And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. – Jonah 3:10 KJV
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The Devotional for today is the sequel to the Devotional titled “Salvation Is Of The Lord”, where the desperation of Jonah to get one back on the oppressors of his people and himself got him crossing path with the Will of Jehovah. Probably in a bid not to inform the Assyrians of the imminent overturning of their city by Jehovah, he on that occasion had chosen to go in the direction of Tarshish instead of Nineveh, an action that constituted disobedience to Jehovah and he got punished for it, as he was made to spend three days in the belly of the fish until he repented of his thoughts and became willing to deliver the message of Jehovah. Realising how resolved Jehovah was for the message to be delivered, Jonah eventually went to Nineveh where he spent three days informing the people of the intention of Jehovah to overturn the land after forty days – Jonah 3:1-3.
In a reaction which was probably unexpected from supposedly non-worshippers of Jehovah, the Ninevites and their king believed God and the message he sent to them, and decided to act on it – Jonah 3:5. Worthy of note is the awareness of a people who were not known to believe in Jehovah, that He will always forgive if there is genuine repentance, as they decided to thread the path of seeking his forgiveness.
With directives from their king who led the lines himself, a fast for every living thing was declared with the following instructions;
- No man, beast, herd or flock was to taste anything, either food or drink – Jonah 3:6-7. Every thing that had breath will have to be involved in this project of seeking the mercy and forgiveness of the god of Jonah – 2Chr. 7:14.
- Every living thing was to cover itself with sack cloth – Jonah 3:8a. This was the physical demonstration of the remorseful state that they were expected be in before Jehovah and all their actions and conduct during that period will be expected to be along the same pattern – Isa. 58:2-4. It was not going to be right for anyone to act contrary to the remorseful mood that they should all be in.
- Every one should call on Jehovah – Jonah 3:8b. This was not going to be about self denial and physical demonstration of remorse only, as the reason for the exercise must be presented in prayer to the One who remains the focal point of all those acts of submission. It will simply be a waste of time and mere act of self infliction of pain if prayers are not rendered under the right conditions.
- Every one should give up their violence and evil ways – Jonah 3:8c. Whatever act that each of them may have been involved with and which Jehovah considers as evil and violent must be given up. This remains the major foundation of the entire process as it requires individuals to fully and honestly identify personal actions that may be so classified with a view to confessing them and taking the decision not to continue in them.
All the people heeded the instruction of the king and the sincerity of their act was evident to the Lord who in the scripture that is the foundation of today’s Devotional acknowledged all their actions with regards to how they turned from their evil ways, and so he repented of the evil, that he had planned to do unto them.
This is another demonstration of the unwillingness of Jehovah to destroy the sinner, irrespective of the extent of the decay in the relationship that such may have with Him – Eze. 18:23; 33:11. Jehovah will always show mercy for all who fear and obey His instructions just as He will not stop short of punishing anyone who disobeys his instructions, as He is no respecter of personalities – Acts 10:34.
It sometimes comes as a surprise to note how people who are identified as unbelievers react to the things of Jehovah, in comparison to those who claim to be Christians. The unbelieving king on hearing the message of God did not only feel bad and remorseful, but he, together with his people, took appropriate steps to avoid the anger of Jehovah. It was a whole nation, united in remorse and repentance, seeking the forgiveness of Jehovah and they got it. As earlier stated, Christians need to remember always that Jehovah has no respect for personalities as He is interested not in the hearers of the Word but in the doers – Jms. 1:22-25.
Most Christians and their leaders today, in similar situation would most likely have been more occupied with questioning the authenticity of the message, or the personality of the messenger. In the process, a huge opportunity to save themselves from imminent danger is lost, only for them to begin to seek enemies who they want to blame for their mis-fortune, as they conclude that Jehovah could not be behind their challenges. They need to be informed that the possibility of Jehovah being behind that misfortune should actually be the first consideration, as no harm can manifest in the life of a true Christian, without Jehovah knowing, either as the one applying penalty but using a third party or making it a path to greater glory for the Christian.
Do not harden your heart when you hear His voice. That will be an indirect way of claiming to be infallible and being perfect, else such would have given a thought to the possibility of being punished for errors committed. The Christian will be able to save self from calamity and destruction if Jehovah’s opinion is quickly sought in that situation, sincerely admit guilt to all charges and follow such admission with genuine repentance. That may be the only way out of that situation that you have found yourself in. May God grant us a humble heart to acknowledge our errors and genuinely repent from them in Jesus name. Amen.