The book of Jonah helps us to understand how God’s grace can extend to all people, especially when there is repentance and there is change.
[Darris McNeely] You might have heard the scripture, “I change not”, talking about the character of God. There’s another scripture about Jesus Christ, “the same yesterday, today, and forever”. What about the character and the nature of God – can He change? Does He change? I recently did a Bible study for our Beyond Today series on the Minor Prophets on the book of Jonah, and as you know, in the book Jonah, he goes to the city of Nineveh and he preaches and tells them that they’re going to be overcome within forty days if they don’t repent. And they do repent. And of course, Jonah has some problems with that. But it says at the time of their repentance, at the end of Jonah chapter 3, he says that “God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way, and God relented from the disaster that He said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it” (Jonah 3:10 Jonah 3:10And 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 to them; and he did it not.
American King James Version×).
What it means is that He repented – the King James Version of the Bible says that He repented. The New Revised Standard Version says that God changed His mind. Now, how do we understand that, when we look at other scriptures that say, “I change not” about God, and our faith, and our reliance upon God? Well, it’s very simple. God does not change when it comes to matters of covenants. And the covenants that He has made throughout Scripture, He has bound Himself to those, and especially the covenant, the new covenant that is in effect today, for those that are called and the elect of God. We can rely on His promise when it comes to a covenant, that He is not going to change.
But when it comes to a prophetic utterance, like what we see here with the book of Jonah, and a people do repent – again, we have ample evidence from God’s word, where God says that if people repent – whether it’s Israel or in this case, whether it’s the people of ancient Nineveh, He will answer that and He will change His mind as to what He has said will happen. And so when it comes to a prophetic utterance, God can change if there’s repentance. When it comes to a covenant, God binds Himself to that. We can rely on God completely. The story in the book of Jonah helps us to understand how God’s grace can extend to all people, especially when there is repentance and there is change, and offers a number of different lessons for us on that topic.
We have on our Beyond Today site a complete Bible study on the book of Jonah, as part of our Beyond Today series on the Minor Prophets. You probably want to check that out and get the full story about Jonah and the application and the lessons for today.
That’s BT Daily. Join us next time.