The Lesson of Nineveh

When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it. (Jonah 3:10, NASB)

How many times has this scene played out before? God saw the wickedness of a people, and it was so great that He sent a prophet to give them a very stern final warning. It happened to the Israelites, God’s chosen people, at least as many times as are recorded in Scripture, and more often than not, the warnings went unheeded, and the promised punishment followed.

Sure, there were times that the Israelites said they would amend their ways and live as the Lord directed them to. But, as was the case at Sinai, their devotion as a people was often (though not always) short-lived.

The Ninevites were a pagan people. The Hebrew prophet would have almost rather died than deliver God’s warning message to them. Jonah saw them as undeserving of mercy. But it is striking that this gentile city, having been so rife with sin, would do what the very Israelites so often failed to do – heed God’s voice, and turn away from their wickedness. They would actually repent. And because they did so, God had mercy on them and relented of the punishment He was going to bring upon them.

Like the Ninevites, all of us have sinned. Also like them, we can obtain mercy from the God of heaven if we will repent as they did. For a biblical description of what their repentance looked like, check out Jonah 3:5-10.

Let us all learn the lesson of the Ninevites. They sinned, big time. So have you. The same way they found mercy and compassion in the eyes of God, so can you.

Let us heed God’s voice, and if He should need to warn us, let’s run to do His will.

Photo by StevanB via flickr.com

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