Jonah 3:10 “When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened.” NLT
“It’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind.” That old adage has been my defense for many an indecisive moment in my life. Should I wear the blue dress or the red one? Eat Italian or Mexican? Read the novel or the newspaper?
I’m allowed to change my mind, because I don’t always know for sure what I want. God, on the other hand, is supposed to be unchanging. He’s not supposed to change His mind (see 1 Samuel 15:29). He said Nineveh would be overturned in forty days (see Jonah 3:4). God was very specific.
Yet, it says it right there in black and white. God changed His mind.
Not really. Not when we understand God’s nature. You see, God’s compassion is always hidden deep inside His judgment. It’s not ever His will for any to perish. Unlike people, God doesn’t feel the need to adhere to strict rules of justice and punishment. He is free to act however He wants. And as long as His purpose is accomplished, He will always lean toward compassion. After all, it is His nature to be compassionate.
So, He really didn’t change His mind, after all. On the surface, it may look like He did. But that’s just because of our limited human understanding of God’s nature.
Let’s look at it another way. God said that Nineveh would be overturned.
Hmmm . . .
The way I see it, Nineveh was overturned. They were one of the wickedest cities around. They were immoral. Perverted, even. They were rebellious. They were the worst kinds of sinners.
Then they heard God’s word, and for the first time ever, they saw themselves the way God saw them. They realized just how messed up their lives were, and they decided they didn’t want to be that way any more. They tore their clothes, they fell on their faces and they begged for forgiveness.
Now, if that’s not what you call “overturned,” I don’t know what is.
So really, God didn’t change His mind at all, did He? His desire was to get rid of the sin which was destroying them, and He was going to do it, one way or another. When His mission was accomplished, He showed compassion. He didn’t want to destroy the people. He wanted to destroy the sin.
What was true for Nineveh is true for us, as well. God hates sin. He hates its effects on our lives and on our world. And He wants to see it destroyed.
We can either repent, the way that Nineveh repented, and get rid of the sin willingly – which is no easy task. Or, we can keep right on living in rebellion against God, and accept the consequences of our actions. One way or another, God will crush sin. We can either lay that sin down and step aside, or we can hang onto it and risk being crushed, ourselves.
But even then, God’s nature is compassion. Even to the last possible second, even with our dying breath, we can cry out to God. We can repent. We can change our minds about our sin, and tell God how sorry we are, and He will show compassion. He will welcome us into His arms, hold us tight and never let go. That was His desire all along, because He loves us.
And He will never, ever change His mind about that.
Dear Father, Thank You for Your unchanging love. Forgive me for the sin that creeps into my life – I know You hate it. Please crush the sin before it crushes me.