One of the unexpected blessings of being brought out of the church system and into a personal walk with YAHUsha, the True Hebrew Messiah – was a lie.

How could a lie be a blessing? Let me explain.

Have you ever been involved in a relationship, worked for a corporation, had a business agreement, or some sort of contract with someone else based upon trust? Only later to find out, the very basis of that relationship and trust had a lie involved in it. No matter how small or large the deception is – once you find out about it – everything else from that point is up for investigation and doubt.

That somewhat describes my relationship with the Christian Church. I spent 30 years in the Christian church belief system. I would go there for teaching, fellowship, Bible study and all the rest. As a child, I fervently studied the New Testament and the words of my Savior and His disciples. Then I got busy with my adult life and career, and let the spiritual aspect of my life get squeezed out for time spent on worldly things.

Then the Set-apart Spirit spoke again in my life, “What about My Sabbath?” He said. Long story short (very short) – I remember thinking, “this is my chance!  To begin really learning about Him, My Creator, without influence of anyone but the Set-apart Spirit to speak to me and teach me.” As a child, I KNEW the scripture instructs us to worship on the Sabbath, but for some reason I thought the preachers knew something I did not for all their years of training and study. I knew of no Christian church meeting on the Sabbath, and I would have to do this at home in a personal fashion and was excited about doing so for I knew it to be pleasing to Elohim. I knew it in my spirit.

Now back to the issue of the lie. If my church and pastor would deceive me (whether intentionally or by blindness) about the Set-apartness of the Sabbath day unto our Set-apart Creator, what else have I been deceived about? All other terms and doctrines were now fair game for investigation – and there, beloved, is the blessing! So my topic for this writing – Repentance.

What is repentance?

Up until a short time ago, the following has been my understanding of what repentance means:

The Holy Spirit or the Biblical New Testament texts would convict my spirit about something. Maybe I had said or done something throughout my life or throughout my day that I knew to be wrong. My conscience would let me know that what I had done was wrong and I needed to make amends. I needed to and would ask for forgiveness from God and then do my best not repeat that misdeed or spoken word again, and to truly be sorry for what I had done or said. Knowing that I was truly regretful of what I had done or said, I could be assured that I was forgiven for that sin or transgression.

But even in this scenario, I cannot help but wonder now, how much of the conviction was from what I knew of what my Savior taught, or just a consequence of what my parents and society had taught me. There were “sins” of lying, cross words or actions, jealousy, being inconsiderate of others, holding grudges or being angry at someone, and disobedience. I remember getting spankings for some of these as a child. Spankings certainly had an effect on my learning right from wrong. When I was very young, the learning was based upon fear. Later on, I learned I did not like hurting my parents by my transgressions of their instructions, and so when I did – I felt sorry for having done the thing.

There are also hundreds of thousands of people who are good people. They are kind, they don’t cheat or steal, they certainly are not murders and they treat others decently. These people will tell you they are agnostics or atheists even. They don’t hurt other people because they know they would ‘regret’ having done it and have the capability of feeling remorse.

So what is it that is different about the believer’s repentance that is any different than a non-believer who has repentance? Have you ever thought about that? What is it that makes ours  (believers) different?

Let’s go to the scriptures.

Let us explore the words in the languages of the Bible that are used to demonstrate what truly IS repentance for a believer. Let’s start with the Greek, since that is the language the typical American Bible is translated from in the Messianic Scriptures (aka New Testament).

Greek: metanoia  –

This Greek word is a compound word made of ‘meta’ (meaning after, with) and ‘noeo’ (meaning to perceive, to think, the result of perceiving or observing). The entire word means ‘to think differently after.’

This is interesting because don’t we usually know before the transgression is completed, that it was wrong before we did it, yet we did it anyway? Again enters the question of ‘social ethics or morality’ vs. true scriptural repentance. Then we have regret or sorrow for having done it? Does this sound like rebellion to you? It does to me – but let us continue our word study.

In both Aramaic (the accepted language of the day at the time of The Messiah and His disciples) and in Hebrew (the mother tongue of The Messiah) there are two different words that we have translated into English as the same word: repent.

In Aramaic, the word most often is teshuwa

In Hebrew, two words interchangeably are used: shuv, for teshuva and nacham.

Teshuva means “to return” שוב shuv (to return)

Nacham means “to comfort” נחם nicham (to feel sorrow).

For the next several paragraphs, I will be using information taken from the Aramaic English New Testament.

In Moshe’s (Moses) appeal to YAHUAH both of these words (teshuva and nacham) appear in the same verse:

“Turn (shuv) from thy fierce wrath, and repent (nacham) of this evil against thy people” Exodus 32:12.

Hebrew thought predominantly focuses on the word shuv as in teshuva, whereas the Christian church theology has adopted the nacham.

These two words are very, very different in their meanings.

