4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. 6 The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, 8 but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”
10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it (Jonah 3.4-10, ESV).
Memory Verse: Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” (Jonah 3.9, ESV)
Signs and wonders, people are always wanting to see something great, something new and wonderful to prove who God really is. Before they will believe, before they will move, before they will obey, they believe they must have a sign to know who God is, what He is doing and what He wants. This was the problem with the Pharisees, and with many of us today, however, we can look all around us and see how awesome and powerful God is and yet not believe in Him.
The people of Nineveh did not need any sign, or great convincing, or any other message beside Jonah’s preaching, “forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown” (vs. 4). They heard, they heeded and turned from their wicked ways. From the king to the smallest, least insignificant person in the city.
They cried out to God, not knowing if God would turn from His anger, but what did they have to lose they were going to be destroyed in forty days otherwise. This is the same attitude David had when his son lay dying as he cried out to God to save him (II Samuel 12.16-18). For seven days David cried to God, fasted and lay on the ground weeping over his son, until he died.
God gives us several warnings throughout life, sometimes its close calls or illness, or in other ways. As believers we read in His Word how God disciplines those He loves just as our earthly fathers do (Hebrews 12.3-13). So, how do we respond to the Word of the Lord when it comes to us, warning us to repent, turn from our wickedness, our sin and follow our Savior?
The people of Nineveh fasted, humbled themselves by putting on sackcloth and sitting in ashes. They repented of their wickedness, recognizing they were not living their lives as God would want them to. Now, keep in mind they have no real experience to know what God would do, how He would react to their cry and pleading. All they could do was respond to the message which was preached to them, and see how God would respond to them.
This is what God desires from us each and every day. He wants us to read and study His Word, doing a deep dive of the scripture with the help of the Holy Spirit allowing the truth of His Word to penetrate deep within us. As it does it will change us, cause us to react and change direction, become someone different, someone God has called us to be. In many cases there are things within our lives we need to confess, deal with; such as—anger, hate, envy, disobedient to parents, lying, cheating, stealing, immortality, unfaithfulness, bullying, our general attitude, or how we might treat others. This list can go on and is in no way intended to be limited to just these things, but to give us a picture of how when we get into God’s Word, He can reveal many things in our lives we need to deal with.
Repentance is the turn of our lives from the path it is on one hundred and eighty degrees (180°), and going in a different direction, following God’s will for our life. But this cannot be something we confess, repent of and then the next second, minute, hour, or day we are right back to doing. Now understand we will make mistakes and things will happen, but we must recognize the sin and confess it immediately. This is the difference between someone in the Word and one who is not.
The City of Nineveh cried out to God, He heard their cry and “repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not” (Jonah 3.10, KJV). God saw what the Ninevites had done, they repented, turned from their wickedness, truly were someone different and because of this He held back His judgement. The word “repent” in vs. 10 does not mean God repented, changed His mind, or made a mistake. He is unchanging, unwavering, all knowing and therefore, He knew they would repent and turn from their wickedness (Samuel 15.29; Malachi 3.6; James 1.7).
God’s purpose is to daily urge us to repentance, and that is, because He desires to be reconciled to us, and that we should be reconciled to Him. Paul exclaimed to the Corinthians, “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Corinthians 5.18-21, NASB95PARA).
God was calling the Ninevites to be reconciled to Him by repenting of their sins and wickedness, they did, God saw their ‘works,’ their repentance and spared them the judgement He had prepared for them. If we are willing to listen and heed God’s warnings, we too can stave off punishment in many cases, but we must be willing to repent, have a true broken spirit before God, and turn and obey Him and Him alone (Psalm 51.16-17).
Grant, Almighty God, that was we are loaded with so many vices, and so many sins, yea, and scandalous crimes break out daily among us,—O grant, that we may not be hardened against so many exhortations, by which thou invite us to Thyself, but that being made contrite in spirit, whenever Thou denounce on us Thy wrath, we may be really humbled, and so place ourselves before Thy tribunal, that we may, by a true confession and genuine fear, anticipate the judgment which would otherwise have been prepared for us; and that in the meantime relying on Christ our Mediator, we may entertain such a hope of pardon as may rise us up to Thee, and not doubt but that Thou art ready to embrace us, when we shall be moved by a true and real feeling of fear and penitence, since it is a proof of Thy favor, when Thou art pleased to anticipate us, and by Thy Spirit testifies that Thou art a Father to us; and , in a word, may we be so cast down in ourselves, as to rise up our hope even to heaven, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jon 3:1–10). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
 The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Jon 3:10). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
 Calvin, John. (2009). Commentaries on the Twelve Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, MI. Baker Book House. Vol. III. Jonah. P. 113
 New American Standard Bible, 1995 Edition: Paragraph Version. (1995). (2 Co 5:18–21). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
 Calvin, John. (2009). Commentaries on the Twelve Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, MI. Baker Book House. Vol. III. Jonah. P. 114
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