BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has done this, I will not do what I promised during his lifetime. It will happen to his sons; I will destroy all his descendants” (1 Kings 21:29 NLT).
All God is asking for from the sinner is genuine repentance and faith in His son, Jesus Christ. Sinners will go to hellfire not because of their sins but because of their failure to repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ.
God is not willing that anyone should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9b). The Greek word translated repentance in that scripture is metanoia which means a change of mind, and in this context, a change of mind, from evil to good, and from disobedience to obedience. Repentance is not just feeling sorry or remorseful for one’s sin but an admission of sin, and an end of the sinful behavior. Jesus said he did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Matthew 9:13).
In the day of Noah, wickedness was widespread and they didn’t repent. Only the house of Noah was saved – just eight of them (Genesis 7:7; Hebrews 11:7; 2 Peter 2:5).
In Jonah 3, the people of Nineveh humbled themselves and repented when Prophet Jonah told them of the judgment of God coming upon them because of their sins. “When God saw that they had put a stop to their evil ways, he had mercy on them and didn’t carry out the destruction he had threatened” (Jonah 3:10 NLT). Making reference to the repentance of the Nineveh, Jesus said, “The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here” (Matthew 12:41 NKJV). The one greater than Jonah is Jesus Christ, and sinners should hear him and repent just as the people of Nineveh heard the preaching of Jonah and repented.
If only a sinner will humble himself before God, admit he is a sinner, and ask Him to forgive him. God has been ready a long time ago to forgive every sinner – it’s like a cheque already signed waiting to be received by the person in favour of whom it is written and take to the bank. God said, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14-15 NKJV). Humble yourself and repent.
Eli’s lack of repentance
If only Eli had humbled himself and repented in time, he would have been able to avert the disaster that befell him and his family. God said He had warned Eli continually that judgment was coming for his family because his sons were blaspheming Him and he hadn’t disciplined them. Eli failed to do anything about God’s warning. Therefore, God said that the sins of Eli’s children would never be forgiven by sacrifices or offerings. “Then the LORD said to Samuel, ‘I am about to do a shocking thing in Israel. I am going to carry out all my threats against Eli and his family. I have warned him continually that judgment is coming for his family, because his sons are blaspheming God and he hasn’t disciplined them. So I have vowed that the sins of Eli and his sons will never be forgiven by sacrifices or offerings” (1 Samuel 3:11-14 NLT). Why?
Because they had squandered the opportunities He had given them to repent. Eli merely gave his children a slap on the wrists; he didn’t discipline them. So God was right to visit His judgment on them. God’s warnings always precede God’s punishment.
Even Eli realized that God was justified to have passed such a verdict over his family. “So Samuel told Eli everything; he didn’t hold anything back. ‘It is the LORD’s will,’ Eli replied. ‘Let him do what he thinks best’” (1 Samuel 3:18 NLT). You might think that Eli’s response showed he had become hardhearted or unconcerned and should have asked for forgiveness. I first felt like that but it wasn’t so. He knew he had pushed God to the wall and His judgment was irreversible. Eli’s response was an acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty.
There is a controversy among Bible scholars whether or not God could still have forgiven him at this point knowing God’s forgiving nature. But I’ll rather say that it’s better to respond to God’s early warning and not exhaust the patience of God. “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise to return, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:9 NLT). Repentance isn’t something you keep postponing; it’s dangerous to procrastinate about repentance. Humble yourself and repent.
David’s humility and repentance
After God had passed His judgment on David for taking Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, impregnating her, and killing Uriah, David humbled himself and repented, therefore, he obtained God’s mercy in a measure. He told Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD” (2 Samuel 12:13 NKJV). And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die” (verse 13). That means he was meant to die as a punishment for this sin. Though David still suffered the consequence of this immorality, he didn’t die prematurely because he humbled himself and repented; he died at a ripe old age (1 Kings 2:10-11).
