Repentance and Restoration - Jonah 3

Deborah Sybil   |   May 25, 2021 

This month at IndiAanya is Bible Book Focus Month! We are journeying through the book of Jonah in a series of posts.

Jonah 3 has just ten verses and yet so much to learn. Four things glared right out of the text as I repeatedly read the chapter -

1. Jonah was given a second chance at the same job.

2. It was the people who first believed and repented. The king followed suit.

3. The entire land repented – people and animals too!

4. Repentance brought restoration.

Jonah 3:1 says that the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time. God was asking him to do the exact thing that he ran away from the first time. One would expect that when Jonah was not interested in the work given to him, God would want someone else to do it; someone more interested, someone who could be relied upon and someone who wouldn’t abandon or run away.

Very rarely does anyone get a second chance at anything in this world, let alone at the same job he once refused to do. But our God is a gracious God. He may have had others to do the job for Him but He gave Jonah a second chance. He has given the world a second chance to do it right. He gives us chances at what we do; to do it right, to do it well, to glorify Him in what we do. Do we recognize and take the second chances we are offered? Do we obey as Jonah obeyed the second time around?

It is interesting to note that all the people of Nineveh, from the greatest to the least, believed God, proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth in response to the message of God as delivered by Jonah. God’s message spoke to them and the word of God records that they simply believed God.

I wonder if any of them thought of strategies to evade the destruction- leave the city, hoard essentials, build walls to protect from enemies, strengthen the army etc. None; they realized that the threat of destruction was a direct result of their wickedness. Their belief in God’s message brought true repentance of heart.

All of them (greatest to the least) proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth which is known as outward expressions of repentance. And this the citizens did on their own. They did not wait for the king to decide the next course of action. This was not a political issue or leadership problem. This was rightly diagnosed by the Ninevites as a problem of sin; this was the matter of every individual heart needing forgiveness from God. The citizens acted first and their leader followed them.

The entire land repented – all the people, all animals, herd and flock – everyone fasted and put on sackcloth. I don’t know if the animals knew what was happening but if the threat were to come true, the animals were also in danger of destruction. The animals were forced to fast (for their own good) and they must have understood that something was up. God was moved by the wholehearted repentance of the people and relented from the destruction that Ninevah was threatened with.

The word of God repeatedly talks about forgiveness and healing. Matthew 9 records how Jesus forgives the sins of a paralysed man to bring him healing. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God says, "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." Here again, there is forgiveness of sins and associated healing.

Our land is facing one of its toughest challenges today. The pandemic has affected the entire creation and we face defeat and loss from every side. We are losing our loved ones and our systems are collapsing. Our land faces destruction and how are we responding?

Are we hoarding essentials or strengthening our immunities or fleeing from the affected areas? Have we failed to hear God’s message in the chaos of the pandemic? Have we failed to simply believe God? Have we failed to fast and put on sackcloth and turn from our wicked ways? Are we waiting for our leaders to decide and act?

We are God’s people, we are called by His name. He had asked His people to humble themselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways. Our God had said that He will hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land. Repentance brought healing! It happened in Ninevah, it happened in Israel as promised to Solomon (2 Chronicles 7) and who knows, it may happen in our time too.


Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

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Deborah Sybil

Deborah loves reading, enjoys cooking and is ready with book/restaurant suggestions for all who ask. She likes travelling and interacting with almost anyone she meets. Nothing interests her as much as the riches of God's word and His work in the present times. She is a professor of Oral Surgery by vocation and lives in Delhi with her husband, Augustine and two adorable sons, Caleb and Bryan.

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