“Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? ” (Zechariah 1:5–6, ESV)

The Lord through the prophet Zechariah is asking this generation to look back at the example of the previous generations and learn from them. God used them as an example. Why? Because this generation still had the same root problem that the previous generation had, a problem that has existed since the days of Noah…

“…the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.” (Genesis 8:21, ESV)

Then the Lord makes this point..”But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers?”

To understand the full meaning of what he is saying only requires one to turn to Deut. 28 and read the whole chapter. The theme of this chapter is a list of blessings that will overtake the people if they are obedient, and curses that will overtake the people if they are disobedient. In other words, what the Lord spoke regarding our choices, will happen. It may seem that God is not acting on it now, but it will come to pass and the Lord’s judgment will come.

When Israel was taken into captivity by the Assyrians, the southern Kingdom of Judah had them as an example.

 “The Lord said to me in the days of King Josiah: “Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore? And I thought, ‘After she has done all this she will return to me,’ but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore. Because she took her whoredom lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree. Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but in pretense, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 3:6–10, ESV)

What about today, Paul had this to say in 1 Cor 10

“For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:1–13, ESV)  

Not only is it an example, but it is written down for our instruction! What have we done with it? We change the terms to be more palatable, we redefine what God has called sin, we ignore the sections that don’t agree with our desires, and like Judah we justify our own folly by wrapping it in nice terms like freedom and grace. Don’t get me wrong, God is a God of grace, the entire Bible is full of His amazing grace, but it has become a tool we use to justify our own sinful desires.

God may desire for us to remember the failures of our previous generations, but He also desires us to look to Him and remember the amazing things He has done for us and not to forget the instruction he has provided for us to walk in…

“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”” (Luke 22:19, ESV)

“Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery,” (Deuteronomy 8:11–14, ESV)  

“Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered, O offspring of Israel his servant, children of Jacob, his chosen ones!” (1 Chronicles 16:11–13, ESV)  

 “See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today? “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children— how on the day that you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, the Lord said to me, ‘Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.’” (Deuteronomy 4:5–10, ESV)

“‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.” (Revelation 3:1–3, ESV)  

This last verse is a wake up call, it suggests a body of believers who have a reputation of being alive, the people in the community surrounding them saw works that suggested that this was a vibrant active body of believers. This may also suggest that they to believed that they were alive. We are doing all the right things, we are growing, we are doing great things in the community around us…but, they were dead. This is a position of pride, and dare I say it is pride inside the body. We must be so careful today to remember this example that has been written down for our instruction. What did the Lord desire to see...

“Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent.”

Lord, help us to have a heart of humility, help us to seek after your instructions and not our traditions, help us to remember what we have received and heard, keep it, and repent.

A final thought from Charles Spurgeon:

“Repentance grows as faith grows. Do not make any mistake about it; repentance is not a thing of days and weeks, a temporary penance to be got over as fast as possible! No; it is the grace of a lifetime, like faith itself. God’s little children repent, and so do the young men and the fathers. Repentance is the inseparable companion of faith.” 
― Charles H. SpurgeonAll of Grace 


“Thus says the Lord: “The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” (Jeremiah 31:2–3, ESV)  

Grace is a fascinating word to study. Many sermons I have listened to define it as unmerited favor, but when you really look into the word it is so much more richer than that.

The Strong’s definition is #2580 is the word “chen” and has the meanings of grace, favour, beauty and loveliness. It is derived from the root verb Strongs #2603 “chanan”  which brings the ideas of mercy, grace, pity, and favor, as well as the idea to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior. (1)

There is a shared root syllable with the word Strong’s #2583 “chanah” that is very interesting. The idea in this word it to pitch a tent, to encamp,  or to rest in tent. (1)

In the wilderness the Israelite’s set up camp by pitching their tents in such a way that they provided a wall that separated the camp from the outside. When you look at the pictograph of the letter “het” it is a picture of a wall, which could imply the idea of separation. The second letter is the “nun” which has a pictograph of a sprouting seed which has the idea of continue, in that the seed continues the next generation.(2)  So combining the two pictures we get the idea of a wall that continues. The camp is inside the walls that continue and surround the camp separating it from the outside. To live inside the walls is where the people find protection. In the center of the camp is the tabernacle which is where the Lord dwelt among His people.

