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 religious Jews in Israel due to many catastrophic events throughout their history, focusing specifically on the destruction of the Temples and the exile of their people from the Promised Land.  

Traditionally, there is no Torah study on the 9th of Av as it is considered a joyful spiritual event.  Only books like Lamentations, Job and parts of Jeremiah are read as they relate distressing events like the destruction of Jerusalem or the suffering that faces the lives of the righteous like Job.

“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 Ten Men

The events surrounding 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 in the land’ living in fortified cities fearing that they will be destroyed if they even try to go up against them in war.  Their fears are passed onto 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).  Consequently, many other historical events happened to the Jewish people and Israel on the 9th of Av that continue to keep the day as one of ‘lessening the joy’ for the Jewish people.  

Destruction of the First and Second Temples

Stones of Second Temple
Stones of Second Temple

The First Temple was built by King Solomon and the united Kingdom of  Israel and Judah in Jerusalem about the 10th century BCE.  The description of its building is found in 1 Kings chapters 6-8.   It stood for about 410 years until it was destroyed in a seige of Jerusalem by the Babylonians and Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BCE on the 9th of Av.

After the prophesied 70-year Babylonian exile, the Jews returned to Jerusalem.  Under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah, the Second Temple built.   This Temple stood about 420 years until it was destroyed by the Romans in August 70 CE on the 9th of Av.  

After the destruction of the Second Temple, the Jewish were  dispersed into the nations.  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.  One year later, the Roman commander Turnus Rufus plowed under the site of the Temple and the surrounding area.  Both 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.  There was a massive loss of property, families became separated and many died by drowning.  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 the Holocaust and World War II.  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). 

Elul is the month in God’s calendar when we assess our spiritual lives of the past year and repent of our failures, our sins.   For 40 days before the high holy day of Yom Kippur we make resolve for the future to increase our study of God’s Word – Torah, Writings, Prophets, Gospels, and Letters – focus on our prayer life and refine our relationship with the King of Kings while we conduct our daily lives in the office, shop or field.

Generally, a King reigns from his palace and remains separate from the subjects of his Kingdom.  If  a subject wanted to approach the King, they would have to go through a time of preparation as is seen in the account of Esther.  There are protocols to be learned, an exact code of dress, speaking and mannerisms to be executed or one could face death.

The King is the central core of a nation.  He embodies the goals and aspirations of His Kingdom.  He is the reason why His subjects plow, sow and reap the harvest.  He is the One who gives His workers a vision for a promised future life.  And, it is only through the laborers that the King’s Kingdom is sustained for even a King needs the fruit of the earth to live, the grains for the bread of life.  So, one day the King leaves his throne and his palace and goes to the fields where he meets the laborers.

The King is in the Field

What happens when a laborer sees the king in his field?  Does he keep working?  Does he run home and bathe and change his clothes?  Does he continue to study and pray? Of course not, the King has come to his domain and desires to meet with him, the one who plants and harvests his sustenance.  The King has come into his worldly kingdom on his terms.  By the very fact that the King has come to his field, the land, air and plantings become a  holy, set-apart place.

It is during the month of Elul that the laborer rises from his mundane daily life and sees the purpose for ‘bringing forth bread from the earth.’  The ‘field’ is a symbol of the world, more specifically Israel,  that distinguishes the laborer’s workplace and the King’s palace.   There is a separation of the time that labor is done in the field and the holy times where meetings take place in the palace.  A laborer works six days in the field, but on the seventh set-apart day of the Sabbath,  he spends time with the King in His palace.  He ceases his work and enjoys a taste of the Kingdom promised to him.

For eleven months a laborer’s life alternates between the field and the Sabbath.   However, in the month of Elul, the King leaves his palace and comes to visit the worker in his field.  He shines his countenance on the laborer and together they spend time together in the field.   The laborer visits with the King for whom he spends his days working.  It is the month when he reasons with the Sovereign Lord and gains greater purpose for his labor of love, mercy, and grace.   The month of Elul is when the laborer’s life’s work is interrupted by the King of Glory who brings him the reality of the Kingdom to come when the He will leave His eternal sanctuary and live with His people forever.

Our King of Kings, Messiah Yeshua, came to the field to meet his laborers, his brothers and sisters.  He fellowshipped with them showing them his love, mercy and grace.  As his laborers continue to to work in his fields that are ripe for the harvest (Matthew 9:37-38), there is the future  promise of his return when he will set up his Kingdom in the field and fulfill his covenant of peace for his chosen people and those who have labored for and with her.

