Posts Tagged With: Elul

Awake, O’ Sleeper!


Song of Songs 5:2 (NASB) “I was asleep but my heart was awake. A voice! My beloved was knocking: ‘Open to me, my sister, my darling, My dove, my perfect one! For my head is drenched with dew, My locks with the damp of the night.’

One of the themes of Elul, especially leading up to Rosh Hashanah or Yom Teruah, is being aroused from sleep, a stupor, or mystically, from the grave. Yom Teruah, often dubbed the Feast of Trumpets, literally means “the day of the awakening blast.” While the ultimate manifestation of arising from “sleep” is bodily resurrection, other figurative or spiritual applications are equally valuable to our walk with Messiah.

I was blessed to have recently joined the ladies of “The Hidden Voice of Hadassah” on Messianic Lamb Radio. (Listen here.) AviGayle O’Hare mentioned a podcast she had made the previous week on Jonah. This intrigued me as Jonah is the haftarah on Yom Kippur, the end of the forty days of teshuvah. (You can listen here by clicking the title “You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide.”)

Sometimes, hearing the Word is different than reading the Word. When AviGayle read the words of Jonah chapter one, a particular section captured my attention. (See the bolded text below.)

Jonah 1:3-6 (NASB) But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. 4 The LORD hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to break up. 5 Then the sailors became afraid and every man cried to his god, and they threw the cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship, lain down and fallen sound asleep.6 So the captain approached him and said, “How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god.Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.”

When Jonah flees the commandment or Word of YHWH to go to Nineveh, he boards a ship headed to Tarshish. Because of his disobedience, Adonai caused a storm with great winds to threaten the ship and its occupants. Despite this dire circumstance, Jonah falls into a “sound sleep” below deck.

Have you ever been on a ship at sea during a storm? I’ve been on a cruise ship that avoided the worst of a storm, but the waves still managed to cause us to rock and sway far more than was comfortable. Many grew deathly sea sick. Sleep eluded most people until the waters calmed. So, how is it that when the rest of the crew was awake and panicked, that Jonah fell into a sound sleep and managed to stay in that condition? We will come back to this question later. First, let’s examine sleep in the Bible and let the Word interpret itself.

The Creator sovereignly chose to create mankind with the ability and NEED for sleep. On average, we sleep about a third of lives. That is a massive chunk of time! Getting a good night’s rest improves one’s cognitive abilities and decreases the likelihood of disease and sickness. According to various scientific studies, someone lacking sleep is equivalent to a drunk. Judgment skills and motor function are severely impaired.[1]We NEED sleep. True rest rejuvenates and restores one’s mind, body, emotions, and spirit. Perhaps this is why the Hebrew word for dream, chalom, is nearly the same as shalom in spelling and meaning. But, that’s a topic for another post.

The Hebrew words for normal sleep are yashen and shenah.

Strong’s H3462 יָשֵׁןyâshên A primitive root; properly to be slack or languid, that is, (by implication) sleep (figuratively to die); also to grow old, stale or inveterate: – old (store), remain long, (make to) sleep. Total KJV occurrences: 19

Strong’s H8142 שֵׁנָא  שֵׁנָה shênâh (The second form used in Psa 127:2); from H3462; sleep: – sleep. Total KJV occurrences: 23

While Strong’s links these two words together and suggests that the latter (shenah) is rooted in the former (yashen), there is another possibility that I find quite intriguing, particularly in relation to the season of teshuvah and the upcoming feast of Yom Teruah or Rosh Hashanah. Carefully look at H8142 above. Now, look at the Hebrew word shanah, the word for year and to repeat, and its verbal root:

Strong H8141 שָׁנָה   שָׁנֶהshâneh  shânâh (The first form being in plural only, the second form being feminine); from H8138; a year (as a revolution of time): –    + whole age, X long, + old, year (X -ly). Total KJV occurrences: 812

H8138 שׁנהshânâh BDB Definition: 1) to repeat, do again, change, alter. 1a) (Qal) to change. 1b) (Niphal) to be repeated. 1c) (Piel) to change, alter. 1d) (Hithpael) to disguise oneself. Part of Speech: verb A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: a primitive root

The words for sleep, repeat/change, and year are related. There are other words that fall into this family that are also interesting. You can read more about them here. How does sleep (shenah) relate to change or repetition (shanah)? Well, for starters, we sleep over and over again in a repeating daily cycle, so the repetition is obvious.

Does sleep change one in some way? Modern science could answer this question with empirical evidence supporting the notion that sleep restores the mind, body, and emotions, which is a change for the better. If this is true in the natural, then it must also be true in the spiritual. In some way, sleep restores and changes one spiritually. While I believe dreams play a strong role in this nocturnal process, this post will stick to the related activity of sleep and deep sleep.[2]

Now that we’ve connected sleep (shenah) to change (shanah), what about the Hebrew word for year, shanah? A year is also a repeating cycle, a revolution of time that is like the previous cycle, but new and different, a change. Since we are approaching Rosh Hashanah, the change or turn of the year[3], which is also the time of the awakening blast, I couldn’t help but to point out this word play to my readers. I don’t believe in coincidences.

