Repent!


The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”” (Acts 17:30–31, ESV)

I write this blog on the first day of Passover 2020. There is so much going on in the world and still fear has its grips on so many. The Plagues of the bible where to bring humility to the people of Egypt and bring about the redemption of God’s people. The unfortunate thing for the people in Egypt is that they continued to refuse to turn to the God of Israel and sought out their own Gods. The result was the plague of death. But in the end the people of God where led out of Egypt and saw God’s mighty act of redemption. Israel has continued to celebrate the deliverance of the Israelite people from the last plague – death. I continue to ponder what God is doing in all of this, but one thing is sure, we are not in control and we must turn to him, finding our faith in the redemption that His Son has borne for us on the cross again at Passover.

I started the day doing a chapter in a course I am taking called Jesus as Rabbi, The Jewish Context of the Life of Jesus. (Offered through Logos Bible Software). The chapter that I was looking at today was on Sin and salvation, which also means that repentance comes into the picture.

Early in this section I was covering the idea of Sacrifice. This again takes us back to Egypt and the many sacrifices that were being performed by the Egyptians to their Gods. The author of the course then made this comment:

But when they were taken into the wilderness, God changed that and He reduced their sacrifices to a bare minimum. If God wanted to teach them about a single sacrifice—once for all time—this was a good way of doing it. He said, “Well, just have one morning sacrifice, one evening sacrifice.” There [were] a few others, but they were mainly food, and it’s just once a year you have the annual Day of Atonement—the one sacrifice that takes away sin. They’re starting to learn there’s going to be one sacrifice for sin.”[1]

Early on God was teaching His people that there was eventually going to be one sacrifice for sin. The Hebrews had a good deal of baggage when they came out of Egypt, and maybe that included how they viewed sin. But in the rest of the story God is trying to bring them to a more perfect understanding which unfolds in the New Covenant writings.

At the very beginning of the Gospel of John it records John the Baptist seeing Jesus and declaring  “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world![2]So sin is addressed right at the beginning with another message that we get from the other gospels – Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven has come.

Dr. Brewer pointed out that it was not the Passover lamb that took away sin, that was a celebration of God delivering his people from death and then their redemption from Egypt. It was the goat on the day of atonement that took away the sin of all the people. A young goat is also called a lamb. So, sin is addressed right in the beginning of Jesus ministry, so what where people to do?

People are told to repent. But even on the day of Atonement sins where not just automatically cleared because the sacrifice happened, there were two other things that needed to be part of the process – repentance and the forgiving of others.

In the Yoma, which is the fifth tractate of the “Order of Festivals” and is mostly concerned with Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is says this:

“He who says, ‘I will sin and I’ll repent, [then] I’ll sin again and I’ll repent [again]’—he is not enabled to repent. [If he says:] ‘I will sin and the Day of Atonement will atone’—the Day of Atonement will not atone.”[3]

If you set out to sin knowing that the day of atonement is coming then it’s not real repentance. I would say that the same applies today – If we sin with the idea that the blood of Jesus will just cover it, then have we truly repented? True repentance comes when we truly want to avoid sin in the first place. That does not mean we won’t sin, but it becomes a matter of where the heart is.

The second part of the idea is the forgiveness of others. This fits well with the great commands of Christ – Love God and Love others. The Jewish people understood this well, as also in the Yoma it says:

“Transgressions between a man and God—the Day of Atonement atones. Transgressions between a man and his fellow—the Day of Atonement does not atone until he seeks pardon from his fellow.”[4]

In these troubled days, let us truly seek God to grant us repentance that leads to life, and if we have anyone that we need to seek forgiveness from then seek them out (Virtually right now) because God desires all people everywhere to repent!


[1] Instone-Brewer, D. (2016). NT390 Jesus as Rabbi: The Jewish Context of the Life of Jesus. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 1:29). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Instone-Brewer, D. (2016). NT390 Jesus as Rabbi: The Jewish Context of the Life of Jesus. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Instone-Brewer, D. (2016). NT390 Jesus as Rabbi: The Jewish Context of the Life of Jesus. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

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