Month of Elul
The month of Elul is a time of repentance in preparation for the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Tradition teaches that the month of Elul is a special favorable time for repentance. This mood of repentance builds through the month of Elul to Rosh Hashanah, and finally to Yom Kippur.
The name of the month (spelled Alef-Lamed-Vav-Lamed) is said to be an abbreviation of "Ani l'dodi v'dodi li," "I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine," a quote fromSong of Songs 6:3, where the Beloved is God and the "I" is the Jewish people. In Aramaic (the language 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 our hearts.
The very central verse of the Torah is "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." For a traditional Jew the whole month of Elul, every day of it, is spent tending to their soul by reaching out to the people in their lives and addressing their short-comings and future hopes.
How did this time of reflection start?
Rewind 3,000 years to the Sinai Desert. God has spoken the Ten Commandments and Israel built the Golden Calf. Moses desperately pleads with God to spare the nation.
For good reason: Up to that time, when a Covenant was broken, the terms of the covenant were carried out. There was no room for Grace.
On the first day of Elul, Moses ascended Mount Sinai, and 40 days later -- the 10th of Tishri, at the end of Yom Kippur -- he returned to the people, with a new, second set of stone tablets in hand. God was the first one to execute Grace on a broken Covenant.For us as well, the month of Elul begins a 40-day period that ends in the year's holiest day, Yom Kippur. Repentance was complete. During this time of Elul, many people increase their study of Torah and performance of good deeds. They also do a daily accounting of their spiritual profit and loss.
The most important aspect of Elul is to make a plan for your life. Because when the big day comes, and each individual stands before the Almighty asking for another year, we'll want to know what we're asking for!
There are two gifts that God gives us on Elul.
- The obvious gift of Elul is the gift of apology: taking healing by the horns and letting the past go, the gift of renewal.
- The hidden gift of Elul is the gift of getting closer, not only to others, but to yourself. Your own soul.
The Levels of Faith
What is the opposite of Faith, Doubt or Fear? Remember Yeshua's words? Yeshua had been on his way to heal Jairus’ daughter, but she died before he arrived. When Jairus heard the tragic news, Yeshua said to him, "Do not fear, only believe" (Mark 5:36). It was fear, not doubt that was the obstacle to faith and restoration.
This week’s Haftorah speaks about people who have lost their faith. It is written inIsaiah 51:12-13, "I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraidof man who dies And of the son of man who is made like grass, That you haveforgotten the LORD your Maker, Who stretched out the heavens And laid thefoundations of the earth, That you fearcontinuallyallday long because of the fury of the oppressor, As he makesready to destroy? But where is the fury of the oppressor?”
When you lose your Faith in God, you fear your enemies, but it does not have to be that way. Scripture gives us 7 levels of faith. These levels can be compared to the 7 pieces of furniture in the Tabernacle.
|Titus 1:4 “To Titus, mytruechild in a commonfaith:Grace and peace from God theFather and ChristJesus ourSavior.”||Common Faith||Into the Kingdom||The Altar of Sacrifice||Conversion|
|Matt 8:26 “He said to them,"Why are you afraid, you menof littlefaith?"Then He got up and rebuked the winds and thesea, and itbecameperfectlycalm.”||Little Faith||Learning to Trust||The Laver||Separation|
Luke 8:13 “Those on the rocky soil are those, when, they hear,
receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they
believe for a while, and in the time of temptation fall away”
The Explanation: ““Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution arises because of the
word, by and by he is offended”
|Temporary Faith||Faith until Tested||The Table of Shew bread||Study of the Word and Fellowship|
|Romans 4:18-22 “Inhopeagainsthope he believed,so that he might becomeafather ofmanynationsaccording to that which had been spoken, "SOSHALL YOUR DESCENDANTSBE." Withoutbecomingweak infaith he contemplated hisownbody, now as good asdead since he was about ahundredyearsold, and thedeadness of Sarah'swomb;yet, with respect to thepromise of God, he did notwaver in unbelief butgrewstrong in faith,givingglory to God, and beingfullyassured that what God had promised, He wasablealso to perform. ThereforeIT WAS ALSOCREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.||Strong Faith||Refuses Defeat||The Candlestick||Testimony|
|Matt 8:10 “Now whenYeshuaheard this, Hemarveled and said to thosewho were following, "Truly Isay to you, I have notfoundsuchgreatfaithwithanyone in Israel.||Creative [Great] Faith||Understands the Authority||The Incense Altar||Prayer|
|James 1:22-25 ‘But proveyourselves doers of the word, and not merelyhearers whodeludethemselves. Forifanyone is a hearer of theword and not a doer, he is likea man who looks at hisnaturalfacein a mirror; for once he has looked at himselfand goneaway, he hasimmediatelyforgottenwhatkindof person he was. But one who looksintently at theperfectlaw, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not havingbecome a forgetfulhearerbut an effectualdoer, thisman will be blessed in what he does.||Active Faith||Confesses the Word||The Ark of the Covenant||Full Surrender|
|Gal 3:22 But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, thatthe promise by faith of Yeshua the Messiah might be given to them that believe||Divine Faith||
|The Mercy Seat||Victory – The Anointing|
Your past can prevent you from reaching the Holy of Holies. Your inability of forgiving yourself will keep you from experiencing the fullness of God’s presence. God has forgiven you. He desires your fellowship, and will “tabernacle” with you. You must forgive yourself, and change by the renewing of your mind. One of the best examples of this process in Scripture is the parable of the prodigal son, as recorded inLuke 15.