This is the season to make a change, to turn, to repeat the things that need to continue, to stop and change the things that need to be corrected. Spiritually speaking, this is WAKING from slumber. It is becoming conscious of the reality of one’s sin and consequent death. It is, as King Solomon recorded in the Song of Songs, being asleep with a heart that is awake ready to receive the King, our Beloved. Rambam[4]said it this way:

“Even though the blowing of the shofar on Rosh HaShanah is a Biblical decree, it hints at something, i.e., ‘Wake up, sleepers, from your sleep! And slumberers, arise from your slumber!  Search your ways and return in teshuvah and remember your Creator!  Those who forget the Truth amidst the futility of the moment and are infatuated all their years with vanity and nothingness that will not help and will not save, examine your souls and improve your ways and your motivations! Let each of you abandon his wicked ways, and his thoughts which are no good.’”- Mishneh Torah, Repentance 3[5]

My prayer for you in this season of teshuvah leading up to the High Holy Days is to be fully awake and aware of what is in your own heart. Yeshua is Light, and light reveals what is in the darkness. May we be sensitive to the gentle discipline of the Holy Spirit and be merciful with our neighbors that struggle in their slumber. May the blast of the shofar pierce your heart and soul so that sincere change occurs. Notice how this verse from Isaiah reflects the message of the Shulamite woman in Song of Songs quoted at the beginning of this post, and the direct references to waking and resurrection.

Is. 26:19 (NASB) Your dead will live; Their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, For your dew is as the dew of the dawn, And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits.

More Hebrew Words for Sleep

Sleep is a strange and wonderful thing. Sentient beings laying down, closing their eyes, and becoming unaware of the conscious world around them is rather mystical when one meditates upon this phenomenon. It’s not difficult to see why sleep became an idiom for death in the Bible.

So far, we’ve looked at two words for sleep, yashen and shenah. Now, we will examine the first mention of sleep in the Bible. It is found in Genesis 2:

21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept (yashen); then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. (NASB)

The Hebrew word translated as “deep sleep” is tardemah.[6]This word is only found in seven places in the Bible. The context of the first mention above makes it clear that this is no ordinary sleep or rest. In fact, YHWH is the cause of this trance-like state. It’s second use is equally compelling.

Gen. 15:12 (NASB) Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. (Context is the Covenant of the Pieces)

Both Adam and Abram are a type of Messiah. Adam’s tardemah results in him receiving a bride. Abram’s tardemah results in him receiving a nation (descendants) and the Land of Promise. Mystically speaking, Adam and Abraham “died” (deep sleep) to receive the covenant of marriage (his house), descendants, and a land. In fact, terror and great darkness was felt by Abraham. Did Messiah suffer anything like this?

While Messiah’s death was literal rather than figurative, the lives of these ancient fathers prefigured Messiah’s work. His suffering and death also resulted in a covenant, a bride, a people, and the Land. In fact, Messiah’s work was far greater in that He overcame the whole world, even sin and death (the grave)!

The other instances of tardemah demonstrate that God uses this type of deep sleep in other ways as well.

 1 Sam. 26:12 (NASB) So David took the spear and the jug of water from beside Saul’s head, and they went away, but no one saw or knew it, nor did any awake, for they were all asleep (yashen), because a sound sleep from the LORD had fallen on them.

Job 4:12-14 (NASB) “Now a word was brought to me stealthily, And my ear received a whisper of it. 13 “Amid disquieting thoughts from the visions of the night, When deep sleep falls on men, 14 Dread came upon me, and trembling, And made all my bones shake.

Job 33:15-18 (NASB) “In a dream, a vision of the night, When sound sleep falls on men, While they slumber in their beds, 16 Then He opens the ears of men, And seals their instruction, 17 That He may turn man aside from his conduct, And keep man from pride; 18 He keeps back his soul from the pit, And his life from passing over into Sheol.

Pr. 19:15-16 (NASB) Laziness casts into a deep sleep, And an idle man will suffer hunger. 16 He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, But he who is careless of conduct will die.

Is. 29:10 (NASB) For the LORD has poured over you a spirit of deep sleep, He has shut your eyes, the prophets; And He has covered your heads, the seers.

A deep or sound sleep can result in a divine message from the Creator, but it can also prevent one from waking or experiencing what is happening in the conscious human world. It also seems that one can fall into this type of sleep in a figurative way by being lazy, idle, or because of rebellion. One thing is certain based on the complete mention of this noun: this is a spiritual or supernatural type of sleep.

Tardemah comes from the verbal root radam. While radam can mean to sleep naturally, it is also used figuratively for death, of a stupor, confusion, or of a prophetic trance-like state. Consider the following definition and verses:

H7290 רָדַםrâdam A primitive root; to stun, that is, stupefy (with sleep or death): – (be fast a-, be in a deep, cast into a dead, that) sleep (-er, -eth). Total KJV occurrences: 7

Jdg. 4:21 (NASB) But Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg and seized a hammer in her hand, and went secretly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went through into the ground; for he was sound asleep and exhausted. So he died.

