TURN BACK/RETURN/RESTORE/REPENT: Shuv. Verb. (Strong’s 7725).
Sounds like: shewv
YHWH made a lot of strong statements in the Tanakh, but arguably none so powerful as this one:
“Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me.
I, only I, am YHWH, and there is no Saviour besides Me.
It is I who have declared and saved and proclaimed, and there was no strange god among you; so you are My witnesses,” declares YHWH.
“And I am God. Even from eternity I am He, and there is no one who can rescue from My hand; I act, and who can reverse it [turn it back: y-shiven’nah]?”
No one and no thing in this universe can turn back what God has done. YHWH moves forward and creation moves forward. There is no turning back. YHWH is the Creator, the Rescuer, and the Saviour, and no one can take that from Him.
Nevertheless, YHWH gave humans the gift of choice. We can choose to follow after Him and we can choose to turn away from Him. No one can reverse what God has done, but we can certainly ignore it.
Turn Back to God: Repent and Return
Shuv was a well used word for the prophets. It was the core of the repeated message: Stop the way you are going and turn back to YHWH! If you continue on the bad path, no good will come of it:
“Therefore I will judge you, house of Israel, each according to his conduct,” declares the Lord YHWH. “Repent and turn away [Shuvu wi-ha-shivu] from all your offenses, so that wrongdoing does not become a stumbling block to you.”
The prophet Amos outlined many of the great things that YHWH had done for His people, but still they did not turn to Him. Through Amos, YHWH repeated theses words five times:
Amos 4:6, 8. 9, 10, 11
“Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares YHWH.
(“W-lo shav’tem adai” n’um YHWH)
The prophet Jeremiah also shared a similar message from God:
You shall say to them, ‘This is what YHWH says:
“Do people fall and not get up?
Does one turn away and not repent [ya-shuv w-lo ya-shuv]?
Why has this people, Jerusalem, turned away [shov’vah] in continual apostasy?
They hold on to deceit, they refuse to return [la-shuv].”
The prophet Isaiah pleaded with the people to return to YHWH:
Seek YHWH while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked abandon his way, and the unrighteous person his thoughts; and let him return [w-ya-shov] to YHWH, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.
Hosea also implored the people to come back to God:
So as for you, return [ta-shuv] to your God, maintain kindness and justice, and wait for your God continually.
Even in the New Testament (B’rit Chadashah), Peter, in his second sermon in the book of Acts, called on people to repent and return to God:
“And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers also did. But the things which God previously announced by the mouths of all the prophets, that His Messiah would suffer, He has fulfilled in this way. Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away…”
My Anger has Turned Away
All through history humans have done things to upset YHWH, but He has always been merciful to those who make an effort to follow Him. The message was quite simple. For those who turned back to Him, YHWH would turn His anger away from them:
Hosea 14:1-4 (see also Isaiah 9:12-21)
Return [shuva], Israel, to YHWH your God, for you have stumbled because of your wrongdoing.
Take words with you and return [w-shuvu] to YHWH. Say to Him, “Take away all guilt and receive us graciously, so that we may present the fruit of our lips. Assyria will not save us, we will not ride on horses; nor will we say again, ‘Our god’ to the work of our hands; for in You the orphan finds mercy.”
[YHWH:] I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely, because My anger has turned away [shav] from them.
The Torah also highlighted what turning back to YHWH looked like; turning back meant listening to His voice, keeping His commandments, and doing what was right:
Nothing at all from what is designated for destruction is to cling to your hand, in order that YHWH may turn [ya-shuv] from His burning anger and show mercy to you, and have compassion on you and make you increase, just as He has sworn to your fathers, if you will listen to the voice of YHWH your God, keeping all His commandments which I am commanding you today, and doing what is right in the sight of YHWH your God.
Shuv: Saul, Jonah, Ruth and Hezekiah
There are four Bible stories that particularly highlighted the word shuv.