Rembrandt and 2 paintings
This parable had a profound effect on an artist named Rembrandt. When he was a young man, he painted the picture called The Prodigal Son. It was a self-portrait. There were things in his young life he could not forgive, so he painted himself as the prodigal son. Later in his life, he painted another picture called, The Return of the Prodigal Son. In this picture, he again createda self-portrait. This time he was the father. He had learnedto forgive himself. Because of it, he was able to forgive others. If you were Rembrandt, which picture would be your self-portrait?
Allow me to give you my definition of faith. This was given to me in 1979 in a Bible study group and I never forgot it. It goes like this: “Faith, because of trust, is thatquality,not quantity, of power whereby the things hoped for becomethe thingspossessed”
If you don’t use “Now Faith, Through Faith, By Faith”, you will wind up “Without Faith”
WHERE IS YOUR FAITH LEVEL?
Using this definition, ask yourself three questions:
Where are you in your Faith?
Is your Faith going up or down?
Where do you want your Faith to be?
Only you know the answers to these questions; but where you are in your faith determines where you are “in Yeshua” according to you, not God. What is God’s goal for your life? Please understand: There are people who will go through what I call, the “whosoever gate.” They will place their lives at the altar of sacrifice, then turn and leave, praising God. They have missed the goal. The goal is the Holy of Holies. Then there are people who, after going through the “whosoever gate” and the altar of sacrifice, continue to the laver where they are washed with the baptism of repentance as done by John. Again, they will turn and leave, praising God. These people see God as the prophet, but not as the priest or king, and they have missed the goal. The goal is the Holy of Holies.
There are people who want more of God. These people will go through the “whosoever gate,” and, after laying down their lives at the altar of sacrifice, and being cleansed at the laver, will enter into the Holy Place. Once inside, they will fellowship with other believers around the table of shewbread. They will then leave praising God, but would have missed the goal. The goal is the Holy of Holies.
Fewer people will go through the “whosoever gate,” through the courtyard with the altar of sacrifice and laver, then into the Holy Place. After the fellowship with other believers at the table of shewbread, they will go to the menorah for in-depth Scripture study. They will then, praising God, turn and leave. They also have missed the goal. The goal is the Holy of Holies.
Again, even fewer people will go through the same process and will continue to the altar of incense. It is here that they will enter into intercessory prayer. These people in the Holy Place see God as the prophet and priest, but not as their king. When finished, they will turn and leave, believing they have met with God. They may have, but they missed the goal, which is the Holy of Holies.
Even less people will go through the same process and will continue past the altar of incense, and through the veil. They can now see the Ark of the Covenant. They see God as the prophet, priest, and their king. They recognize the authority of God, and it changes their thought patterns and their lives. They leave, praising God, accepting His kingship, and changing their lives forever. They made it into the Holy of Holies, but still missed the goal: the mercy seat. The Scripture says, “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14 KJV). Who are the chosen? They are simply those who choose to go.
There is that blessed person who goes through the “whosoever gate,” lays down his life at the altar of sacrifice, goes to the laver, separating himself from his past life, and goes into the Holy Place. There, he fellowships with other believers around the table of shewbread, goes into in-depth study of God’s word at the menorah, and enter into intercessory prayer at the altar of incense.
He will go past the veil, and, by recognizing the authority of God in his life, change the lifestyle of his walk. He will stand before the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant. He now experiences the presence of God on his life. Once there, he will not want to leave. He has reached the goal: the mercy seat of the Holy of Holies, where the presence of God is located.
The Scriptures say, in Romans 12:1-2, these words: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies ofGod, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy,acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Andbe not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed bythe renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is thatgood, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” the “good will of God” is seen in the courtyard and as the prophet. The “acceptable (or well-pleasing) will of God” is seen in the Holy Place as the priest. The “perfect will of God” is seen in the Holy of Holies, as the king.
Blowing the Shofar
The 30 Days of Elul are called the Holy Days and are specifically set apart to prepare for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur the final day of judgment. These last ten days are known as the "Days of Awe" (Yamim Nora'im), preceding the final judgment, which is a type of the final judgment day of all the earth. Five days after Yom Kippur is the Feast of Tabernacles.In traditional Judaism, it is customary (among Orthodox Jews) to blow the Shofar(ram's horn) every morning during the month of Elul, at the end of the morning prayer service. The trumpet (Shofar) or ram's horn is blown to warn Adonai's people to return or repent.
The Four Sounds
There are four sounds that are blown with the Shofar. The element of true worship lines up with the first sound that is blown. “Tekiah” is a bright, piercing sound that stirs the soul. The second sound made with the Shofar is called ‘SHEVARIM’ [meaning “Broken”]. That is a good way to describe this sound. It is intended to portray a person who is crying. Rabbinic Tradition states the purpose for SHEVARIM is to remind people of the need for repentance. True repentance is only possible once someone is broken before God. The third sound made with the Shofar is called “TERUAH” [meaning ‘Alarm”]. Its sound is 9 staccato, short blasts on the Shofar. This sound is intended to alert the hearer to impending danger and to prepare for it.
All three sounds are blown on Rosh Hashanah – a day when God is recognized as Creator to be worshipped, a forgiving Father, and coming Judge. Yet, what most people associate Rosh Hashanah with is the Resurrection of the dead. This is where the 4th sound of the Shofar comes in.
Rabbinic Literature teaches that it is God who will resurrect the dead and redeem man with the sound of the Shofar. It is on that day that we will hear the ‘Last Trump’. But what exactly is that? – The 4th sound made with the Shofar is the sound many believe will announce the resurrection. For that reason it is called ‘TEKIAH HAGADOLAH’ [meaning ‘The Great Blast’] or, as some calls it – “The Last Trumpet”.
It is written in Matthew 24:30-31, “…and they shall see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with tremendous power and glory. He will send out his angels with THE GREAT SHOFAR, and they will gather together his chosen people from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other”