Text: Ezekiel 18: 26-28; “When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done he shall die. Again, when the wicked man turneth away from the wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die. "
2 Chronicles 33:1, 2, 9,11-13, 16. (1) “Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem: (2) But did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. (9) So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel. (11) Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. (12) And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, (13) And he prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God. (16) And he repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel.”
Key Verse: Acts 3: 19a “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.”
“About face!” That’s what the drill seargent says to his troops when he wants them to turn and face the opposite direction. That’s what God is telling us when His Word says “Repent”. To repent means to change ones’ mind or purpose, regretting the previous course of action; in short, to turn around.
Repentance involves confession of sins and of one’s sinful state, but it’s more than that: It also means to turn away from the sinful behavior. Acknowledging one’s sin but continuing to do them would be like the soldiers saying “Yes sir!” but still marching in the same direction.
True repentance can alter the course of history: Nineveh repented and avoided the destruction prophesied by Jonah. Zacchaeus repented of his extortionary tax collecting practices and brought salvation to his house. (Luke 19: 1-9) Saul of Tarsus thought he was doing right when he persecuted the Christians (he was sincere, but wrong), but he was confronted with the error of his ways and repented, and Paul became the greatest of the Apostles. (Acts 9 )
Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, was king of Judah from about 698 B. C. to about 643 B. C. The Bible says he caused Judah to sin worse than all the heathen nations around them, but despite all his wickedness, he found a place of repentance, and God restored him to a place of honor. Isn’t it ironic that one who was considered to be among the most evil kings in Israel or Judah’s history ended up better off than the wisest king that ever lived? King Solomon enjoyed all the blessings God bestowed on him for his father David’s sake, and because of his prayer for wisdom to lead God’s people, but scripture says he “loved many strange women... and did evil in the sight of the LORD...”.
In the Old Testament, God’s call to repentance usually was a call to nations, tribes or cities, but in the New Testament it was always to the individual. Your civic leaders can not repent for your sake, nor can you for thiers. Individual repentance is not just important, it’s crucial. Jesus began his earthly ministry with a call to repentance (Matt 4: 17), and Peter demanded repentance at the founding of the New Testament church (Acts 2: 38).
Repentance is not an ambiguous religious term, but a clear course of action. Both John the Baptist and the Apostle Paul demanded to see works to prove the repentance of converts. (Matt. 3: 8, Acts 26: 20) The course of action is clear: Confess your sins and turn away from them; this is the first step toward salvation, and no salvation can be attained without it.
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter, 2: 9.
Points for Meditation or Discussion:
If you are a christian, reflect on how you felt when you first repented of your sins.
If you never have made a step toward Jesus Christ, it may be impossible to imagine what repentance feels like, but try to imagine a giant weight being lifted off your shoulders. Take a moment to search your heart, and if you so desire, confess to Jesus right now, and take that important first step to a relationship with Jesus Christ.
If you would like more information about salvation or would lilke us to pray for you, our e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org , or you can click on the prayer request tab on the menu bar and just follow the instructions given.
This message is adapted from "About Face!" Small Group Bible Study, copyright 2002, James Colegrove Sr.