The Evangelical Universalist Forum

OT stories of judgement and repentance

Hi folks,

I think I’ve read somewhere in relation to EU that there are no stories in the OT where God doesn’t with-hold His judgements when the people repented. To phrase it the other way round: God always with-holds His judgement when the people repented.

Is this true in all cases?

Also, are there any stories where God’s judgement has started to be applied, but the people repent and God relents?

What I’m exploring is the responses of God to repentance and how that might affirm the idea of post-mortem repentance.

Thank you,


The story of Jonah and his mission to Nineveh comes to mind. Jonah (as you’ll recall) didn’t WANT to go to Nineveh because he fully expected God to relent from the judgment he (Jonah) was to warn them of. He WANTED the Ninevites to suffer for their heinous acts toward Israel. To Jonah’s dismay, God did exactly what Jonah had expected He would do. The Ninevites repented and God had mercy.

I can’t think of any stories in which the people repented when God did NOT relent. He did tell Jeremiah not to pray for Israel, because He had made up His mind to punish them. That said, they didn’t repent, even though Jeremiah warned them of what was to come. Would God have relented? If I remember right, at least some of the notable Jewish rabbis consider Jeremiah among the least of the prophets because he listened to God and failed to pray for the nation. God told Moses to do pretty much the same thing, and Moses DID pray for Israel anyway. Guess what? God relented. The rabbis say that what God really wanted was for Jeremiah to pray for the nation. Not sure why God would do that, unless He was just throwing a little temper tantrum and wanted to be coaxed a bit. Or unless He was testing Jeremiah’s heart. I have a hard time seeing God as a drama queen, so I’m leaning toward the latter, since I kind of think the rabbis had a point. What this says to me is that God ALWAYS wants us to ask for mercy–for our enemies and for our loved ones–regardless of whether we believe they deserve it, or whether we even WANT God to have mercy on them. If we feel that God is leading us NOT to pray, either we’re missing Him or we’re being tested. Just pray anyway. ALWAYS act in love, because God is love.

I don’t know, Qaz. I’ve always puzzled about those verses. In my experience, God usually gives me the answer if I just wait long enough. However, I wonder what [tag]JasonPratt[/tag] and/or [tag]Paidion[/tag] might have to say about them.

Thanks, Cindy, Jonah did come to mind and I read it through a week or so ago just to remind me of the story. I do think Jonah is hilarious, trying to run from God.

Thanks for your comments on Jeremiah - food for thought there, for sure.


Well, my first comment is that 1 John isn’t an OT story of judgment and repentance. :wink: So I don’t want to get too far afield on that for this thread.

My second comment is that I thought I had posted an ExCom entry on that verse, but going to look I see I haven’t. I know I’ve posted some analysis of it before on the forum, but I should find my collected notes on it and repost in the ExCom. (Among other things, there are some weird grammatic issues, and the context before and afterward lends itself to a meaning a little different than the typical translation.)

My third comment is that Rev 22:11 actually is referring to an OT story of judgment and repentance! :mrgreen: You might remember me talking about it, Qaz, in my TEUS Ep 1.2, on various related sayings of Jesus throughout GosJohn (some of which are commonly adduced to mean some people won’t be saved from their sins). John 5 reports Jesus quoting from the same place Rev 22:11 is referencing, Daniel 12; and although they’re talking about different halves of Dan 12, the contexts fit the idea that Jesus means (in John 5’s report) that God’s purpose (both the Father’s and the Son’s) in raising evildoers to judgment is so that they will stop doing evil and start honoring the Son and the Father. The specific place Jesus quotes isn’t talking about that, but the chapter goes on to have Daniel asking the angel what the purpose is of the wicked being raised to olam abhorrence, and the angel replies that the wicked won’t understand the purpose so they’ll keep on doing wickedness, but the righteous will understand the purpose which is to instruct the wicked and lead them to salvation which is what the righteous were already doing (which is why they were raised to eonian life shining bright as the sun etc. Jesus quotes the same place more directly in one or more of the Synoptics, in a different scene, although I haven’t gotten around to doing a video on that part yet.)

