When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it (Jonah 3:10).
Two things we know. First, that over 50 million babies have been legally killed in the womb in the last 40 years in the United States. The U.S. joins Canada, China, and North Korea as one of the most abortion permitting/promoting countries in the world. Second, we know that the Lord hates the shedding of innocent blood, and will not allow it to persist indefinitely. How the Lord will bring about an end to this slaughter is not yet clear. But it will end.
Let me make a few observations from Jonah. First, Jonah is sent to Nineveh to preach a word of judgment: “in 40 days Nineveh will be destroyed!” He does not argue that the violence of Nineveh was wrong, or that it was bad for society. He simply proclaims that God’s judgment is coming—and soon. Second, the people and the king believe him, hearing Jonah’s word as coming from God. And they repent. The king, apparently until this point not concerned with the evil and violence of Nineveh (perhaps he was complicit in it), calls for repentance in hopes that God might not bring deserved judgment. Third, God sees their repentance, and relents.
Whether or not the United States and Canada will repent we don’t know. But perhaps there is hope to be found in the account of Jonah. We are told to pray for our political leaders, “kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim. 2:2). Who knows what the Lord might do, particularly if we remember that “the king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will” (Prov. 21:1). But repentance won’t come without a clear word from the church. A word that abortion is wrong, that it takes a life, or a word about the effects of abortion on our culture, won’t cause a nation to repent. But a clear word from God, that God’s wrath follows the shedding of innocent blood, with the implication that mercy is extended to the repentant, might. In the words of the king of Nineveh, “who knows?”