Ps. 76:6 (NASB) At Your rebuke, O God of Jacob, Both rider and horse were cast into a dead sleep.

Pr. 10:5 (NASB) He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely, But he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.

Dan. 8:18 (NASB) Now while he was talking with me, I sank into a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me and made me stand upright.

Dan. 10:9 (NASB) But I heard the sound of his words; and as soon as I heard the sound of his words, I fell into a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.

Radam is the word for “fast sleep” and “O sleeper” in the Young’s Literal Translation below. This is the type of sleep that Jonah fell into on the ship headed to Tarshish.

Jonah 1:5-6 (YLT) and the mariners are afraid, and cry each unto his god, and cast the goods that are in the ship into the sea, to make it light of them; and Jonah hath gone down unto the sides of the vessel, and he lieth down, and is fast asleep. 6 And the chief of the company draweth near to him, and saith to him, ‘What—to thee, O sleeper? rise, call unto thy God, it may be God doth bethink himself of us, and we do not perish.’

Near the beginning of this post, I asked how Jonah could be sleeping when chaos and eminent danger were upon him in the conscious human world. Based on the type of sleep that Jonah experienced (radam), his rebellion and lack of compassion put him in a stupor, much akin to death. In other words, Jonah was spiritually “dead” long before he was swallowed by the great fish.

Jonah wanted Nineveh to suffer. He desired strict justice for these ancient Assyrians, not the compassionate mercy that He knew YHWH was known for. In Jonah’s mind, these people deserved to be punished and wiped off the map. The last thing he wanted to do was be the mouthpiece or vessel of the Holy Spirit to offer them repentance. This was true even after YHWH had had compassion upon Jonah by hearing his prayer from the belly of the fish, a figurative death.

Nineveh[7] was one of three major ancient Assyrian cities. Since the discovery of the Library of Ashurbanipal,[8]many clay tablets with text and reliefs from the centuries near the time of Jonah makes it evident what sort of wickedness provoked God to want to destroy it.[9] But, YHWH’s mercy warned them of their coming destruction through the reluctant prophet Jonah.

Jonah is an intriguing character. On the one hand, we chastise him for his lack of concern for 120,000 ignorant souls.[10] How could anyone be that compassionless? On the other hand, we are guilty of the same rebellion and lack of compassion when it comes to those that have hurt and betrayed us. The truth is that, if we could, most of us would call down fire from heaven to rain upon the heads of the ignorant, cruel, and wicked. Hurting people often revel in hurting back.

Ironically, Jonah or Yonah in Hebrew means “dove,” the universal symbol of peace, shalom. He was called to a heathen (pagan) city, and he had no love or compassion for them. It was only by proverbially dying that he did as he was told. But even this didn’t pull Jonah out of his stupor. In chapter four, he was angry that the people repented!

Jonah 4:1-4 (NASB) But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD and said, “Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. 3 “Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.” 4 The LORD said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?”

I think it’s interesting that Jonah basically quotes Exodus 34, but leaves off the part where Adonai says, “He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.” We often have a skewed sense of justice. It’s as if we are afraid that those that have hurt us will not get what we think they deserve. We forget that vengeance belongs to Adonai.

Ex. 34:6-7 (NASB) Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; 7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”

Lev 19:16-18 (NASB) ‘You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the LORD. 17 ‘You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. 18 ‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.

When you’ve screwed up or hurt someone, would you rather receive strict justice or mercy? Will you grant the same request to your enemy? Even if they have committed great atrocities toward you or those you love? That is the question. And, it’s one that Jonah would have rather died than to have seen actualized. He repeats this three times in chapter four. This is not the evidence of a changed heart, regardless that he fulfilled his commission to Adonai.

Jonah is a book with a mighty message at this season. While God certainly gave Jonah a second chance despite his rebellion and disobedience, Jonah couldn’t bring himself to sincerely offer the souls of Nineveh the same. He reveled in the idea that God was going to destroy them for their wickedness.

Jonah 4:3-5 (NKJV) Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!” 4 Then the LORD said, “Is it right for you to be angry?” 5 So Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city. There he made himself a shelter (sukkah) and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city.

Beloved, if you have been deeply wounded, hurt, betrayed, or suffered horrific abuse at the hands of another person or people group, please consider Jonah. Though he knew the truth, and eventually preached it to a people he hated, he still held out hope that they would die in their debauchery. He even built a SUKKAH, sat in its shade, and instead of recalling that Adonai had Israel dwell in sukkot after delivering them from Egypt[11] (something they didn’t deserve), he longed to see the destruction of an entire city.

I wonder if we have done the same? Have we sat in our own satisfaction and self-righteousness, thinking it was a fine covering, forgetting whom we serve and the GREAT mercy He bestowed upon us? Have we been asleep when chaos is shaking our lost neighbors? Have we judged people and people groups that have acted wickedly and danced at the thought of their demise? If so, now is the time to WAKE UP! These secret relishes belong to darkness, sleep, and death.

