Archive for the ‘Elul and Repentance’ Category

Tisha b’Av (9th of Av)

“Adonai-Tzva’ot says, ‘The fast days of the fourth, fifth (T’ish b’av), seventh and tenth months are to become times of joy, gladness and cheer for the house of Y’hudah. Therefore, love truth and peace”(Zechariah 8:19).

Av is the fifth month of the Hebrew calendar which falls in July/August on the Gregorian calendar.  The 9th of Av has become a day of fasting and mourning for Jewish people due to many catastrophic events throughout history, focusing specifically on the destruction of the Temples and their exile from the Promised Land.  

Traditionally, there is no Torah study on the 9th of Av as it is not considered a joyful spiritual event.  Only Lamentations, Job and parts of Jeremiah are read as they prophesy events like the destruction of Jerusalem or the suffering that the righteous like Job must endure.

“Iyov (Job) got up, tore his coat, shaved his head, fell down on the ground and worshipped; he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return there.  The LORD gave; the LORD took; blessed be the name of the LORD.’ In all of this Iyov neither committed a sin nor put blame on God”  (Job 1:20).

The Twelve Spies

The devastating events regarding the 9th of Av began with the account of the ten spies.  In Numbers chapters 13 and 14, Moshe sends 12 men into the Promised Land to check out the land.  When they return forty days later, ten of the men are discouraged by the ‘giants’ living in fortified cities. They feared they would destroyed if they tried to go up against them in war.  Because fear is a debilitating spirit, they pass them on to the Israelites who spend the night, the 9th of Av, crying and mourning.  

“At this all the people of Isra’el cried out in dismay and wept all night long. Moreover, all the people of Isra’el began grumbling against Moshe and Aharon; the whole community told them, “We wish we had died in the land of Egypt! or that we had died here in the desert!  Why is Adonai bringing us to this land, where we will die by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will be taken as booty! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” (Numbers 14:1-4).

According to the Talmud (a commentary on the Scriptures), “God saw their tears and responded: ‘You cried tears of naught, and I will establish for you [on this day] tears for all generations’” (Talmud Ta’anit 29a).  Because of this judgment against the Israelites, numerous other historical events happened to the Jewish people on the 9th of Av that keep the day as one of ‘lessening the joy’ for the Jewish people.  

Destruction of the First and Second Temples

Remains of Second Temple

The First Temple was built by King Solomon in Jerusalem about the 10th century BCE.  A detailed description of its interior and exterior design is found in 1 Kings chapters 6-8.  This Temple stood for about 410 years until it was destroyed in a siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BCE on the 9th of Av.

After the prophesied 70-year Babylonian exile, the Jewish people returned to Jerusalem.  Under the leadership of Ezra the priest and Nehemiah, a Second Temple built in Jerusalem.  This Temple stood about 420 years until it was destroyed by the Romans on the 9th of Av in August 70 CE   With the destruction of the Second Temple, the Jewish people were  dispersed into the nations of the world.

The final revolt of the Jews against the Romans occurred in the city of Betar.  On July 8, 132 CE, the city of Betar was destroyed and 100,000 Jews murdered.  The following year, the Roman commander Turnus Rufus plowed under the site of the Temple and the surrounding area.  Both of these events occurred on the 9th of Av.  

Reasons to Contain Joy, Remember and Mourn

The First Crusade destroyed French and Rhineland Jewish communities murdering 1.2 million Jews.  The First Crusade, which murdered 10,000 Jews in the first month, began on August 15, 1096, the 9th of Av.

The Jews were expelled from England, accompanied by pogroms and confiscation of books and property on July 18, 1290, the 9th of Av.

They Jews were expelled from France on July 22, 1306, the 9th of Av.

On March 31, 1492,  Queen Isabella along with her husband, Ferdinand, ordered the Jews banished from Spain.  The edict was signed on March 31, 1492 and the Jews were given four months to leave the country.  The final day Jews could live in Spain, thus beginning the Spanish Inquisitions, was July 31, 1492, the 9th of Av.

Note: Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492.  Though he found the ‘new world,’  in reality he was helping Jews to escape the Spanish Inquisitions.  There is evidence that Christopher Columbus was himself a Jew.  

World War I began when Germany declared war on Russia.  This war began a massive upheaval in Europe that concluded with World War II and the Holocaust.   World War I began on August 1-2, 1914, the 9th of Av. 

SS Commander Heinrich Himmler received approval for “The Final Solution” which resulted in the Holocaust and murder of nearly ⅓ of the world’s Jewish population.  It was approved on August 2, 1941, the 9th of Av. 

The mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka extermination camp began on July 23, 1942, the 9th of Av. 

Gush Katif was a group of Jewish settlements in Gaza with 8,600 residents.   It was known for it’s unique greenhouses that exported more than $200,000,000 in bug-free fruits and vegetables to Europe.  For peace with Gaza, all Jewish settlements in Gush Katif were evacuated on August 13, 2005, the 9th of Av.

Lamentations

“But in my mind I keep returning to something, something that gives me hope – that the grace of the LORD is not exhausted, that his compassion has not ended.  [On the contrary,] they are new every morning!  How great your faithfulness!  ‘The LORD is all I have,’ I say; ‘therefore I will put my hope in him. …For rejection by the LORD does not last forever.  He may cause grief, but he will take pity, in keeping with the greatness of his grace.  …Let us examine and test our ways and return to the LORD” (Lamentations 3:21-24, 31-33, 40).

