Jonah prayed a prayer of repentance while in the belly of the fish. But would he follow through?
There are three principles of repentance that we can learn from Jonah the and Ninevites.
Repentance requires change
Repentance is much more than saying you’re sorry. It’s even more than saying you’re sorry and meaning it. Repentance requires change. Jonah’s repentance began in the belly of the fish. But it wasn’t complete until he obeyed the Lord and went to Nineveh. He wasn’t finished until he preached the message God had told him to preach.
The Ninevites changed, too. In verse 9 it says that “God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way.”
Obedience must be prompt
Charles Spurgeon once said, “Delayed obedience is disobedience.” But Jonah did not delay. When the word of the Lord came to him a second time, telling him to go to Nineveh and preach the message God would give him, he went immediately. And when he arrived he quickly set to preaching.
Nineveh was given forty days’ notice of their destruction. Not everyone gets that kind of notice. But they did not delay their repentance. They did not wait until the time drew near. When the king of Nineveh heard, he responded. And when the people heard, they acted.
Repentance must be fervent
Jonah was bold in his repentance. He did not hold back when he preached to the Ninevites, even though it could have gone badly for him. Likewise, the Ninevites were fervent in their repentance. They put on sack cloth and refused to eat and turned away from their wicked ways in the hope that God might relent.
These three principles of repentance, shown by Jonah and the Ninevites, should define our repentance as well.