The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: “Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach the message that I tell you.” Jonah got up and went to Nineveh according to the LORD’s command.
Now Nineveh was an extremely great city, a three-day walk. Jonah set out on the first day of his walk in the city and proclaimed, “In forty days Nineveh will be demolished!” Then the people of Nineveh believed God. They proclaimed a fast and dressed in sackcloth — from the greatest of them to the least.
When word reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth, and sat in ashes. Then he issued a decree in Nineveh:
By order of the king and his nobles: No person or animal, herd or flock, is to taste anything at all. They must not eat or drink water. Furthermore, both people and animals must be covered with sackcloth, and everyone must call out earnestly to God. Each must turn from his evil ways and from his wrongdoing. Who knows? God may turn and relent; he may turn from his burning anger so that we will not perish.
God saw their actions — that they had turned from their evil ways — so God relented from the disaster he had threatened them with. And he did not do it.