Repent AND Forgive before you sit in your sukkah or there will be no true joy, no real waking life, only the desire for sleep. The Book of Jonah ends with HaShem asking Jonah a rhetorical question.

Jonah 4:11 (NASB) “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”

If you want to be forgiven, forgive. If you want to receive mercy, extend mercy. If you desire God’s compassion, give compassion. When you’ve been broken, hurt, or betrayed, this becomes extremely difficult. This week, Sombra Wilson shared her testimony of radical forgiveness on Renewed Radio. If your pain has placed you in rebellion or a stupor, a trance-like sleep (death), and it is preventing you from moving forward, I encourage to listen to her testimony.

May the Faithful One bring you and yours into complete unity, health, and restoration before the upcoming High Holy Days. May your deeds be complete. Messiah, speaking to the 5thassembly of Sardis (Red Ones) in the Book of Revelation that corresponds to the 5th festival of Rosh Hashanah (Yom Teruah)[12] says:

Rev. 3:1-6 (NASB) “To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 ‘Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. 3 ‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. 4 ‘But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 ‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. 6 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

May you be inscribed for a good year!

 


[1] What Happens to You When You Don’t Sleep for Days

[2] Job 33:15-18 (NASB) “In a dream, a vision of the night, When sound sleep falls on men, While they slumber in their beds, 16 Then He opens the ears of men, And seals their instruction, 17 That He may turn man aside from his conduct, And keep man from pride;  18  He keeps back his soul from the pit, And his life from passing over into Sheol.

[3] You can read more about why Yom Teruah is also called Rosh Hashanah in the footnotes and comments of this post.

[4]Maimonides (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon), the author of Mishneh Torah (Sefer Yad HaHazaka).

[5] Mishneh is also related to the words sleep, change/repeat, and year! It means repetition.

[6] H8639 תַּרְדֵּמָה tardēmāh: A feminine noun referring to deep sleep; a sound sleep. It refers to a deep unconscious state needed, usually, for rest. God may bring it on in special circumstances (Gen 2:21; Gen 15:12; 1Sa 26:12). It is a common event in the middle of the night and may be accompanied by dreams naturally or from God (Job 4:13; Job 33:15). Laziness, a moral problem, can result in a person falling into this state (Pro 19:15). It is used in a figurative sense of a moral and spiritual stupor (Isa 29:10).

[7]Gen. 10:11

[8 Ashurbanipal: The Oldest Surviving Royal Library in the World with Over 30,000 Clay Tablets

[9 Nahum, Nineveh and Those Nasty Assyrians

[10] Jon. 4:11 (NASB) “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”

[11] Lev. 23:43 (NASB) so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.'”

[12]See The Creation Gospel Workbook One by Dr. Hollisa Alewine.

Categories: Moedim, Renewed Radio | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Chodesh Elul 2018

This post is a little early for the upcoming month of Elul, but I have already transitioned my notes into an article. I look forward to hearing what Abba is telling you this year!

  • Month 6 (12thor last month on civil calendar)
  • Tribe: Gad, meaning “an invading troop”
  • Mazel: Betulah or Woman, the Virgin or Virgo
  • Sense: Action To act requires both thought and deed. It connects the head (thought/speech) to the arm/hand (fruit/deeds) and the feet (one’s walk).

Questions to ponder from last month, Av:

  1. Did you fight major spiritual warfare from Tammuz 17th– Av 9th?
  2. Were these battles particularly to prevent some type of destruction in a family, assembly, physical body, or physical house (all types of the Temple)?
  3. Did you experience a shift or release after the 9thof Av (Tisha B’Av)?
  4. Have you experienced some comfort from the Father (doesn’t mean that the test or trial is over) on or after the 15thof Av (Tu B’Av)?
  5. Were you tested in “hearing”? (See this post for clarity.)

Chodesh Elul

As the sixth month, expect to see parallels to day six of creation, and other implications of six. See my post on numbers, for more themes that relate to the number six.

Just as Friday, the sixth day, is the preparation day for the coming seventh day Shabbat, Elul, the sixth month, is the preparation for the seventh month, Tishrei. Not surprisingly, the sense for the month of Elul is action. One needs to act. And, one acts out what they really believe. Preparation certainly requires action in thought, word, and deed.

This is the month to prepare for the upcoming High Holy Days and Sukkot. While it is necessary to make physical arrangements to celebrate the fall festivals, the primary preparation is inward and spiritual, one of the heart.

The idea of organization and preparation correlates perfectly with the tribe of Elul: Gad. Gad was the seventh son born to Jacob. Seven is the letter zayin, which looks like a plowshare or a sword. Shabbat and other sevens are tools for harvest AND instruments of war. Gad means “an invading troop.” Compare the blessings of Jacob and Moses for this tribe:

Gen. 49:19 (TLV) Gad—attackers will attack him, but he will attack their heels.

