Jonah was a prophet, called to proclaim God’s pending judgement on sin in a place called Nineveh. They were the worst of the worst in the world. They were comparable to the likes of Atilla the Hun or the Third Reich of Nazi Germany. They were bad bad bad. Once Jonah actually showed up to deliver the message here was their response:
The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.
Jonah 3:6-10 ESV
Why don’t we repent as fiercely as the Ninevites? Have we lost touch with the weight of our sin? Have we forgotten what it cost to purchase our forgiveness? Have we reduced repentance to a simple prayer? Have we refused to allow repentance to cost us something? Forgiveness may be free, but repentance should cost us much!
Following King David’s major screw ups, a plague was falling on Israel. This was happening because of David’s sin. It was in the wake of sin that David wrote the heartfelt words of Psalm 51. Its more of a plea on behalf of a man who knows he has sinned against God and knows how severe that is. As part of David’s acts of repentance, he goes to build an altar to the Lord and make sacrifices. The owner of the land that King David is meant to build the altar on offers to give the king the land for free. Here is David’s response:
“But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.”
2 Samuel 24:24 ESV
The king knew that his repentance should cost him and so should ours. Repentance is not feeling ashamed of what we’ve done and asking for forgiveness. Repentance is a brokenness that can only be put back together after the broken pottery (us) have surrendered themselves to the Master Potter (God). Repentance is an end of one thing and the beginning of a whole new thing. That new beginning can’t come until the broken see the need to be fixed. No one can really repent of something they don’t think is sin. And no one will think that sin is that bad if they forget the excruciating pain that Yeshua went through for the cause of our redemption. Sin tore His skin with the lashes, drove the nails through the wrists and feet, and pressed the crown of thorns into our Savior’s skull. How could we ever treat our sin so lightly? To do so dishonors the grace we’ve been shown by God.