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Faith And Repentance

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Faith and repentance are always found together when a person studies the teachings of the Old Testament. Faith precedes and is the basis for repentance. Many ask how can that be? No one repents of his sins until he has heard the gospel concerning God's judgment against sin, and his offer of forgiveness in Jesus Christ. If he believes this, it becomes the basis or the motivation for genuine repentance. Faith is the visible evidence of the invisible. It is full of expectation. It is the faith of man that diligently seeks God. The term for repentance in the Old Testament means "to turn," that is to turn from walking in one direction and to begin walking in an opposite direction. In this case it would be from the world toward God. In the book of Jonah and the book of Psalms, evidence of the statutes of faith and repentance are found repeatedly.

"Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness has come up before me." (Jonah 1.2) This is what God has told to Jonah who in turn chooses to disobey with this calling and repose in the opposite direction. It is apparent from the beginning of the story that Jonah did not want the Ninevites to experience God's salvation. "Is not this what I said when I was yet in my own country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that thou art a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and repents of evil." (Jonah 4.2) In this quote not only does Jonah reveal his feelings toward the Ninevites, but he also reveals to us his knowledge of God's gospel.

Chapters 1 and 2 of the book of Jonah exposes the prophet's attempt to follow through in his disobedience by avoiding his calling and God's intercession through an ocean storm resulting in Jonah being captured in the belly of a whale. It was during this time Jonah was confronted with the fact that his will was to correspond with the will of God. The purpose of his life was already predestined and any deviation from that path would never be successful. Jonah's actions and words are a perfect example the knowledge of the gospel without faith. There is no faith, in turn, no genuine repentance.

Verses 8 and 9 of the book of Jonah, concludes his prayers of gratitude to God for sparing his life. "The lord then ordered the fish to spit up Jonah on the beach, and it did.

(Jonah 2.10 ) This is a magnificent lesson in universalism. 'He does not want the death of a sinner, but rather that he should repent and live' (Chapentier, 81 Ezek.33.11)

In chapter 3, we now see visible effects of faith and repentance. In the beginning, we see Jonah running away from God and now after enduring a calamity in which he got through only by turning back to God, we see him ready to run and deliver God's message. Jonah got through the calamity through repentance but he knew that this would be his only salvation because of his faith in the gospel of God. The same gospel he chose not to follow in the start of this book. The difference now is that the belief of faith is causing the motivation of genuine repentance.

In chapters 3 and 4, we see Jonah starting over for a "second time". This time answering to God's calling. Jonah enters the city of Nineveh and delivers the sermon "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" (Jonah 3.4)

In verse 5, we are able to see the immediate and diligent response of the city. 'And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.' (Jonah 3.5) The Ninevites react in two ways: fasting and putting on sackcloth. These practices were both common acts of repentance in the ancient world. The word of the resurgence of God's will spreads to the King and he reacts:

"Then tidings reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, and covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he made 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, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth; and let them cry mightily to God; yea, let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence which is in his hands." (Jonah 3.6)

For a king to leave his throne and sit in the ashes, he humbles himself before God in repentance.

In verse 8, evidence of faith and repentance build as the king asks the people to carry out his decrees. He says first of all to "cry mightily to God." This refers to cry out in prayers of repentance. Second, he talks about the fruit of repentance, or the evidence that there has been genuine "turning from their evil way." Here the king is referring to the immoral lifestyles, which are deemed ungodly. These bold movements made by the king were acts of great repentance on the basis of following

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