Metanoia
 Jackson Snyder, November 30, 2005

Snyder Bible   Free Spiritual Gifts Inventories

 

Metanoia is but a kind of table-talk until we see so much of the deformity of our inward nature as to be in some degree frightened and terrified at the sight of it.  There must be some kind of earthquake within us, something that must rend and shake us to the bottom, before we can be enough sensible either of the state of death we are in or enough delirious of that savior who alone can raise us from it.

- William Law


Mark 1:1.  THE BEGINNING of the Good News of Yahshua the Anointed, the Son of Elohim.  2.  As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way;  3.  the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of Yahweh, make his paths straight….”  4.  John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance (
metanoiaV) for the forgiveness of sins.  5.  And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.  6.  Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, and had a leather girdle around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey.  7.  And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.  8.  I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the set-apart spirit.” 

 

Matthew 6:10.  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. 

Isaiah 40:1.  COMFORT, COMFORT my people, says your Elohim.  2.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from Yahweh’s hand double for all her sins.  3.  A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of Yahweh, make straight in the desert a highway for our Elohim.  4.  Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.  5.  And the esteem of Yahweh shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken.”

 

Luke 13:6.  And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.  7.  And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?’ 8.  And he answered him, ‘Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure.  9.  And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’” 

 

My Messenger  Malachi 3:1. I send my messenger to prepare the way before me.

   At various critical points in history, our Heavenly Father has sent messengers to direct his people out of the slough of despond and back toward the narrow way that leads to life. 

  • Yahweh revealed himself to Abraham, and Abraham became the mouthpiece of promise, and the father of many nations. 
  • He revealed himself to Moses, and Moses brought peace through the Royal Law, and the establishment of the Land of Israel. 
  • He revealed himself through David, and David revealed Yahweh’s heart to the ages, as we still sing David’s songs of worship.
  • In our passage, Yahweh similarly sends John the Baptizer into the world as the fulfillment of an earlier prophecy – that the WILDERNESS VOICE would be heard by all people – and that it would reveal the extent to which the Almighty would honor his everlasting Covenant.

   Consider the improbability of such an obscure figure as John the Baptizer reaching the world with this short, poignant message.  Repent!  John gets a couple of verses in the New Testament and a tiny mention in secular history.  We could see how a powerful organization or an ancient book of his sayings might make headlines down through the millennia, but he accomplished neither.  It could be only by the power of Heaven that this simple message could’ve survived the short life of the messenger, and be delivered to us.

 

John Was Weird

   John was an unlikely messenger.  He hadn’t the way of the world about him, or the attractiveness that we see as essential for popularity.  He lived in isolation.  He wasn’t engaging or pastoral or social – in fact he was quite unfriendly and even paranoid.  He wasn’t concerned for his appearance – he wore animal skins and left his hair and beard grow long and tangled.  He ate things found in the wild, yet strictly within Yahweh’s food ordinances – grasshoppers and honey.  He was a religious fanatic given to fits of righteous rage, magical thinking and ecstatic speaking.  He didn’t have a nice thing to say about any but one, for he relied not upon man, but upon the unseen power of the changed mind.[1]

   A modern psychiatrist might diagnose John with Schizotypal Personality Disorder (SPD): delusions, odd beliefs, bizarre preoccupations, queer thinking, overelaborate speech, paranoia, eccentric appearance, no friends.  What a refreshing choice for a heavenly voice.

   I was thinking about what “weird John” might say if he happened to materialize in here today.  He’d probably take a look at yonder “Holiday Tree” and quote the first eight verses of Jeremiah 10 before commanding us to repent.  (I’ll leave that passage for you to discover on your own.)  I’m sure we’d neither like his appearance or his words, for he’d certainly demonstrate the same forceful, tactless, unseemly conduct now as up on the riverbank. 

   Yet the expectant then had no choice in the matter – John was that messenger prophesied to come – John was the man whom Eloha sent to herald the message – and, like him or not, his words are still valid for our examination.  Though they killed the messenger, the message will never be silenced.

