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Thursday, February 6, 2014

We Need Repentance, Too

Jonah 1:1-2 (ESV)
1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”

Nineveh was one of the royal cities of the Assyrian Empire. It was a pagan city yet God sent a prophet to proclaim its destruction because of the exceeding sinfulness there. Jonah was chosen to be that prophet. He didn't want to go because he knew that God would forgive them when they repented. Jonah did not see them as worth saving. He didn't want them to be saved.

Jonah thought that he could go somewhere else and ignore God's command with impunity. He, like so many others, was wrong. You cannot walk with the Lord in disobedience to Him. No one can hide from Him. This should have been learned from Adam on but people still try to hide.

But God used the rebellion of Jonah. God send a storm which would sink the ship Jonah boarded. The sailors prayed to their gods but got no answer. They drew lots and discovered that Jonah was the reason for the storm. Jonah told them the story of his God and the men feared Him but would not throw Jonah into the sea because they did not see that Jonah had done anything against them. Finally, they threw Jonah overboard and the sea became calm. These pagan sailors made a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to Him. God used Jonah's rebellion to bring these men to faith.

Jonah 1:16 (ESV)
16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.

After being swallowed by a fish and repenting, God had the fish vomit Jonah on the dry land. God still wanted Jonah to be the one who would preach to the Ninevites. This time Jonah went about the task.

Jonah 3:4-5 (ESV)
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.

Fasting without prayer is just going hungry. God does not require human distress. He seeks those who will seek Him. Fasting focuses prayers so that they become pure in seeking the Lord. Sackcloth is a garment of repentance. The people believed and sought the Lord. They turned from their wickedness. So, God forgave this pagan city and did not destroy them.

Jonah 3:10 (ESV)
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.

But Jonah knew this would happen all along. He knew what God would do. He evidently knew that the Ninevites would repent if he preached to them. He didn't want them to do so. He wanted their destruction. He wanted it so badly that he only wanted to die when God spared Nineveh.

Jonah 4:1-3 (ESV)
1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. 2 And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

Jonah needed repentance too. The story for Nineveh was one of redemption. This pagan city which had unimaginable evil became a city which worshiped the Lord. It may have seemed impossible to everyone but Jonah. Yet, Jonah knew that the Lord wasn't sending him to Nineveh to simply declare destruction. He knew that God was sending him to bring the city to repentance and save the city.

The Bible doesn't record Jonah's repentance. We really don't know if he ever repented. Maybe he hated Nineveh or he knew of their evil and personally couldn't forgive what they had done. He lacked that forgiveness that Jesus said must accompany people who are united with God.

I live in a country that desperately needs to repent before the Lord allows others to destroy it. It is a nation which is dying from the inside out. It certainly needs to repent. But I must remember that I must repent too. I cannot judge the nation. I am not pure. I hold my sins close to the vest and pretend they don't exist. I have prejudices that do not reflect the love the Lord has for me.

Yes, we, as a nation need repentance. But I do too.


Anthony Chia said...

Some days ago you wrote from 2 Chronicles 33, that the worst of sinners from children of God, could repent, and this entry, is about the same - the worst of sinners, this time, of the pagans (Assyrians of Nineveh), could repent, too. The Assyrians were atrocious people, and Jonah knew that. Assyrians were known for atrocities, brutality, and were sadists; even their kings were so. They would commit atrocities to inspire terror in those they exacted tributes. Cut open the belly of people like they were rams!

While God hates evil and sins, God loves the sinners. When would God NOT hold, and let out His wrath is not within our full grasp; He is God, we are NOT. However, we can glean from Scripture that stubbornly wicked people better be careful, yet we must also know that Scripture, from Jonah 4:2 - "... for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.", that God would like to give people time and opportunities to repent. There are also many examples in Scripture that God let out His wrath, and people ended up dying. So, what is our advice?

I say we should not profane the grace of God.
I say we should not be obstinate and continue in our wicked ways.
I say we should not delay, lest we miss the boat - too late to repent.
I say we should know, there can be dire consequences; He could punish, even if we don't die (immediately).

In that 2 Chronicles 33 account, for evils of King Manasseh and people the of God, God brought upon them, the atrocious army of the Assyrians, and that broke the camel's back, so to speak (2 Chronicles 33:11-13).

On this subject, we have to be careful to give a balanced perspective, and do NOT be like the overly grace preachers who insist that all the sins of a believer, including his future ones, had been forgiven of the person at his entry into salvation, and following from that, God could NOT be upset with him or punish him or chastise him in punishment (even said the Holy Spirit could NOT convict a believer of sin!)

God no longer punishes?! Then, why this warning, we see in Hebrews 10:29-31 -

29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Indeed, we are all NOT arrived, we need to be repenting, every so often; and that included me, too!

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

Steve Finnell said...


Do dead sheep have eternal security? Can sheep ever be lost? The favorite proof text of advocates for the erroneous doctrine of "once saved always saved" is John 10:27-28.

John 10:27-28 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me, 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

Jesus said His sheep hear His voice. Jesus told us all how to become a member of His flock. (Mark 16:16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved.....) If you have not believed and have not been baptized in water, then you have not listened to the voice of Jesus. There is only one way to become a sheep.

Jesus said His sheep follow Him, He did not say that He would force them to become sheep.

Jesus said His sheep will be given eternal life and no one will snatch them from His hand.

No one can snatch you from the hand of Jesus, however, you can choose to leave His hand voluntarily.

Matthew 10:22 You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.

Why would Jesus instruct His sheep to endure to the end, in order to be saved, if the sheep were once saved always saved?


Acts 5:1-11.....3 But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back some of the price of the land? 4 .....You have not lied to men but to God."5 And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last. (Did this dead sheep, who lied to God, have eternal security?)

Acts 5:11 And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.(Why would the whole church be in fear because of two dead sheep if all the sheep were once saved always saved?)


1 Timothy 5:14-15 Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; 15 for some have already turned aside to follow Satan.

Satan did not snatch these widows from the hand of Jesus, these sheep made a choice to follow Satan.

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

The love of money can cause sheep to wander from the faith. Satan has no power to force people from the faith. Men have a choice.

1 Timothy 4:1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith.....

The Holy Spirit says some sheep will fall from the faith.
Who do you trust the Holy Spirit or John Calvin?