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Explain Sackcloth And Ashes

What is sackcloth? and what does it mean to repent in sackcloth and ashes?

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 ---Donna9759 on 12/4/06
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Jonah: Throughout the OT the Jews fasted, wore sackcloth and ashes when sorrowful and/or repenting. The people of Nineveh were not Jewish. So I am wondering if anyone knows why the people of Nineveh fasted, wore sackcloth and ashes when they repented? Was this a common practice in many cultures at that time?
---Carol on 10/10/20

---Teresa on 9/25/17

You know...Jesus said, "When I am gone, my disciples will fast." Are you His disciples? Therefore practice obedience and don't blog your precious pearls among swine...
---John on 3/4/13

Whilst all comments are correctly translated using facts made available, but I want to try to just throw in a little thought.As we are reading through, the commentators have a great understanding also of the spiritual significance. Was John The Baptist living a life of deep repentence, so he could be ready for his great meeting with Jesus? If we consider his clothes worn? a possibility. As per the interpretation of sackcloth, it was to bring discomfort in an attempt seeking appeasement. Living a life in sackloth and ash permanently, Is the place we need to be.

---Clyde_Paul on 3/26/12

Sackcloth and ashes were used as signs of mourning. Tearing one's clothing was another similar sign. In contrast with fine fibers one normally wears, sackcloth was a very coarse fabric used to make sacks for storage. Today we might call it burlap. It was very coarse, and abrasive against the skin, and hence uncomfortable.

Wearing uncomfortable or damaged clothing (as opposed to fine clothes), covering onseelf with ashes (rather than washing), fasting (rather than eating well) - these are all demonstrations that one puts one's material necessities aside in order to concentrate on things that are more important.
---StrongAxe on 3/18/12

True repentance is asking god to forgive you of your sins and to completely turn away from those sins and be made a new creature then to be baptized in the name of jesus for the remossion of your sins and ye shall recieve the gift of the holy ghost. Read acts 2:38 it says it all
---Timothy_buller on 3/17/12

Read Isaiah 58: 4-11 (KJV). The people at the time were not fasting properly. In verse 3-5,they want to be "seen of the world". He teaches the proper way to fast. Verse 5 sheds a little more light on the use of sackcloth and ashes. I think the people in Isaiah's time were taking a good thing (humility) and making it into a production, "look at me, im showing more divotion than you, I pray longer/louder, I sit longer, my sackcloth is itchier. True divotion is between the Lord and you. P.S. If someone can have the blessings that Isaiah talks about in verse 6-11 by fasting, why not talk more about the importance of the Fasting?
---Michael on 2/13/11

Fasting, wearing sackcloth, and placing ashes on the head were ways of demonstrating grief or repentance, and showed humility. Luxurious and colorful clothing represented joy, or fine living. Washing the face showed one was no longer in mourning. The most particular use of sackcloth is in Jonah 3:8. Nehemiah 9:1, Ester 4:1-4, Job 16:15, Psalm 30:11, Matthew 11:21, Revelations 11:3.
H665 epher, ashes. H8242 saq, mesh cloth similar to a potato sack, but of a finer weave and somewhat softer, usually of dark goats hair.
---Glenn on 11/30/09

I gather it was a sack used to store ashes in from their fire pit, and after it was filled they would probably dispose of the ashes over their gardens. So to sit or kneel on an empty sack, and then take a handful of the burnt ashes and pour it on top of your head was a sign of humbling one's self in front of God in the hopes that he would have mercy on them, and so the humbled one would receive God's help and pardon, manifesting, "dust to dust, and ashes to ashes".
---Eloy on 11/29/09

David, where did you find the definition to "sackcloth?" Your response is exactly what I have been looking for. I would like to verify the defintion myself as I don't trust everything I read:)
---Beth on 11/27/09

Sackcloth means: run to and fro. It is talking about the weaving process of this unrefined fabric. The word is used to describe wild beasts that move restlessly to and fro. It represents an admission to the untamed and restless nature that cloaks the human soul. Ashes are represented as final punishment and death. This is also an admission of a condition of death, punishment and unregenerate nature of ashes. I.E. you can do nothing to revive ashes. So, the whole picture is one of displaying outwardly what exists inwardly... humility.
---David on 8/19/09

The definition of the word, "SACRIFICE"? Dictionary, SACRIFICE: "is an offering of any animal, human life or any thing or kind to a deity or divine being (GOD) in PROPITIATION, ATONEMENT, SATISFACTION or HOMAGE".
Bible:Romans 12:1,1 Peter 2:5,Joel 2:12)Hebrews 13:15 "Through Him then, let US continually OFFER up a SACRIFICE of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name." Very clear we could continually OFFER OUR PRAISES, fastings(human acts) and bodies to God as SACRIFICES. To connent the dots:Now I rejoice in my SUFFERINGS for your SAKE, and in my flesh I COMPLETE what is LACKING in Christs afflictions for the SAKE of his body, that is, the church (Col 1:24-25). Very Biblical.
---Jae on 6/22/09

True repentance is rarely understood in recent times. True repentance involves deep sorrow for our sins and a complete attitude change toward any form of sin.

