Thursday, 24 March 2022

When God Repents

 Scripture:  Jonah 3 v 6 - 10: "For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.

7  And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: 
8  But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
9  Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
10  And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not."

The very thing that Jonah had fled from, God's will for him to go to Nineveh and prophesy over that city that it would be destroyed in forty days, unless they cleaned up their act, is now a nightmare reality.

Jonah hated Nineveh and wanted no mercy for it.  Most of us can identify with this sentiment concerning the Russian president right now.  We do not want to see any mercy from God on the evil monster attacking Ukraine and its unarmed civilians.

Forty is the Biblical number for God's Judgment, and He had to have the fleeing prophet apprehended by a whale and spat up on Nineveh's nearest beach.  Truly, when God wants something done He finds a way or designs something novel to get His point across.

Now Jonah went out of the belly of the whale into the real frying pan.  Like Putin, Nineveh's king allowed no contrary decisions to his.  Jonah thought about it but no doubt another three days being tossed around inside a whale's gut was very off putting.  

So he cried in a loud voice outside the city delivering God's ultimatum.  Unless you all repent this city will be destroyed by God in forty days time.  And I am off.  I have told them. They won't listen anyway.

But the king did take it seriously and declared a serious fast on the whole city, on humans and animals alike.  Serious prayers of repentance and change were made.  Genuine, from the heart belief that God meant business.  So God repented of the evil intention to destroy Nineveh.

Isaiah 55 v 6 - 9: "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
7  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 
8  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
9  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

The character of our God is love and mercy.  His thoughts and His ways are higher than ours.  He is fair when He sees that our hearts are in the right place.  He acknowledges when we make an effort to shun evil and do good.  He is not fickle or whimsical, He is mindful of our weaknesses, but not tolerant of our disobedience.

The chances of a KGB Communist Colonel repenting before God in washcloth and ashes for an evil war that was not provoked, are unimaginable to the watching world.  They have used every boffin to gauge his intentions, and the fact that his wife and children are stowed in a nuke-proof bunker in Siberia are telling.

If Putin is pushed to the limit of losing this war, he may well resort to biochemical warfare, except that might harm his own troops.  He has put his generals on full nuclear alert and has already brought nuclear weapons into Ukraine.  When he is ready to press the button he will be safely sheltered in his Siberian foxhole.

Jonah was very disgusted that God did not rain fire and brimstone down on Nineveh.  He even wished to die rather than see them spared.  He was watching from a hilltop on day forty but the destruction was averted.

We are all praying for God to spare the whole of Ukraine from any further horrors of war.  There have been many miracles amongst the hardships, and even now the Russian soldiers are deserting to become Ukrainian citizens!  They know that they will be treated as traitors back home, so they must repent of their deeds too.

Videos of farmers using their tractors to drag Russian tanks out of their hiding places and donate them to the Ukrainian military are heart warming.  So are reports that the elite Chechen squads hired to assassinate the hero of Ukraine, and cause more  havoc, failed dismally with many of them killed, the rest sent back home in tatters.

Our God is more merciful and forgiving than most of the population of Earth against Putin, and what would we do if Putin astonished the world and stops the war?  What if he gave back all the land including the Crimea, and Donetsk regions?  What if he sent in his own builders, with his own bricks, mortar, roofs, tar, to fix everything he destroyed?  

That would not include the deaths of helpless civilians trying to flee, or the thousands of kidnapped people and children that have been bussed to Russia.  Nor the millions now squeezed into nations near and far or the awful threats hanging over them all.

Of course homes are destroyed so he and his oligarchs with their fancy palaces should donate them to Ukraine to house their citizens while their homes are being rebuilt.  The Russians would have to feed the whole of Ukraine until their fields yielded grain again.  Personally, its a big stretch of my imagination and I doubt it will happen.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, You are extremely good and nothing is beyond You.  You responded to Nineveh as an example of Your mercy to repentant people everywhere no matter how evil they have been. 
That gives us hope and comfort for our lives, and we thank You for saving us.
Nothing is impossible to You and if You can break through the pride and hardness of Putin's heart to stop the unjustified war, we pray for an end of it.
In Jesus' name.  Amen.