And indeed, Rev 22:11 is indisputably surrounded by strong evangelical exhortations, which are definitely not about letting the wicked go on doing wickedness forever while the righteous go off by themselves to do righteousness. On the contrary, verse 11 in its OT referential context is additional evidence that the subsequent remarks about evangelizing those still outside the NJ (in a condition previously connected with the lake of fire punishment) are about leading people to salvation from their sins after the lake of fire judgment. (Although ironically the verse is almost always quoted against that meaning, because most people don’t know what it’s referencing. Or even that Dan 12 doesn’t end with the first few verses, or that the rest of it explains the meaning of the first few verses for that matter.)

It isn’t a prescriptive command, in other words, it’s a rhetorical comparison: let the unrighteous keep doing unrighteousness, but the righteous will keep on doing righteousness – which means the righteous will keep on leading those continuing to do unrighteousness into doing righteousness instead. The righteous aren’t going to ever stop doing that! They’d be un-righteous to stop doing that!

(This has strong conceptual connections to the judgment of the sheep and the baby goats, too, as I commented at length in the next ep. I think in the summary ep I pointed out the connections more strongly as part of a developing systematic exegetical argument, while in Ep 1.3 I was working independently of conclusions from Ep 1.2.)

Okay, my current notes on 1 John 5:16-17 are up now here.

Yes, I think that’s true. The only possible exception I can think of is when the Israelites refused to enter Canaan, “repented”, and yet were still defeated by the inhabitants of the land (Numbers 14). Although we might understand this as not being true repentance. Even though they admitted their sin (14:40), they did not obey God’s NEW command to NOT enter the land. It is interesting, though, that it was “too late” to repent and then enter the promised land.

Too late to repent and enter, even for Moses! – and Aaron and Miriam!

…wait, no one thinks Moses (and his close family generally) won’t be saved, right? (Except maybe Muslims? :wink: )

(I know Heb 3 & 4 are in mind there; Moses is part of the answer to that being broadly a symbol of hopelessly final non-salvation. Another is how long “Today” lasts, since the offer is open for as long as it is called “Today”.)

Eventually you will come to believe that most everything regarding religious thought is bogus. I used to be scared of all sorts of things, like, if I wasn’t saved, or like if I committed blasphemy against the HS. Now I chuckle at these things. So much energy these knuckleheads spend arguing all day long, especially about something so non-important. Tell me, my friend - What do you think is more important to God - “Debating about knowing the right things about God” or “Doing the things Jesus told you to do”? It is the latter that Christ wants. It has always been the latter. I would be far more scared about disregarding the commands of Jesus than I would of believing the wrong things about him… Like when he says “Why do you call me Lord and do not do the things I tell you?”… That should scare and convict Christians far more than all this eschatology stuff, yet, sadly, many Christian’s believe they have nothing to fear because they said a prayer on X date and makes them immune, even their willful wallowing of sin.

I would say that it is never to late to see the truth and turn one’s heart back to God. But, it is often, yet not always, too late to repair the damage that has been done. When sin becomes prevalent, especially in a society, it all depends on how far wide spread it is and how long it has been left unaddressed that determines if things can be fixed or if things must fall to the ground before the process of renewal can begin. Take a lawn, for example, when it has not been watered and properly taken care of over the years, eventually it turns into a weed patch and a dust bowl. At some point during that process, the lawn may have been able to be revived with some fertilizer and heavy duty watering. But, once it gets past a certain point, fertilizer and water just won’t cut it. It must be replanted.

As for 1 John, my guess as to what this may be saying is this: if a brother has committed a grievous sin such as murder, theft, etc. etc., yes, these things must be brought before the courts, judged and punished.