Saul’s downfall as king occurred because he turned away from God:
1 Samuel 15:10-11, 24-29
Then the word of YHWH came to Samuel, saying, “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned back [shav] from following Me and has not carried out My commands.” And Samuel was furious and cried out to YHWH all night.
And so Samuel faced Saul and told him that he was out of favour; YHWH had rejected him as king. Saul admitted that he had turned away from YHWH but nevertheless he asked Samuel to return with him:
1 Samuel 15:25
[Saul:] Now then, please pardon my sin and return [w-shuv] with me, so that I may worship YHWH.”
But Samuel refused:
1 Samuel 15:26
But Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return [lo a-shuv] with you; for you have rejected the word of YHWH, and YHWH has rejected you from being king over Israel.”
In other words Samuel was saying, I can’t return with you, because you are going the wrong way.
Turning back was also a primary theme in the story of the prophet Jonah. He was called by YHWH to be a prophet to the enemy nation of Assyria. Horrified at the prospect, Jonah ran in the opposite direction. He got on a ship heading towards Tarshish but the boat hit a storm and all the sailors rowed desperately to turn back [l-ha-shiv] (Jonah 1:13). In the hopes of saving the ship and it’s crew, Jonah was thrown overboard.
Jonah had attempted to run away, and then the ship attempted to turn back. Unable to either get away or come back, Jonah was swallowed and maintained in one place, in the belly of a great fish. After diligent prayer, Jonah was spit out onto dry land and he obeyed YHWH and turned back towards Assyria.
Once he arrived in the Assyrian city of Ninevah, Jonah proclaimed his message:
…he [Jonah] cried out and said, “Forty more days, and Nineveh will be overthrown.”
Amazingly, this miniscule and uninspiring sermon changed the hearts of the Assyrians and they turned from their evil way. The king of Assyria announced:
…every person and animal must be covered with sackcloth; and people are to call on God vehemently, and they are to turn [w-ya-shuvu], each one from his evil way, and from the violence which is in their hands. Who knows, God may turn [ya-shuv] and relent, and turn [w-shav] from His burning anger so that we will not perish.”
When God saw their deeds, that they turned [shavu] from their evil way, then God relented of the disaster which He had declared He would bring on them. So He did not do it.
Jonah’s missionary tour was a resounding success, much to his dismay. He wasn’t very happy that the Assyrians had turned their hearts towards YHWH and were saved. Ultimately Jonah hoped that they would have remained hard-hearted so that YHWH would punish them. The hearts of the Assyrians were turned, but Jonah’s heart was not.
The story of Ruth was all about turning in the right direction. Naomi’s husband and sons had died and she was left with her two daughter-in-laws, Orpah and Ruth. Without a provider, Naomi decided to return to her hometown of Bethlehem in order to get help from her kins-people (Ruth 1:6-7), but she did not expect Orpah and Ruth to come with her. Three times [Ruth 1:8, 11, 12] Naomi called on her daughter-in-laws to return [shov’nah] to the homes of their youth and to turn away from her. Orpah left, but regardless of her pleading Ruth would not turn away from Naomi:
And they raised their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. Then she [Naomi] said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back [shavah] to her people and her gods; return [shauvi] after your sister-in-law.”
But Ruth said, “Do not plead with me to leave you or to turn back [la-shuv] from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you sleep, I will sleep. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May YHWH do so to me, and worse, if anything but death separates me from you.”
When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her about it. So they both went on until they came to Bethlehem…
When they arrived in Bethlehem the townspeople called out to Naomi, for they knew her, but she refused to acknowledge her name:
But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, but YHWH has brought me back [hey-shivani] empty.
Naomi accused God of returning her to her hometown empty, but YHWH had a plan to turn her life around and fill it up again. Naomi’s kinsman in Bethlehem (Boaz) married Ruth and brought life back to Naomi’s family by way of an heir:
So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he had relations with her. And YHWH enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed is YHWH who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel. May he also be to you one who restores life [restores soul: l-meh-shiv nephesh] and sustains your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”
The story of Ruth was about a return to the homeland and a return to life. Naomi was on a quick path to death and destruction. In those days widowhood was a terrifying predicament. Without a provider a widow had bleak prospects. But Naomi had an ally in her daughter-in-law, Ruth.