Think about what the picture provides, the ideas of refuge, protection, healing, help, salvation and covenant. How about the idea of separation or being set apart. (Holiness)

To live inside the camp also meant that you lived in the covenant community and followed the instructions that God provided for that covenant community. To step outside the camp was to leave the place of refuge and protection and enter a wilderness of danger and trouble.

Pondering the beauty of God’s grace is to discover so much more to such a simple word. In doing so I find so much more richness in what Paul writes in Ephesians:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8–10, ESV)  

It is by God’s grace that he brings us back into the camp where we find His salvation, His protection, His Help, His healing. In the camp we join the covenant community and become set apart for His purposes. It is where we find the freedom to live in the boundaries that God has provided. When we are to travel into the wilderness it is as part of the covenant community and it is always God who leads the way.

It is sad though that many of us like to jump back over the wall into the wilderness where we find danger and trouble. Sometimes we try and live on both sides of the wall hoping to get the best of both worlds, but that to is just a deception of our own flesh. The other problem we have is that we try and move the walls in closer and closer to the center, but the end result is that we have no longer have any room to move around in the freedom that the original walls provided.

Lord help me to live in the freedom that is your grace, a freedom to live in your covenant community, under your amazing instruction. The freedom I have is not to do anything I wish, but a freedom to live in the encampment of your grace.

1. Strong, J. (1996). The New Strong’s Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

2. Seekins, Frank T. “Hebrew Word Pictures”


 “I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died, in order to test Israel by them, whether they will take care to walk in the way of the Lord as their fathers did, or not.” (Judges 2:21–22, ESV)

I heard this verse mentioned on the radio and even though I have explored it loosely in the past, I though it might be interesting to look a little deeper into the scripture and see how I can know the my Lord better through these verses that talk about His testing. So starting in Genesis I want to explore a handful of these verses and what the theme is surrounding them.

1 . The testing of Faith

“After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Genesis 22:1–2, ESV)  

The Lord had finally given Abraham the child of promise, the one whom the promised blessings would come from, so what does he ask him to do? Offer him as a burnt offering. I would love to peal back the curtain of Abraham’s mind and see what he was thinking, maybe the statement to his son gives a small clue…

“Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.” (Genesis 22:8, ESV)  

Either way you look at this passage, the one thing is very clear, God was testing Abraham to see if he was faithful. The result is something that would be a theme for a walk of faithfulness…Blessing!!

 “And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba. And Abraham lived at Beersheba.” (Genesis 22:15–19, ESV)

What is really important to see in this passage is that faith is tied intimately with obeying God’s voice. Faith and Obedience go together.

2. Testing of our walk

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my Torah or not.” (Exodus 16:4, ESV)

This is not just a once and done test, this is to see if they will walk in His Torah. Are the people willing to walk (lifestyle day by day) by the instructions God has given to them. When you think about it, what an amazing God we have, he has told us His desire for our lives. We don’t have to guess what will please Him. That is true freedom. The other god’s represented by idols, where silent, and the people who worshiped them did all kinds of crazy things without ever really knowing if they were pleasing their god.

3. Testing the fear of the Lord

God spoke directly to the people from the mountain his 10 words which would form an outline for the rest of his instruction. Moses then said this to the people…“Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.” (Exodus 20:20–21, ESV)

What is the purpose of His testing in this passage?  “that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.”  This suggest something we should understand about the fear of God. How can the fear of Him bring us to a point of not sinning?

This is fleshed out later on in the instructions…

“Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Deuteronomy 6:1–3, ESV)  

How does one fear God…by keeping all his statures and his commandments!!

4. Testing to refine or perfect us

God may test us directly, or he may test us by way of the adversary. The best example of this is the entire book of Job. But it is very important to see that all of the testing of Job came by way of God’s control.

“And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” (Job 1:8–12, ESV)  

Job walked a life of obedience. God continually promises that if we walk in obedience then His desire is to bless us. But, that does not mean that He will not test us. Here the testing is designed to refine Job, because in the end Job sees God even better. Look at what he says in Job 42…

“Then Job answered the Lord and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42:1–6, ESV)  

In the end he sees the Lord more clearly, and what is the result…repentance!! Is that not so very true in our lives? The more clearly we see our Lord, the more dirty we feel and thus we should be driven to have the same attitude as Job…”repent in dust and ashes”

Job is the example that maybe Peter has in mind as he encourages us also in times of testing…

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:6–9, ESV)  

Our faith is tested, sometimes by fire, but the outcome is wonderful, praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Yeshua the Messiah, and the outcome of our faith…the salvation of your soul.

