The simple definition of repentance that I remember from church is, “To turn around.” I see this theme emphasized literally and figuratively in the book of Jonah.
In chapter one, Jonah disobeys God’s word to go to Nineveh. In fact, Jonah goes in the opposite direction from Nineveh. Chapter two is Jonah’s story of coming to repentance. Chapter three is a picture of Jonah turning around and heading straight to Nineveh. Chapter 4 is God’s correction of Jonah’s thinking and God’s softening of Jonah’s heart to beat in unison with His heart.
The lessons in the Old Testament never get old. Chapter three shares the signs of true repentance expressed by Jonah, the people of Nineveh, and the king of Nineveh.
1) Vs. 3 Obey God’s word.
2) Vs. 3 Do things differently from the past.
3) Vs. 5 Believe God’s word.
4) Vs. 5 Mourn over one’s sins.
5) Vs. 6-7 Set the right and godly example for others to emulate.
6) Vs. 8 Stop sinning.
7) Vs. 8 Ask God for mercy and forgiveness.
8) Vs. 5-8 Align our priorities with God’s will for our lives.
May we draw closer to God through the repentance of sin. God’s heart is for us to enjoy the safety, the purpose and the joy of a life lived fully for Him, unhindered by sin.
Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important important city—a visit required three days. On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.