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Nov 13, 2022

Scripture Reading: Jonah 3

Jonah 3 contains the account of Jonah's preaching to the people of Nineveh and their repentance and the stay of God's judgment.  There are multiple lessons on display in this chapter.  One lesson is the obedience of Jonah to do a very difficult thing … namely, to go to the capital city of a hostile enemy (both Israel's enemy and God's enemy) and declare a coming destruction for their wickedness.  

A second lesson is the nature of repentance.  The people of Nineveh, from the king to common laborer, repented.  This repentance included an emotional response, seen in fasting from food and even water (Jon 3:5,8).  It also included a volitional response, seen in a radical change in behavior (Jon 3:8,10).  True repentance involves a heartfelt recoiling from sin and a genuine (though not perfect) change in behavior.

As it is true in all the Bible, this story reveals the character of God, above all.  Specifically, God's mercy is on full display, both with regard to Jonah and with regard to the ancient people of Nineveh.  God could have justifiably taken Jonah's life for his deliberate rebellion.  Instead, He restored Jonah to his role as a prophet (Jon 3:1).  

God's withholding of destruction on a very populous Nineveh is a sterling tribute to divine mercy.  Even sending Jonah to Nineveh was an act of grace.  "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (Jam 4:6).  

There is the repentance that leads to conversion, but there is an ongoing repentance that Christians should practice.  Let us live, daily, in the spirit of repentance, always rejoicing in God's mercy in Christ.