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The Reasons Why the Ninevites’ Repentance to God Won Them God’s Mercy
By Wang Rong
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Nowadays, the world is more and more corrupt and evil. People are far away from God and betray God. Even those who believe in the Lord follow the trends of the world. They often fail to practice the Lord’s word and live in a state of committing sins and then confessing their sins. Moreover, various disasters occur frequently and a plague is spreading all over the world. Many people realize that this is a warning from God to us humanity. Only by truly repenting to God can we be protected by God and not be destroyed by disasters. Just like the Ninevites, they were also evil and corrupt, but after repenting to God, they won God’s mercy and did not fall into disaster. How did the Ninevites truly repent to God? How can we truly repent to God like the Ninevites? Let’s read this article together.
The Bible records that the Ninevites never worshiped the true God, resulting in straying from God and becoming ever more corrupt and evil. As a result, their wickedness had come before God’s gaze, and God decided to destroy the city of Nineveh. However, prior to His destruction of it, God sent Jonah to tell all the people there, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4). When hearing Jonah preach God’s will, those people, from the supreme king to his subjects, all wore sackcloth and ashes, neither ate nor drank, and cried mightily to God and repented to Him. Eventually, Jehovah God turned and repented. The fate of the Ninevites was thus changed, and they were spared from being destroyed. Though this thing was recorded in a brief way in the Bible, it involved the fate of the whole great city of Nineveh. So how did the Ninevites repent to God to get God’s mercy? Could it be that they only repented through outward behaviors of wearing sackcloth and ashes and fasting?
How Did the Ninevites Repent to God?
I did not gain a deeper understanding of God’s mercy on the Ninevites until later when I saw a book in my friend’s house. The book says, “Once all of the people of Nineveh, from the king to the commoners, learned that Jehovah God was angry with them, God could clearly and plainly see every single one of their subsequent actions and their conduct in its entirety, as well as every one of the decisions and choices that they made. … The reason why God’s decision—to spare the Ninevites from catastrophe—was so swift is that God observed the heart of every person of Nineveh. He saw what they held deep within their hearts: their sincere repentance and confession for their sins, their sincere belief in Him, their deep sense of how their wicked acts had enraged His disposition, and the resulting fear of Jehovah God’s impending punishment. At the same time, Jehovah God also heard their prayers, which came from deep within their hearts, entreating Him to no longer be angry at them, so that they might avoid this catastrophe. When God observed all these facts, little by little His anger faded away. Regardless of how great His anger had previously been, His heart was touched when He saw the sincere repentance deep within these people’s hearts, and so He could not bear to bring catastrophe upon them, and He ceased to be angry at them. Instead, He continued to extend His mercy and tolerance toward them and continued to guide and provide for them” (“God Himself, the Unique II”).
“This ‘evil way’ does not refer to a handful of evil acts, but to the evil source from which people’s behavior springs. ‘Turning away from his evil way’ means that those in question will never commit these actions again. In other words, they will never again behave in this evil way; the method, source, purpose, intent and principle of their actions have all changed; they will never again use those methods and principles to bring enjoyment and happiness to their hearts. The ‘abandon’ in ‘abandon the violence in their hands’ means to lay down or to cast aside, to fully break with the past and to never turn back. When the people of Nineveh abandoned the violence in their hands, this proved and represented their true repentance. God observes people’s outward appearances as well as their hearts. When God observed the true repentance in the hearts of the Ninevites without question and also observed that they had left their evil ways and abandoned the violence in their hands, He changed His heart. This is to say that these people’s conduct and behavior and various ways of doing things, as well as their true confession and repentance of sins in their hearts, caused God to change His heart, to change His intentions, to retract His decision and not to punish or destroy them. Thus, the people of Nineveh achieved a different outcome for themselves. They redeemed their own lives and at the same time won God’s mercy and tolerance, at which point God also retracted His wrath” (“God Himself, the Unique II”).
This passage showed that the Ninevites believed God and could recognize His voice. When hearing Jonah say, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown,” they felt fear and trembling, realizing that these words were from God, because only God possesses such great authority and power to overthrow a great city. They were clearly aware that their own evil behavior had already offended Jehovah God and God would surely punish them. Yet, they did not try to escape, nor did they oppose God; instead they completely accepted and obeyed Him. The Ninevites, from the supreme king to his subjects, all fasted, wore sackcloth, forsook the violence in their hands and turned away from their evil ways, and strived together in their repentance and confession before Jehovah God and no longer sinned or resisted God. From this we can see God’s having mercy on the Ninevites was not just because of their behavior of wearing sackcloth and ashes and not eating or drinking anything, but because their repentance was not superficial nor temporary. In it, there was not the slightest disguise, much less any purpose. It came from the depths of their hearts, sincere and thorough. God observed the bottom of the Ninevites’ hearts and saw their true repentance, so that He showed them mercy.
