God’s gracious gift of salvation is for everyone…for He wants all to be saved.( I Timothy 2:4) But we shouldn’t take His slowness in judgement as a sign of weakness, indecision, or wavering…but rather as long-suffering. For it’s only by God’s kindness, tolerance, and patience is He willing to give all of us the time to change our minds and repent.
I am my worst critic. I lie in bed at night annoyed with myself that I didn’t accomplish everything I should have. Or I’m aggravated at myself for not speaking up when I could have. I react with self-loathing as I play back the events of the day… as the “I should have, I could have, I would have’s” run in a loop through my mind. What’s so sad is… most times, I’m beating myself up over things no one else even knows about. They’re things that are only important to me…so why am I so perturbed? In a word…it’s guilt. Self-directed anger is fueled by guilt…and it doesn’t need to be guilt heaped on us from someone else…for we can do that all by ourselves! But this guilt-ridden self-anger can be changed by the last few words of this verse…for it says to “search your hearts and be silent. Selah” That means we listen and not speak, allowing the Holy Spirit to whisper truth into our heart and mind. It means then we pause and ponder these truths not allowing our mind to race negatively. It’s positive reinforcement, Holy Spirit style.
It tells us in Luke 1:17 that John the Baptist ministered in the spirit and power of Elijah…down to the same attire. For the Prophet Elijah was recognized by what he wore – a garment of hair with a leather belt around his waist ( II Kings 1:8). This garb in fact was so powerful that false prophets started copying his dress in order to deceive the people. (Zechariah 13:4) Initially, the curious crowd might have been drawn by the wild-looking man, but when John shouted, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is near!” divine conviction fell upon them.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to not go along with the crowd. Sure, the peer pressure is strong, and we want to fit in and not seem odd…but we also realize what the crowd is about to do is just plain wrong. Deuteronomy 13:8 tells us to not yield to or even listen to the enticements from those who are sinning. And the old excuse of, “Everybody’s doing it!” can’t stand up to the truth if it goes against the word of God. For any words of persuasion, guilt, or deception we hear will never change wrong into right.
In the Hebrew, this sentence is only 5 words long. It doesn’t even mention God, nor did it call the people of Nineveh to repentance. So why did the Ninevites believe what Jonah warned them of? Jesus tells us in Luke 11:29-32 that the Ninevites had heard of Jonah’s miraculous deliverance from the belly of that fish and that they will, “stand up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.” The people of Nineveh heard and believed God…may this present generation do the same.
We are your servants, O Lord, and we look to You in total reliance. In Your hands is the power and strength we lack…in Your hands is grace and mercy. We will keep our eyes fixed on You, Lord…for only in You can we fully put our trust. You are our Rock and support in time of need…our confidence is in You. Amen.
John the Baptist came preaching repentance. His baptism was a ritual symbolizing spiritual cleansing through the forgiveness of sins to those who repented and believed the gospel, and also prepared the Jews for the coming Messiah. But many in the crowd took offense, wanting rather to put their trust in their lineage or “pedigree” for their righteousness. But it tells us in Galatians 3:6-7, “Consider Abraham: ‘He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.” We will never get to heaven on the shirt-tails of our Godly father, or on the apron-strings of our prayer warrior grandmother. No, the only way is by putting our faith and trust in Jesus Christ…and it’s only through repentance and forgiveness of our sins that we have the promise of eternal life.