Regardless of how angry God had been with the Ninevites, as soon as they declared a fast and wore sackcloth and ashes, His heart gradually softened, and He began to change His heart. When He proclaimed to them that He would destroy their city—the moment prior to their confession and repentance for their sins—God was still angry with them. Once they had gone through a series of acts of repentance, God’s anger for the people of Nineveh gradually transformed into mercy and tolerance for them. There is nothing contradictory about the coinciding revelation of these two aspects of God’s disposition in the same event. How should one understand and know this lack of contradiction? God successively expressed and revealed these two polar-opposite substances as the people of Nineveh repented, allowing people to see the realness and the unoffendableness of God’s substance. God used His attitude to tell people the following: It is not that God does not tolerate people, or He does not want to show mercy to them; it is that they rarely truly repent toward God, and it is rare that people truly turn away from their evil ways and abandon the violence in their hands. In other words, when God is angry with man, He hopes that man will be able to truly repent, and He hopes to see man’s true repentance, in which case He will then liberally continue to bestow His mercy and tolerance upon man. This is to say that man’s evil conduct incurs God’s wrath, whereas God’s mercy and tolerance are bestowed upon those who listen to God and truly repent before Him, upon those who can turn away from their evil ways and abandon the violence in their hands. God’s attitude was very clearly revealed in His treatment of the Ninevites: God’s mercy and tolerance are not at all difficult to obtain; He requires one’s true repentance. As long as people turn away from their evil ways and abandon the violence in their hands, God will change His heart and change His attitude toward them.
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