Yesterday marked the start of the sixth biblical month, now known as Elul. Traditional Jews believe that God draws intimately close to His people during Elul, offering special grace to repent. Interestingly, the letters which spell Elul are an acronym for the Hebrew, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song of Solomon 6:3).
Also on yesterday, the Lord led my daughter and I to visit the Western Wall. Now, I love praying at the Wall, but due to an intense schedule haven’t had the opportunity in quite some time. I’d no idea what would take place when I could finally visit.
Gender segregation is strictly enforced at the Wall (and I don’t take issue with that helpful policy). In the women’s section, my daughter and I were instantly both aware of a special, intimate presence of the Lord, the likes of which I’d never encountered in that place. God’s tender mercies seemed to palpably embrace His gathered daughters. An extraordinary depth of His intimate yearning for them pierced my heart in prayer. Then I heard waves of sobs—a sincere, gut-level crying out for God. This was no liturgical show of piety or performance of rabbinic-directed petition. This was a real move of the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit). During the entire time, a white dove sat perched in a cleft of a rock on the Wall, staring down at us, motionless except for an occasional blinking of its eyes.
What I didn’t know is that earlier in the day two angry protests had taken place in the same area. One had been over the issue of Orthodox Jewish women (“Women of the Wall”) praying publicly in a traditionally male style. The other was over the month-long prohibition of non-Muslims from the Temple Mount during Ramadan.
But no human fury or fiat can chase the Presence of God from His Holy Hill in Zion! There He has placed His Name forever (2 Chronicles 33:7). There the true essence of His Name—His character and His identity—will be revealed to Israel and to the nations.
During Elul (and always) let’s “seek the Lord while He may be found and call upon Him when He is near” (Isaiah 55:6).