Lord, help me to see you more clearly, may my attitude be one of humility and repentance. In all things good and bad may I look to you, and you alone who purifies and perfects us into you image…“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:2, ESV)

The Foundation

” And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy,” (Ezra 3:11b–12, ESV)

There was great joy and praise when the people finished laying the foundation of the temple in Ezra chapter 3. There was also sadness. Why? Could it be that the elders that had seen the previous temple were comparing the size of the present foundation with the original size of Solomon’s temple? What would this suggest of their hearts? Was it possible that they looked upon this foundation and were reminded of the sin, idolatry, and disobedience of God’s Torah that had brought them to this place? But, God would not let them stay there, He sends His prophet Haggai to lift them up out of their despair.

“In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’” (Haggai 2:1–9, ESV)  

What an amazing promise to His people. A people who just 70 year prior had hearts that were chasing after idols, yet God was merciful and full of Grace and stirs the hearts of His people to return to the land and rebuild. But this rebuilding was not just a house for worship, it was a spiritual rebuilding.

The Alter had been built first so that the people could have sacrifice, repentance, rededication, and to once again be purified and accepted by God. Then after they have turned back to a proper relationship with a Holy God, it is time to build a foundation for God’s house, and the Lord was right beside them every step of the way.

They also returned to following the teachings of Moses that the Lord had given them to provide the framework for living a life that was pleasing, and set apart unto the Lord. This included the Feasts of the Lord which would bring people to a place of remembering what a great and mighty God they had and all the wonderful things He had done for them. He truly wanted them to know as He had spoken through Isaiah…I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior.

Is not our God Amazing!! The pattern we see here is the same pattern we have been given through the Son.

God stirs our hearts to repent and seek after His desires for our life. Putting our faith completely in Jesus our Messiah, and in doing so Jesus, the chief cornerstone adds us to the building of a living temple. 1 Peter 2:4-10 is a beautiful illustration of this process:

“As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:4–10, ESV)

Just like the people that were in captivity in Babylon, He has shown us grace and mercy. He has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light and now we to can gather as one man and sing praise to our Lord.

Do I act like the elders did at times, looking back into the past and weeping, or even worse do I look back at the world and its offerings and begin to forget of the great things the Lord has done. Peter finished the passage well with these words…

“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:11–12, ESV)  

Lord, help me to seek your desires and your will in my life. May I desire you words and your spirit so passionately that I may know you more and more every day of my life, and in knowing you more deeply the encouragement I get from the examples you have given us would stir us to continue to praise, worship, and perform deeds in keeping with repentance.

“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.” (Psalm 62:1–2, ESV)  

The Gospel

...“testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:21, ESV)

In Acts 20:21 I discussed in the previous post about repentance toward God. In this passage, Paul is addressing the elders at the church of Ephesus and expresses that he is testifying to both Jews and Greeks this 2 fold message of repentance and faith.

Is this not the good news that we also see Peter proclaim earlier in Acts 2? Should this not be the model that we follow today? I was listening to the radio the other day and heard a message that explained the gospel as a coupon that God has given to us that you can use to gain salvation. Does this not make the gospel of Jesus Christ a product that is being sold. In our american culture today how do we see products? Seems to me products can be purchased, used as needed, and then discarded if it is no longer meeting my needs. I have seen this mentality first hand. Jesus is not a product to be sold, there is no magic formula or coupon needed to obtain salvation. Salvation is accomplished by God, and God alone in the lives of those he is calling by His amazing Grace. God in His wonderful Grace also uses us to be a testimony to those people who he is calling and our job is simple, proclaim the gospel! The really great thing is that we have examples of this in scripture with Paul and Peter being great examples to us today.

The word above for testifying in Greek is diamartyromai which means to assert, or declare, or testify. Look closely at the word and you will notice that it contains the root for martyr which is one who is a witness. In the LXX this word is used in Is 43:10-12, and Is 44:6-8

“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior. I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and I am God.” (Isaiah 43:10–12, ESV)

“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen. Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.” (Isaiah 44:6–8, ESV)

We are God’s witness, and what are we to proclaim? “that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he…I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior.”