Dt. 33:20-21 (TLV) For Gad he said, ‘Blessed is the one who enlarges Gad. Like a lion he crouches, and tears off an arm or even the crown of a head.  21 He chose the best for himself, for there a marked portion was reserved. He came with the heads of the people. He carried out Adonai’s justice and His judgments for Israel.’

Gad is tribe of war. 1 Chronicles 5:18 describes them as “men who bore shield and sword and shot with bow and were skillful in battle.” It requires great preparation and organization to amass a troop and train them for combat. Gadites know where to strike, because they have trained well. They attack the heel (lower nature/nephesh/appetites/ego), the arm (deeds/power/strength), and the head (the source, leader, authority). When David fled from King Saul, the mighty men of Gad joined him in the wilderness. 1 Chronicles 12:8 describes them this way:

From the Gadites there came over to David in the stronghold in the wilderness, mighty men of valor, men trained for war, who could handle shield and spear, and whose faces were like the faces of lions, and they were as swift as the gazelles on the mountains. (NASB)

How does the month of teshuvah or repentance relate to this aspect of the tribe of Gad? Each day of this month, leading up to Yom Kippur is a training day. There is a battle, but it is not necessarily with an external enemy. The preparation of Elul is a time to search the depths of one’s heel (nephesh), arm (power- intentions and actions), and head (are you at the helm or is Elohim?).

Such great battle tactics might seem excessive for searching or judging one’s self, but in my experience (both personal and observing others) SELF is the last place most people desire to search, examine, and judge. It’s much easier to point the finger and blame others or one’s circumstances for bad behavior. This is the question that six (especially day six of creation) asks of us. Are you a beast or are you a man/woman made in the image of Elohim? In the sixth month, the same question is posited as one prepares for the High Holy Days.

Symbol of Gad

Last month (Av), we mourned the destruction of the Temple, the House of God. The second Temple was destroyed because of “baseless hatred among brothers.” The political climate in the U.S. is alarming. How people treat others in general is out of control. The golden rule has been left in the dust. It is time to consider what we say (or type) about other people, regardless of their actions or words. This isn’t a call to stick one’s head in the sand or to subvert justice; rather, it is a call to treat other people (even enemies) as those made in the image of Elohim. They are His shadow in the earth, even when they aren’t acting like it. We can speak of and to them with honor and respect, and do so without condoning a wicked behavior.

I’m working on a series about lashon hara, or proper speech. The mouth or tongue is an unruly member that can quickly send one on a spiral of chaos and destruction. With the tongue (or keyboard), we have become murderers, accusers of the brethren. During Elul, we have an opportunity to make amends with those we have offended before we reach the altar on Yom Kippur.

Mat. 5:21-24 (TLV) “You have heard it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever commits murder shall be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be subject to judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca’ shall be subject to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be subject to fiery Gehenna. 23 “Therefore if you are presenting your offering upon the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

Lamentations says, “Let us examine and test our ways, and let us return to Adonai.” (3:40 TLV) That is the heart of Elul. Self examination, deep introspection, and yes, judging one’s own heart, is the 40 step process during the days of teshuvah. I wonder if we can avoid looking at other’s sins for forty whole days while we clean our own house? This is true preparation for the seventh month, and also the “turn of the year[1]” on the civil calendar. It’s as if one is getting ready to enter a new time, a new realm, a new day… that’s because beginning with Rosh Hashanah (the Hidden Day), the head of the year[2], we are!

The Torah portions that fall during the month of Elul mirror this conclusion. They are Shoftim (Judges), Ki Tetze (When You Go Forth), Ki Tavo (When You Come In), and Nitzavim (Standing). Judges, when you go forth, when you come in, stand. These portions give disciples instruction for the Season of Teshuvah. (Collectively, this is Deuteronomy 16:18 – 30:20) The highlights from each section or portion[3], will inform a careful eye with the themes for the month Elul. These are things that you will battle with and walk through as you prepare for the fall feasts. Here is a sample:

  1. Adonai expects His people to set up righteous judges that will execute righteous judgement. The people are expected to obey their rulings.
  2. A prophet like unto Moses will arise, look for Him, but also beware of false prophets.
  3. Laws for cities of refuge and the accidental man slayer. (More on this below.)
  4. How to deal with false witnesses.
  5. Rules of warfare, mind the fruit trees (people), and respect the female captives.
  6. Laws concerning sexual immorality, and falsely accusing one’s virgin bride.
  7. Laws concerning divorce and levirate marriage.
  8. Offering firstfruits and tithes.
  9. Mount Ebal – curses and blessings.
  10. Covenant renewed at Moab.
  11. Repentance & Forgiveness
  12. Choice of Life or Death.

