The Month of Elul
The month of Elul (eh’lool), the sixth month of the Hebrew calendar, started the evening of August 14th this year. It leads up to Rosh HaShanah (the New Year) on the evening of September 12th, (presumably, depending on when the new moon apears) when the seventh month of Tishrei begins(Leviticus 23:24). Why is this biblical New Year significant and of interest to believers in Yeshua?
In Jewish tradition the purpose of Rosh HaShanah, also called the Day of Remembrance, is to acknowledge that the world is governed only by God’s Will. He is Creator and Sovereign over all of nature and humanity. This may seem elementary at first glance, but in fact the implications are vast and deep.
A whole month is devoted to implanting this powerful principle within our hearts. Every day Psalm 27 is recited and the shofar (ram’s horn) is blown (Numbers 29:1). The alternating plaintive cries and victorious blasts of the shofar are fitting sounds to stir our souls to awareness and repentance. We are reawakened to the glory and majesty of the King of the Universe, and can reaffirm the peace of the King reigning in our hearts.
These solemn assemblies are observed “in camp,” in community. But it is important to note that the days of Elul, as well as Rosh HaShanah, and Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) ten days later, are appointed times of the annual Festival Cycle that also focus in a specific way on the individual.
While we honor the universal sovereignty of our Creator, we also are reminded that on the day that Yeshua returns in glory to Jerusalem as the King of kings, He will be the Judge of each and of all. Every nation (e.g., Isaiah 2:4) and each individual (e.g., Romans 14:12) will stand before His throne of judgment. We will be held accountable for our deeds.
What did we do with the gift of life and the talents we were given by God?
Every responsible citizen submits his or her tax return. And every business knows the positive need for – and also the effort involved in – an annual inventory assessment. Similarly, the month of Elul is a time we are encouraged to do a serious inventory of our lives. It is an opportunity to review the past year and take note of the health and growth of one’s character and relationships, and of one’s dealings with others. Have I grown positively, in loving-kindness and in truth? Have my actions been in line with God’s Word? Is my life reflecting more of the light of our Messiah and Lord, Yeshua?
Wherever we can answer in the affirmative, we can rejoice. And when we notice the “breaches in the fence,” we can repair them in sincere repentance and begin to reinforce the weak areas with the Lord’s help.
The tone and essence of Elul, culminating at Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, is not that of dismal foreboding but that of celebration and gratitude. The delightful scroll Shir ha’Shirim, the Song of Songs, is read in conjunction with the New Year.
Indeed, the name Elul can be read as an acrostic in Hebrew:
Ani le’dodi ve’dodi li – “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine” (Song of Songs 2:16).
This is our inspiration and motivation. We can rejoice in the gracious favor of our Beloved, and rest in the knowledge that our lives are in His hand. We can indeed ‘camp’ securely, knowing that by the power of His Holy Spirit we have been given the victory over our enemies, both physically and spiritually. May we live our lives to the honor of His Name and to the glory of our Father in heaven.