“I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever’” (Ezekiel 37:26-28).

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

Selichot for Elul – 13 Attributes of God

When Moses ascended up Mt. Sinai the second time after the Israelites sinned,  God gave Moses a duplicate set of words that were written on the first tablets.  At this time, God passed in front of Moses and proclaimed His Name and His character attributes.  The Scriptures state that ‘at once’ Moses interceded for Israel and prostrated himself before God.  He asked God to pardon the offenses and sins of the people and keep them as His treasured possession in spite of their rebelliousness.  God responds by making a covenant with the mixed multitude “the wonders such as have not been created anywhere on earth or in any nation” (Exodus 34:10).

During the month of Elul, selichot or penitent prayers are spoken daily.  Within the selichot are the thirteen attributes of God’s character spoken to Moses.

“The LORD passed before him and proclaimed: “YUD-HEH-VAV-HEH!!! Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh is God (El), merciful and compassionate (rachum v’channun), slow to anger (erech apayim), rich in grace (chesed) and truth (emet);showing grace (chesed) to the thousandth generation (for thousands), forgiving offenses (avon), crimes (pesha) and sins (chatta’ah); yet not exonerating the guilty, but causing the negative effects (avon) of the parents’ offenses (avot) to be experienced by their children (banim) and grandchildren (bnei banim), and even by the third and fourth generations.” (Exodus 34:6-7).

Yahweh!  Yahweh! 

He speaks His name twice as a sign of His compassion before a person sins and his  compassion after a person sins.  Whenever a word in Hebrew is repeated twice, it is symbolic of the establishment of a witness of two and cannot be changed.

“God said further to Moshe, “Say this to the people of Isra’el: ‘Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh[the LORD], the God of your fathers, the God of Avraham, the God of Yitz’chak and the God of Ya‘akov, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever; this is how I am to be remembered generation after generation” (Exodus 3:15).

God – El

El is the Hebrew word meaning ‘God’ and He is known as ElohimEl is ‘mighty or powerful’ (El Shaddai) in His compassion and gives all creatures according to their need (El Yireh).

“El Shaddai, who will bless you with blessings from heaven above, blessings from the deep, lying below, blessings from the breasts and the womb” (Genesis 49:25).

“Avraham called the place Adonai Yir’eh [Adonai will see (to it), Adonai provides] — as it is said to this day, “On the mountain Adonai is seen” (Genesis 22:14).

Rachum

El is  ‘compassionate’ in the sense that He eases the punishment of the guilty and does not put people into extreme temptation.

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:15).

Chanun

El is ‘gracious,’ even to the underserving.  He helps and consoles the afflicted and raises up the oppressed.

“You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror” (Psalm 10:17-18).

Erech apayim

El is ‘patient and slow to anger’ so that the sinner can reconsider his sins and need for repentance before it’s too late.

“Adonai is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and great in grace” (Psalm 145:8).

Rav chesed

El is ‘abundant kindness’ especially towards those who lack personal merits.  His ‘loving kindness’ is so great that even if the scales of good and evil are evenly balanced, He tips them towards good.

I did not hide your righteousness in my heart but declared your faithfulness and salvation; I did not conceal your grace and truth from the great assembly” (Psalm 40:10).

Emet 

El is ‘truth’.  God never reneges on His Word, remains true to Himself and His attributes and El speaking the Truth in love.

“Your righteousness is eternal righteousness, and your Torah is truth” (Psalm 119:142).

Notzer chesed laalafim

El is ‘merciful’ unto thousands.  This is also translated to ‘thousands of generations’ because the deeds of the righteous benefit their offspring far into the future.

“Know therefore that Yahweh your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments” (Deuteronomy 7:9).

Noseh avon

El  ‘forgives iniquity’; the intentions of the heart, the intentions of the sinner, the failings of mankind if there is repentance.

“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5).

Va  peshah

El ‘forgives transgressions’ or the willful sin.  Even those who purposely anger El through malice and rebellion are allowed to repent.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:11).

Ve chatah

El ‘forgives sin and error’ or  sin committed out of carelessness, apathy or complacency.

“But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults” (Psalm 19:12).

Ve nakeh

El ‘cleanses.  God wipes away the sins of those who repent, but He will not allow the guilty to pass unpunished. He visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of those that hate him.

“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7)

“May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord; may the sin of his mother never be blotted out” (Psalm 109:14).

©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.

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