1) Change in Beliefs
They believed God. Do you believe the word of God or do you try and twist it to make it fit your lifestyle? Belief will always lead to a change in actions. (James 2:18-20)
2) Change in Positions
The King stepped off his throne which meant he gave up being the ruler and surrendered his life to the authority of God. The sin from the beginning is that we want to be God of our life. Are there areas in your life that you are not allowing God to control? (Matthew 16:24)
3) Change in Attitude
The King then removed his robe which would demonstrate to everyone that he was the King and an important person. Jesus humbled Himself by laying aside his Kingship for a time for our benefit and we are called to die to self and make God’s will and others more important than ourselves.
The King and the people did not stop by doing these things there are some true indicators of how we know their lives were changed.
4) Turn from your evil ways
“Let everyone turn from their evil ways” Turning from evil ways meant more than just stopping doing things they knew were wrong but also the things they believed they were justified in doing. We all have things in our lives that we tend to do that God calls sins but we call habits. Just like all cultures there are things that God says are wrong but the society says they are not and even go as far to say that they are morally acceptable to participate in. We live in a culture that does not want anyone telling them that what they are doing is wrong but for a changed life to happen we have to be in agreement with God and what He says is right and wrong.
Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
When we turn from evil ways we are also turning from things God says are wrong. We all have a tendency to make our sins not sound as bad and we surely do not call them evil. The first thing we must understand is that the things that God calls sins are evil to Him.
Ezekiel 33:11 Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?
Repentance always involves a turning from something and toward God. Most people want God but they want a god that does not call them to change or give up things in their lives. We tend to hold on to some of our sins as we come to Him but true repentance is letting go of those things because God sees them as evil.
The King was asking them to repent from general sin but also specific sin and that was the violence they were known for against the other nations. We need to get specific about what are sins are and not just pray “forgive me of my sins” but name them so that we can turn away from them. Many of our sins are habits we have formed that we use to get through life. Anything we turn to besides turning to God is sin and we need to let go of those things and take our burdens and our cares to God.
Matthew 19:16-22 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
The Rich man wanted to have eternal life on his terms and would not relinquish control of his riches. Jesus made it clear that in order to follow Him you would have to give up control of everything. Does God’s Word have the final authority on what is right and wrong? Are there sins (evil ways) that you are holding onto?
5) Cry Out For Mercy
“Let them call out to God” The King has declared a royal command so that if there was anyone not involved in what was taking place they would be forced to for the sake of the city. They are to beg for God to not do what He is at liberty to do which is to destroy them. This goes against our culture who does not think that people deserve Hell or punishment from God but the king realizes that God has no obligation to change what He decided to do. The King as well as the people plead to God for mercy in hopes that God would turn from what He proclaimed would happen.
God owes us nothing and so many people live their lives (including me) thinking God owes them something. God has always been a merciful God and He always punishes those who do evil but he also shows mercy to those who do evil if they repent.
Jeremiah 18:7-11 If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, 8 and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. 9 And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, 10 and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it.
Some say God changed his mind but every word of judgment is intended for an opportunity for people to change and escape the punishment they deserve. Just like a parent who says “if you do not clean your room you will be grounded” give their child a choice so God allows us to escape His wrath of punishment for the sins (evil) we have committed.
The word relents or to change one’s mind always carried with it a sense of emotion. So it is saying that God was feeling very deeply about the punishment that was going to take place which is why He sent Jonah in the first place. For those who believe that God is some evil God who wishes punishment on His creation is a mistake in the reading of the scripture. God is emotionally attached to the punishment He will give just like a loving parent has for their child.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,[a] not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
God hates sin so much that He came and died for it so that we could escape the wrath that we deserve to get. The reason we do not cry out to God for mercy is because we do not believe we need it. Many people think that they are pretty good people so therefore they do not need God to really do much for them. The reality is that we are all separated from God and it is only by His grace that we do not get the wrath we deserve. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
The reason God sent the bad news was to offer a chance for them to change their ways. The reason that God tells us the consequences of our sins is so that we will cry out to Him for mercy. If we could earn our own salvation through good works or through purgatory, then Jesus Christ death on the cross was for nothing. Jesus died for us because we could not earn our own salvation and so we can be forgiven as we cry out to God for mercy not because of any actions that we could do on our own. The Message of the gospel is not fair because it is not about our actions but the actions of God toward us as He shows mercy to underserving people.
Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Iniquity: immoral or grossly unfair behavior: (Wickedness, sinfulness, Immorality, Evil) “a liberal lawyer could uncover the iniquities committed on his own doorstep”
Our sins are viewed by God as being evil and wicked. God forgiving the people of Nineveh was what Jonah did not want to happen because of the evil they had done. The Good news of Christianity is Jesus took all of our evil ways and paid for them.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
The passage says “Might”, because only those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved. Not everyone will be spared from God’s wrath but only those who turn from their evil ways and cry out for mercy to Him because of what Jesus Christ (God in the flesh) did for us on the cross.
John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
The wrath of God is removed and we are shown mercy because of what Jesus Christ has done. Have you cried out for mercy? Have you accepted the free gift of salvation that comes through Jesus Christ? Have you turned from your evil ways in order to follow Jesus?