These portions cover a lot of territory, but if you look closely, they are a microcosm of our journey! The cities of refuge jumped out this year in relation to Elul. Three cities are to be in the Land He is giving them to possess and three more when He expands their territory for a total of six. Elul is the sixth month. In Chassidic teachings, Elul is the city of refuge in the yearly cycle. The thinking behind this is that we are ALL guilty of being a “man-slayer.” (Didn’t Yeshua say as much in Matthew 5:43-48? See also Proverbs 18:21) Whether we realize it or not, we have killed ourselves and others… with words. (Action)

It is in this season, a space in time if you will, that we contemplate past thoughts, words, and deeds, and rectify wrong doing through heartfelt repentance. In this safe place (in time), a city of refuge, one can truly get to know what is in their heart– the good, the bad, and the ugly. In tradition, the King is said to be in the field during Elul. This implies that He is approachable and near, not as a harsh judge on the throne, but as a loving and compassionate Father ready to receive His prodigal child. Thus, Elul is also called the month of mercy and the month of forgiveness.

What to Expect in Elul

There is warfare in Elul, but it should be with your own heart. Outside enemies (spirits) will seek to distract or divert one’s attention away from self-examination. This will be especially true on “social media.” Every year at this season, hot debates pop up with people making strong judgments (shoftim) about the “correct” calendar, the names, proper observance, fasting or not fasting on Yom Kippur, and more. Whether or not the intention is to flare up flesh and emotions, the result is the same. Be a Gadite! Don’t fall for it! The focus of these issues is NOT one’s heart and repentance or making amends between brothers. It is a deception. Reread the highlights of the Torah portions. The chaos will fall into one of those categories, and the portion teaches you how to deal with it.

In reality, the many outside distractions are a flimsy fig leave trying to cover the thing we all hate to deal with – self. The root problem is the same issue the first Adam had: Fear. Hearing the voice of Adonai walking in the garden strikes fear in the heart of those that know they are naked before Him. Don’t listen to the voice of fear.

Is. 54:4-5 (NASB) “Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; But you will forget the shame of your youth, And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. 5 “For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the LORD of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth.

It’s the season to exchange the fig leave with a new garment provided by Adonai. Let the Holy Spirit do the work of refining, even with fire.

2 Cor. 5:1-5, 10 (NASB) For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, 3 inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. 4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge… 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Who doesn’t want to be washed and renewed to don fine white linen garments, like a virgin bride? Perhaps, this is why Adonai placed the betulah or virgin as the mazel to appear in the heavens at this season. The Bride makes herself ready (preparation) before the coming scales of justice in Tishrei (Libra).

In the Torah portions this month, there is a warning to those that falsely accuse a virgin bride. She has a cloth garment with the evidence of blood that proves she is innocent. Beloved, if you are Messiah’s, so do you. BUT, so is your believing/faithful neighbor, even if you disagree on certain points of halachah. Be careful with your accusations. It is the duty of the Ruach HaKodesh to bring each to the place of groaning as He refines one as heavenly gold. No one gets to escape His process of sanctification, which is the point of the festivals. Have compassion for one another as we travail together.

Virgin daughters of Zion, your King is Coming to you! May your righteous acts, the sense for the month of Elul, be bright and clean fine linen at His return at the fall feasts!

Rev. 19:6-9 (NASB) Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. 7 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.”  8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.  9 Then he *said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'” And he *said to me, “These are true words of God.”

For more on Elul:

Elul

The Vinedresser, the True Vine, and the Branches

A Woman Will Encompass (Eclipse) a Man

 


 

[1]How do we know that the turn or change of the year occurs in the fall? Ask Moses. He gives at least five witnesses (see 5thone in footnote 2):

Ex. 23:16 (KJV)  And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field.

Ex. 34:22 (TLV) “You are to observe the Feast of Shavuot, which is the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, as well as the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year.

Dt. 14:28 (NASB)  “At the end of every third year you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in that year, and shall deposit it in your town. (Context of previous verses places this in the fall.)

Dt. 31:10-11 (NASB)  Then Moses commanded them, saying, “At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths,  11  when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place which He will choose, you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing.

[2]For those that take issue with the use of the Rabbinical idea of the Feast of Trumpets being dubbed Rosh Hashanah, please see the above footnote. Two of the quotes are from the book of Exodus, which also tells us:

Ex. 12:1-2 (KJV) And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.

Verse two doesn’t call Nisan or Aviv the “Head of the Year” or “Rosh Hashanah.” Instead, it calls Nisan the “Head of the Months” or “Rosh Chodeshim.” It shall be the first (rishon) month (chodesh) of the year (shana) to you. I know this irks the Greek, western mindset. I know this because it used to irk me too, lol. But Abba has broadened my understanding, especially with seeming paradoxes such as this. Regardless of your stance on this topic, it is perfectly acceptable in Hebraic thought and in Biblical interpretation to believe (like classic Judaism) that Adonai continued to mark the “year’s” turn or change in the fall, as Moses goes on to do in Exodus 23 and 34 and in Deuteronomy 14 and 31. One can believe this and yet still believe that He marked the head or start for the months in the spring. The four verses in footnote 1 and the Yovel (Jubliee –Lev. 25:8-11) beginning on Yom Kippur, all point to the change and renewal of the shanim (years) in the fall, or seventh month. The question isn’t which is it, spring or fall; rather the answer is yes – both! I love Hebrew thought! It’s so freeing! If this is struggle for you, I pray that your heart and mind are enlarged like Gad.

