The concept of turning back to YHVH, or the true meaning of repentance, is best expressed in what science calls the 'entropy laws'. This law is also called the second law of thermodynamics. I believe, when you see shoov in the context of decay and corruption, it will become obvious what this word really means.
First, let us define 'law' from a scientific perspective. Generally, in modern science, there are three terms used to describe a discovery. These are: 1. an hypothesis, 2. a theory, and 3. a law. The first two are used to describe general propositions, i.e. a guess! Nothing can be called a law unless it never fails. In other words, it is tested over and over again and does not fail. This is an oversimplification, but essentially a law is never wrong, and it is to be the basis for all subsequent theories. If it fails even one time it is no more than a theory. If it fails a lot it is an hypothesis. If it never worked in the first place, it is evolution! If an hypothesis or theory contradicts a known law, then the theory is wrong. This is why evolution fails so miserably because it defies known laws, such as all three of the known laws of thermodynamics. The second law of thermodynamics basically states that all 'things' tend to decay and corruption, that all matter is made up of energy and that, according to Einstein, all energy is winding down, not up. The last form of energy in matter is heat energy. When matter corrupts and becomes heat energy, it dissipates into the universe, but is never destroyed. It simply changes into a different form. The other two laws deal with the fact that nothing is being created and nothing is being destroyed. This is clearly taught in Bere’shiyt (Genesis).
"Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them."
All matter, when left to itself, decays and eventually becomes useless for work. Try this with the next car you buy. After picking it up at the dealer, drive it to an empty field and simply leave it there for, oh let's say, two hundred years. What will happen to that car? It will be one big pile of rusty dust. Where will it be in one thousand years? Scattered throughout the universe. Now, if you keep the car out of the weather, wax it now and then, and fix things when they break, you can make it last an incredibly long time. But you, the superior creature, must input information and do things to it to keep the dumb car from dematerializing.
So, everything that man makes, not creates, must be taken care of, or it will decay. So it is with YHVH's creation and the things that He made. Man was told that if he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he would die. Since that time, all things, according to the known laws, are losing energy and winding down. This is called the law of entropy. YHVH knows that He must input information to sustain His creation. This information is called the 'Words of YHVH'. It is His laws, statutes, commandments, and ordinances. This is what sustains man and keeps the universe going. There is an old rabbinic saying that states that if ever there is a time in which no one is speaking Torah, then the universe will melt away and dissolve. Sound familiar? Kefa (Peter) tells us virtually the same thing in 1 Kefa 3:10. The ancient rabbis' also believed that it was Torah that holds all things together. Sound familiar? In Colossians 1:17, Sha’ul tells us that He (Yeshua') is before all things, and by Him all things consist (sunistemi), or held together. One of the words in the Tanakh that this Greek word is translated from is tzvah, or commmand. This is the verbal root of mitzvot, or the commandments of YHVH. We understand in Yochanan (John) 1:1 and 1:14 that Yeshua‘ is the word of YHVH in the flesh. The Word of God revealed in His commandments and manifested in Yeshua‘ is holding all the universe together. I know this all sounds a bit mystical, but this is the so-called 'atomic glue' that science cannot or will not admit holds things together. There is a lot more to this, but no time here for that. Let's get back to our subject of repentance. One of the fundamental meanings of shoov, is to restore. Here are a few examples.
Daniyy’el (Daniel) 9:25
"Know, therefore, and understand, that from the going forth of the commandments to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah ..."
Mizemor (Psalm) 51:12
"Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation"
Rut (Ruth) 4:14-15
"And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be YHVH, who hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that His name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age"
Yo’el (Joel) 2:25
"And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten"
Melakhiym Alef (1 Kings) 13:6
"And the king answered and said unto the man of ’Elohiym, Entreat now the face of YHVH thy ’Elohiym, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me again. And the man of ’Elohiym besought YHVH, and the king's hand was restored to him again, and became as it was before."
The whole idea of repentance and restoration is to bring something back to the way it was before. This is what YHVH has designed to be the method by which his creation is sustained. Otherwise, it collapses, decays, and degenerates. Creation must have input from someone outside of itself in order to sustain itself.
The opposite of return and restoration is corruption and decay. This is seen in the word shachat. This is generally translated in the English as 'corrupt' or 'destroy'. Here are a few examples of what happens when YHVH's creation does not turn back to Him or heed His ways.
"And ’Elohiym looked upon the earth, and, behold it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted His way upon the earth."
Devariym (Deuteronomy) 9:12
"And YHVH said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from here; for thy people whom thou has brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves. They are quickly turned aside out of the way which I commanded them"
"The fool has said in his heart, There is no ’Elohiym. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. YHVH looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand and seek ’Elohiym. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy; there is none that does good, no, not one. Have all workers of iniquity no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon YHVH?"
If you are curious to know who the workers of iniquity are in Mattityahu (Matthew) 7:23, you can find them here. They are those who are torahless, lawless ones. This is the translation of the King James English; "workers of iniquity". It is also a description of their leader, whether they know it or not, in 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8. He is the mystery of iniquity that already works and is called the wicked one or the lawless one.
Hoshea (Hosea) 13:9
"O Israel, thou has destroyed thyself, but in me is thine help."
The answer to the moral decay and corruption of man, whether physical or spiritual, is to return to YHVH's instructions (Torah). This is what YHVH has given us to sustain us. If we turn from His ways, our nation will collapse morally. Our lives will fall into moral corruption. We will not know right from wrong. I believe with all my heart, that there are three kinds of people in the world:
- Those who do not obey YHVH because they do not trust Him or know Him.
- Those who do not obey YHVH because they have been taught that He told us we do not have to obey Him.
- Those who obey YHVH because they believe in Him and trust Him.
This is a giant subject. I do not want to treat it lightly. So, we will continue to talk about repentance.
Hitgalut (Revelation) 3:3
" Remember, therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast and repent. If, therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee."