Teshuvah is a compound word consisting of the Hebrew “Tashan,” meaning “Return,” and “Hey,” the last letter of the “JHVH” name for God. The “HEY” in “JHVH” represents the Shekinah, or manifest presence of God. Thus, Teshuvah is a time to return to the presence of God. It is also understood that returning to God is accompanied by repentance.
Teshuvah occurs during the 40 days between the first day of the sixth month of the Jewish religious calendar and the Day of Atonement on the tenth day of the seventh month. Observant Jews have an understanding that this 40-day period, and especially the last ten days between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement, represent opportunities to repent and avoid the judgment of God. For Christians, these 40 days are an invitation to repent and enter into unity with God through the Blood of Christ. However, for the unbelievers Teshuvah is a solemn warning of the judgment to come.
This duality of Teshuvah, as an invitation and a warning, is illustrated in two of the scriptures which are associated with it. Psalm 27 speaks to the benefits of living in God’s presence and seeking His face. He will keep us in time of trouble and allow us to see His goodness while we live. In Ezekiel 33, the Lord commands us to warn the unbelievers to repent and save themselves from the judgment to come. We are also told that we must warn the righteous of their folly so they can repent lest they suffer judgment. Thus, Teshuvah calls believers to repent and come into God’s presence and also calls on us to evangelize a lost and dying world.