Sunday, February 27, 2011

They Repented Not

 Revelation 9:20-21

Multitudes of religious people are under the erroneous impression that they are “saved” in their sins and have been forgiven, simply because they have “repented” according to traditional guidelines. This is because they don’t realize there is an extreme difference between religious status quo repentance and reality. The “religious status quo repentance” theology is famous for making people feel guilty about their sin and then providing religious “comfort food” to put them at ease. Many Catholics, for instance, believe that confession to a man in a booth takes care of their need for repentance – but this is simply a tradition. Most Christians categorically believe repentance means “to change your mind,” to “accept Jesus” or to “believe upon the shed blood at the cross.” Hardly anyone stops to think that religious tradition interprets Scripture according to tradition and that they might just be “missing the mark” by blindly following their religious leaders. The thing is, there is a vast gulf between religious and true repentance.

There are two Hebrew words that translate into the English word “repent.” In Moshe’s appeal to YHWH both words appear in the same verse: “Turn (shuv) from thy fierce wrath, and repent (nacham) of this evil against thy people” (Exodus 32:12). The Jewish world predominantly focuses on the word shuv as in Teshuva, whereas the Christian world functionally adopts nacham – two very different words. “shuv” appears 1,066 times in Scripture but is almost entirely negated by modern Christian theology. The first mention of shuv is: “In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, until you return (shuv) unto the ground…” (Gen 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 YHWH. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return (shuv) unto YHWH, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our Elohim, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).

How can a person return to YHWH if they’ve never known His Ways or experienced the Kingdom of Elohim? It would seem that in order to return to something, you would have to have been there before. In reality, the neshama (spirit) of each individual belongs to YHWH and by surrendering and returning to YHWH every soul is, in fact, returning to their spiritual origin. This is also what it means to be “born from the beginning,” whereas being “born again” is a bit of a misnomer. In reality when a person makes teshuva and returns to YHWH they come to know the Spirit of Mashiyach (the Ruach haKodesh), but they also experience their own neshama. Not only has the unrepentant person not come to know the Ways of YHWH, but in reality they have not come unto their own spirit until they make teshuva.

Teshuva or returning to YHWH is an absolute requirement to obtain pardon; there is no other way to Salvation. Sin first entered into man through Adam and Chawwah, but whether Jew or Gentile, man’s destiny lies outside of sin. 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.

Nacham is translated as; comfort (57), repent (41), comforter (9), ease (1), for a total of only 108 occurrences. Christian theology weighs in very heavily on comforting the sinners by teaching them that “Jesus did it all” or “you don’t have to keep the law” or “you are saved by grace” or “all your sins past, present and future are forgiven” or “say the sinners prayer and be saved” or “it doesn’t make any difference if you keep the law” or “Jesus did away with the law” …on and on; there are literally hundreds of other religious clichés that make sinners feel comfortable in their sin. Religious comforts are also extended by theology like Justification, Grace only, Dispensationalism and Replacement Theologies which gives “the Church” the power to forgive sins and make void the requirement of teshuva. Christianity has given itself a theological license to transgress Torah; invented, of course, by the post-apostolic founders of the all-Gentile church.

In reality Nacham (repent of comfort) refers to the Spirit of YHWH bringing comfort after a person does Teshuva and takes back the ground they lost through sin. The comfort aspect occurs when we return to YHWH and He draws us close to Himself. However, most Christians are content with the social gratification of church membership and being comforted by religious traditions. Modern religion copes with sin. Social transgressions such as gossip, backbiting, condemnation, finger pointing, evil imaginations, slander, adultery, lawlessness and covetousness are normative in most churches because, “Hey, nobody can keep the law perfectly, only Jesus, and he died to forgive us our sins.” There is a massive gulf between false religion that comforts a person in their sins verses turning to YHWH and His Mashiyach and making things right. Unfortunately, when many Christians hear true repentance being preached they are quick to condemn the preacher as a “legalist;” because the truth about repentance feels to them like harassment or embarrassment.

Most of the religious world sees repentance as something you do after you sin. Many sin and “repent” over and over simply because they have never known the true nature of Teshuva (repentance). Teshuva is a daily turning to YHWH; every thought is subjugate to obedience to the Mashiyach (2 Cor 10:5), implying that our words and actions are done in the Spirit of YHWH. Throughout the Renewed Covenant we see Y’hoshua our Mashiyach, Peter, James, John and Paul ministering “perfection” which is a state of completion in one’s spirit. Mashiyach is the life of Torah that brings perfection. We humans know that we are not “perfect” beings, yet we are called to be tamiym (perfect, complete, clean). Noah and Awraham were perfect long before Torah was given at Sinai and before Y’hoshua came to Earth as Mashiyach.

