The action of ‘putting on’ is seen in ancient Nineveh. God called Jonah to go to Nineveh to preach a message of repentance to the Ninevites. Jonah did not want to go so he ran in the opposite direction. God confronted him in the belly of the big fish and Jonah repented of his own rebelliousness and sin and went to Nineveh. Our section begins with his preaching to the Ninevites about God’s impending destruction in 40 days if they did not repent and turn to Him.
Jonah 3:4-8 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.6 The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 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, 8 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.
The king of Nineveh realized his sinfulness and turned to God. He also called his people to repent. His actions saved that generation. What did his repentance look like? Scripture describes he mourned over his sin by putting on sackcloth and sitting in ashes along with calling for a fast for everyone. Sackcloth was coarsely woven cloth that would have been scratchy and uncomfortable. Ashes were from the firepit and were a sign of mourning too. The idea was to make yourself uncomfortable so that you would contemplate your sins and abandon the cause-repenting. In fasting you are abstaining from food with the purpose of heightening your own awareness to your needs and then putting them aside as you focus on God and His goodness and your sinfulness. Mourning over your sins shows genuine humility and sorrow for sins committed before Almighty God. These action (sack cloth and ashes) were done to turn their thinking and desires away from self and towards God with a change of heart = repentance.
As I meditated on this today, I asked myself, what does my sorrow over sin look like? Does it cause me to dress differently, sit and contemplate in an uncomfortable place, pray fervently or am I inclined to fast? Our own mourning is personal, but as we see it needs to be exhibited in some way that causes you to be uncomfortable and show you are truly sorry for what you did. True repentance leads to turning in a new way or direction towards God. Remember, repentance of the heart is turning away from the worldly pull and its desires towards God and what he desires. Here are a few verses describing repentance for you to consider:
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:10 Our repentance turns us away from sin towards God and salvation for then their is no grief and death.
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38 Our repentance leads us to find forgiveness, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and peace with Christ. Amen!
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 Our heavenly Father wants all to turn to Him, acknowledge their sin and begin anew with Christ.
Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can find repentance and full forgiveness in Christ. What does your repentance look like? Will you examine your heart today and see if there is any wicked way in you that needs to be changed. Christ makes all things possible.