WORD STUDY –DWELL AND REPENT
Jeremiah 25:5: “They (the prophets) said: ‘Repent now everyone from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings, and dwell in the land that the Lord hath given unto you and to your fathers for ever and ever.’”
Some translations render this passage as “Repent … so that you may dwell…” The KJV here is really the closest to the Hebrew: “Repent…and dwell“ but it also leaves one wondering, “Why repent if there is no reward?” I cannot say for sure, but I suspect that this is why the modern translators add the “so that” which is not found in the Hebrew but helps the passage make some sense. Well, it helps to make sense to the Western capitalistic mindset. After all what encouragement can we give someone to accept Jesus as their Savior if we can’t dangle heaven, prosperity, health, restored families and multitudes of blessing in front of them?
The issue is that if you render this like the KJV does, it is just telling you to repent, but not offering any reward for your repentance. By putting the “so that” in there you are at least saying that for your act of repentance you get to stay in the land. However, all you have is the simple Vav conjunction “and.” “Repent and dwell in the land.” I am often asked about the difference between a translation and a paraphrase. I beginning to think there is no difference. Man’s opinion still gets inserted into the equation.
Next week I leave for a week of living in silence before God. The first thing I am asked after living for a week in silence; praying, fasting, seeking the face of God and all that other pious stuff is; “Well, what happened?” Guess what, nothing really happens. That is like asking a couple on their second honeymoon, “What happened?” Well none of your business. However, I do plan to share my experience on my blog and twitter @intosilence4 But don’t expect reports of trips to heaven, visions of ten foot angels in combat boots or revelations about the future. I am going for no other reason than to spend time in self reflection, repentance and just cleaning myself up to be a fit vessel for God so nothing will hinder me from entering into a deep intimacy with Him. But maybe even that will not happen. It might just be a week of sitting around doing nothing and accomplishing nothing, well that is ok, at least I will be able to spend 24/7 with God with no interruptions.
I mean why spend a week repenting and confessing and worshipping God if I get nothing in return. I do it simply because I want to do it. When you love someone you just want to be with them. This past Mother’s Day, how many mother’s looked forward with great anticipation to being with all her children and grandchildren? Why? Because she wants to be with those she loves.
Back to our study verse, translators will tell you that the “so that “ is implied and can be added to the English translation. I do agree that such a rendering is ok, unless you view the land of Israel as the Jews do, a Holy land, the land where the Shekinah glory dwells, the land where you can worship God. That, of course, changed after the coming of the Messiah and as Jesus taught the woman at the well that there was coming a time when you would worship God in your heart and not at a place. But for the time this passage was written, you worshipped God in a place, Israel. So this verse is really saying: “Repent so you can worship God.” The sages view this as a two fold command, repent and continue in the land to worship. There is no reward offered for repentance, unless you consider the act of worship a reward. Guess what? I am not the only one who considers that a great reward and all the reward we need to entice us to repent. It is sending me to the Northwoods for a week living with no human contact.
Let’s take a look at this word repent. The word repent here is shuv which means to return, turn back, turn away, cease, change your mind. You are to cease, turn away from all evil and worship God, why? In verse 6 we are told not to go after other gods so no harm would come to us, but to relate this to repentance would not be using proper syntax. You are really offered nothing here for your repentance, no salvation, no deliverance from financial disaster, no healing, nothing, zip, only the opportunity to continue to worship God.
Go ahead, ask someone why they became a Christian. You will likely get an answer like, “Before I was a Christian my life stank, now its beautiful.” I just talked to a Christian recently who said his life stank. Well, some good that sinners prayer did. We try to sell Jesus like a used car.
I have heard many Christians say that the Jews do not believe in heaven. These people continue by saying that the Jews have no hope like we do and oh what a shame. Actually, they do believe in heaven and at least a life after death. The reason it appears that they do not believe in a heaven is that they do not teach it as a hope. They do not make a big deal out of it. They want to teach that you seek to live a righteous life out of love for God, not to obtain eternal life. The belief of heaven is a non-issue. The issue is your relationship with God. The idea of going to heaven isn’t to see pearly gates and streets of gold and live in a mansion. I’d be satisfied with a tent by a mountain stream so long as Jesus was there. Uh, seems to be that is pretty close to what I plan to do next week.
Well, I have been saying there is no reward for repentance, but in truth there is a reward. Jeremiah 25:5 does suggest a reward for repentance. That reward is not wealth, peace, happiness, but a right relationship with God, the right to enjoy a love relationship with Him. It is the right to know and understand His heart. Sure, God could give you wealth, health, stable marriages, winning football games, but He is offering you something that pales in comparison. He is offering you Himself, His heart, His life, His presence and a personal relationship with Him. That beats a Super Bowl ticket anyday.