John the Baptist preached a clear message of repentance at the Jordon river (Matthew 3v2-4). Jesus after been baptised by John also preached a clear message of repentance (Matthew 4:17). The disciples after spend time with Jesus, watching him perform listening to Jesus and learning from Jesus were sent out and their message was also a message of repentance (Mark 6:12). Paul after he was converted, become a missionary over the whole roman world and he also calling people to repent (Acts 17:30).
The message of repentance in essential to the teaching of Jesus and the apostles. As we seen yesterday, the Greek word for repent is ‘metanoeo’. But Jesus, John the Baptist and most of the disciples would have spoken in Hebrew or Aramaic. It is mostly believed that in everyday language the Jews at Jesus time would have spoken Aramaic, although in the synagogue or while speaking about God they would have spoken Hebrew.
So what can we learn from the Hebrew word for repentance? The word for repentance is ‘Teshuvah’, and it means much more then the Greek of changing one’s mind. Teshuvah is based on the Hebrew word ‘shuv’ which means to return, or turn back. Therefore, repentance is returning that which was upset back to its original condition.
A change of condition
In the story on the Fall, the world ‘shuv’ is used twice. When God declared in Genesis 3:19, “from dust you are and to dust you will return.” I the word for return is ‘shuv’.
So you were dust, became a real living breathing man and then will return to dust. This the idea of shuv and Teshuvah. It’s not just a change of mind; it is a total change of your condition.
A movement in a direction.
In the story of Noah, after the flood we read in Genesis 8:3 ‘The water receded steadily from the earth.’ The word translated here as receded is again the Hebrew word ‘shuv’; it has the sense of a consistent movement in a certain direction. So it is with ‘Teshuvah’ it involves not just a total change of condition but after a consistent movement in a specific direction.
Recovering what is stolen
In Genesis 14 we have the story of Abraham rescuing Lot. First we read that “The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.” (Gen 14:11-12), but then read that Abraham sent 318 trained men and in verse 16 “He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.”
The word translated recovered is once again the Hebrew word ‘shuv’ and this again helps us understand what Teshuvah means, it means to recover what has been stolen.
So the word Teshuvah mean much more then just changing our minds, it mean a change of our condition, a consistent movement in a different directions, recovering what is stolen and an ongoing processes. A returning to God.