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Updated on January 15, 2009

A Call To Repentance



Theme of Joel: 2:13

Theme of Zechariah: 1:3



In ancient Israel repentance was first expressed corporately. All shared the responsibility and, consequently, the ritual of repentance. Fasting, the wearing of sackcloth (the traditional attire for mourning), the scattering of ashes (Isaiah 58:5; Nehemiah 9:1; Daniel 9:3).

The recitation of prayers and Psalms further characterized this collective experience of worship.

Using such outward tokens of repentance, however, allowed the danger of sham and pretense.

Ritual not accompanied by a genuine attitude of repentance was for naught, empty.

Against misleading and futile expressions of remorse, the eight (8th) century prophets spoke out. Their attacks were upon feigned (pretentious) worship, and their calls for genuine contrition on the part of the individual gave rise to the characteristic biblical concept of repentance.

“Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel”? Ezekiel 18:30, 31 NIV

For the prophets of God, such a turning or conversion was not just simply a change within a person; it was openly manifested in Justice, Kindness and, Humility: Micah 6:8; Amos 5:24; Hosea 2:19, 20.



A direct connection between the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament is found in John the Baptist. Appearing in the wilderness, he, like they, issued the call to his own generation for this radical kind of turning.

There were many who confessed their sins and responded to his invitation: “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins”. Mark 1:4, 5 KJV

He expected those who made this commitment to demonstrate by their actions the change which they had made in their hearts: “And the multitudes asked him, Then what shall we do? And he replied to them, He who has two tunics (undergarments), let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do it the same way. Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they said to him, Teacher, what shall we do? And he said to them, Exact and collect no more than the fixed amount appointed you. Those serving as soldiers also asked him, And we, what shall we do? And he replied to them, Never demand or enforce by terrifying people or by accusing wrongfully, and always be satisfied with your rations (supplies) and with your allowance (wages). Luke 3:10-14 AMP

The Messiah came also preaching a message of repentance (Mark 1:15), stressing that all men need to repent (Luke 13:1-5)

Jesus defined his ministry in terms of calling sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32).

He illustrated his understanding of repentance in the parable of the Prodigal Son who returned to the father (Luke 15:11-32).

Like John, he insisted that the life that was changed was obvious by the ‘fruit’ that it bore (Luke 6:20-45).

Repentance and Forgiveness is to be proclaimed to all nations (Luke 24:47).

Your acts and behavior shows this proclamation was made, Peter (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31) and Paul (Acts 17:30; 20:21) told Jews and Gentiles “that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance”. Acts 26:20 NAS





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    • Wehzo profile imageAUTHOR

      Nathaniel Stalling Jr 

      6 years ago from Detroit, MI

      Thank you VeryReoxefe for your contribution to this hub.

    • profile image


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    • Wehzo profile imageAUTHOR

      Nathaniel Stalling Jr 

      9 years ago from Detroit, MI

      Thank you einron and RGraf for your gracious comments. With the season of Lent upon us this is a good time to reflect on our relationship with Jesus Christ and with others.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 

      9 years ago from Wisconsin

      True words that we should reflect on. How often we ignore them though we mouth them. Thank you for the reminder.

    • einron profile image


      9 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

      We need repentance repeatedly for we humans are weak and easily led astray. So long as we ask for forgiveness from God, He will forgive us and we must learn from our past mistakes not to sin again. God bless.


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