National Repentance

2 Chronicles 30:6-9

Repentance is directional – it carries with it the idea of a turning back. In fact, the Greek word Metanoia means exactly that – to change one’s mind about something. Hezekiah’s letter to Israel and Judah was a plea for national repentance; for the whole nation to once again turn back to God; and turn their backs on sin. The Hebrew word for this directional word “to turn back” occurs six times in Hezekiah’s invitation:


“People of Israel, return to the LORD, ..... that He may return to you ....... Serve the LORD your God, so that His fierce anger will turn away from you. If you return to the LORD, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will come back (return?) to this land,........ He will not turn His face from you if you return to Him” (30:6-9)

This repetitive plea for a “return” after a rebellion and an exile must have had Solomon’s dedicatory prayer in mind (6:14-40). “Return to God that God may return to you” is prayed in the pattern of Solomon’s plea that God may be merciful and restore the Kingdom upon the people’s repentance. Solomon’s much longer prayer similarly contains eight repetitions of the same word “to turn back.” And what is wonderful is that God would answer Solomon’s prayer by making His own statement and reaffirmation, promising to turn away from wrath as the people turn away from sin (7:12-22); and in it we hear the following infamous quote:

“If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (7:14)

Repentance is a change of mind – if Israel’s forefathers were rebellious and unfaithful, Hezekiah tried to convince the people that they needed to be faithful to God, and to keep His covenant. Otherwise, they would continue to be under God’s wrath, and be rejected by Him.

Paul in Romans 12:1-2 exhorts us to live a life of repentance – and that means making the continuous decision to commit our whole lives to God as a spiritual act of worship. We are exhorted to “be transformed by the renewing of our mind” – to be so compelled by grace that we wilfully turn back from our sin and live such lives that please the Lord.

In this time of the year when we remember what our Lord has done for us on the cross; are we compelled by grace, that we would turn to God? Do we still feel overwhelmed by grace as when we first believed; that we fall to our knees and commit our lives to Him? Are there areas in our lives that we need to repent from? I pray that God would illuminate our hearts that we would understand His will for our lives.