The Old Testament reading tells of mass repentance.
6 When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes. He dressed himself in burlap and sat on a heap of ashes. 7 Then the king and his nobles sent this decree throughout the city:
“No one, not even the animals from your herds and flocks, may eat or drink anything at all. 8 People and animals alike must wear garments of mourning, and everyone must pray earnestly to God. They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence. 9 Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.”
10 When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened. Jonah 3:6-10, NLT.
The New Testament tells of torment of those who refuse to repent.
20 But the people who did not die in these plagues still refused to repent of their evil deeds and turn to God. They continued to worship demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood—idols that can neither see nor hear nor walk! 21 And they did not repent of their murders or their witchcraft or their sexual immorality or their thefts. Revelation 9:20, NLT.
I think God will go to great lengths to bring us back to him. He’ll send people to speak into our lives (oh, who is brave enough to speak in love?) or he will let us reap consequences–though I doubt that’s his first choice. Will I be obedient to him? Or will I run like Jonah? Will I feel God’s great compassion for a broken world?
10 Then the Lord said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. 11 But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?” Jonah 4:10-11, NLT.
My youngest came downstairs this morning because she had some bad dreams. She is eight. She curled up in my arms and I held her close and felt her fall asleep against me. I don’t know what her future looks like, but God does. And I know that he will go to great lengths to have a relationship with her.
The Bible is a multifaceted testimony of love–of a God who loves us and who sends a son to redeem and restore. I’m thankful for his word for guidance, his spirit for conviction and comfort, his son for salvation.
We are looking into 2015 with a new Bible-in-a-year reading plan that will cover Monday through Friday. If you are interested in exploring the Bible in a new way and would like to guest write or join our group of contributors in 2015, contact Courtney at 66booksinayear @ gmail.com.