The Blessings of Elul
Like a city of refuge talked about in the Bible, the sixth month of Elul is considered a "haven in time." As we enter this month on the Hebrew calendar, we should be going after the blessings of God for it. One of the reasons Elul is such a blessing is that it is a time when God extended forgiveness and mercy to His people. During the previous two months, the Israelites fell into significant sin, the sin of worshiping the golden calf and the sin of unbelief by the 10 spies and the rest of the tribes of Israel. Not only did God forgive His people, but He made a way for them and us to have special accessibility to Him.
During Elul God spoke to Moses and said, "Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain." (Exodus 34:1-2) Moses climbed to the top of the mountain, and the Lord passed in front of him proclaiming, "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sins..." (Exodus 34:6-7) In addition, the Lord gave Moses instructions on how the people should live to have favor with Him. Here is part of the covenant He made on the Mountain: "I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the Lord your God." (Exodus 34:24)
Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai and returned carrying the radiance of the Lord on his face. This meeting was the first of many times when Moses would speak with the Lord face to face. In these subsequent meetings, the Lord instructed him about the Sabbath and told him how to build the Tabernacle and its contents, how to clothe the priests and how to set up the Tabernacle. Upon the completion of the Tabernacle, "the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle." (Exodus 40:34)
God's desire has always been to dwell with His people. This is one of the reasons He has ordained times of resting, feasting and celebrations during every week, month and year. The Jews know that this month of Elul is a time of preparation for the "High Holy Days" of Tishrei--the seventh month. God so delights in having us draw near to Him that He cannot wait until the seventh month. He wants to be part of our everyday lives and to share special intimacy with us now. He demonstrated this when He sent Jesus to earth to dwell with us. Dwelling is a word for Tabernacle. This is what the Bible says about Jesus: "The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us." (John 1:14) Jesus lived in the flesh for 33 years. Though the Lord set up specific times during the year when we are to prepare to meet Him, He also enjoys showing up in unexpected times and ways. Elul is the month when the Jews say, "The King is in the field!"
Let us use this month to seek the Lord more diligently and expectantly. Let us make Elul a time of devotion to Him where we purposely seek Him. Remember that in a haven people are able to rest, regroup, find peace and prepare for the future. Perhaps the Lord will honor us with His manifested Presence in a unique way as we wait upon Him. We are giving Him extra special time in order to pursue His extra special blessings!
Joan E. Mathias