Following the month of Av, comes the month of Elul,  the days of repentance preparing for fall ‘appointed times’ of the LORD and the ‘Season of our Rejoicing.’

“Tears may linger for the night, but with dawn come cries of joy” (Psalm 30:5).

©2014 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.  

The King is in the Field

“Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty — he is the King of glory” (Psalm 24:10). 

A King is the core of a nation embodying the goals and aspirations of the Kingdom.  He is the reason why his subjects plow, sow, and reap.  It is only through the laborers that the Kingdom is sustained, for even a King needs the fruit of the earth.

A King reigns from his palace and remains separate from the subjects of his Kingdom.  If  a subject wants to approach the King, they would have to go through a time of preparation. There are protocols –– an exact code of dress, speaking, and mannerisms to be followed to enter his presence or –– execution.

One day the King decides to leave his throne and his palace to to into the fields where he meets his laborers. What happens when the laborer sees the King in his field?  Does he keep working?  Does he run home and bathe and change his clothes?

The King has come to his field and desires to meet with him, the one who plants and harvests.  The King has come into his realm on his terms. There are no protocols; by the very act of the King coming to the field, the land, air, and earth become a  holy, set-apart place.

During the month of Elul, the sixth month in God’s calendar, the laborer rises from his mundane life and is inspired with purpose for ‘bringing forth bread from the earth.’  The field distinguishes the laborer’s common workplace from the King’s royal palace.  A laborer labors six days in the field, but on the seventh-day, he ceases his work and spends time with the King in His palace.  He enjoys a small taste of life as royalty.

For eleven months, a laborer’s life alternates between the field and the day of ceasing. However, in the month of Elul, there is a switch. The King leaves his royal palace and visits the laborer in the field. The laborer’s work is interrupted by the King who smiles on him. The laborer fellowships with the King for whom he spends his days working.  He reasons with the King and receives a new appreciation for the King’s love, mercy, and grace.  They spend time together in the field.

Our King, Messiah Yeshua, came to the ‘field’ to meet his laborers.  He spent time with them and showed them his love, mercy, and grace.  As his laborers continue to to work in his fields that are ripe for the harvest, he promises to return and place his Kingdom in the field in a covenant of peace. (Matthew 9:37-38, Ezekiel 37:26).

©2013 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. 

Elul – The Sixth Month

Solomon 6:3
The King is in the Field

Elul – אלול

Elul is the sixth month in the Hebrew calendar.  The name derrives  from the time of the Babylonian captivity and means ‘harvest’.   It is the month of repentance and turning back to God and His commandments or ‘making teshuvah’.  During this time, the shofar is blown every morning until Rosh Hashanah or Yom Teruah  to awaken once’s spirit, to search one’s heart and soul and to draw close to God in preparation for the coming Day of Judgment which begins with the Yom Teruah and ends on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) when the books are opened and judgements and rewards are rendered.

In Hebrew, אלול, is an acronym for “Ani li dodi v’dodi li” or “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” from the Song of Solomon.    This beautiful and romantic phrase represents our relationship with God, our Creator,  which is often compared to that of a husband and wife, a bride and groom.   It is believed that during the month of Elul, we begin ‘back to back’ with our beloved because of sin, but by the end, we have ‘turned around’ through teshuvah and repentance, and we may look at each other  ‘face to face’.

Selichot, or pentitent prayers are recited every day.  They include the Thirteen Attributes of God found in Exodus 34:6-7.

In the Hebrew Scriptures, it was during the month of Elul that God showed great mercy to the Israelites who had sinned against Him in the wilderness.   After interceding for Israel with God for the lives of the people he had recently delivered from Egypt, Moses returned to Mt. Sinai.  After forty days and nights he came down from the mountain with the second set of commandments given by God.

It was at the beginning of the month of Elul that John began immersing people in the Jordan River for repentance from sin.  This was a yearly event and brought many people to the river to prepare themselves for the coming days of judgment, as well as the ‘one who was to come’ immersing in fire.

“If you have really turned from your sins to God, produce fruit that will prove it!  It’s true that I am immersing you in water so that you might turn from sin to God; but the one coming after me is more powerful than I — I’m not worthy even to carry his sandals — and he will immerse you in the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and in fire. He has with him his winnowing fork; and he will clear out his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn but burning up the straw with unquenchable fire!” (Matthew 3:8-12).

It was at the beginning of the month of Elul that Yeshua came, with the rest of his brothers and sisters,  to John in the Galilee to be immersed.  John looked up and saw Yeshua coming and and said that he should be immersed by Yeshua.  Yeshua’s response is one that has great significance – righteousness required the ‘son of man’ to be immersed as a example for all of his followers.

“Yeshua answered him, “Let it be this way now, because we should do everything righteousness requires.” Then Yochanan let him. As soon as Yeshua had been immersed, he came up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, he saw the Spirit of God coming down upon him like a dove, and a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; I am well pleased with him” (Matthew 3:15-17).

Immediately after being immersed, Yeshua is taken into the wilderness to be tempted by the Adversary.  After forty days and nights, he returns to the Galilee to begin preaching the ‘good news’ just as the Days of Awe were ending on Yom Kippur.

“From that time on, Yeshua began proclaiming, “Turn from your sins to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near!” (Matthew 4:17).

“After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news (gospel) of God.“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14-15).

With these words, the King had entered the field where the workers were few and the harvest was plentiful.

©2013 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.