Return to the Lord

Luke 1:16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God…

And he will turnἐπιστρέφω/epistrephó in the Greek. As defined by Strong’s Concordance, the term means to return. Thayer’s Lexicon interprets the idea as to cause to return, to bring back, to turn oneself about, or come back. The idea is in a literal, physical sense. Stop going in the path one is taking. Turn and go in a different direction.

This term is used 36 times in the New Testament. Below are a few examples how ἐπιστρέφω/epistrephó is utilized.

Luke 2:39 When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth.

Matthew 12:44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order.

2 Peter 2:22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

People were going the wrong way and had left the God of Israel. The angel Gabriel is telling Zechariah the priest his son to be, John the Baptist, will be the reason fellow country men will return to God.

Return to the Lord. To the Jew, this is the concept of Teshuvah. In our western world, the term we are familiar with is “repent”.

Teshuvah is a time to turn toward God. People are called to turn away from their sin, repent, and change course. Let go of the ways of the world. It is a time of inward reflection and sincere self-assessment. The goal is a change in lifestyle away from sin to obedience in God’s word. Return to God and His ways. This is not a warm and fuzzy spiritual word that causes your stomach to flutter or hair to stand on your neck. There should be some conviction. Be honest. Right is right and wrong is wrong. We can all do better. Prepare and turn to God with a joyful heart.

Teshuvah is a 40 day period in the late summer of the year. This is the season to prepare for the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah and the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur.

Elul is the last month of the civic calendar in Judaism. Elul is the sixth month of the religious calendar. Elul 1 marks the beginning of Teshuvah. The 40 day period of Teshuvah ends on Tishri 10 in the Hebrew calendar, Yom Kippur.

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