Why is this?

Shuv appears 1,066 times in Scripture but is almost entirely negated by modern Christian theology. This is the stuff that irritates me. Why would the shepherds of today do this? Something so important as repentance, which is written in over 60 verses in the New Testament, and spoken repeatedly by our Savior and His disciples, obviously repentance is of extreme importance to Him.

The first mention of shuv is:

“in the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, until you return (shuv) unto the ground…” Genesis 3:19.

Clearly shuv means to return to where you’ve come from and this is the key to true repentance.

Teshuva (repentance) means return to YAHUAH.

“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return (shuv) unto YAHUAH, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our Elohim, for he will abundantly pardon” Isaiah 55:7.

A return to YAHUAH.

In order to return to something, you would have to have been there before. In reality, the spirit of each individual belongs to YAHUAH and by surrendering and turning to YAHUAH every soul is, in fact, returning to their spiritual origin. This is also what it means, ‘to be born from the beginning.’ This is what our Messiah was revealing to Nicodemus in their chat that night.

There is a way to return to YAHUAH, true repentance, and that is to return to His Ways. Our Creator created us according to His purpose. By returning to Him our true purpose is revealed, but we must also return to Him on His terms and conditions.

Now, for the other term nacham. Nacham is translated as comfort, sorrow, repent, comforter, ease, and all together for a total of only 108 times in the Scriptures.

As believers, we have been taught almost only this definition of the word repent. We sin, we are sorrowful, ask for forgiveness, we are comforted in knowing our Father is forgiving and merciful, we are covered by grace and the blood of our Messiah. Is this all there is to it? Please know, I am not talking about ‘salvation’ I am talking about ‘true living in JOY – sanctification

Is this the message of our Messiah and all of Scripture? Sorrowful living and needing comfort doesn’t seem to be the overriding message of the Scriptures when we have just learned that teshuva (to return) occurs over 1,000 times and nacham (comfort/sorrow) occurs only 108 times. Additionally, it is of great import to know that even when nacham IS used and translated as repent, it is in reference to our Father YAHUAH only. In all of the following verses, the word repent is used for our Father having sorrow: Genesis 6:6, 6:7, Exodus 32:12, 32:14, Deuteronomy 32:36, Judges 2:18. In Judges 21:6, 21:15 the children of Israel repented for Benjamin, or “felt sorrow” for Benjamin. There are several verses that use repent to feel sorrow and need comfort.

So there appears to be two issues at play in our Scriptures for our learning, teaching, and understanding to help lead us into wisdom and truth.

There is repent in English that means sorrow, repent, comfort and then there is repent in English that means to return. I have explored the sorrow and comfort form of the word repent and found it to be most frequently related to our Father, YAHUAH Himself, and we know from Scripture also that The Most High has no need to return because He is the Origin.

We could feel sorrow all our lives for our actions however, and never ever reach true repentance. Why? Repentance for us means to return, teshuva.

To repent is to return to YAHUAH and is the basis on how we draw near to Him. True repentance is only realized through Torah observance. Torah is the Will of YAHUAH, His Love Letter, His Promise, and His Covenant. Torah contains the Terms and Conditions of YAHUAH’s Love towards His Creation.

Let’s look at an analogy and prophetic word our Messiah shared with the people and us concerning what happens when we stop our transgression, yet do not complete what is necessary (teshuva), and return to Torah. Matthew 12:43-45

43. “Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. 44. “Then it says, ‘I shall return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds it empty, swept, and decorated. 45. “Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”

He is teaching us what happens if we do not return to His Teachings and Instructions after we realize we are transgressing His Torah. We can feel sorrow and regret and ask for forgiveness, but if we do not then actively begin a life obedient to His Torah, we run the risk of actually being worse off than before. You see, it is one thing to be free from bondage, but it is something completely different to then Walk in the Kingdom in Freedom.

Another analogy:

Imagine you are on a railroad track bound and tied and there is a train coming. If nothing happens to change your situation – your certain death is only a matter of time. Then someone arrives on the scene and tells you that if you say that you are sorry for the sin in your life, they would untie you, thereby giving you a chance to escape death. You say you are sorry and you are untied. This is a picture of the doctrine of repentance in the Church. Beloved there is more!

You still have to get up and move out of the way to live! If you are untied but remain sitting where you are, you are still dead.

Not sinning is not what our Messiah and His disciples called us to.

Our Messiah called us to repentance – to return to His Torah to Life.

Our Messiah’s first words when He began His earthly ministry are found in Matthew 4:17

From that time YAHUSHA began to proclaim and to say,

“Repent, for the reign of the heavens has drawn near.”

John the Baptist preached, “Repent, for the reign of the heavens has come near!”

Seek YAHUAH while He may be found. Repent, for the reign of the heavens has drawn near!

Part 2 – a work in progress