The Hebrew months have importance and Elohim works in each of them. We are currently in the month of Elul which began on August 9, 2021 at sunset on August 8 and soon Tishrei will start on September 7, 2021 at sunset on Sept 6.
In the month of Elul we are all invited to wake up from the drowsiness or idleness that summer and vacations brought. We are all invited to awaken our heart and thinking to look anew into its content – to do a spiritual “house cleaning.” Is my heart busy? Carrying unnecessary burdens? Are there blockages in the heart that prevent us from seeing the light?
King David said it this way:
Verse for today:
– Psalm 139:23-24 TLV
Search me, O Elohim, and know my heart. Examine me, and know my anxious thoughts, and see if there be any offensive way within me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
It’s good to ask ourselves:
What have I done well this year? What am I happy with?
What is wrong with me? Why am I complaining?
Why am I anxious? Where do I need to change?
For these things that we lack, that block us – if we don’t take time to look at them, they will get worse. The heart will be busier and will be in a shadow.
We need to hear Messiah and have the Ruach dwelling within us. We must remove the walls and barriers. These can be the sadness, pain, frustration, disappointment, and desires for more than what we have.
The month of Elul is a time of repentance and reflection. Tradition teaches that the month of Elul is a particularly propitious time for repentance. This mood of repentance builds through the month of Elul to the period of Yom Kippur beginning in the month of Tishrei is on September 16, 2021 and begins in the evening of Sept 15, 2021. (propitious: Presenting favorable circumstances or showing signs of a favorable outcome;)
Elul contains 29 days. There are 40 days from the 1st of Elul to Yom Kippur. This is reminiscent of Moses’ time on Mount Sinai when he interceded for the Hebrew people who had fallen so quickly into idolatry. Because God was merciful and forgave His people, Elul is known as the month of divine mercy and forgiveness.
The name of the month (spelled Alef-Lamed-Vav-Lamed) “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine,” is a quote from Song of Songs 6:3, where the Beloved is Elohim and the “I” is the Jewish people. In Aramaic (the vernacular of the Jewish people at the time that the month names were adopted), the word “Elul” means “search,” which is appropriate, because this is a time of year when we search ourselves in order to repent of anything that is contrary to holiness.
I’m not going to cover all the Jewish traditions but will share a bit. According to tradition, the month of Elul is the time that Moses spent on Mount Sinai preparing the second set of tablets after the incident of the golden calf (Ex. 32; 34:27-28). He ascended on Rosh Chodesh (Head of the new moon) Elul and descended on the 10th of Tishrei, at the end of Yom Kippur, when repentance was complete. Other sources say that Elul is the beginning of a period of 40 days that Moses prayed for Elohim to forgive the people after the Golden Calf incident, after which the commandment to prepare the second set of tablets was given.
Customs of Elul
During the month of Elul, from the second day of Elul to the 28th day, the shofar (a hollowed out ram’s horn) is blown after morning services every weekday. Four blasts are blown: The custom of blowing shofar is a wake-up call to sleepers, designed to rouse us from our complacency. It is a call to repentance. Traditions for the observance of Elul include an increase in gifts of charity and reciting Psalm 27 twice a day throughout the season. An 18th-century rabbi added the ritual of reading through the book of Psalms with three psalms read each day between the 1st of Elul and Yom Kippur. The final 36 psalms are recited on Yom Kippur to complete the book.
The shofar is blown every morning except Shabath during Elul although here we do blow the Shofar in the evening when Sabbath begins This call to worship serves as a reminder to examine one’s life and go before Elohim in contrition. Slichot (s’lee-hote) are special prayers of repentance spoken during Elul. Some Jewish sects begin adding slichot on the first day of the month.
Elul is also a time to begin the process of asking forgiveness for wrongs done to other people. According to Jewish tradition, Elohim cannot forgive us for sins committed against another person until we have first obtained forgiveness from the person we have wronged. This is not as easy a task as you might think, if you have never done it.
Selichot (Sleehote) Selichot or slichot are Jewish penitential poems and prayers, especially those said in the period leading up to the High Holidays, and on fast days.
As the month of Elul draws to a close, the mood of repentance becomes more urgent. The Jews practiced Prayers for forgiveness called selichot (Sleehote) (properly pronounced “s’lee-KHOHT) (sleehote),” are added to the daily cycle of religious services. Selichot are recited in the early morning, before normal daily shacharit service. They add about 45 minutes to the regular daily service.
The first slichot service of the holiday season is usually a large community service, held around midnight on Motzaei (motseea) Shabbat (the night after the sabbath ends; that is, after nightfall on the 7th day) . The entire community, including men, women and older children, attend the service, and the rabbi gives a sermon. The remaining selichot (sleehote) services are normally only attended by those who ordinarily attend daily shacharit services in synagogue.
Attaining right standing with Elohim
For Jewish people, the focus of the month is to attain a right standing with Elohim so that He will assign a favorable judgment. According to Jewish tradition, Elohim makes this judgment for the coming year on Rosh Hashanah, the “jewish head of the year,” and seals it on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The traditional greeting during Elul and these Holy Days is, “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”
However, Messianics recognizes that Yeshua made eternal atonement when He laid down His life as the Lamb of Elohim. For those who have placed their faith in Him, our position as Elohim’s adopted sons and daughters is secured forever. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that we are not saved by our deeds, but by Elohim’s grace and faith in Yeshua’s sacrifice. The Holy Spirit was given to Believers as a seal and promise of Elohim’s acceptance and our new relationship with Him.
Because Yeshua addressed our sin once and for all, we don’t have to wonder year after year if Elohim will have mercy on us at Yom Kippur. We don’t have to scramble to get right for an annual judgment or ramp up our giving to charity to end the year in good standing.
As the body of Messiah, we know that we continually fall short of Elohim’s desires for the way to live our lives. Though our eternal standing is secure, our fellowship with Elohim is affected by the sinful nature within us. So, there is always room for repentance. It is an ongoing need in our lives.
Just as the annual Thanksgiving holiday invites us to embrace gratitude each day of the year, so Elul is an opportunity for us to re-focus on repentance. It is a reminder to let Elohim reign in our daily lives and seek to glorify Him more. Repentance – turning our hearts from sin and to Elohim in restored fellowship – is a habit to pursue. Elul reminds us of that.
Elul, encompasses thankfulness for Yeshua’s atoning sacrifice and the Holy Spirit’s sealing as well as examining our hearts to remain in close fellowship with Elohim. As the shofar sounds each day during Elul, let’s also use this period to pray that Elohim will lift the blindness from Jewish eyes and that they will receive their Messiah, Yeshua.
The month of Elul helps us break free from old perceptions, troubles and barriers that prevent us from walking in holiness. It gives us an opportunity for change, time to look for answers, what we really want and what will help us to enable change in us.
I want to encourage everyone to spend more time with Elohim. I am convinced he wants relationship with us. If we spend much time in study but not much time praying we can miss a lot of things and miss out on the greatest relationship of all with our Father in Heaven. We can do nothing outside of Messiah and we must stay grafted in. Repentance should not be a one month ordeal but an every day event throughout the entire year.