It occurs to me while reading the Old Testament that God was gracious to His people. But He wasn’t just gracious to His people, He was gracious to nations and cities that were enemies of His people, and those that did not worship Him, and often to those that outright hated Him.
Why would He be gracious to them? Why would He give second chances to people that hated Him?
Because He is God. The Ninevites were hostile, wicked people. Nineveh was a large city, with a huge population for the time that it existed. It is said to have exceeded 100,000 residents in its prime. They were wicked, and they did not like Hebrews, for whatever reason, and were evil towards them. It was the capital of the Assyrian Empire, which was often hostile to the nation of Israel.
And yet, God sent Jonah to preach to them, to give them a chance to repent and turn towards Him. Jonah resisted, but did end up preaching the message of destruction and repentance towards God. The Ninevites listened, and turned their lives around, from the King on down to the peasants.
That is the power of God’s forgiveness. He does not judge between a Jew and a gentile when it comes to offering grace and mercy. He gives of each freely, even when we do not ask for it. He gave the Ninevites a chance to follow Him, and to repent for doing wickedly.
He also judges people, and nations, when they turn away from Him. God is longsuffering, and His patience is supernatural. It is not everlasting. His righteousness demands that eventually He take care of wickedness.
The Ninevites were exceeding wicked. They eventually went back to their wicked ways, and were as violent and greedy, and as deceitful as they had been before Jonah came. Nahum had to tell them that God was not giving them any more chances.
His patience had run out.
Eventually, God’s patience runs out even with His children, Christians. When we say we’re not going to fall in to that sin any more, and then we willfully engage in sinful behavior. When we promise that we’ll surrender to that particular ministry, or help the next person we find that is in need, or share the gospel with “at least three people this week.”
God hears every promise. He knows every sin. And He knows when we’re lying to Him. He knows when the promise is not being made in good faith.
God is longsuffering to someone that is really trying to live a righteous life. His patience wears thin on those that lie when they pray, or “repent” knowing full well that they have no intention of quitting their sin.
The Ninevites learned this the hard way. Eventually, so did the children of Israel. I am afraid that America is on the same path.
More and more people are turning away from God. We must continue to follow Christ, and more than that, lead others to Him. This country is ripe for a revival of spirit, but we need workers to go out there and tell people about Him. If we don’t, who will?