David knew God responds to a humble heart; He doesn’t close His eyes to true repentance. David is believed to have written Psalm 51 after Prophet Nathan had confronted him with his sin of adultery with Bathsheba. David said in Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise” (NLT). God lives in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble; He’ll refresh the humble and give new courage to those with repentant hearts (Isaiah 57:15). He says He’ll bless those who have humble and contrite hearts and tremble at His word (Isaiah 66:2). Humble yourself and repent.
Rehoboam’s and Judah’s humility and repentance
When Rehoboam and Judah’s leaders heard the word of the LORD that because they had abandoned Him, He would abandon them to King Shishak of Egypt who had conquered Judah’s fortified towns and was advancing to attack Jerusalem, they humbled themselves.
King Rehoboam and the people repented so God didn’t punish them the way He would have done if they had not repented. God said He would not completely destroy them but would give them some deliverance. “The prophet Shemaiah then met with Rehoboam and Judah’s leaders, who had all fled to Jerusalem because of Shishak. Shemaiah told them, ‘This is what the LORD says: You have abandoned me, so I am abandoning you to Shishak.’ The king and the leaders of Israel humbled themselves and said, ‘The LORD is right in doing this to us!’ When the LORD saw their change of heart, he gave this message to Shemaiah: ‘Since the people have humbled themselves, I will not completely destroy them and will soon give them some relief. I will not use Shishak to pour out my anger on Jerusalem. But they will become his subjects, so that they can learn how much better it is to serve me than to serve earthly rulers’” (2 Chronicles 12:5-8 NLT).
God allowed King Shishak of Egypt to enter Jerusalem, and he took away all the treasures of the Temple of the LORD and of the royal palace, including all of Solomon’s gold shields which King Rehoboam later replaced with bronze shields. He entrusted them to the care of the captain of his bodyguard and the guards carried them along and returned them to the guardroom anytime the king went to the Temple.
2 Chronicles 12:12 says, “Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the LORD’s anger was turned aside, and he did not destroy him completely. And there was still goodness in the land of Judah” (NLT). Don’t abandon God lest He should abandon you. Those who abandon God open the door to the enemy to steal the gold God has given them. Replacing gold with bronze can never be a perfect substitute. Hold on to God’s best for you; don’t let it slip out of your hand. Humble yourself and repent.
Ahab’s humility and repentance
Ahab was such a wicked king that Prophet Elijah had to declare three years of famine upon Israel (1 Kings 17:1). In fact, the Bible says in 1 Kings 21:25, “ No one else so completely sold himself to what was evil in the LORD’s sight as did Ahab, for his wife, Jezebel, influenced him” (NLT).
It was this Jezebel who organized the murder of Naboth so that her husband, King Abab, could possess his vineyard which Naboth had refused to sell to him to use for his vegetable garden or exchange it for another vineyard. So Ahab wasn’t a good king; he had no good record with God.
But for once, he repented. Even if it was because of the weighty judgment of God upon him and his family, at least he humbled himself and repented. And God called the attention of Prophet Elijah to it as shown in 1 Kings 21:29, the opening text of this message.
As bad as Ahab was, he got a stay of execution of judgment from God just because of a late minute humility! Through Ahab and Jezebel laid the foundation of calamity for Ahab’s house, he was saved the trauma of witnessing the calamity befall his son or any of his descendants. Humble yourself and repent.
Hezekiah’s humility and repentance
Hezekiah also humbled himself before God and repented of the pride he exhibited after God had helped him against the Assyrians and healed him miraculously from his illness. God also had mercy on Judah sparing her His anger throughout Hezekiah’s reign. He postponed judgment till after his reign. “About that time, Hezekiah became deathly ill. He prayed to the LORD, who healed him and gave him a miraculous sign. But Hezekiah did not respond appropriately to the kindness shown him, and he became proud. So the LORD’s anger came against him and against Judah and Jerusalem. Then Hezekiah repented of his pride, and the people of Jerusalem humbled themselves. So the LORD’s anger did not come against them during Hezekiah’s lifetime” (2 Chronicles 32: 24-26 NLT). If Hezekiah had not repented, the wrath of God would have come upon Judah during his reign.
