The word teshuvah or repentance stood out recently in my daily Bible reading. Not that repentance is new to me, but the sentence kinda jumped out at me. The reading in Acts 11 recounts the story of Peter’s encounter with Cornelius. The LORD had to convince him that associating with Gentiles believers was acceptable – not just acceptable but no different really than associating with Jewish believers. But when he got back to Jerusalem, some of the Jewish believers were appalled that Peter had actually gone into the home of a Gentile and had a meal with him and his family and they confronted him.
Peter had to explain what happened and how the LORD had shown him not to look on Gentile believers differently than on the Jewish believers. He told them his vision about the sheet with all the unclean and common animals coming down from Heaven and the voice of the LORD telling him to eat. And that this vision was about not treating believers in Yeshua as common or unclean just because they were Gentile.
When he finished explaining all this to the Jewish believers, they stopped objecting to his behavior, praised God and – this is the part that struck me – “they said, This means that God has enabled the Goyim (Gentiles) to do teshuvah and have life!“ Acts 11:18b CJB emphasis mine.
These Jewish believers just had their world shook – they realized that their GOD was now the GOD of the Gentiles and that those formerly unclean and common people were entitled, just like they were, to make teshuvah – to turn to the GOD of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – and become CLEAN.
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Isaiah 55:6-7 ESV
I knew that the word teshuvah means repentance, but I decided to do a search on do teshuvah. The first article I read, explained that teshuvah, often translated as repentance, is from the root word shuv – to turn back. Teshuvah is turning back to GOD. Checking the Strong’s Concordance, the phrase “return to the Lord” in the verse from Isaiah above is shuv (H7725).
I also learned in that same article that in Jewish tradition the entire month of Elul (the sixth month on the Jewish calendar (August 9 – September 6, 2021 on the Gregorian calendar) is focused on teshuvah, repentance, and turning back to GOD in preparation for the upcoming fall feasts in the seventh month – Tishri.
I don’t keep the feasts or follow tradition just to follow tradition. I don’t believe traditions of man should be considered equal to GOD’s law or supersede it. I also don’t believe that traditions in and of themselves are bad. Taking the month prior to the fall feasts that portray the return of the bridegroom to make ourselves ready for His return and look at our lives and reevaluate our behavior is not a bad idea. Repentance or teshuvah is not a quick exercise. I encourage you to checkout David Pawson’s teaching on Repentance: https://youtu.be/GCJwx1S_l1M.
Turning to the right or left and simply walking away from your sin is not the same as turning completely around, doing a 180, and walking back in the other direction toward GOD. You are likely to have to walk back past people you have wronged or maybe even sinned with. You just might be required to apologize or make amends. Simply saying to GOD, forgive me for my sins – in a half hearted, generic way – doesn’t really cut it either. What sins are you turning from? What sins do you want Him to forgive you for? Do you really want to make teshuvah? Do you really want to stop doing things your way and turn back to Him?
Your old friends are not going to want you to change, they may even make things hard for you. They will make fun of you and ridicule you. Your old world will try very hard to stop your from making teshuvah.
When we are driving through our cities and towns, we sometimes see signs that say, “No U-Turn.” In God’s economy, it is always OK to make a U-Turn back to Him and it is preferable that you do when you see that you have veered off course.
You may have veered way off course, and feel you are too far away. But getting back to Him does not take as long as you fear it will because when you turn around and draw near to Him, He will draw near to you.
In the New Testament the word translated as repentance is metanoia (Strong’s G3341).The Thayer’s Greek Lexicon lists the meaning as a change of mind. But sometimes it is very hard for us to change our minds and admit that we are doing it wrong. The verses that follow the two highlighted above point out that we need to change our mind and why we need to turn back to and follow the LORD.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV
Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles
This “season of teshuvah” begins on the Elul 1 (Rosh Chodesh Elul – the head of the month of Elul) which is August 8/9 on our Gregorian calendar for 2021. Yom Teruah begins on Tishri 1 (September 6/7), Yom Kippur is 10 days later on Tishri 10 (September 15/16) and Sukkot is 5 days after that on Tishri 15 (September 20/21).
The Feast of Trumpets/Yom Teruah – the Day of Blowing the Trumpet and Shouting for Joy – is followed by the 10 Days of Awe (teshuvah & repentance) prior to the Day of Atonement/Yom Kippur, when the nation of Israel’s sins are atoned for. Five days later the big week long celebration of Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot. All of these fall feasts are rehearsals for The Last Trumpet of Yeshua’s return, the Judgement Day and the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.
Think about this: our Heavenly Father, the Almighty King of the Universe, does not want us caught off guard and unprepared in dirty garments when the Bridegroom comes for His bride. It is all about getting and being ready – just ask the five foolish virgins.
Get Ready by Turning Around
We are instructed in the Bible to seek God while He may be found in Isaiah 55. We can’t wait until it is convenient or when we are done having fun. We must do it NOW. Seek means to look for; if you are not finding Him in the direction you are going – TURN AROUND – NOW!
We are also told that the bride makes herself ready in Revelation, “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” Revelation 19:7-8 NKJV
Earlier this year we rehearsed the betrothal when the bride accepted the marriage proposal and partook of the wine offered by the groom – His blood spilled for many that they might have the forgiveness of sin. Have you accepted that proposal? Are you waiting in eager anticipation for your Husband? Or are you flirting with others or worse yet still dating others – what idols have you not purged from your life?
(For a documentary/dramatization of the proposal and marriage supper see the movie Before the Wrath (Official Film http://beforethewrath.com/)
Some important verses about teshuvah and repentance to consider and study:
- If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV
- Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. Acts 3:19 NIV
- From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 4:17 NIV
- Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Revelation 3:19 NIV
- In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. Acts 17:30 NIV
- For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live! Ezekiel 18:32 NIV
Begin Your U-Turn
It is still not too late to return to God or to come to Him for the very first time. Stop what you are doing, because if you are not following Yeshua/Jesus, you don’t want to find out it is not working when it is too late.
Over the next 40 days (the 30 days of Elul plus the 10 Days of Awe) make teshuvah. Repent, turn away from your sins and behaviors that are unpleasing to GOD. Ask for His forgiveness. The Bible says in 1 John 1:9 that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.
Look for His coming, look forward to His coming. The glory of spending eternity with the LORD is greater than any hardship you may have to go through now for His name’s sake.
I feel an urgency as the age is coming to a close. Do you feel it? We may have heard it all our lives that the LORD is coming soon, but as Paul says we are closer now that when we first believed. Look up, for your redemption draws nigh.
…Keep in mind the times we are living in. The hour has come for you to wake up from your sleep. Our full salvation is closer now than it was when we first believed in Christ.
Romans 13:11 NIRV
When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
Luke 21:28 NIV
Heavenly Father, I want to make teshuvah, especially during this upcoming season. Bring to my remembrance the things I do that displease You that I need to confess and turn away from. Break me of the habit of always wanting things my way, change my heart to want to do things Your way. In Yeshua’s name, Amen.
Let us come to the Father everyday during this season and everyday thereafter forsaking our will for His. If we are His people, let us humble ourselves and pray and seek His face and turn from our wicked ways. Then He will hear from heaven, and He will forgive our sin and He will heal our land.
Don’t think I think I have arrived – this is a journey. I am human and make more mistakes that I want to admit. But I want to hear the words “Well Done!” when I finish my race. If I don’t share with and warn others, I won’t. I can’t keep the knowledge to myself. We all have to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
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