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Blessings of Elul (September 4 – October 3, 2016)

Special Grace for Intimacy with God

On September 4 we entered into the month of Elul. Elul is the 6th month of the year on the holy calendar God assigned to Israel in Exodus 12:2. It is also the 11th month of the year on Israel’s civil calendar that some believe He gave to the world. In this age Israel operates on both calendars. (The country adheres to most aspects of the Gregorian calendar as well.)

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Elul comes after the heat – and warfare – of Tammuz and Av, but before the judgment associated with Tishrei. It is a month of transition. According to Jewish tradition, God gives special grace to re-align our hearts with His, or repent, 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.)

Today, why not let God’s love re-align your heart with His? Surrender anything He shows you that hinders intimacy. He created you for intimate fellowship with Himself. Your heart longs for it — and He longs to give you that desire of your heart!

Why the tradition “the King is in the field”?

Jewish tradition teaches the month of Elul brings special grace to be visited by our King. This is based on Ecclesiastes 5:8: “There is profit in the land over all else, for the king is sustained by the field.” In Elul, the heat and warfare of summer subsides. The final harvest is at hand. It is now appropriate 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 and engage with his workers.

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Judaism (not Scripture directly) infers that this month, God uniquely meets us in our everyday field of labor or service to Him. In the course of seemingly mundane or difficult work, He draws near. When the King is in your field, it is well with your soul.

If you are a follower of Yeshua, now is an ideal time to intentionally engage the reality of His presence that is with you always. Let His grace refresh your heart from the heat of summer and the warfare you have faced. Let His nearness encourage you — for His joy is your strength. Persevere in His love. An abundant, final harvest is at hand! (Picture is of the classic “Song of the Lark” by Jules Breton.)

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 God’s character traditionally associated with the month of Elul. It takes us from the heat of battle to the sanctuary of God’s intimate presence. It closes with prayers for deliverance from evil and acceptance by YHVH, who is forever faithful and good. Psalm 27 beautifully encompasses the span of human emotion associated with Elul.

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This month, Psalm 27 is being proclaimed throughout Israel. Please pray with us this Scripture will beckon Jewish hearts into God’s love, revealed in Messiah. And may the psalm deeply encourage your own heart this month, as it has mine!

“Adonai is my light and my salvation: whom should I fear? Adonai is the stronghold of my life: whom should I dread? When evildoers approached me to devour my flesh —my adversaries and my foes— they stumbled and fell. Though an army camp besieges me, my heart will not fear. Though war breaks out against me, even then will I be confident. One thing have I asked of Adonai, that will I seek: to dwell in the House of Adonai all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of Adonai, and to meditate in His Temple. For in the day of trouble He will hide me in His sukkah [tabernacle], conceal me in the shelter of His tent, and set me high upon a rock. Then will my head be high above my enemies around me. In His tabernacle I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy. I will sing, yes, sing praises to Adonai! Hear, Adonai, when I call with my voice, be gracious to me and answer me. [My heart says of] You: “Seek [His] face.” Your face, Adonai, I seek. Do not hide Your face from me. Do not turn Your servant away in anger. You have been my help. Do not abandon me or forsake me, O God my salvation. Though my father and my mother forsake me, Adonai will take me in. Teach me Your way, Adonai, and lead me on a level path— because of my enemies. Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes. For false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence. Surely I trust that I will see the goodness of Adonai in the land of the living. Wait for Adonai. Be strong, let Your heart take courage, and wait for Adonai.” (Tree of Life Version)