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Elul The King Is In The Field
September 3, 2019
Elul is the 6th month on the Scriptural calendar and usually occurs in August–September on the Gregorian calendar. This Hebrwe month marks the period of soul-searching leading up to the Fall Feast Days. Elul is the only one of the Hebrew months where there are no festivals, memorial days, fast days or days of joy (simcha). Elul is the month of preparation. In fact the name Elul originates from the Babylonian period. In Aramaic it means, “to search.” Thus, Elul is the month for us to search our souls.
Although the definition of “Elul” is uncertain, the word, Elul (Hebrew letters “alef, lamed, waw, lamed”) is thought to be an acronym of “Ani l’dodi v’dodi li,” which translates to “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.” (Song of Songs Chapter 6: 3). The “beloved” is believed to be the “One Elohim (YHWH),” and the “I” represents the people of Israel. In addition, the last letter of each of the four words in the above verse end with the letter ‘Yod’ which has the numerical value of 10; multiplied by the four words in the verse makes it 40. These are the forty days that Moshe spent on Mount Sinai in order to receive the Torah. The word, “Elul” first appears in the Hebrew Bible in the book of Nehemiah 6 :15.
During the month of Elul it is traditional to sound the shofar each weekday morning. The shofar serves as a spiritual “alarm clock,” to remind us to take time each day to examine our behavior, ask for forgiveness and prepare to change. The symbolic meaning of the sound of the shofar: “Awake all of your who are asleep. Search your ways and mend them in repentance.” The shofar, or ram’s horn, that is sounded during Elul and for Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur, is the oldest musical instrument in continuous use in the world.
The shofar can be made from the horn of any kosher animal. Around the world the horns of the ram, goat, antelope, sheep, gazelle, ibex and kudzu can be used to make a shofar. The horns of cows, calves or oxen to do not qualify as shofarot because they are connected with false worship in the time of Moses while the horns of oxen are called “keren,” and technically are not “shofarot.”
The original Sephardic shofar is straight with no curves while the typical Askkenazi shofar is curled or bent. In Poland the rabbis taught that this bending symbolizes the human heart, which should be bent before YHWH on that day. The shofar can be sounded once a day for the month of Elul and during Yom Teruah services for a total of 129 blasts. The names of the shofar sounds are “tekiah,” “shevarim” “teruah” and tekiah gadolah.” Yom Teruah is the day of the sounding of the shofar.
Here are some specific things each believers can do during the month of Elul:
1 Make time every day for personal reflection, meditation and prayer.
2 Think of the people you have hurt during the past year. Meditate on what you have done. Find the person and make an apology. Ask for forgiveness.
3 Think of those things that you should have done but did not do. Did you borrow a tool or a book from a friend and fail to return it? Did you forget to send greetings for a birthday or special occasion? Make your apology for these sins of omission. Return the item and make a belated greeting.
4 Hear the sound of the shofar each day during the month. Find an assembly where the shofar is sounded or invest in a shofar and sound it yourself each morning.
5 Read Psalm 27 each morning.
6 Give an offering (Tzedakah). Now is the time to give charity to those in need.
7 If you can, make a visit to the burial place of your loved ones.
8 Polish and shine the Mezzuzot at your doors. If you don’t have a mezuzah, now is the time to purchase one and hang it proudly on the right side of your door frame, point inward.
The best way to assure a “Shanah Tovah” a Good New Year, is to begin now in the Month of Elul.
Elul comes after the heat – and often warfare – of Tammuz and Av, but before the judgment associated with the month of Tishrei. It is regarded as a month of transition. According to Jewish tradition, YHWH gives special grace to repent or re-align our hearts with His during Elul. One reason is that, although the definition of “Elul” is uncertain, the word is an acronym for Song of Solomon 6:3: Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li. (“I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.”)
The 40 day grace period from the start of Elul to Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is known as the season of Teshuvah. Teshuvah means to repent or return to YHWH. Daily, observant Jews blow the shofar and offer up prayers of repentance. Some believe it was during these 40 days that Moses interceded for the children of Israel after the sin of the golden calf and that, many years later, YHWH Ha Mashiach (the Messiah) was tempted in the wilderness. But the Scriptures do not reveal this for sure.
In any case, during this special season — or even if you don’t think it special — why not let YHWH lovingly re-align your heart with His? Surrender anything He shows you that hinders intimacy with Him. Renounce and turn from sin that blocks fulfillment of your destiny. Remember that He created you for holy fellowship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He longs to be your greatest joy.
Why the tradition, “The King is in the field”?
Jewish tradition teaches the month of Elul is a time of visitation by our King. This is based on Ecclesiastes 5:8: “Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field.”. In Elul, the heat and warfare of summer subsides. The kingdom’s final, seasonal harvest is at hand. It is time for the king to inspect and evaluate the fruitfulness of his kingdom. So he leaves the palace where he is generally unapproachable, to personally visit his fields. There he can be freely approached. He actually invites his workers to engage with him.
Judaism (not Scripture directly) infers that during Elul, YHWH uniquely meets us in our everyday field of labor or service to Him. In the course of seemingly mundane or difficult work, He draws especially near. He wants to hear your heart. He wants you to hear His.
If you are a follower of Messiah, “do not let anyone judge you … with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.” (Colossians 2:16, see also Galatians 4:10) Your salvation does not depend on your observation of feasts and celebrations, but your walk with YHWH can be beautifully enhanced if you embrace certain days and seasons in a spirit of worship and truth.
Now is an ideal time to intentionally engage the reality of His presence that is with you always. Let His grace refresh you from the heat of summer and any warfare you have faced. Let His nearness and goodness encourage you. He wants to ready you for even a greater level of fruitfulness. For an abundant, final harvest is at hand!
Engaging with Psalm 27
The practice of reciting Psalm 27 each day in Elul arose in the 1700’s. We do not know for sure how this relatively new tradition developed, but it has become commonplace.
We do know the psalm expresses aspects of YHWH’s character traditionally associated with the month of Elul. It takes us from the heat of battle to the sanctuary of YHWH’s intimate presence. It closes with prayers for deliverance and declarations of trustful waiting on YHWH, who is forever faithful. Psalm 27 beautifully encompasses the span of human emotion associated with Elul.
This month, Psalm 27 is being proclaimed throughout Israel. Please pray this Scripture will beckon believer’s hearts into a personal encounter with YHWH’s love, revealed in Messiah and may the psalm deeply encourage your own heart this month.
A Psalm of David. YHWH is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? YHWH is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. One thing have I desired of YHWH, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of YHWH all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of YHWH, and to enquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto YHWH. Hear, OYHWH, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face,YHWH, will I seek. Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O Elohim of my salvation. When my father and my mother forsake me, then YHWH will take me up. Teach me thy way, O YHWH, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies. Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty. I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of YHWH in the land of the living. Wait on YHWH: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on YHWH.
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Yahwah Ha Mashiach for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
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