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HEART Christian newspaper | May 27, 2020

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Confession and repentance in a sinful world

Last updated on December 3rd, 2015 at 12:12 pm

Bible nuggets from a Hebraic perspective

by Dr Clifford Denton

Many of us would like to stand before God and save our nation, but is this realistic?

Can we repent on behalf of someone else? This is an important question for praying Christians in a sinful world. Many of us would like to stand before God and save our nation, but is this realistic? A little Hebrew helps us to answer the question. The Hebrew for confession is different from the Hebrew for repentance.

When Solomon dedicated the temple he looked ahead to times when Israel would be scattered on account of their sin, asking God to acknowledge their repentance (1 Kings 8:47). The Hebrew word to repent is shoov. This is the action of turning back or returning to the starting point. A person repents from sin when he turns away from it. If a person is conscious of sin against God repentance is the act of turning back to God. People take this action themselves and it cannot be done for them.

Confession, by contrast, is admission of sin, which we can do on account of others as well as ourselves. When Daniel understood from Jeremiah’s letter that the Babylonian captivity was for 70 years he confessed his sins and the sins of his people (Daniel 9:20). The Hebrew word for confession is yada. The word yad means hand and confession is likened to holding out one’s hands to God. One can bemoan the sins of others before God, but people must turn back to God themselves.

In the serious times we are in, with escalating sin all around, let us raise our hands to God with heartfelt prayers of confession, trusting that he will indeed continue to lead many sinners to repentance according to his great promises.

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