January 7

Text: Matthew 3:1, 2

Now in those days John the Baptist *came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (NASB)

Israel was a nation founded by God from its beginning.  From the time of Solomon, they had the temple.  From the Babylonian captivity, they had the synagogue.  While those Israelite generations certainly had periods of lapses into idolatry, they commonly knew Jehovah.  Many times they considered Jehovah to be one of numerous gods, but they always knew Jehovah.  To them, Jehovah was never a non-existent God.  Too often they failed to grasp who He was or what He wanted, but they commonly acknowledged His existence.  By John’s time, Israel accepted Jehovah as the only God.

Then what was this business about repenting?  John said the Jewish people had the wrong concept of God and His activities.  They needed to redirect their religious lives!  John said that they were going in the wrong direction!  Their wrong concept was horribly misdirecting them!  They needed to redirect!  This need to redirect was basic!

What they were looking for and hoping for in centuries past would become reality soon!  However, what they anticipated for generations would NOT be what they had expected.  They needed to align themselves with God’s plans.  For that alignment to occur, they needed to redirect their lives and expectations.

Repenting involves our accepting God’s focus, not demanding that God “yield to my focus.”  It requires a redirecting of life that bases life on God’s values, not on our physical desires.  To repent, the person devotes self to discovering what God wants in human existence, and pursuing those values with internal dedication and external behavior.

Suggestion for reflection: Ask and answer this question, “Is God the source of the values that direct my life on a daily basis?”  (Read Philippians 4:8.)

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