"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
What does this mean? Well, for the most part it means nothing. I mean that! For most of modern Christianity, this word simply means to stop doing whatever you are doing, and it is precisely this definition that leads most of us to go right out and do it again. Some sooner, some later. So, let's go back (shoov, pun intended) and get some more background to this word.
We have now established how this word began in the beginning. Let us examine several other uses of this word.
Bere’shiyt (Genesis) 31:3
"And YHVH said unto Jacob, return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee."
You will soon see that this word from YHVH is to be true physically and spiritually for all time.
Yehoshua‘ (Joshua) 4:18
"And it came to pass, when the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of YHVH, were come up out of the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests' feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of the Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all its banks, as they did before."
Mizemor (Psalm)51:12 - 13
"Restore [tashiyvah, repent] unto me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto thee."
Both restore and converted are the word shoov. David is praying that he be returned back to Yah's ways so that he may be able to teach others to do the same. This is one place that teaches us that sacrifices are vain (vs 19) without repentance.
"He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake."
How can YHVH lead His people in the paths of righteousness if they do not first repent or return unto Him? By the way, the word paths here is properly translated as cycles of righteousness. I am sure someone will remind me to elaborate on that one at a later time!
"Let those who fear thee turn unto me, and those who have known thy testimonies."
Again, the context is to those who have turned away from YHVH, who have known His testimonies. YHVH is pleading for them to go back.
Yiremeyahu (Jeremiah) 23:21 - 22
"I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran; I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings."
This word is used in this manner over 1,000 times in the Tanakh (Old Testament). Our Father has gone to great lengths to fully define this word for us. There should be no confusion as to what it means when it is used in the New Testament. But yet there is. Why? Because most students of scripture begin in the middle in order to search out doctrine, not at the beginning. This technique has always been saturated in a basic Greek philosophy, the Old Testament is for Jews. Their laws are not our laws, their ways are not our ways. Their food is not our food. Their repentance is not our repentance, and eventually their God is not our God.
Let us go back to the New Testament now. The very first words that we hear from Yochanan the Immerser (John the Baptizer) is REPENT! Who was he speaking these words to? the Nations? Of course not. The nations would not have a clue as to what to go back to! He speaks this word to the local Jewish leadership. Yochanan is pleading in behalf of Yeshua‘ for YHVH's covenant people to go back to the covenant. Yeshua‘’s first words to the Jewish leaders is to REPENT! (Mattityahu (Matthew) 4:17). The two main religious systems in Judaism, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, had strayed away from the Word of YHVH. He certainly knew this in advance. Go Back! YHVH says. The common myth that Judaism was a law-keeping religion that YHVH came to denounce and change is a lie. Most of the Jewish leaders of that time were big time law breakers. Yeshua‘ constantly railed against them for not knowing the Scriptures. We have discussed this before, so I will not labor on this. Although there are some exceptions, for the most part, the word to the covenant people was repent. The word for the gentiles was believe. Then, in the letters of Sha’ul, as he visited the local gentile communities, he pleaded with many believing gentiles, who had already walked away, to repent. Many gentile believers had already turned back to their old ways. Sha’ul reminds many of them in 2 Corinthians 7:1, that they are to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of YHVH. In verse 10 he reminds them of the difference between worldly repentance and godly repentance. One works death and the other leads to the paths (cycles) of righteousness.
Next time we will talk about YHVH repenting and the concept of entropy as it directly relates to repentance.