Summary: Repentance is part of the salvation song of God’s people. God has graciously left the door open for us to come home. But to get back we must turn back and continue to make corrective adjustments in our walk with the Lord.
Consider a few verses that speak of the call and gift of repentance:
Isa 30:15 This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.
Isa 59:20 "The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins," declares the LORD.
Jer 15:19 Therefore this is what the LORD says: "If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me;
Ezek 18:30 "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.
Ezek 18:31 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?
Ezek 18:32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!
Mat 4:17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."
Mark 6:12 They went out and preached that people should repent.
Luke 5:32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
Luke 13:3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.
Luke 15:10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
Luke 24:46 He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,
Luke 24:47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Acts 2:38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
Acts 3:20 and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you--even Jesus.
Acts 11:18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, "So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life."
Acts 17:30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.
2 Cor 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
2 Pet 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, Moses tells Israel some very hard truths about themselves just before he dies and passes on the leadership to Joshua. Make a little note to yourself to read Deuteronomy 28-31. Moses says, “If you walk with God, he will bless and take care of you, but if you turn from God and do not walk with him, it will be bad, real bad, I mean really really really bad! And when you do turn from him (because I know good and well that you will) and when it happens that you get what is coming to you for turning away, if you will remember what I’ve told you and turn back, God will restore you.
That theme is repeated over and over in the entire Old Testament. It became the fabric of their theology. Throughout Israel’s history God blesses them, they get comfortable and turn away from him, God delivers them over to enemies and punishes them, they cry out to God and he sends a deliverer to rescue them, they get comfortable and turn away from God again, etc. etc. etc. This cycle is constant throughout the Old Testament. Solomon prayed it in 2 Chron. 6:22-40. The Prophets echo it throughout their preaching. It is the song of Israel’s history. Chosen, delivered by God, brought into covenant by God, they enjoy his blessings for a while but then they get distracted and turn away from God and seek their own way, usually by going after other gods who will endorse their evil desires. God punishes them and calls them back. Those that hear and repent are restored and brought home. There are always some that repent. Always! But only a few. Many are lost and do not return. With the few that repent and return God restores them to glory.
I wish I could say we’ve gotten past that, but I’m afraid that this song of Israel has become the song of the church.