclinations of his own heart. The propensity to sin is so embedded in mankind that we are unable even to “choose Christ” for our salvation unless the Holy Spirit leads us to that point.

God is free to punish or to forgive as He pleases. In the Bible, the LORD is said to have hardened Pharaoh's heart (Exodus 4:21). He is said to “give people up” to their sins (Romans 1:24). He allows sin to reap its own recompense in those who commit certain sins (Romans 1:27).

All people, from the least to the greatest, are tainted by sin. “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We are “dead in trespasses and sins” until such time as God is pleased to reveal Himself in us (Ephesians 2:1).

David is on record as a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22). Yet the Psalmist concluded Himself to be just like the commonality of mankind, saying: “Behold, I was shaped (brought forth) in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5).

God is righteous in all his dealings and, as the potter with his clay, is able to dispose of his vessels as He pleases (Romans 9:21-24). Since we all deserve His wrath, none can complain. Yet those of us who receive His mercy have much reason to be thankful.

The LORD is merciful to those who repent (Jonah 3:10)

“If you, LORD, should mark iniquities,

who would be able to stand?

But there is forgiveness with you,

that you may be feared” (Psalm 130:3-4).

When Jonah at last arrived in Nineveh after his circuitous journey, his message was simple: “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4).

People may laugh at messages of doom and gloom, but not the people of Nineveh. The people of Nineveh, from the greatest to the least “believed God and proclaimed a fast” (Jonah 3:5). The twin graces of faith and repentance were found in that wicked city, and even the king got off his throne and humbled himself.

People may ask, “Why should I come to Christ for my salvation? What if I am not one of the elect?” Yet the king of Nineveh, even under the threat of God's utter condemnation, saw things differently: “Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?” (Jonah 3:9).

Nineveh was full of wickedness (Jonah 1:2).

God pronounced judgement (Jonah 3:4).

Nineveh repented,

and God relented (Jonah 3:10).

“It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

We should pray for our cities and for our peoples, that the LORD would show pity upon those who as yet lack discernment in the things of God (Jonah 4:11).

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