To repent in sackcloth and ashes, shows our intense remorse and grief concerning our sins. It shows the sincerity of our heart to turn from sin with all our heart and mind, and to now follow and serve God with all our heart, soul and mind.

It shows a complete humility of spirit, and a contrite attitude. Psalm 34:17-18 "The righteous cry out and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit."
---Anne on 12/15/08

I find my heart grieved by this blog. Everyone talks about being Christlike. Yet, I wonder, what would a person searching for God think if they read this? How many have demonstrated wisdom and love here?
---Dan on 12/15/08

Jack, should we be practicing this today to show God how serious we are when we repent? If not, what fruit should we show for repenting?
---Donna9759 on 6/6/08

Sackcloth is rough cloth, like burlap--sacking, basically.

Dressing in rough (and spiky) cloth and sitting in ashes (think Job's ash heap) were ancient symbolic ways of expressing sorrow, contrition, and humiliation.
---Jack on 6/8/07

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John - Penance is wrong. Penance is something that somebody does in order to try and atone for their own sin. Sin can only be forgiven by the Lord Jesus Christ Who has already atoned for sin in His sacrificial death of Himself on the Cross. It is Biblical to ask the Lord to forgive one of their sin, realising that Jesus already took it on the Cross.
---Helen_5378 on 12/15/06

Helen. I didn't say the way the rcc did it was correct. What I said was that penance means to be sorry and repentant of sins and even you must agree that that is truly very Scriptural. How can any one deny that penance is wrong? Maybe the way the rcc does it is wrong. But that doesn't change the meaning of the word.
---john on 12/15/06

John - Penance is not Biblical. Penance is practicised in the RCC where they usually say "our fathers" and "hail marys" to atone for their own sins. There is atonement and forgiveness for sin only in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the Cross for sin.
---Helen_5378 on 12/11/06

Helen. Penance, according to the dictionary means to show sorrow or repentance for sin. Do you have a problem with that? If they add to that then that's their business but penance and repentance is the same thing.
---john on 12/10/06

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Helen: "Nobody knows it all..." I beg to differ. there are a handful of people throughout the world who know the absolute truth. They are the
---Steveng on 12/10/06

Helen, when you start believing in the REAL Jesus who truly took flesh from the Virgin Mary and truly descended to the realm of the dead, you will be in a position to start telling others to be Christlike.
---Jack on 12/10/06

Jack - You said a lot of words, and mostly about contrition and repentance. Why did you say nothing about penance? Is it because you know it is not in the Bible? Once again, I ask you to back off and stop hurling rocks. You are doing nothing but trying to cause trouble. Nobody knows it all, and that includes you sir. You are extremely rude and arrogant and I am not your doormat. Please strive to be Christlike.
---Helen_5378 on 12/10/06

**Penance and contrition are taught by the RCC, and are false teachings.**

Part III:

Just out of curiousity, is there anyone here--besides Helen, I mean--who have never heard about repentance of sins and sorrow for them (contrition) taught or mentioned in their churches?

These were standard teachings even in the Baptist church in which I was raised.
---Jack on 12/9/06

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Part 4:

Helen might find it interesting to learn that the KJV doesn't scruple to use that nasty old RC word "contrite".

Does this mean that the KJV teaches RC doctrine?
---Jack on 12/9/06

Part 2:

Let's see.

You admitted you have difficulty believing Christian doctrine.

You say you've NEVER heard that Jesus took His Human nature from the Virgin Mary before.

You don't know the TWO different meanings of the word "hell" as used in the KJV.

And now you think "contrition" and "repentance" are only RC.

I don't know what sect you attend, but it doesn't sound the LEAST bit Christian.
---Jack on 12/9/06

** Jack - Once again you are stating clearly RCC doctrine. Penance and contrition are taught by the RCC, and are false teachings.**

Are you saying you should NOT be contrite (that is sorry) for and repent of (change your mind and heart about) your sins?

ALL churches do so.

I was merely saying that sackcloth and ashes were used to symbolize in Biblical times.

But since you don't believe in the REAL Jesus, you could hardly be exepected to understand these things.
---Jack on 12/9/06

Jack - Once again you are stating clearly RCC doctrine. Penance and contrition are taught by the RCC, and are false teachings. Forgiveness is what God's Word teaches... forgiveness through His Son Jesus Christ and His death on the Cross for sin.
---Helen_5378 on 12/9/06

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** Jack, should we be practicing this today ...**

In Joel, it says, "Rend your hearts, and not your garments." Jesus exhorted signs of physical penance (such as fasting) to be hidden.

People who loved the Lord greatly and were willing to die for him, such as Thomas More, might wear hair shirts--but hidden under their ordinary clothes.

I don't suppose the physical expressions of repentance and contrition matter, but they should be private.
---Jack on 12/7/06

There is a since of it when we are depressed or down most people know. But christ said to anoint our heads with oil and to wash our face. we shouldn't purposly attract attention. Yet in OT times the sackcloth was the clothing of the impoverished and it was a symbol of humility before God and man for a richer person to wear. and it usually directed attention to God not the person.
---Jared on 12/6/06

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