Ruth turned away from her old life and her old gods and followed Naomi home. And they didn’t just survive in Bethlehem, they thrived. By turning away from her old life Ruth brought new life (in the form of a grandson) to Naomi. The descendants of Ruth and Boaz included David and Yeshua (Jesus)… this was new life indeed! And it all happened because Ruth did not turn back to her old ways, but marched forwards to YHWH and the plans He had for her life.
Shuv was associated with a portent, or a sign, in the story of Hezekiah. Hezekiah was the great king of Judah who upheld Jerusalem during the Assyrian siege of the city. But the prophet Isaiah came to Hezekiah with a terrible announcement: Hezekiah was about to die. Isaiah left him with this devastating news, and In his great distress, Hezekiah turned earnestly to prayer. YHWH heard his prayer and He called on Isaiah to turn back to Hezekiah with different news:
2 Kings 20:4-6 (see also Isaiah 38:1-8)
And even before Isaiah had left the middle courtyard, the word of YHWH came to him, saying, “Return [shuv] and say to Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘This is what YHWH, the God of your father David says: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I am going to heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of YHWH. And I will add fifteen years to your life, and I will save you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will protect this city for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.”
Hezekiah then asked for a sign, that this would be fulfilled:
2 Kings 20:9-11
Isaiah said, “This shall be the sign to you from YHWH, that YHWH will perform the word that He has spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten steps or go back [ya-shuv] ten steps?”
So Hezekiah said, “It is easy for the shadow to decline ten steps; no, but have the shadow turn [ya-shuv] backward ten steps.”
Then Isaiah the prophet called out to YHWH, and He brought [wai-ya-shev] the shadow on the stairway back[wards] ten steps by which it had gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.
This was a rather a strange story… turning shadows… but it highlighted a point: YHWH could turn anything. He was, and is, the God of Life who can turn shadows away and hearts back to Him.
Back from Exile
The biggest “turning back” moments came out of the various Exiles in the Bible, starting with the human exile out of the Garden of Eden. All the exiles (to Egypt, to Assyria, to Babylon etc.) stemmed out of chaos and destruction, but YHWH brought them back to their homeland. However, truth be told, the real homeland was Eden. Outside of Eden humans were on the path to death…
“By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, until you return [shuv’ka] to the ground, because from it you were taken.
For you are dust, and to dust you shall return [ta-shuv].”
It was not YHWH’s desire to create us and then let us be swallowed up by creation. He would put a plan into place to save us from the grave (Sheol). But first, the message was made clear through repeated human exiles. YHWH would defeat the chaos of exile. Over and over He brought people out of exile:
Deuteronomy 30:1-3, 6-10 (see also Deuteronomy 4:30-31, 39-40)
[YHWH:] “So it will be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have placed before you, and you call [wa-ha-shevota] them to mind in all the nations where YHWH your God has scattered you, and you return [w-shav’ta] to YHWH your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul in accordance with everything that I am commanding you today, you and your sons, then YHWH your God will restore [w-shav] you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again [w-shav] from all the peoples where YHWH your God has scattered you…
…Moreover, YHWH your God will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants, to love YHWH your God with all your heart and all your soul, so that you may live. And YHWH your God will inflict all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. And you will again [ta-shuv] obey YHWH, and follow all His commandments which I am commanding you today. Then YHWH your God will prosper you abundantly in every work of your hand, in the children of your womb, the offspring of your cattle, and in the produce of your ground, for YHWH will again [ya-shuv] rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; if you obey YHWH your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law, if you turn [ta-shuv] to YHWH your God with all your heart and soul.”
