The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”
3 Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. 4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 This is the proclamation he issued 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. 8 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. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.
God’s desire ultimately is that all men be saved. His purpose for man is that man walks in accordance to His ways. The theme of Scripture in summary is Salvation, God restoring man to fellowship and unbroken relationship to Him.
However, it is not in His character to impose on man to choose his plan and purpose for man.
God is both a God of Mercy and of Justice.
Therefore, the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore, He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him. Isaiah 30:18
And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.
But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 2 Peter 3:7-9
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. 2 Chronicles 7:14
So, we see consistently that God is a God of Mercy. He is dynamic is His dealings with men in the sense that he is ever ready to listen to man’s plea for mercy. That doesn’t however change the fact that He is a God of Justice.
Like Henry C. Thiessen puts it;
“Immutability is not to be confused with immobility. God is active and enters into relationships with changing men. In these relationships it is necessary for an unchanging God to change in His dealings with changing men in order to remain unchangeable in His character and purposes”. Henry C. Thiessen
In his dynamicity in dealing with Men it’s important to note that His Character and purpose remains unchanged.
Now in the story of Nineveh we see God’s Character retained and yet we see him change His mind about His intended Judgement towards the people of Nineveh simply because He doesn’t shut his ears to a cry for Mercy. He welcomes repentance. He is a Merciful God.
Scripture tells us that the people of Nineveh repented at the Preaching of Jonah .
The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed, a greater than Jonah is here. Luke 11:32
When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. Jonah 3;10
His ultimate purpose for the people of Nineveh was that they repent and be reconciled to Him. It does make sense that God relented from bringing the destruction he had threatened via His messenger Jonah.
Funny that Jonah was offended at the Lord’s compassion, but the Lord’s response to Jonah I believe would have brought a reset to Jonah’s thinking and should do same for us.
But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” Jonah 4:10-11.
See also Jonah 4:1-11.
Our God is Merciful!!!