The first word in Yeshua’s first message was TESHUVAH:
From that time Jesus began to preach and to say,
“TESHUVAH, for the Kingdom of Heaven is here!”
English translators translate the words above as -- “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” Today people think of “repent” a ritual that is done as part of “being saved,” or “a prayer that is prayed after committing a sin.” That is not what “TESHUVAH” meant to Yeshua or his Jewish audience. They knew that Yeshua was “teaching a way life.”
God created to humans to be creatures just above the animals and below Him – creatures with an Earth soul and His image. Humans are also creatures with a freewill. That means humans do things like animals and things like God. Like animals we must do things like eat, drink, find shelter, reproduce, etc. to survive. We also do things like cooperate, communicate, create, etc., things that no other creatures are capable of doing.
At the extremes humans have the potentialities acting like wild predatory animals that instinctively kill and harm any creatures that cross their paths or do extraordinary acts of selfless courage to help and save lives on the other side of the world.
But humans must be taught how to “do things like God.” The first step is learning that God uses a standard to measure His actions, the TOV Standard. For an action to measure “TOV” it must be “beautiful and pleasing to God’s eyes.”
● Actions that are TOV are actions that protect lives, make lives more functional and increase the quality of life.
● TOV actions are like acts shepherds do to guard and take care of the flock.
All humans are empowered by virtue of being created as humans to do acts of TOV. When God “blessed” the first two humans He created, He empowered them to reveal His image by doing acts of TOV. He created humans to be His Co-Shepherds on the Earth for all living things, including their fellow humans. God’s Co-Shepherds are guardians and caretakers of His flock.
Shepherding is a divine attribute and potentiality that exists in every person.
But humans have an Earth soul and have the power to “reveal the image of an animal” through their actions in ways that harm other people. In the Bible those actions are called “sins” and “transgressions.”
● All transgression and sin are the natural and inevitable consequence of human's straying from God’s way of life.
● TESHUVAH is the way God created for humans to “return to His way of life.”
● TESHUVAH is a “perquisite for divine forgiveness.”
TESHUVAH is a process that requires the following:
1. experience genuine remorse for the sin committed
2. cease doing the sin
3. restore or repair the damage done to the person harmed by the sin
4. return to God’s path of living according to His instructions
It is important to understand that “a sin is a matter between two parties in which one who does not fulfill his obligations in relation to another.” Sin is viewed as a stain on a person, not an intrinsic quality of a human. Creatures created in the image of God do acts that fail to measure TOV and become “stained” by sinning. Doing TESHUVAH repairs the damage and cleanses the stain of sin, so that person and return to God’s path and community.
In some cases, “repairing” damages done by the sin is beyond a human’s capacity – murder, physically or psychologically returning the other person to what they were before the sin. There are also times that a person sins and is unaware of what they have done to adversely affect other humans and who those people are. In those cases, the sinner is instructed to do acts of TZEDAQAH – these are like a shepherd would do when he became of members of the flock needing help and unable to meet their most basic needs – food, water, shelter, medical attention, security, comfort, guidance, etc.
TESHUVAH is not a ritual – it is a way of life! “Repentance” is not praying a prayer to be saved or to receive forgiveness from God after adversely affecting and harming someone else.
God does not forgive sins humans commit against other humans until after TESHUVAH had been completed and the person sinned against forgives the sinner. Let me repeat this very important statement:
God DOES NOT FORGIVE sins humans commit against other humans until after TESHUVAH had been completed and the person sinned against forgives the sinner.
It is a fact that humans are imperfect creatures. God knows it. God created us to be exactly what we are – creatures above animals and below Him. The normal course of life of humans includes straying from God’s path, doing TESHUVAH, returning to God’s path, straying from God’s path, doing TESHUVAH, returning to God’s path, straying from God’s path, doing TESHUVAH, returning to God’s path, etc. The goal, just like with learning every other human skill, is for us to become better and better at “staying on God’s path” as we mature.
There will be times when someone else strays and their actions affect your life in adverse ways, and other times that you stray and affect their lives in adverse ways. The followers of Yeshua were taught their roles in successfully doing TESHUAVAH as the one committing the sin and as the one being harmed by the sin. TESHUVAH created transparency in relationships.
For people that are members of Yeshua’s movement, they understood that when they prayed that “God’s will be done on earth,” it was their responsibility “to actively do whatever it takes to be the answer to the prayer.” It is God’s will that TESHUVAH be done on the Earth and they are the only ones that can do TESHUVAH on the Earth. When they prayed, “forgive our sins as we forgive others” they understood that “TESHUVAH was part of the process of forgiveness.”
I wasn’t taught this as a member of the church I grew up in. I wasn’t taught this in my education to become a minister. I taught people to pray prayers that God would not answer, because their actions did not change and they never faced the ones they harmed. Yeshua preached “TESHUVAH” first because it was the first step to entering the Kingdom of Heaven – a kingdom open to every Co-Shepherd of God.
Yeshua intended for the places where his followers gathered to be the meeting places of God’s Co-Shepherds. His followers are to reveal God’s Image through their lives to their generation.
What would happen if every Christian -- and members of every church -- in your community understood just what TESHUVAH meant to Yeshua?
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