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.
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
God sees. God sees the genuineness of our attitudes and actions. In this passage, God saw the genuine change of mind of the people of Nineveh. Nineveh’s repentance was acceptable to God. The expressions of repentance: fasting and wearing sackcloth were sincere demonstrations of their turning from evil.
Jonah’s mission had been marvelously achieved. He proclaimed God’s message and the people repented of their evil ways.
The Prophet Joel speaks of the divine proposition which underlies prophetic ministry: Return to the Lord your God for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. (Joel 2:13)
When we repent, God relents from our due punishment. He is compassionate and full of mercy. God is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9b)
The Bible assures us of God’s forgiveness in Jesus Christ:
Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)
If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Merciful God, we thank you that, although seeing all things, you are yet patient, willing that all would come to repentance. Please be patient with Australia that we may yet turn to Jesus in repentance, and experience your mercy, in reconciliation with you and with one another. Amen.