Several of the most significant doctrinal words in the Bible begin with ‘re.’ The basic idea of the prefix ‘re’ means ‘again,’ or ‘to go back.’ In fact, the Bible is actually based on ‘re’ words, such as return, repent, redeem, restore, and renew.
Interestingly, while progressivism is a popular ideology in America today, such ideology is not found in the Bible.
Let’s begin with two significant ‘re’ words found early in the Bible, i.e., return and repent. In the present context we’ll focus on the Old Testament use of the Hebrew word ‘Shuv.’ ‘Shuv’has numerous translations such as return, reverse, or move back to the point of departure, etc.
The context of the following passage speaks of Israel’s future glory after they return to God following centuries of disobedience.
“Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind…and you return to the LORD your God and obey His voice…that the LORD your God will bring you back from captivity…and gather you again from all the nations where the LORD your God has scattered you.” Deuteronomy 30:1-3
The following phrases found in the above passage are translated from the Hebrew word ‘Shuv.’
…call them to mind…
…and you return to the LORD…
…the LORD will bring you back…
…gather you again…
God will in the future bless Israel beyond measure if they will obey and ‘turn to the LORD your God,’ or repent, i.e. return to their point of departure from His commandments and statutes.
“…if you obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes…and if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul…” Deuteronomy 30:10
And Israel will only be able to repent by the proactive working of the Holy Spirit.
“…I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Jeremiah 31:33b
Now inasmuch as all that happened to Israel was “written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come,” let’s explore more relative to the foundational doctrine of repentance.
Let’s progress 450 years from Deuteronomy to the days of King Solomon and see if anything had changed. The time would be approximately 961 BC when Solomon dedicated the magnificent temple he had just completed.
In his dedication prayer, Solomon spoke the following on behalf of the people:
“When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin)…yet when they come to themselves…and when they return to You with all their heart…then hear in heaven…their prayer…and forgive…” 1 Kings 8:46-50
The phrase ‘when they come to themselves’ is expressed by one word, ‘bethink,’ in the KJ which means ‘to remember,’ or to contemplate things of the past. The word ‘bethink’ is once again from the basic Hebrew ‘Shuv,’asis ‘return.’
Thus the above passages states that the people would sin, and then would think about their blessings prior to their sin. Then when they returned to God (repented) they would be forgiven.
After the dedication of Solomon’s temple, God appeared to Solomon a second time and reaffirmed the great truth regarding sin, repentance, and forgiveness.
“Then the LORD appeared to Solomon… and said…‘When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin…’”
2 Chronicles 7:12-14
God said that He would chastise Israel for their wicked ways. However, after the necessary chastisement, if His people would acknowledge their sin with humble hearts, and turn (repent) from their wicked ways, God would forgive them.
Sin, chastisement, humble repentance, is followed by forgiveness. As wise Solomon proclaimed, “There is nothing new under the sun.”
Solomon’s wisdom will be reaffirmed throughout all ages.