“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”Matthew 3:2 ESV
Repentance – a turning from sin, a recognition of wrongs done, contrition that leads to a change of direction
John the Baptist was calling the people to repent of their wrongs. He knew what God had assured Solomon of centuries before.
if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV
When Solomon oversaw the building of the temple, he was creating a place for God to reside with his people, a place that they could come in corporate worship and repentance and cry out to him. There they knew he would hear them.
2 Chronicles 7:1-3 ESV
As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. 2 And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house. 3 When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
God’s presence visibly filled the temple and I have no doubt that each witness of that event felt the security of his promises. I cannot imagine the overwhelming, instant response to worship and give thanks. The presence of God was a visible, tangible response to the sacrifices and humble prayers, but skip ahead to the world that John the Baptist was paving the way for.
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”Matthew 3:11-12 ESV
That same awesome presence of the Holy God that had filled Solomon’s Temple, was walking around in dusty sandals in Israel. And, in just a few short years would be indwelling all who believed as a seal of the promise of salvation.
What a picture of the triune, eternal, holy God!
He still responds to those that come to him in repentant humility with his awesome presence and promises.
Praising him today with the psalmist:
O Lord our God, you answered them;Psalm 99:8-9 ESV
you were a forgiving God to them,
but an avenger of their wrongdoings.
9 Exalt the Lord our God,
and worship at his holy mountain;
for the Lord our God is holy!