God doesn’t close His eyes to humility and repentance. He knows the weakness of man and has given room for repentance. That is not to say that one should sin deliberately saying that he’ll repent and God will forgive him. Sinners sin without any remorse but a child of God who sins experiences godly sorrow leading to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). Verse 10b says, “Sorrow without repentance is the kind that results in death” (NLT). A child of God can’t keep on sinning so that God can show him more and more kindness and forgiveness (Romans 6:1-3 ). But if any child of God sins, he has an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1-2). Don’t cover up your sin; repent and ask for forgiveness today. If you cover your sins you’ll not prosper but if you confess and forsake them you’ll receive mercy (Proverbs 28:13). David says, “Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, ‘I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.’ And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone” (Psalm 32:5 NLT).
Manasseh’s humility and repentance
Manasseh was Judah’s most wicked king and reigned for 55 years, the longest by any king of Israel. Manasseh rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down. In addition, he raised up altars for the Baals and made wooden images and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. Also, he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. He practised soothsaying, used witchcraft and sorcery, and consulted mediums and spiritists. Manasseh did more evils including setting a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God where God had said he would put His name forever (2 Chronicles 33:2-7). After God’s anger was visited on him, he was removed from his throne and taken to Babylon. But when he sincerely humbled himself and repented, God brought him back to Jerusalem and restored him to his throne (verses 10-13).
Manasseh learnt his lessons and used the second chance that God gave him to do what was right in his sight. “And when he prayed, the LORD listened to him and was moved by his request for help. So the LORD let Manasseh return to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Manasseh had finally realized that the LORD alone is God! It was after this that Manasseh rebuilt the outer wall of the City of David, from west of the Gihon Spring in the Kidron Valley to the Fish Gate, and continuing around the hill of Ophel, where it was built very high. And he stationed his military officers in all of the fortified cities of Judah. Manasseh also removed the foreign gods from the hills and the idol from the LORD’s Temple. He tore down all the altars he had built on the hill where the Temple stood and all the altars that were in Jerusalem, and he dumped them outside the city. Then he restored the altar of the LORD and sacrificed peace offerings and thanksgiving offerings on it. He also encouraged the people of Judah to worship the LORD, the God of Israel. However, the people still sacrificed at the pagan shrines, but only to the LORD their God” (2 Chronicles 33:13-17 NLT). From the point of view of man, Manasseh’s sins could be considered too wicked to be forgiven. But thank God, God is not a man! When the sinner repents, God forgives no matter how wicked the sin may look. God says, “No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool” (Isaiah 1:18 NLT). Humble yourself and repent.
Josiah’s humility and repentance
During King Josiah’s reign in Judah, Hilkiah discovered God’s law and read it to Josiah. The king humbled himself after seeing how the people of Judah had flagrantly disobeyed God. 2 Kings 22:11 says when the king heard the words of the Book of the Law he tore his clothes. Josiah commanded Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Achbor the son of Michaiah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king to go and inquire of the LORD for him, for the people and for all Judah, concerning the words of the book that had been found “for great is the wrath of the LORD that is aroused against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us” (verse 13 NKJV).
After Huldah the prophetess had told the king’s emissaries of the calamity that would befall Judah, she exempted Josiah because of his repentance. “But as for the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, in this manner you shall speak to him, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: Concerning the words which you have heard — because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become a desolation and a curse, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,’ says the LORD. Surely, therefore, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place” (2 Kings 22:17-20 NKJV). 2 Chronicles 34:26-28 also records this. What God demands from the sinner is genuine repentance. Will you repent today? Humble yourself and repent.
