“REPENT, FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND” 17.03.20

““The people sitting in darkness have seen a great light, and those sitting in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” From then on, Jesus/Yeshua began to proclaim, “Turn away from your sins, for the kingdom of heaven is near””(Matt.4:16,17). Evidenced by these passages, Jesus/Yeshua fulfilled the prophecy from Isaiah quoted here: “The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined” (Isa.9:2). Obviously referring to Jesus/Yeshua as the prophesied Messiah, the New Testament saints connected the dots between the prophecies of the OT saints and Messiah Yeshua. The Light had come down to earth to demonstrate the Kingdom of God, but “men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). The Truth had been revealed, but humankind for the most part insisted on following their own way. Unfortunately, the human genome has not changed much.

Just as everyone at the time of His first appearance did not recognize Who He was (or refused to acknowledge), so too even now, with the volume of prophecy that has been fulfilled through Messiah, still many do not believe. “For everyone who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds will not be exposed”(John 3:20). Upon recognition of truth, action is required: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight’” (Matt.3:1-3). “In Hebrew, the word for “repent” is shuv. It means “to turn around.” Repentance (teshuvah), in the noun form, is a foundational concept in Judaism. It means “to return.” Unlike the Greek equivalent that implies a change of mind, teshuvah means “to turn around and go back the other direction.” The call to repent is an imperative to turn one’s life in the opposite direction. In the mouths of the prophets, it meant “quit sinning, turn around: and start doing good.” It is more than just a change of mind: teshuvah demands a change of behaviour. In Judaism, “to return” means “to return to the covenant norms of Torah.” Sin is defined as a transgression of Torah. Therefore, the call to repent is the call to quit sinning, turn around, and return to obedience to God’s commandments” (Hayesod the Foundation, p.5.27). “But whoever practices the truth comes to the light, so that it may be made known that his deeds have been accomplished in God”(John 3:21). It is insufficient to simply say “sorry,” and just carry on with the same sinful behaviour; a change in activity/behaviour is required.

What is it that causes human beings to be so resistant to the truth? Why is it so difficult to agree to doing things God’s way? Resistance to, avoidance and denial of truth, these are commonly employed to bypass taking of responsibility for one’s actions. According to the words of the prophet Jeremiah, “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings” (Jer.17:9,10). “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one”(Rom.3:10-12). So much for the smugness of the religious self-righteous.

Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,  and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk.1:14,15). “When He was teaching the crowds, Yeshua never preached a sermon presenting the plan of salvation. Nor did He ever bother to share a tract. We never hear Yeshua ask anyone, “If you died today, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven?” We never hear Him ask, “Do you have Me in your heart?” or “Are you saved?” But if those cliches were not the gospel message taught by Yeshua and His disciples, what was the message” What was He preaching? He was preaching John’s nine-word sermon {“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). Those nine words are the gospel message in a nutshell.} When He sent out His disciples, He told them to preach the same thing. John’s sermon was:”Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Yeshua’s sermon was: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The apostles’ sermon was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The message of the gospel is: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Hayesod, the Foundation, p.5.27). Has Christianity, in general, lost sight of the concept of repentance? Have we missed the mark in our teaching of the gospel of Christ? Are we still sitting in the dark, even though The Light has shone? 

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever.The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isa.9:6,7), “a light for revelation to the nations, and the glory of Your people Israel”(Lk.2:32). While we still await the ultimate fulfillment of that kingdom’s establishment upon Messiah’s return, let us not grow weary at spreading the Word, that the King has come, and is coming again: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt.3:2; Mk.1:15).

REFERENCES:

Matt.4:16,17

Isa.9:2

John 3:19-21

Lk.2:32

Jer.17:9,10

Rom.3:10-12

Mk.1:14,15

Matt. 3:1-3

Matt. 10:7

NKJV

TLV

Hayesod the Foundation The Land, The People, And the Scriptures of Israel, 2010, First Fruits of Zion.

Copyright © 2015, revised 2017, 2020 by Verna Crowther. All rights reserved.

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