Summary: Part 8 of 8 in a series covering words in the Bible that are all too often overlooked or ignored.
INTRODUCTION: Have you ever heard a sermon that you didn’t like? When I ask this question let me clarify that I’m talking not about the quality of presentation, but the content of the message. A sermon you didn’t like because it convicted you of something that you knew to be out of line in your life. I think it’s safe to assume that if you’ve been attending church for any significant amount of time, you’ve heard a sermon you didn’t care for, and if you haven’t been there yet, it’s a guarantee that you will at some point in time, perhaps even this morning may leave you hearing a sermon you don’t like…
BACKGROUND: As we now conclude this series, looking at the often overlooked and ignored words in scripture, we turn our attention to the most “unpopular” word in the Bible. It’s a difficult word to hear, and an even more difficult one to follow; a word that demands action! It’s a word that can’t be spoken in hell, and will be totally unneeded in heaven. The word… “Repent!” (Luke 13:3)
The prophets of the Old Testament preached “repentance,” and they were stoned for it. John the Baptist preached repentance and he was beheaded for it. Jesus preached repentance and he was crucified for it. The Apostles preached repentance and they were stoned and martyred for it. Do we see a pattern here? Yes we do! It’s a pattern that’s been forming from the very beginning of time. As humans living in a fallen state separated from God (by our own choice) we have a severely adverse reaction to repentance, our pride often gets in the way of doing what we know to be right. We never like to be told that we’re wrong; we never have and new will!
REPENTANCE OF THE MOST EVIL MAN IN HISTORY
• Illustrations of repentance illuminate the Bible, painting some of the most inspiring scenes of “life” to be found anywhere. For our purposes today we’ll consider only one of them, but what an example it is!
• Manasseh is the “prodigal son” of the Old Testament, his father, Hezekiah, was one of the most Godly and righteous men to ever live… by way of comparison, he was as “evil,” as his father was “righteous”
• He ascended the throne at the age of 12, and his reign was a nightmare of wickedness, idolatry, and cruelty, the truth is that this man made Ahab look like an altar-boy.
• The climax of his wickedness was when he set up alters to heathen gods in the Temple of God, and made his children “pass through the fire” which is a sanitized term for child sacrifice
• And what he did to the prophets of God was equally appalling. Ancient Rabbinic sources tell us that he was responsible for the death of the prophet Isaiah, brought about by having him sawn in half; it’s not a pretty picture. The writer of Hebrews speaks of this (Hebrews 11:37)
• He “sowed” the “wind,” and he “reaped” the “whirlwind,” which for him meant being carried off in chains into captivity- abused, humiliated, and mutilated… it was a bad day to wake up in his world
• Deprived of his liberty, separated from his evil counselors and companions, without any prospect but of ending his days in a wretched prison, Manasseh thought upon what had passed; he began to cry for mercy and deliverance.
• He confessed his sins, condemned himself, was humbled before God (repentance), loathing himself as a monster of impiety and wickedness, and God restored him!
• Manasseh’s repentance did not stop at his merely being sorry for his sin. When he returned to Jerusalem, he booted all the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the Lord
• He also repaired the altar of the Lord, sacrificed peace offerings and thank offerings on it, and commanded Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel!
• Manasseh was a wicked king who saw the error of his ways and turned to God, but what about us? How does repentance apply in our own lives, to answer that question we begin with the basics…
WHAT IS REPENTANCE
• Scripture is clear on what repentance is. The Greek word for repentance is metanoeo, which means to “change the mind,” and that change is always for the better
• When men’s thoughts cease to resemble God’s thoughts, then their conduct will follow suit, and cease to be Godly
• This in the nutshell is the importance of repentance; a call of men’s minds to be patterned after God’s in order that their conduct may be in keeping with His
• All prophetic (OT) and apostolic (NT) preaching emphasized the necessity of repentance
• So we know what repentance is, but what is it that causes us to repent?