Jesus said, "The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this
generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of
Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here." According to Jesus, the
men of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah.
remember the story, don't you? God had commanded Jonah, "Arise, go to
Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness
has come up before Me"
(Jonah 1:2). Now
Nineveh was not only a city filled with wickedness, it was also the
capital of the Assyrians, hated enemies of the Israelites. Jonah didn't
want to go. He fled from God's presence. However, after being given
some quality time in the belly of a fish to reflect and pray, Jonah
decided to obey God. Jonah walked through the city proclaiming the
judgment of the Lord upon these pagan people: "Yet forty days, and
Nineveh shall be overthrown!"
people of Nineveh repented. They "proclaimed a fast, and put on
sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them"
(Jonah 3:5). When
word came to the king of Nineveh, "he arose from his throne and laid
aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes." He
decreed that "neither man nor beast, herd nor flock" were to eat or
drink and that "every one" was to "turn from his evil way and from the
violence that is in his hand"
text says that, "God saw their works, that they turned from their evil
way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring
upon them" (Jonah
3:10). God can read men's hearts. He knows more about what is
going on in our heads than we do ourselves. But He did not need to read
the minds of the Ninevites to know that they had repented. He "saw
their works, that they turned away from evil". When the men of Nineveh
repented, nobody was left to wonder whether or not their repentance was
genuine. Nobody was left guessing about their intention to stop
committing evil. Nobody would have doubted they had actually repented of
really need to learn this lesson from the men of Nineveh. We need to
learn how to act when we repent. Repentance isn't just saying "excuse
me," "my bad," or "forgive me," and then going on with our lives as if
nothing happened. Repentance should produce real change in our
actions. We are to "bear fruits worthy of repentance"
(Matthew 3:8). I
am afraid that too many of us think that our repentance should go
unnoticed. We are incognito repenters! And while God hardly asks us to
don sackcloth and ashes today, He does ask us to "do works befitting
resolve to turn away from sin in our lives, and make sure that we behave
in such a way that folks can tell that's what we've done!
Other Articles by Steve Klein
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Changing the Mission of the Church
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