Is not the testimony of Paul very similar? “testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Repentance toward God – Paul is declaring a return to trusting in God’s instructions, instructions from the King of Israel for living a life that is pleasing to the King.

Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ – Paul tells us to have faith in Yeshua (which means salvation) the Messiah of God..”and besides me there is no savior.”

When I put this in light of John 14:11 and Heb 1:1-3, Is not the same message we see in Isaiah being proclaimed, just in a different light.

“Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” (John 14:11, ESV)

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (Hebrews 1:1–3, ESV)  

What a amazing God we serve, the message has not changed, only what is revealed is more clear. The radiance of the glory of God has been revealed, light has shined into the darkness..

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” (Isaiah 60:1–3, ESV)

Lord, help me to have a heart to declare your salvation to the nations, to be a witness like the example we have in Paul and Peter your servants, to proclaim the message of repentance toward God and faith in Yeshua the Messiah.

Repentance towards God

...“testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:21, ESV)

Part of the gospel message that Paul was preaching was a message of repentance towards God. I spoke of the need for repentance in a previous post, but what does it really mean when the text says “repentance toward God”?

Maybe to fully understand what repentance towards God is, I must first understand how I have turned away from God. In the Old Testament there are 3 words that are translated as sin, lets take a look at what each of them means.

The first word is “het” which has the basic root meaning to miss a mark or a way. In Lev 4:2 it seems to point at a failure to observe God’s laws.

The next word is “avon” which is translated “iniquity” in Ezek 18:20 and has the basic meaning of twisting, distorting or bending. The TWOT (Theological Dictionary of the OT) has this also to add...

“When the distortion pertains to law it means “to sin, to infract, to commit a perversion/iniquity.” (1)

The last word is pesha, “a wicked act committed presumptuously in defiance of God and His law.” (2)

It is interesting to note that in all 3 words there is a suggestion of a breaking, misuse, or corruption of the Words of God.

As a last review I want to remind myself what the word REPENT really means. In it’s simplest form it simply means to turn back. This is a message that God continue to offer up to His people through the prophets. I think that Ezek 33:11 is a great example of it’s use in this context:

“Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11, ESV)

The word turn in all of the places in this verse could also be translated with the word repent. And to add the context we could add Ezek 33:10 which uses 2 of the words for sin, het and pesha:

“And you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, Thus have you said: ‘Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we rot away because of them. How then can we live?’” (Ezekiel 33:10, ESV)

One of my favorite NT passages that define sin is in 1 John 3:4:

“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 3:4, ESV)  

So could we not come to the same conclusion that the ancient Rabbi’s also found:

“The rabbis usually employed the term aberah, that is, a transgression of a divine commandment. In contrast to this they used mitzwah, a divine command, which denotes also the whole range of duty, including the desire and intention of the human soul. From this point of view every evil design or impulse, every thought and act contrary to God’s law, becomes a sin.” (3)

Also to make things a bit more clear, when the term LAW is used it is NOT used in the ways we would think of law today, the term is the translation for the word Torah which is a term used for God’s instruction or can also have the meaning to hit the mark.

So to have repentance towards God could be translated as turning back towards God. So if each of the terms for sin is acts which are contrary to God’s law then turning back towards God can imply that we are turning back towards God’s instructions for living. We make the verse in 2 Tim 3:16 a reality:

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, ESV)

Turning back to God could possibly mean that I have to truly trust and believe that what God has given us as His instruction for living is trustworthy and true, then I must ACT on that trust. Is this not why Pauls says:

“but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.” (Acts 26:20, ESV)

This all comes back to the Word of God and how important it is in my life, not as an academic exercise ,but as an active walk of obedience in my life.

Am I equipped for every good work?

1. (1577 עָוָה. R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr., & B. K. Waltke, Eds.)Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Chicago: Moody Press.

2. Kohler, Kaufmann (2011-03-24). Jewish Theology (Kindle Locations 3571-3572). . Kindle Edition.

3. Kohler, Kaufmann (2011-03-24). Jewish Theology (Kindle Locations 3574-3577). . Kindle Edition.