Do We Have Sincere Repentance?
Let’s take a look at ourselves: Though we may repent to the Lord after committing sins, most of the time we are merely satisfied with confessing our transgressions to God in exchange for peace and ease in the heart. Sometimes for our own evil deeds, we fast andbut we will once more fall into our old ways. Also, oftentimes when we do something that is not in accordance with the truth, for example, in order to defend our own interests we will reveal hot-bloodedness, but we think as long as we can refrain from doing so when faced with things the next time, we then have true repentance. Though We restrain ourselves outwardly, yet we still hate others in our hearts. The list goes on. In fact, these are just outward practices, which do not equal repentance from the root.
True repentance does not only refer to a repentance showed in words, nor to some behavior that is outwardly pious. Neither does it mean to refrain ourselves from a certain evil act. Rather, it means that we can reflect on the root cause of our evil acts—our intents and purposes of doing things as well as the principles of our actions, and after knowing these things, we can thoroughly abandon them and will not commit sins anymore. Only then will we have truly repented. For instance, when we repent to God after committing sins, we can figure out what has caused us to commit evil, and once knowing that it is due to our wrong intents, purposes of doing things, and principles of action, we can turn them around quickly, cease to do things by these methods, and act according to God’s demands in everything. Only this is the true repentance and only in this way can we receive God’s mercy, and will be accepted and blessed by Him. But now we humanity in the last days have become ever more deeply corrupted by Satan. Although we want to leave our respective evil ways behind and abandon the violence in our own hands, we are still capable of involuntarily sinning. Then, how can we not commit sins and have true repentance? Actually, we cannot achieve true repentance by ourselves, so we have to rely on God to save us.
The Way to Repent to God
The Lord Jesus predicted: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come” (John 16:12–13). “He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). And the Bible says: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). “Sanctify them through Your truth: Your word is truth” (John 17:17). “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin to salvation” (Hebrews 9:28). From these verses, we can see that when the Lord comes again, He will express many truths according to our stature, tell us what we did not understand before, and do one step of judgment work. It is also mentioned in the verses, “the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” “Sanctify them through Your truth.” It shows that when the Lord comes again in the last days, He will use words to judge our sins, so that we can reflect on ourselves, achieve true repentance to God, and be completely free from the bondage of sins, just as the words say: “What the work of judgment brings about is man’s understanding of the true face of God and the truth about his own rebelliousness. The work of judgment allows man to gain much understanding of the will of God, of the purpose of God’s work, and of the mysteries that are incomprehensible to him. It also allows man to recognize and know his corrupt substance and the roots of his corruption, as well as to discover the ugliness of man. These effects are all brought about by the work of judgment, for the substance of this work is actually the work of opening up the truth, the way, and the life of God to all those who have faith in Him” (“Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth”).
In the last days, various disasters have descended, and plagues, fires, floods, and earthquakes are everywhere. The prophecies of the Lord’s return have basically been fulfilled. The most critical thing at present is whether we can welcome the Lord’s return and accept God’s judgment work. It is the only way for us to achieve true repentance and be purified and transformed. Now the Lord Jesus has already returned and He is Almighty God, Christ of the last days. Almighty God has expressed all truths that have people purified and saved, and carried out the work of judging and purifying people. Many people who accept the work of Almighty God have experienced God’s judgment in the last days and their sinful nature within has changed to varying degrees, and they have borne testimonies of true repentance. Today these experiential testimonies have been publicly available on the websites of The Church of Almighty God. I believe that every brother and sister who truly believes in the Lord wants to achieve true repentance and win God’s mercy. Then how should we deal with it when we hear the good news that the Lord has returned?
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In recent years, disasters around the world are growing larger and larger in scale. The Philippines is hit by one disaster after another. As the pandemic is still spreading, here come famines, and in some places, people do not have food. Facing the frequent disasters, are you reflecting on the following: Now is the end of the last days, and the signs of the Lord’s return have appeared. Accordingly, the Lord should have returned. So, how can I welcome the Lord’s return and avoid falling into disasters?