The Book of Jonah is one of the most powerful stories of repentance in all of scripture. In this book, the prophet Jonah is swallowed by a whale, but that’s not the real point. Well then, what is?
God sends Jonah to preach repentance to a city, and he doesn’t want to go. God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh and tell them to repent, and the Lord may relent from the disaster that He was going to bring.
But here’s the thing. Man, the folks of Nineveh was truly bad people. Read some day about how they attacked and harassed the people of God. Man, they were truly awful. Jonah did not want to go to them. Because what if God actually showed them mercy. He wasn’t sure he even wanted to God to do that.
But he did go and preach. Listen to what happened in Jonah 3: 6-10:
6 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. 8 Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. 9 Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.” 10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
Even Nineveh, when they repented, would get the Lord’s mercy. Even Nineveh.
Undeserving, wicked, hatful, mean, corrupt, evil Nineveh. When they repented the Lord showed mercy.
So is it for us today. When we realize our sin. When we realize what we’ve done wrong. When we realize how we’ve turned from God, how we’ve offended God, when we truly understand these things and turn from them, you know what?
God forgives. Even Nineveh. Even me. Even you.
When we repent and turn from our sins, God will show us mercy. He always has. And He always will.
May we turn from our sins. May we repent. And may we find God’s mercy, there waiting on us.