This was a relationship. If you came back to YHWH and followed Him with your heart and soul, He would turn back to you. “Return to Me, and I will return to you,” said YHWH (Malachi 3:7)… it was so very simple.
Of course, this circle of turning to God and then turning away from God happened repeatedly. The people turned away from God, and by the choices they made, they suffered for it. In their agony they turned back to YHWH and He brought them home. But in their comfort they became neglectful of God and turned away from Him again… and on and on it went.
When the Babylonians came into Judah and destroyed Jerusalem, the people were pulled out of their homeland. It felt like their whole life/soul had been taken away from them and there was no one to turn to… no one who would return their soul to them:
“For these things I weep; my eyes run down with water; because far from me is a comforter, one to restore my soul [meh-shiv naph’shi].
My children are desolate because the enemy has prevailed.
Zion stretches out with her hands; there is no one to comfort her.”
Only One could return their soul, and the joy of life, to them. YHWH promised to bring them back to their homeland (whether it be Judah or Israel, or ultimately Eden):
Jeremiah 24:4-7 (See also Jeremiah 12:15-17)
Then the word of YHWH came to me, saying, “This is what YHWH, the God of Israel says: ‘Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the captives of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans. For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back [wa-ha-shivotim] to this land; and I will build them up and not overthrow them, and I will plant them and not uproot them. I will also give them a heart to know Me, for I am YHWH; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return [ya-shuvu] to Me wholeheartedly.”
The prophet Ezekiel also shared YHWH’s sentiment:
“I Myself will feed My flock and I Myself will lead them to rest,” declares the Lord YHWH. “I will seek the lost, bring back [a-shiv] the scattered, bind up the broken, and strengthen the sick; but the fat and the strong I will eliminate. I will feed them with judgment.”
The Psalmist also celebrated the return from exile:
A Song of Ascents.
When YHWH brought back [b-shuv] the captives of Zion, we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with joyful shouting; then they said among the nations,
“YHWH has done great things for them.”
YHWH has done great things for us; we are joyful.
Although the Prophets and the Psalmists were celebrating YHWH’s promise to return the people from Babylon back to Jerusalem, there was a greater restoration to celebrate: our return to the Garden of Eden, where we could see our Creator face to face.
Return [shuvi] to your rest, my soul, for YHWH has dealt generously with you.
For You have rescued my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling.
I shall walk before YHWH in the land of the living.
I believed when I said, “I am greatly afflicted.” I said in my alarm, “All people are liars.”
What shall I repay [return: a-shiv] to YHWH for all His benefits to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of YHWH. I will pay my vows to YHWH; may it be in the presence of all His people!
This idea of standing in the presence of YHWH (the true land of the living) gives us this sense of a greater rescue. Jeremiah lived in the days of the Babylonian threat, but YHWH promised more than just a return to the homeland.
Therefore, this is what YHWH says:
“If you return [ta-shuv], then I will restore you— you will stand before Me; and if you extract the precious from the worthless, you will become My spokesman.
They, for their part, may turn [ya-shuvu] to you, but as for you, you are not to turn [lo ta-shuv] to them.”
Full restoration meant standing before God. Being in the presence of YHWH, face to face, would be the glorious final chapter in the story of humanity.
The Greatest Exile: Death to Life
But before humans could return to Eden, YHWH would have to bring them back from the greatest exile: DEATH.
You hide Your face, they are terrified; You take away their breath, they perish and return [y-shuvun] to their dust.
You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the ground.
May the glory of YHWH endure forever; may YHWH rejoice in His works; He looks at the earth, and it trembles; He touches the mountains, and they smoke.
I will sing to YHWH as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
The struggle between dying and living was deeply rooted in the story of Job. Job’s life was like a great exile leading to death, or so he thought:
Then Job got up, tore his robe, and shaved his head; then he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said,
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return [a-shuv] there.
YHWH gave and YHWH has taken away. Blessed be the name of YHWH.”
