God is greatly misunderstood by men. They treat Him as if He were not sincere in his denunciation of wrong-doers, because He does not visit upon them the desert of their sins. But one of the evidences of the Divine love for man is His reluctance to punish sinners. He says to sinful men that He will cast them into hell, but while He is telling them this, He is striving to obviate the necessity. God does not want to fulfill His promises of wrath. He has given His Son to die for men that by all the influences of His death, and all the agencies it has set in operation, He might be saved from keeping His word uttered against sinners.
How much God differs from man in this respect! When a man declares that a thing shall happen, even though it might be an appalling event, he wants it to happen. Again and again have prophets been disappointed and saddened who have declared that the world would be destroyed at a certain time, because its destruction did not take place. Wise people have declared that certain uses of electricity would cause great disasters, and, they have been greatly chagrined because the subtle element did not fulfill their prophecy. But God does not want His prophecies of evil fulfilled. This fact greatly provoked Jonah. This prophet went to Nineveh, and cried, “Forty days and Nineveh will be destroyed.” But while Jonah was delivering God’s message of wrath against that city, God Himself was busy, by His Holy Spirit, leading Nineveh to repentance, that He might not fulfill His word. Nor did He fulfill his word, for Nineveh repented, and Jonah was mad. It would have afforded him great satisfaction to have stood off in some safe place and beheld Nineveh rocked into ruins by an earthquake, but because the city was not destroyed, Jonah was displeased exceedingly, and was very angry.
If men everywhere would begin to imitate God’s reluctance to visit merited judgment upon offenders, there would steal into the homes of men, into the societies of men, into the nations, a spirit so lovely as to charm the very angels and cause songs of rejoicing everywhere.