We all like things new. In fact the process of all living things contains constant renewal. God sends His spirit and creation is renewed (Psalm 103:5, 104:30).
If we want to renovate, we must clear out the old stuff. The water tank on the third floor of the church of Tabitha, our pastor friend in Canada, burst, ruining all the furnishings on the two floors beneath. She subsequently dreamed that the Lord told her to “clean out the Church” (both materially and spiritually). Now they have a chance to renovate everything.
Spiritual renewal starts with repentance. We share the biblical vision for world revival and restoration. But that process starts with each individual repenting. In fact repentance is the first word of the biblical message. The purpose of the Torah is to bring us to a point that we understand how much we need to repent (Romans 3:20) and the goodness of God leads us into that repentance (Romans 2:4).
John the Baptist (the last Israelite prophet before the Messiah) prepared the way for the gospel:
Matthew 3:2 – Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.
Yeshua preached His first message:
Mark 1:15 – The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel.
The disciples went out preaching repentance and doing miracles:
Mark 6:12-13 – They went out and preached that people should repent. They cast out many demons and anointed many sick with oil and healed them.
When Peter (Shimon) preached after Shavuot-Pentecost, he called for repentance, water immersion and receiving the Holy Spirit:
Acts 2:38 – Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Messiah Yeshua for forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
When Shimon preached this message again, he added the elements of revival and restoration:
Acts 3:19-21 – Repent and turn so that your sins will be blotted out and times of refreshing will come from the Lord, and He will send the one who was appointed from the beginning, Yeshua the Messiah, whom the heavens must receive until the restoration of all things.
Notice the pattern of 1. Repent, 2. Refresh, 3. Restore. The Greek word for refresh is anapsuxis, ‘ana’ is new, ‘psuxis’ is soul (like psychology). Repentance leads to the renewal of the soul, which leads to the restoration of everything else.
The word for restoration here when translated back to Hebrew is tikkun, from which we take our ministry banner name: Tikkun – for the restoration of all things. We often say that we have a vision for a world-wide movement of revival and restoration. That’s true. But let’s note that it has to start with personal repentance.
When Paul (Shaul) brought this message to Europe, he emphasized that repentance is for everyone:
Acts 17:31 – God overlooked times of ignorance, but now is commanding all men in every place to repent.
In the messages to the churches in Revelation, John (Yochanan) quotes Yeshua in his vision as saying:
Revelation 3:19 – Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline; therefore, be zealous to repent. (see also Revelation 2:5, 2:16, 2:22, 3:3)
So, from the Law to the Prophets, the Gospels to the Apostles, the consistent message of the Bible is that everyone needs to repent.
Repent in Hebrew is teshuvah, תשובה primarily meaning to come back. Each person has distanced himself from God. And we are to come back to Him. It is like a prodigal child coming home to his father’s embrace (Luke 15). Unfortunately, many have changed the meaning from this simple moral and relational message to a religious ritual that was not the original intention.
Repent in Greek is metanoia, simply meaning an inner change of attitude, a change (meta) of mind (noia). The words repent and repentance are found some 80 times in the New Covenant. The point here is to change, not to wallow in guilt or self-condemnation.
The change of repentance has two steps. It means to stop doing what is wrong and to return to intimacy with our loving heavenly Father. Change your attitude, stop doing selfish and destructive things, and come back to God.
Although the concept is so simple, both spiritually and morally, it is amazing that people generally do not repent. People don’t like to change; don’t like to admit they were wrong; don’t want to admit someone else was right.
In politics we see a different angle. Both sides accuse one another of corruption. Who is right? Both are, because both have sinned. It’s just that A sees B’s corruption and wants B to change. B sees A’s corruption and wants A to change. Neither see their own wrongdoing, and therefore neither change.
This happens not only in politics but in our communities of faith as well! Everyone calls for others to repent, while not being willing to repent themselves. Everyone is “righteous in his own eyes.” But before we can be the “rebuker” at the gate, we must be the “repentor” in our own souls.
This universal message of repentance is becoming even more urgent and relevant as we enter the times of tribulation in the end days. The past year was difficult with a world-wide epidemic, and the resulting economic and psychological damages that went with it. Everyone is looking for the right solution or vaccination.
The world situation is going to get more difficult. The answer is not political, economic or scientific. The root cause is moral and spiritual. The bad situation in the world is a result of the bad situation in the human heart. Our behavior affects creation around us. Natural disasters are a warning from the Creator that we have all done wrong and need to change.
Yeshua was told that Pilate had brutally murdered some Galileans. His followers had “theological” or “political” questions. How could God allow this? Should we fight against Caesar? Were those who suffered worse than others? Yeshua also referred to a natural disaster in which a tower fell upon some people in Jerusalem. Why did the tower fall on them and not others?
Yeshua’s answer surprised them, surprises us, and should make us all stop and ponder the spiritual meaning of both political and natural disasters.
Luke 13:2 – Do you suppose that the Galileans who suffered were greater sinners than the other Galileans? No, I tell you, if you do not all repent, you will perish like them. Or those eighteen people upon whom the tower fell in Siloah and killed them, do you suppose they were more guilty than the others living in Jerusalem? I say to you, No, and if you do not repent, then you will all perish like them.
We have all sinned. We all deserve to be punished. Natural and political disasters are a result of our sin. And they are a warning from God. It is not that those who suffer who are the “exception” to the rule, and the rest of us are “okay” morally and spiritually.
It is the grace of God that we are not all destroyed. He allows some to suffer now as a warning to the rest of us: “You are all like them. You are all selfish and sinful. You all deserve to be punished.” This is a gracious warning because God loves us. If we repent, He can be more merciful. One of the purposes of God allowing suffering is to influence us to repent.
As we get closer to the time of eternal judgment, God in His love for us increases the difficult times in this world in order to help us escape a worse punishment. Worldly temporal sufferings, even the most horrible and painful, are much less than any kind of eternal punishment.
In the very last days before Judgment, God will even cause horrible solar disturbances in which the Sun will become extra hot and burn people and then everything will become dark, both physically and morally. All these disasters are an urgent and burning message for us to repent before judgment day.
Revelation 16:8-10 – Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory. Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.
The majority of people will not repent, but God will do everything to push people toward repentance. The problems in the environment and economics, in politics and medicine, are signs to us from God to repent.
No matter who we are or what situation we are in, let’s learn the simple lesson and do it. Let each one of us repent of wrong attitudes and actions and return to our heavenly Father who loves us.