God’s changing of His intentions toward the people of Nineveh involved no hesitation or anything that was ambiguous or vague. Rather, it was a transformation from pure anger to pure tolerance. This is a true revelation of God’s substance. God is never irresolute or hesitant in His actions; the principles and purposes behind His actions are all clear and transparent, pure and flawless, with absolutely no ruses or schemes intermingled within. In other words, God’s substance contains no darkness or evil. God became angry with the Ninevites because their wicked acts had come before His gaze; at that time His anger was derived from His substance. However, when God’s anger dissipated and He bestowed His tolerance upon the people of Nineveh once more, everything that He revealed was still His own substance. The entirety of this change was due to a change in man’s attitude toward God. During this entire period of time, God’s unoffendable disposition did not change, God’s tolerant substance did not change, and God’s loving and merciful substance did not change. When people commit wicked acts and offend God, He will bring His anger upon them. When people truly repent, God’s heart will change, and His anger will cease. When people continue to stubbornly oppose God, His rage will be unceasing, and His wrath will press in on them bit by bit until they are destroyed. This is the substance of God’s disposition. Regardless of whether God is expressing wrath or mercy and lovingkindness, it is man’s conduct, behavior, and the attitude man holds toward God deep within his heart that dictate that which is expressed through the revelation of God’s disposition. If God continuously subjects one person to His anger, this person’s heart doubtlessly opposes God. Because this person has never truly repented, bowed their head before God or possessed true belief in God, they have never obtained God’s mercy and tolerance. If someone often receives God’s care, His mercy, and His tolerance, then without a doubt this person has true belief in God in their heart, and their heart is not opposed to God. This person often truly repents before God; therefore, even if God’s discipline often descends upon this person, His wrath will not.
This brief account allows people to see God’s heart, to see the realness of His substance, to see that God’s anger and the changes in His heart are not without cause. Despite the stark contrast that God demonstrated when He was wrathful and when He changed His heart, which makes people believe there is a large disconnect or contrast between these two aspects of God’s substance—His anger and His tolerance—God’s attitude toward the repentance of the Ninevites once again allows people to see another side of God’s true disposition. God’s change of heart truly allows humanity to once again see the truth of God’s mercy and lovingkindness, and to see the true revelation of God’s substance. Humanity has but to acknowledge that God’s mercy and lovingkindness are not myths, nor are they fabrications. This is because God’s feeling at that moment was true, and God’s change of heart was true—God indeed bestowed His mercy and tolerance upon humanity once more.
The True Repentance in the Ninevites’ Hearts Wins Them God’s Mercy and Changes Their Own Outcomes
Was there any contradiction between God’s change of heart and His wrath? Of course not! This is because God’s tolerance at that particular time had its reason. What reason might this be? It is the one given in the Bible: “Every person turned away from his evil way” and “abandoned the violence in their hands.”
This “evil way” does not refer to a handful of evil acts, but to the evil source from which people’s behavior springs. “Turning away from his evil way” means that those in question will never commit these actions again. In other words, they will never again behave in this evil way; the method, source, purpose, intent and principle of their actions have all changed; they will never again use those methods and principles to bring enjoyment and happiness to their hearts. The “abandon” in “abandon the violence in their hands” means to lay down or to cast aside, to fully break with the past and to never turn back. When the people of Nineveh abandoned the violence in their hands, this proved and represented their true repentance. God observes people’s outward appearances as well as their hearts. When God observed the true repentance in the hearts of the Ninevites without question and also observed that they had left their evil ways and abandoned the violence in their hands, He changed His heart. This is to say that these people’s conduct and behavior and various ways of doing things, as well as their true confession and repentance of sins in their hearts, caused God to change His heart, to change His intentions, to retract His decision and not to punish or destroy them. Thus, the people of Nineveh achieved a different outcome for themselves. They redeemed their own lives and at the same time won God’s mercy and tolerance, at which point God also retracted His wrath.
Excerpted from “God Himself, the Unique II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh