One of the least appreciated books in the Bible is the Song of Solomon. It is a love story written by King Solomon himself, about his love relationship with his “Shulamite bride”. The narration switches back and forth from the viewpoint of the Shulamite, to the viewpoint of King Solomon. Song of Solomon can also be understood on a much deeper, spiritual level as the love story between Christ Jesus and His Bride (people of God). The Shulamite Bride is a shadow of the Church, and King Solomon is a shadow of Jesus Christ.
SOS 6:3: “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,
He who pastures his flock among the lilies.”
As summer prepares to turn into fall, as the air gets a little cooler and less humid, we know that Elul is here. Elul is the 12th month on the Jewish civil calendar (around the month of September). Today is the 4th of Elul. THE MONTH OF ELUL IS CONSIDERED A TIME OF REPENTANCE, a time to search one’s heart and draw close to God in preparation for the coming Day of Judgement, symbolized by the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), and Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). We know this time as the Tribulation period.
Jewish sages teach that the Hebrew word “Elul” is an acronym for the Hebrew phrase from Song of Solomon “Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li” – “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine“. The name “Elul” was imported by the Jews after their 70 year exile in Babylon. It is thought to originally come from an Akkadian word meaning “Harvest”.
In Jewish tradition, repentance is called teshuvah , a Hebrew word translated as “returning”, more specifically, returning to God. The month of Elul is the traditional time for Teshuvah.
- The first THIRTY days of Teshuvah begins on ELUL 1 and ends on Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah). Teshuvah is known as the Time of Repentance.
- The last TEN days of Teshuvah that began on Elul 1 continue ten days into the month of Tishrei. They are known as the Days of Awe and symbolize the Great Tribulation when evil will be purged from the earth. (Rev 2:10).
- Feast of Trumpets is a two day Feast.
- If we count from the end of the Feast of Trumpets until the beginning of Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), we have a total of seven days. These 7 days symbolize the 7 years of the Tribulation period. (Daniel 9:27)
Revelation 2:10: Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Daniel 9:27: And he (antichrist) will confirm a covenant with the many for one week (SEVEN YEARS), but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come the one who makes desolate, until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, gushes forth on the one who makes desolate.”
The 40 days of Teshuvah are also known as “the days of favor” since it was during this time that God forgave the Hebrew people the sin of the golden calf. When Moses went up Mt. Sinai to receive the 10 Commandments, the Hebrew people grew tired of waiting so they melted down their gold and created one of the “gods of Egypt” (the place where they had been enslaved)…the golden calf. Moses was very angry when he saw the Israelites dancing and partying around this golden calf so in his anger, he smashed the tablets of stone. After the Israelites were punished for their idolatry, God forgave them and Moses went back up the Mountain for 40 days to receive a 2nd set of 10 commandments. Moses was again gone for 40 days, the days of Teshuvah, returning to God, FORGIVENESS BY GOD.
Deuteronomy 30:2: and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul,
There is an old Jewish Elul Parable for the season of Teshuvah that highlights just how precious the repentant heart is to God.
Once upon a time a king possessed 3 bottles of precious wine. Each bottle was a rare vintage blend that was bequeathed to him from his royal grandfather. The bottles, passed down from generation to generation, were carefully guarded and considered among the king’s most treasured possessions.
One day the king set out to travel to a distant country. He called his 3 most dependable servants and entrusted them with the ancient bottles, one to each. The king warned the servants not to open the bottles and then left for his journey.
The three servants were very curious about the king’s command. The wine must be very fine and praiseworthy, perhaps even possessing some kind of supernatural power. Each of the servants secretly found themselves wanting to open the bottles to taste this special wine….
After awhile, the first servant couldn’t withstand the temptation. He opened the bottle, tasted the wine, and was so overcome with desire that he drank the entire bottle. The second servant, likewise, wanted to open the 2nd bottle, but because of his loyalty to the king, he held himself back, and busied himself with other affairs. The third servant, like the first, opened the bottle, tasted the wine, and was nearly driven to madness with desire to drink, but he restrained himself and overcame the temptation because of his LOVE for the king.
When the king finally returned from his business, he called for the three servants to account for his wine. When he learned the truth, he sentenced the first servant to death by hanging. To the second servant, who didn’t touch the wine at all, the king gave a gift of 1000 gold pieces. But to the third servant, who tasted the wine but then stopped, the King gave 10,000 gold pieces.
When the second servant heard what the third servant received, he was astonished. He went before the king and said “My master, your royal highness, I didn’t drink anything from the bottle you entrusted to me, and you gave me 1000 gold pieces. But why did you give to the one who drank some so much more than me? After all, he did not listen to you, and even defied your commandment! It would have been gracious enough for you to not have punished him, like the first servant, but why did you give him ten times the reward of mine?
The king answered, the reason is that you didn’t taste the wine. It is likely that if you had done so, you would have drunk the whole bottle — You would not be able to subdue your desire because of the extraordinary qualities of the wine. But the servant who tasted the wine and yet withstood its allure proved his great LOVE for me. His reward, therefore, is much greater.
The moral of this story is not to excuse any disobedience to the King, but to encourage those of us who have “tasted the pleasures of sin” and yet have chosen to turn away for the sake of the LOVE of God (Hebrews 11:25). The second servant, though he was technically righteous, had been accustomed to doing the right thing based on training and habit. He was the “religious” soul who had never tasted the flavor and allure of sinful pursuits. But the third servant represents ba’al Teshuvah (the penitent soul). He has tasted of the pleasures of sin, and even become accustomed to them, he chose to turn away from the allure because of his love for God. His challenges are far more difficult than the righteous servant, and his struggles sometimes chronic and painful. Nevertheless, he presses on in his devotion, cleaving to the Lord despite the habits and demons of the past.
Luke 7: 40 And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” 41 “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.”
This time of Teshuvah is a time of repentance, a time to turn back to the Lord God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. It’s important that we repent and turn towards the Lord BEFORE the time of Jacob’s trouble (7 year Tribulation period..symbolized by the 10 days of awe, particularly the 7 days in-between the close of the Feast of Trumpets and the start of Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement.) Why? So that we might be “hidden” in that day. (Rapture)
Psalm 27:5: For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock.
During the month of Teshuvah, it is customary for the Jewish people to blow the shofar every day (except Shabat (sabbath). Psalm 27 is often cited during this time, as well. The Shofar symbolizes a means to awaken the slumbering soul. It is like saying “Sleeping ones, awaken from your slumber! Examine your deeds. Remember your creator and do Teshuvah. In the New Testament, we see the same theme in Ephesians.
Ephesians 5:13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14 For this reason it says,
And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”
Although Elul is a month of repentance, it is also a time to contemplate God’s mercy and forgiveness. It is, in essence, a period of renewal—an opportunity to draw close to God. Traditionally, this period is considered to be a time when God is accessible—when “the King is in the field.”
Rabbi Schneur Zalman, the founder of the Hassidic Chabad Orthodox branch of Judaism, explained that to meet with a king, one must go through “appropriate channels.” This generally means gaining the approval of a long line of bureaucrats before gaining access to the throne room. As well, one must meticulously prepare for the meeting, including proper dress. There are, however, times when the king leaves his palace and goes out into the field. At this time, anyone can approach him, and all usual decorum and bureaucratic requirements are suspended.
During the month of Elul, it is said that God makes Himself accessible in this way.
Because of the King’s presence, more time is spent in Torah (Bible) study, in more fervent prayer, in greater generosity and giving. His presence has made the field a holier place. This is the month in which we are, in a sense, welcomed back as being children of God; we are experiencing a rendezvous with the Lord of the Universe. To prepare for this, we need to examine ourselves closely. Still, we have the certainty that God will forgive us, no matter what our sins might be.
As Believers, we know that the throne of God is always accessible to us through YAHUSHUA (JESUS). Yet, we sometimes need a structured time to make right what has gone wrong. So, let us take full advantage of these 40 days of favor, sincerely repenting of our sins against others and against God, asking for His mercy as we extend mercy to those who have sinned against us.
“Give us our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)
Suggestions on drawing closer to God during the month of Elul ….🥰
- Start with a Rosh Chodesh Elul festive meal on the first day of Elul (August 9, 2021)
- Read on Rosh Chodesh (first day of Elul) chapter 1 of Haggai the prophet
- Read Psalm chapter 27 daily starting on Rosh Chodesh (first day of Elul – August 9, 2021) till Shimchat Torah (September 28, 2021 – 22nd of Tishrei – כב׳ תשרי)
- Read three (3) chapters of Psalms everyday till Yom Kippur and on Yom Kippur, read the remaining psalms
- Read everyday one (1) chapter from the book of Mishlei (Proverbs) starting Rosh Chodesh Elul (30th of Av – ל׳ מנחם אב) till Rosh Hashana, including Rosh Hashana
- Read one chapter a day in the book of John (21 days)...then for the remainder of the 40 days of Teshuvah, read 1 chapter a day in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John. Finish with the book of Revelation.
- Most importantly, FORGIVE, REPENT (turn) from sin and PRAY from your heart!💖 – KING JESUS is in the FIELD!