To make Teshuva (repentance) is to empower the spiritual man. “Draw near to Elohim, and He will draw near to you, Cleanse your hands, you sinners: sanctify your hearts, you divided in mind.” (James 4:8). Teshuva is the basis of how we draw near to YHWH, and it is only realized through Torah observance. Torah is the Will of YHWH, His Love Letter, His Promise, and His Covenant. Torah contains the Terms and Conditions of YHWH’s Love towards His Creation.

The Torah of YHWH is perfect converting the soul, yet many are quick to reject Torah even when they have little or no understanding of how it reveals the Kingdome of Elohim according to Mashiyach. The rabbinical world may have kept Torah from the Gentiles, but Mashiyach who is the “Light unto the Gentiles” (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6, 60:3), did the very opposite. The prophets foretold of the Gentiles being drawn unto YHWH in Mashiyach. Rav Shaul taught the Gentile world about the “inner spiritual man” which is the foundation of Torah that guides us according to the Image of Elohim. This is also one of the reasons why the Pharisaic elite wanted to kill him, they were threatened because he was “stealing their thunder” and bringing Torah to the Gentiles. The more the Gentile world has Torah written upon their hearts the more redundant the various religious traditions become; indeed the religious hierarchies would become irrelevant.

A very common tradition within Gentile Churches  is that neither Y’shua nor Paul expected Gentiles to live like Jews; and Acts 15 records the dispute among those “who believed from the teaching of the Pharisees”. Here again it was clearly a matter of the traditions of the Pharisees being in conflict with the Way of Mashiyach, not a matter of “living like Jews.” However, Shimon Peter set the record straight: “And He differentiates nothing between them and us because He cleansed their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:9). The Renewed Covenant requires that Torah be written upon the heart – this is what it means to have a clean heart, whether a person is Jewish or not in this matter is irrelevant. It was a watershed concept for most Jews and Gentiles that, “He differentiates nothing between them,” but in reality authentic Jewish identity has always been defined by Mashiyach; not by various hierarchical religions of Jews.

In other words when you make teshuva and truly follow in the footsteps of Mashiyach, others will most certainly scorn you for living like a Jew because Christianity has done an extensive makeover to take the Jew out of their version of Y’hoshua. The resistance against you for making true repentance will come from church people, family, friends, pastors and those who habitually accuse followers of Mashiyach of being “legalists” and “Judaizers” because they prefer their own traditional worldly lifestyles. But Mashiyach says: “Whoever finds his soul will loses it, and whoever loses his soul for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39).

Another component of repentance is to enter into the Government of Mashiyach, rather than talk about it. Every dominion, government and authority that has not entered into the perfection of Mashiyach is not of him. Mashiyach is begotten of YHWH which means he is the Firstborn and head of YHWH’s Government. “Misrah” (government; Isaiah 9:6-7, 22:21) comes from the root word “Sarah”. It is through the descendant of Awraham and Sarah that the Promise and heavenly Government was established. The Promise was given in Gan Eden; “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen 3:15). YHWH ordained that the “Seed of Woman” would bruise the head of the serpent which is Mashiyach’s Government. Therefore the Government of Mashiyach has been a continuum from the Garden of Eden right through to the World to Come, and every generation is called to depart from iniquity, turn away from all false dominions and subscribe to Mashiyach. To do this a person must stop adhering to the teachings of man and turn to YHWH to observe His Torah – His Heavenly Instructions – and begin to learn about Justice, Peace and Righteousness according to Mashiyach.

One of the very first words on the lips of Mashiyach Y’hoshua was “repent” (Matt 4:17). It is imperative that we understand how to repent (make Teshuva) and turn to YHWH and keep His Commandments. Rav Shaul gives testimony to King Agrippa of a “heavenly vision” saying: “…I preached from the first to them in Damascus, and to them in Urishlim and in all the villages of Judea; and I preached also to the Gentiles, that they should repent, and should turn to Elohim, and should do the works suitable to repentance” (Acts 26:20). There is no doubt, whatsoever, that Rav Shaul spoke with the full weight and authority of Mashiyach Y’hoshua and Torah. Paul taught “repent and turn to Elohim” which is very Hebraic, very commonly understood among Jews, and a very ancient understanding which means to observe Torah! Paul commanded Gentiles (who, like the original Jewish followers of Y’hoshua, adhere to the Elohim of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) to: “Do the works suitable to repentance.” Same Heavenly Father, same rules! Y’hoshua Mashiyach did not come to replace YHWH or to start a new, Torah-less religion. He came to show us in person how to do it right.

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