If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands toward him; If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles. (Job 11:13-14)
Martin Luther, when nailing his 95 Theses to the door at Wittenburg and sparking the Reformation in Europe, started with this statement:
When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
Repentance is the work of Christian life, sanctification, and discipleship. Dying to sin, and walking in newness of life as Paul instructs us in Romans 6. Here, Zophar is exhorting Job to repentance – still falsely believing like his friends that Job was being visited with his afflictions on account of his sins. However, the principles he gives to Job demonstrate that repentance was always what God required of his people.
When Christ came and told the people to repent, he was not teaching them something new, peculiar to the New Covenant. He was teaching old truth, ancient truth: The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (Psalm 51:17).
Repentance has always been what God has required of his covenant people. Turning from sin and living in obedience to Him. James Durham comments:
There is no better way, or rather no other way to true happiness, but repentance, turning to God, cleansing and fixing of the heart, supplication to God, reformation of practice in our own person, and in our families, and all that follos us to commend this way. If we would seek a way of making up our peace with God in Jesus Christ. (1) Let the heart be prepared to seek God. (2) Let the hand be stretched out in external duties. (3) Let iniquity be quit, and put away. (4) Let every evil thing be put out of the tabernacle. Till this is done, it is likely God’s controversy may grow, and if it shall continue, we look upon folks not stooping to God, and not humbling of themselves before God, as the main cause of it. This was Zaccheus’s repentance (Luke 19:1-10).