[3]I love the outline that First Fruits of Zion creates for the weekly Torah portions: https://torahportions.ffoz.org/torah-portions/. (If you use their outline, there is a mistake/typo with Nitzavim as of this writing. The outline listed is actually for the following portion, Vayelech.)

 

Categories: Moedim, new moon, Torah Portions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Vinedresser, the True Vine, and the Branches

The month of Elul is often called the month of repentance, as it is a time to prepare for the upcoming High Holy Days of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, and the last great festival of Sukkot. This traditional period of return is an opportunity to examine one’s life and the fruit that is being produced. What needs to be uprooted? What needs to be pruned? What needs to be nourished? It’s the season to set things right with Adonai and our fellowman. While these things should be a daily exercise, the moedim (feast days) direct the path of the righteous to dedicate this season, the time of harvest, to give an honest account of one’s soul.

The moedim center around agriculture and harvest. During the month of Elul, Adonai our King is “in the field” and people are His planting. We are His vineyard, and He is looking for fruit that will be judged at the High Holy Days. While the King is in the field, He is particularly accessible, as near as a co-laborer and a friend. Yeshua says, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” During Elul the vintage begins; may we submit to His tender affections, pruning, and cleansing before He returns to the Throne of Judgment on the High Holy Days. His desire is for us to enter Sukkot, the figurative end-time harvest and wedding feast, clean and sealed in Him with a heart that is altogether joyful.

 

John 15:1-15  “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  2  “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.  3  “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.  4  “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.  5  “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.  6  “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.  7  “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  8  “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.  9  “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.  10  “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.  11  “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.  12  “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.  13  “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.  14  “You are My friends if you do what I command you.  15  “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.

 

Deut. 16:11-15  and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite who is in your town, and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your midst, in the place where the LORD your God chooses to establish His name.  12  “You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.  13  “You shall celebrate the Feast of Booths seven days after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and your wine vat;  14  and you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your towns.  15  “Seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the LORD your God in the place which the LORD chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.

 

 

Categories: Moedim, Musings | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Woman Will Encompass (Eclipse) a Man

“Set up for yourself roadmarks, Place for yourself guideposts; Direct your mind to the highway, The way by which you went. Return, O virgin of Israel, Return to these your cities. “How long will you go here and there, O faithless daughter? For the LORD has created a new thing in the earth—A woman will encompass a man.” (Jer. 31:21-22 NASB)

 Today, like many other Americans, I watched the moon eclipse the sun in a stunning show of light and darkness. Our special glasses enabled us to watch the sun mimic the moon’s monthly phases in a matter of hours– waxing and waning, or in this case, waning and then waxing.

In the hour leading up to the eclipse as the light decreased upon the land, we all felt strange — like we were in a dream. The air felt different and the temperature began to noticeably drop. There was an otherworldly stillness even in the wind.[1] Since we never experience the sun’s light in this fashion, I can understand why ancient people considered a total solar eclipse to be a bad omen. Creation itself was confused as birds went to roost and crickets began to chirp. Even the fast paced to and fro of traffic stilled as drivers parked to look up.

© Chris Rogers

When the eclipse reached totality, the spectacular imagery felt at once awesome and eerie. There is something at the core of earth beings that senses the “wrongness” of darkness when it should be light. The ethereal beauty that the natural eye absorbs seems contrary to the subliminal implications that this heavenly sign might suggest. The change in the atmosphere occurred on both a physical and spiritual level.

The masses that gathered across the nation to view this stellar event were in one accord – all looking up. I wonder how many heard the wordless speech of the heavens?

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat. (Ps. 19:1-6 NKJV)

David compares the sun to a bridegroom coming out joyful and strong from his wedding canopy. Nothing is hid from his/its heat. Today, the heat was abated for a short while by the moon. In Joseph’s dream of the sun, moon, and stars, his mother Rachel is figured as the moon.[2] We could say that Rachel eclipsed Jacob or a woman encompassed a man. In this way, the moon is a picture of the bride. In Psalm 19, David continues by comparing the glory of the heavenly bodies to the Torah. Hopefully, we are ones that have His Law written on our hearts.

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward. Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer. (Ps. 19:7-17 NKJV)

I pray that all the many faces that turned upward to view God’s glorious handiwork will learn to detect their errors and their hidden faults as David mentioned. Only the perfect law of liberty can reveal such things. The eternal Gospel is always being proclaimed.[3] The Torah is a Light.[4] That flaming ball of fire in the sky has a message, perhaps more than one if you’re listening. Today, it’s brightness was decreased enough that one could look up and see what is normally hidden. What did you see?

Was it a warning or a marker? Yes, but I won’t take my speculations past David’s remarks. The heavens declare the glory of God. I certainly saw and felt it today. I even considered that the awesomeness was only an inkling of what was experienced at the Revelation at Mt. Sinai or the darkened sky at Messiah’s last breath or the one accord outpouring of the Ruach Hakodesh in Acts 2 on Shavuot or what will be on the Day of the LORD. There is one thing we can and should all agree on – Abba is always pleading with us to RETURN. Repent. Do the works from the first.

