Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Repentance Means Turning Away

Today is the second day of our nineteenth week, reading the Bible through in a year.  Our scriptures today are:  1 Samuel 28-29; 1 Chronicles 9; Acts 19.

The word "Repentance" means turning away from one thing, and turning towards another thing.  It is a military term, meaning to do an about face and march in the opposite direction.  Today in 1 Samuel 28 and Acts 19, we see two very different examples of repentance.

In 1 Samuel 28:3 (NRSV) we read, "Now Samuel had died, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his own city. Saul had expelled the mediums and the wizards from the land."  The people had turned away from God, and had turned instead toward the mediums and spiritists for direction.  So Saul had expelled these occultists.  You could say that Saul had turned against turning against God.  But then later in the chapter, Saul returned to occultism, paying a necromancer to conjure the spirit of Samuel so that he could receive a message from the spirit world.  So, Saul repented of his repentance of occultism.  You could say that Saul turned away from turning away from turning away from God.  

Confusing, isn't it?  Well, it is confusing, when we chase our tails that way.  That's not what repentance is supposed to look like.

In Acts 19, we read about the Ephesians who, turning to Jesus, gave up all their occultic practices once and for all.  Verses 18-20 (NRSV) say: "Also many of those who became believers confessed and disclosed their practices.  A number of those who practiced magic collected their books and burned them publicly; when the value of these books was calculated, it was found to come to fifty thousand silver coins.  So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed."  In fact, the repentance of the Ephesians was so complete that it affected the economy, sparking a riot from the idol-making industry.

Our repentance should cause the forces of hell to want to riot.  It should be so complete that it turns the devil's kingdom upside down.  

What is God calling you to repent from today?  Is it occultic practice?  Maybe it is, and maybe it's not.  1 Samuel 15:23a says, "For rebellion is no less a sin than divination, and stubbornness like iniquity and idolatry."  In one way or another, we have all rebelled against God.  We need to turn away from turning away from Him.  We need to turn to Jesus, the only One who can save.

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