Job saw his suffering leading one way… to death:
“Why then did You bring me out of the womb? If only I had died and no eye had seen me! I should have been as though I had not been, brought from womb to tomb.”
Would He not leave my few days alone?
Withdraw from me so that I may have a little cheerfulness before I go—and I shall not return [a-shuv]— to the land of darkness and deep shadow, the land of utter gloom like darkness itself, of deep shadow without order, and it shines like darkness.”
Job believed that he would “go the way of no return [lo a-shuv]” (Job 16:22), but YHWH had other plans for Job’s life.
Job’s enigmatic fourth friend, Elihu, had a different take on “the way of no return”. He announced hope and rescue… from death to life:
[Elihu to Job:] “And he is gracious to him, and says, ‘Free him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom’; let his flesh become fresher than in youth, let him return to the days of his youthful vigour; then he will pray to God, and He will accept him, so that he may see His face with joy, and He will restore [wai-ya-shev] His righteousness to that person.
He will sing to people and say, ‘I have sinned and perverted what is right, and it is not proper for me. He has redeemed my soul from going to the pit, and my life will see the light.’
Behold, God does all these things for a man two or three times, to bring back [l-ha-shiv] his soul from the pit, so that he may be enlightened with the light of life.”
A redemption would stop our souls from going to the pit. But Elihu pointed out that it was all up to YHWH:
“If He [YHWH] were to determine to do so, if He were to gather His spirit and His breath to Himself, humanity would perish together, and mankind would return [ya-shuv] to dust.”
Fortunately for us, that was not what YHWH was determined to do.
Turning to the Anointed One
YHWH had a plan to save human lives from death. He would send an Anointed Saviour, the Messiah, to conquer death and bring abundant life. Yeshua said,
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came so that they would have life, and have it abundantly.”
The Tanakh promised a Messiah from the line of king David:
For the sake of Your servant David, do not turn away [al ta-shev] the face of Your Anointed. YHWH has sworn to David a truth from which He will not turn back [lo ya-shuv]:
“I will set upon your throne one from the fruit of your body. If your sons will keep My covenant and My testimony which I will teach them, their sons also will sit upon your throne forever.”
Through the line of David there would be an eternal king. The Son of Man, whom God strengthened for Himself, would restore and save God’s people.
God of armies, do turn back [shuv]; look down from heaven and see, and take care of this vine, the shoot which Your right hand has planted, and of the Son whom You have strengthened for Yourself.
It is burned with fire, it is cut down; they perish from the rebuke of Your face.
Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, upon the Son of Man whom You made strong for Yourself.
Then we will not turn back [backslide: na-sohg] from You; revive us, and we will call upon Your name.
YHWH God of armies, restore us; make Your face shine upon us, and we will be saved.
Through the Anointed One YHWH would save us, so that humans could, once again, see Him face to face.
Shuv: Elijah & John the Baptizer
But first YHWH would send a Messenger to clear the way:
Malachi 3:1, 7
“Behold, I am sending My messenger, and he will clear a way before Me. And the Lord, whom you are seeking, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says YHWH of armies… “From the days of your fathers you have turned away from My statutes and have not kept them. Return [shuvu] to Me, and I will return [w-a-shuvah] to you,” says YHWH of armies. “But you say, ‘How shall we return [na-shuv]?’”
“Return to Me, and I will return to you”… In Hebrew that is “Shuvu alai w-a-shuvah alekhem”. How would they return? In the following chapter, YHWH provided an answer:
“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of YHWH. He will turn the hearts [w-hey-shiv lev] of the fathers back to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and strike the land with complete destruction.”
According to Yeshua (Jesus), John the Baptist was the long-awaited Elijah, who came back to be the Messenger ahead of Himself:
Matthew 11:10-11, 13-14
”This is the one about whom it is written [in Malachi 4]: ‘Behold, I am sending My Messenger ahead of you, who will prepare Your way before You.’ Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he…
…For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come.”