“Set up for yourself roadmarks, Place for yourself guideposts; Direct your mind to the highway, The way by which you went. Return, O virgin of Israel, Return to these your cities. “How long will you go here and there, O faithless daughter? For the LORD has created a new thing in the earth—A woman will encompass a man.” (Jer. 31:21-22 NASB)

The sky today was a road mark and a guidepost for those within its viewing range. Jeremiah 31 is a prophecy about the return of the exiles, the restoration of our captivity. We go back the same way we went out. Return to me says Abba, and He will show you a woman encompassing a man!

The renewed thing (chadash) or a woman encompassing a man is bridal, covenantal language. The woman encircles her groom seven times in the fullness of the Holy Spirit[5] to create a new House and to tear down any walls (like Jericho) that may remain between them. The woman surrounds the man with (spiritual) protection as the gatekeeper of their home.

© Chris Rogers

Like the moon, she is rarely the visible one in their union (echad), but there is one day that she is the star for all to see — her wedding day! Though it’s a modern custom in the U.S., I couldn’t help but to be googly eyed at the grandeur of the “diamond ring” effect of the eclipse as all the figurative meanings of the sun and moon as man and woman played in the back of my mind.

Abba desires a chaste bride, and what an adornment He has for her! So rather than doom and gloom, I’d like you to consider LIFE – abundant LIFE tonight as we embark on the new moon (month) of Elul after a stunning display in the heavens. Ani l’dodi v’dodi li. I am to my beloved and He is to me.[6] The Bridegroom and His bride. That’s what I saw in the sky today.

Though the Season of Teshuvah (repentance, return) starts tonight, it is not all weeping and wailing. YHWH told Rachel in the same Jeremiah passage:

Thus says the LORD, “Restrain your voice from weeping And your eyes from tears; For your work will be rewarded,” declares the LORD, “And they will return from the land of the enemy. “There is hope for your future,” declares the LORD, “And your children will return to their own territory. (Jer. 31:16-17)

There is a hope for your future. Though we return weeping, carrying our bag of seed, we WILL shout for joy as we bring in sheaves.[7] Our tears for family, friends, and the nations have a purpose. Like the Shekinah and Rachel, we cry for the destruction of the House and the many many children that Abba longs to come “home.” He’s always waiting, always calling. Not one is beyond His reach. He labors greatly for each and every one of them.

In the eclipse today, I saw wonder, beauty, and a future. At its zenith, I looked at my husband and said, “A woman just encompassed a man and everyone was watching.” The moon is the light in the sky for those in darkness. As she made her way between the sun and earth today, many were confused and bewildered. I saw a glorious union, the House or tent of the two made into one flesh, a glimpse of what is to come. The daughter of Laban (levanah – moon), the moon to Jacob’s sun, was seen and heard today. Can you hear her calling? Do you listen to her cries? She’s pleading for you to come home. The reunion will be glorious. The whole world will stand still and look up. May we eclipse to reveal, not to conceal.

As you blow the shofar throughout Elul, sounding the alarm, remember that even in the midst of judgment the heart of YHWH is always on reconciliation. He is gracious and compassionate. Are we? He is slow to anger. Are you? He abounds in lovingkindness and is relenting of evil. Are His people? (Darkness, gloom, the sun and moon turning to darkness, the Bridegroom and the Bride, blowing the shofar… it’s all in Joel 2. Consider reading it this Elul.)

Don’t proclaim judgment and doom and gloom without also shouting for joy about forgiveness, love, grace, and compassion. The world needs a sign from the moon. As the reflector’s of Abba’s glorious Light and the stars/seeds of Abraham, we are the only light that a dark world can see. Are we occulting His Light or are we inviting them to the feast (wedding supper)?[8] Rachel refuses to be comforted. She pleads for each one. It is the season. Send out the invitations. The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.”

 


[1] “Solar eclipses don’t just turn the lights out – they also make the wind slow down and change direction.” —  http://earthsky.org/earth/solar-eclipses-have-an-effect-on-wind

[2] You could argue that the moon was Leah since she was alive and Rachel was dead at this point, but later it is Rachel that is portrayed as weeping for her children in Jeremiah 31. Besides, both were brides of Jacob and could signify the same thing in this article.

[3] And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.” (Rev. 14:6-7)

[4] Is. 8:20

[5] The seven Spirits of God (Is. 11:2) are reflected even in the time duration of a total solar eclipse, with the maximum length being 7.5 minutes!  https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/how-long-does-longest-possible-total-solar-eclipse-last

[6] Elul is said to be an acronym of this phrase from Song of Songs 6:3.

[7] Psalm 126

[8] Occult in its verb form means to hide, conceal, cover over. It is synonymous with eclipse. One of the astronomical words for an eclipse is an occultation.

Categories: Biblical Symbols, Moedim, new moon, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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