I don’t know about you, but “refreshing” sounds great, and I’d like some! And in particular this refreshing.
I came across a strange thing, looking at various translations of Acts 3:19-20. Here are a couple samples:
Very possibly it didn’t jump right out at you, but these versions put the end of verse 19 and the start of verse 20 at different places. And it turns out, there are a bunch of translations that do it each way—many like the NASB and many like the ESV.
Other than making us go “Huh!”, I don’t think this has any effect at all. I only mention it because, no matter which version I quote, your version may handle the verse break the other way, and it might seem strange.
Really, though, what I was interested in was the content of the verses, specifically the phrase that is placed differently: “…that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…”. I don’t know about you, but “refreshing” sounds great, and I’d like some! And in particular this refreshing. We should bring in the rest of the sentence, in the next verse:
Two things, Peter tells us, happen as a result of repentance. Our sins are be blotted out! Have we perhaps forgotten how utterly amazing this is? Clearly this is on a personal level.
The other thing that depends on repentance is “times of refreshing” coming, which is defined in the context as the coming of the Lord Jesus to restore all things, fulfilling God’s promises and revelations through the prophets.
This is bigger than the personal level. It’s world-wide of course, but I think it’s also national, and fits with prophecies we have of Israel undergoing a national repentance, resulting in the Lord’s return.
Times of refreshing indeed! A refresh of the whole creation. A refresh of our bodies, turned into glorious immortal bodies!
What got me looking at these verses was thinking about the refreshing that we need right now. I did some looking. There are several words in Hebrew and in Greek translated as “refresh[ing]”. For now, I’ll leave you to pursue the different words if you like, and I’ll just go with the translators’ decision to render them all “refresh”.
I guess we each know what we find refreshing, and it may vary some, but for any of us it will include food and drink, and rest. These things do show up in our Bibles, for example 2 Samuel 16:14, Isaiah 28:12, Acts 27:3.
It comes as no surprise that God intended the Sabbath to be a time to refresh (Exodus 23:12), but it might be a surprise that the same word is used of the Lord God Himself being refreshed when He completed His work on the seventh day (Exodus 31:17). Interesting and likely worth following up.
As we can all attest, there is refreshing of a somewhat different sort when our mind is eased. This appears in scripture too. Saul found it in David’s music (1 Samuel 16:23), and it seems to be what Proverbs 25:13 is about.
We most definitely need the refresh of our sins being blotted out.
What really struck me, though, is the usage in passages like Romans 15:32, 1 Corinthians 16:18, and 2 Corinthians 7:13, indeed most of the New Testament uses. The refreshing in all these derives from fellowship with and mutual support from brothers and sisters in Christ.
We most definitely need the refresh of our sins being blotted out. Just as definitely, we need the refresh of restoration at the coming of our Lord. And I suggest, every bit as much, we need the refresh of fellowship with one another. There is no substitute for any of them. Fortunately there is something we can do about them.
Repentance is something we must choose to do, and if we do, the Lord will certainly blot out our sins.
Can we influence the coming of the Lord? The Acts 3 passage seems to suggest it, as does 2 Peter 3:12. It is certainly the Lord who will make the determination, but possibly we have a role through our prayers. (Jesus teaches us to pray for it!)
Fellowship, though, is something we won’t have unless we choose to have it. It’s best by far in person. But even if only by mail or phone or Zoom there is refreshment in it.
Personally, I really need refreshing. All three kinds. How about you?
Love, hoping to see you soon, Paul