“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. The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.”
One purpose of prophecy is to bring repentance, though the Bible shows that nations have rarely repented. Yet the people of Nineveh actually repented when Jonah reluctantly preached to them. Jonah’s message was terse: “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” ( Jonah 3:4 ). Yet the king proclaimed a fast and told people to turn from their evil ways, and God changed His mind about destroying them then.
The repentance of Nineveh was apparently only a temporary change, and was not a conversion to beginning to worship the true God. They were not fully taught God’s truth or His plan. But their physical decision to repent was much more admirable than the rejection of Jesus Christ by His own generation.
Likewise, the queen of Sheba was impressed with Solomon’s wisdom, but there is no indication that she was spiritually converted to worshipping God. In the Great White Throne Judgment her respect for the godly wisdom she heard from Solomon will stand as a witness against those who rejected the greater wisdom of Jesus Christ.
These people will have their first and only opportunity for full understanding of God’s truth, spiritual repentance, conversion and salvation. For more about this day of judgment, read “What Are the Resurrections?”