   Mark tells us that John preached a baptism of repentance.  Matthew’s version has the actual words of his message, which are: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven(s) is at hand” (Matthew 3:2).  We learn later in the Scripture that this “Kingdom of Heaven” is a theme with several variations. 

  • First, the kingdom personified is Yahshua himself – the one whom John says was to come after him.  When Yahshua is near, so is the Kingdom (Matthew 12:28). 
  • Second, the Kingdom is an ultimate destination – one so difficult to describe that the only way the Scripture does so is in parable and allegory.  Men and women aren’t intellectually adequate to understand the ultimate Kingdom; simple stories, like “The Fig Tree,” give insights that we can comprehend (Matthew 13:31). 
  • Third, the Kingdom is the place where the Heavenly Father’s will is done.  We know that his will isn’t done here on earth, else why would he have us pray “Thy will be done on earth as in Heaven”?  The only power we have outside of prayer to see that the Father’s will is done here is inside ourselves: the power of choice: will we choose wisely? Will we choose Kingdom-style words and actions or not?  We can start by injecting His will into our own thoughts and decision-making processes.  This leads to the fourth and most important variation:
  • That some little county in the Kingdom may be reached in this life, even by without the intellectual ability to perfectly understand.  For the Kingdom is also a state of mind and being (Luke 17:21).  There’s a Kingdom location near you, but you must still make an effort to enter.  This is very good news, and good news that yours truly is only just beginning to grasp.

 

An Inner State

   So I speak of an inner state.  This KingdomState exists as a higher plane of mindful, intentional living, involving internal growth and “individual development,” in which the Kingdom-seeker’s every single action is premeditated to be good until intentional righteousness becomes automatic; and every single word is weighed, evaluated and delivered for the highest and best good of all, until routinely so.  We evaluate our lives day-by-day, one day at a time, and moment by moment.

   The Kingdom therefore is a reachable state; upon reaching it, we need no longer even consider personal sin, for (when we dwell in the KingdomState), we no longer sin (1 John 3:9) – nor need we consider love any longer, for charity is our automatic response to sin (1 John 4:18) – nor need we consider Law anymore, for we have written the Law of Heaven upon our hearts, fixed it in our minds, and attached it to our foreheads. 

   Furthermore, in the Kingdom within, there’s no longer that great loneliness or longing, for his presence is obvious to us always, and his friendship reaches to the core of our deepest longings.

 

All a Misunderstanding

   Does this higher plane of Kingdom-living seem too impossible to attain?  Most believers never find there way into it (now does the Kingdom find its way into them), and few churches seem anywhere near.  But we believe we may attain the inner KingdomState of the New Man by means of radical discipleship as far as that goes, and radical grace for the rest.

   I think one of the primary reasons we fall short is because we misunderstand what it means to repent, for that’s the first thing we must do.  If it’s true we don’t understand it, how can we do it? 

 

Junior Archaeologist

   First, there’s a holiday gift I’d like: a junior archaeologist kit.  You get a bunch of Roman coins in a leather pouch.  They’re really ancient and cased in corrosion – unidentifiable.  You get a wire brush, some chemicals and a book.  So you scratch off centuries of oxidation to reveal the coin underneath, then you look the coin up in the book to see what you’ve got.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?  The junior archaeologist kit is $40.  ¿Seem like a lot for some rusty old pennies?  I thought so too.  The hook is that in every 250th kit, a gold coin worth over $1000 is included.

   Working with the ancient words of the New Testament is like practicing junior archaeology.  Much of Bible language is encrusted in tradition.  If a collector keeps scratching at those Bible words, word for word, occasionally the golden key is discovered that can open an ancient passage to streets of gold.  One such golden keyword is among those proclaimed by John; that word is metanoia.

 

Metanoeite - Repent – for the Kingdom is at hand,” Matthew 3:2; 4:17.

 

Metanoia

   Metanoia is traditionally translated “repentance,” going back to the Catholic idea of feeling sorry for sins, real or imagined.  Repentance means “regret for past conduct.”  But Bible scholars agree that metanoia doesn’t mean anything like this.  They say meta = change, noia = mind: “a change of mind.”  The Heavenly Father’s message as proclaimed by John (and later Yahshua) is actually,

 

“Change your Minds; for the Kingdom of the Heaven(s) is closing in!”

