Do you believe in second chances?
God’s concern for Nineveh is undiminished, his mission unchanged. The change happens in Jonah, who is given a second chance by God. Once more God sends His word for Nineveh to Jonah.
This time, Jonah responds in obedience. In turn, the people of Nineveh respond to God’s word. They believe in God, and led by their king, the whole city repents.
This is Nineveh, whose wickedness had come up before God. A wickedness that was the reason for Jonah’s mission. God’s message through Jonah is one of judgement: forty days and Nineveh will be no more. Yet God’s word of judgement leads to an entire city turning towards God: even the animals are involved in this wholesale repentance.
Once again, a revelation comes from a pagan, as the king – urging the whole city to humble themselves before God – muses that, perhaps, “God may yet relent and with compassion turn from His fierce anger so that we will not perish”.
God does indeed see the repentance of Nineveh, and, “had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened”. God is revealed as a God who takes notice, who sees and who hears. A God of compassion who continually intervenes so that people will not perish. It is not just runaway prophets who receive mercy and get second chances from God, but wicked pagan nations too.
Who among us welcomes storms, or words of judgement on our lives from God? On first appearance, these things threaten to destroy our lives. Yet because of God’s concern, his great compassion, and his wonderful mercy –these very things become instead gateways to our salvation, and thousands upon thousands second chances.