Lent Devotional: Jonah 3:5-10

by Jonathan Haefs

Jonah 3:5-10 (click here)
Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” 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. (Jonah 3:8b-10)

All are called to repent by a God who lovingly relents.

God is not required to forgive us.

Repentance is not a quarter that we insert into the divine vending machine in order to purchase the forgiveness we’d like to receive. That’s not how repentance works.

Repentance does not force God to do anything. It does not earn or purchase our forgiveness from God. No. Repentance is the God given means by which we receive the forgiveness that he has purchased!

God forgives because he is simply that kind of God! He is loving and merciful and kind. He is not required to forgive a sinful people…even if they repent! The fact that he does so just reveals his merciful heart.

Think of all the mercy we see in Jonah 3. God shows mercy to Jonah by giving him a second chance to repent and obey. God shows mercy to Nineveh by sending them a prophetic warning concerning the consequences of their sin (he didn’t even have to do that). God shows mercy again to Nineveh by relenting of his wrath and extending grace!

Mercy upon mercy upon mercy…grace upon grace upon grace. And God is this way toward you and me. It doesn’t matter if you are like Jonah and you have hardened your heart toward the Lord, or if you are like Nineveh, completely unaware of the Lord and just living a life of self-centered, sinful indulgence…either way, Jonah 3 declares to us that God is merciful toward us all!

We are all called to repent…to turn from ourselves and turn to the Lord. Will you repent? I’m not asking if you think it is possible, if you think you need to, or if you think you are too far gone… I’m just asking if you are willing to repent. Do you have a heart that longs to turn from trusting in yourself to trusting in the Lord.

No matter who you are…Nineveh or Jonah…God is a God of grace and will lovingly extend his grace EVEN to me and even to you.

*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.