 

   “Change your minds” is much more in keeping with the actions of the Baptizer than the idea of just feeling sorry.  And changing one’s mind is in fact the golden key to unlocking the doors of the Kingdom now.  What the Father tells us through this discovery is that “everyone on this planet is capable of a certain inner growth and individual development, that this is mans’ true significance and his deepest meaning, and that it all begins with metanoia[2] – a change of mind. 

   If we’re aware that Yah’s will isn’t being done on earth, and we’re praying that it shall be, then we’ll cease from defining ourselves in terms of what’s outside, on the earth – that which is not in the Father’s will – or what the world has dealt us or others have done to us.  For there’s an inward land that’s divorced from the devilish doings of the outside; in great measure, the Kingdom can be within as well as without.  We must teach ourselves to uncover the inner KingdomState then discipline ourselves to habitually be there.  We must “change our minds” now, or perish.

 

Orchard

   You may remember that some people told Yahshua that Pilate had executed a band of Zealots and mingled their blood with their sacrifices.  The rhetorical question was, “Do you think these men were worse sinners than the rest because they were executed?” 

   Yahshua then mentioned eighteen who were killed when a tower fell.  “Do you think these eighteen were worse than the rest, so as to deserve an ‘act of a god?’”  Yahshua said, “No; but unless you change your minds you all will likewise perish” (Luke 13:5). 

   In other words, it’s not the outside that matters – not what happens in the world – not what goes about and comes around – but what’s inside that makes one immune to death and disaster, ready to ascend to the heights, prepared for change and even failure. 

   Yahshua then said that the fig tree wouldn’t grow or bear fruit because it hadn’t any fertilizer – it hadn’t the necessary nourishment within to avoid emptiness and ultimate extermination.

   Humankind is like an orchard; fruit is expected of it, or else the orchard is in danger of extermination.  You’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever been in South Florida during cane-burning season.  When cane is done producing, it all has to be burnt up and replanted.  Choking smoke rises for weeks when the cane is being burned; travelers get lost in the smoke. 

   If we’re going to produce fruit and avoid the refining fire, then we need to realize that what’s on the outside is far less important that what’s on the inside.  The first step in qualifying the inside and setting aside the outside is metanoia – a change of mind.  

 

Change your minds!

 

What it Requires

   Changing the mind requires a whole new attitude, a whole new goal and a whole new way of thinking.  The changing of the mind must lead to a transformation of the heart in order to experience the new birth and new life that your Heavenly Father has promised through his soon-coming Son.

   Everyone here’s life may be transformed – this church may be transformed – our community too; heaven may be achieved – and His will on earth be thus done.  It all begins with a metanoia – a change of mind.  All the tragedies, all the secret discontents, painful thoughts and sense of failure may be altered for the highest good once that which is external to oneself is seen to be not the main issue or place where meaning lies, or where the Set-apart Spirit is moving.

   Rather, we must take an active inward path, such as Yahshua himself prescribed: Whatever you ask, believe that you’ve received it, and it will be yours (Mark 11:24).  Without metanoia, the mind-change, this would be utter nonsense.  Yet the mind-changed have proven the promise over and over again. 

   ¿But is it all that easy – will an altar call or a couple prayers do the trick?  I don’t think so.  I’ve been trying to practice metanoia lately – and I’ve found that it requires an intentional first step, an intentional second, and an intentional decision about every single thing I say and do.  It’s mindful living, intentional living, until making the Kingdom choice becomes a no-brainer.  One need only seriously decide to repent before the Holy Spirit comes ‘round to nourish the effort, just like the vinedresser nourished the fig tree, which cast forth its figs in due season.

 

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[1]   You might recall that John came out of exile a few times to insult the religious authorities, correct the collection policies of tax men, and give Roman soldiers new orders. 

He castigated the King for his incestuous affairs.  He called the church leaders “a brood of vipers.” 

And, most importantly, he told people not to look to him for anything but a good dunking – another was coming who’d do more.

[2] Nicoll, Maurice The Mark, pp. 102,103.