Unrepentant Amon, Zedekiah, and Belshazzar
These three kings didn’t humble themselves to repent of their sins. Amon was Manasseh’s son, and unfortunately, he didn’t learn from the life of his father. He did evil and didn’t repent. As a result, he was killed in a palace coup. “Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem two years. He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, just as his father Manasseh had done. He worshiped and sacrificed to all the idols his father had made. But unlike his father, he did not humble himself before the LORD. Instead, Amon sinned even more. At last Amon’s own officials plotted against him and assassinated him in his palace. But the people of the land killed all those who had conspired against King Amon, and they made his son Josiah the next king” (2 Chronicles 33:21-25 NLT).
But Josiah was a good student of Israel. He didn’t take after his father as we’ve seen before. 2 Kings 22:2 says, “He did what was pleasing in the LORD’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn aside from doing what was right” (NLT). Did you see that? He chose David as his role model, not his biological father or his grandfather, Manasseh. You don’t have to be like your father if he is not a good example to follow. Don’t copy your father or mother’s evil life. There is always a righteous example somewhere to emulate in addition to the right examples in the Bible. Josiah was a good king; he repented when the book of the law was found and read to him. Because of his repentance, God exempted him from the calamity over Judah.
Zedekiah also did what was evil in the sight of God during his reign as king in Judah. Prophet Jeremiah spoke to him but he didn’t humble himself before God and rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar contrary to the oath of loyalty he had sworn to him.
Verse 13 of 2 Chronicles 36 says he was a hard and stubborn man, refusing to turn to the Lord, the God of Israel. The leaders of the priest of the people did not fare better. They became more and more unfaithful to God mocking His messengers and despising His word until God’s judgment came. “So the LORD brought the king of Babylon against them. The Babylonians killed Judah’s young men, even chasing after them into the Temple. They had no pity on the people, killing both young and old, men and women, healthy and sick. God handed them all over to Nebuchadnezzar. The king also took home to Babylon all the utensils, large and small, used in the Temple of God, and the treasures from both the LORD’s Temple and the royal palace. He also took with him all the royal princes. Then his army set fire to the Temple of God, broke down the walls of Jerusalem, burned all the palaces, and completely destroyed everything of value. The few who survived were taken away to Babylon, and they became servants to the king and his sons until the kingdom of Persia came to power. So the message of the LORD spoken through Jeremiah was fulfilled. The land finally enjoyed its Sabbath rest, lying desolate for seventy years, just as the prophet had said” (2 Chronicles 36:17-21 NLT). The evil that befell Jerusalem was because Zedekiah and the leaders did not repent.
Belshazzar was Nebuchadnezzar’s successor. He ought to have learnt from his life but he didn’t; he didn’t humble himself before God. Before Daniel interpreted to Belshazzar the writing that he saw on the wall, Daniel told him, “You are his [Nebuchadnezzar’s] successor, O Belshazzar, and you knew all this, yet you have not humbled yourself. For you have defied the Lord of heaven and have had these cups from his Temple brought before you. You and your nobles and your wives and concubines have been drinking wine from them while praising gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone — gods that neither see nor hear nor know anything at all. But you have not honored the God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny!” (Daniel 5:22-23 NLT). Because of the evil he did, not humbling himself, his kingdom was divided into two and he was killed. Humble yourself and repent.
Conclusion: Genuine repentance is something God cannot resist and sin is something God cannot ignore. The examples of Bible characters I have cited are not exhaustive but are enough to underscore the need for anyone to humble himself and repent of his sins. The soul that sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:4, 20). But those who confess and turn from their sins shall obtain mercy (Proverbs 28:13). There is power in genuine, sincere repentance. It turns away the wrath of God. Luke 13:3 says “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (NKJV). God’s command to everyone everywhere is to repent of their sins and turn to Him (Act 17:30).
Repent before it is too late. Esau sold his birthright and afterward when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. The Bible says repentance was too late for him even though he wept bitter tears (Hebrews 12:17). Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Today is also the day for you to repent; tomorrow may be too late. Humble yourself and repent. Surrender your life to Jesus now.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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