Jonah 3:7-8 (Today’s New International Version)
Then the king issued a proclamation in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.”
In spite of Jonah’s half-hearted, unenthusiastic proclamation, the people of Nineveh respond powerfully. They believe that God can do — and will do — what Jonah has said.
When the news reaches the king of Nineveh, he jumps into action. He orders that every person in the kingdom, including himself, demonstrate their repentance by putting on mourning clothes, fasting, and ceasing the behaviors they know are evil. They take no chances — even their animals are put on a forced fast and covered in sackcloth!
Hundreds of years later, Jesus will use Nineveh as an example of the importance of repentance: “The people of Nineveh will also stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they repented of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone greater than Jonah is here — but you refuse to repent” (Luke 11:32).
The Ninevites’ response to hearing God’s word proclaimed should also be our response, regret for our mistakes and sins, a decision to change our lives for the better, and a trusting reliance on God’s forgiveness.
What convinced you of your need for God’s grace?