John the Baptizer’s birth certainly was remarkable. The angel Gabriel brought news to Zechariah that he and his wife would have a son… and this son would be remarkable:
[Gabriel to Zechariah:] “And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. And it is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers back to their children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in her years.”
The angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news!”
John was sent to usher in the Messiah, and the Messiah was sent to bring us back into the presence of God, and Gabriel was already there. He brought the good news that we could be there too.
Turn Back and Follow Me Home
Yeshua (Jesus) spoke of the great joy and celebration in heaven when just one person turns back to YHWH:
And so He [Jesus] told them this parable, saying, “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the other ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he puts it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbours, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost!’
I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents [turns back to God] than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.”
We’ve all been lost, on the wrong path, at one point in our lives. YHWH seeks us out to bring us back.
Yeshua’s entire ministry was to incline the hearts of the people back to God… and to be the sacrifice required to pay the entrance fee back into the Garden, so that all who turned to YHWH could return to His presence and see His face.
Yeshua’s sacrifice was His painful gift to all of us. He was arrested, went through a series of mock trials, and was beaten and crucified. As He suffered on the cross, on either side of Him were two men, also crucified:
One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Messiah? Save Yourself and us!”
But the other responded, and rebuking him, said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our crimes; but this man has done nothing wrong.”
And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!”
And He [Jesus] said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
All who want to be with Yeshua will be with Him, no questions asked. Yeshua’s sacrifice freed us all from the chains of death and turned us back onto the pathway of life, leading to the Presence of YHWH.
Zechariah 9:11-12, 16
As for you also, because of the blood of My covenant with you, I have set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.
Return [shuvu] to the stronghold, you prisoners who have the hope; this very day I am declaring that I will restore [return: a-shiv] double to you…
…And YHWH their God will save them on that day as the flock of His people; for they are like the precious stones of a crown, sparkling on His land.
Peter, who recalled the words of the prophet Isaiah, highlighted Yeshua’s sacrifice which took us from death to life:
1 Peter 2:24-25 (see also Isaiah 53:4-6)
…and He [Jesus] Himself brought our sins in His body up on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness; by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned [Greek: epestraphete] to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
All who turn to YHWH, the Guardian of our souls, will live with YHWH in His Kingdom. We will truly see YHWH. But Paul pointed out that many still today have the blinders on:
2 Corinthians 3:15-18
But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts; but whenever someone turns [Greek: epistrepse] to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. But we all, with unveiled faces, looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
When we truly see and know God, we reflect God. We become the image bearers we were meant to be (Genesis 1:26-27)… and all because we have turned to YHWH and we have stayed on the path that leads to Him. Now it’s our turn to teach, and lead, and reflect God’s image in all that we do:
Create in me a clean heart, God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore [ha-shivah] to me the joy of Your salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach wrongdoers Your ways, and sinners will
be converted turn back [ya-shuvu] to You.
Save me from the guilt of bloodshed, God, the God of my salvation; then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
We have a job to do: bring the good news… teach it and live it. According to Psalm 22, one day all the ends of the earth (those who love Him and those who reject Him) will turn to YHWH and the family of YHWH will have had a part to play in that success:
All the ends of the earth will remember and turn [w-ya-shuvu] to YHWH, and all the families of the nations will worship before You. For the kingdom is YHWH’s and He rules over the nations.
All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship, all those who go down to the dust will kneel before Him, even he who cannot keep his soul alive.
A posterity will serve Him; it will be told of the Lord to the coming generation. They will come and will declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has performed it.
YHWH did it… He preformed the task… He sent Himself to die, and then to raise up and claim the victory: life and order wins over death and chaos. And all those who turn to their Creator will see His face and walk in His Presence.
Have you turned away? Does God see more of your back than your face? Return to Him and follow the Way of YHWH. Best to do it now so that you will not go down to the dust at the end of your days, but you will rise up and face your Redeemer.
Next week: Revisiting REMEMBER