“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24
Today, Friday the 18th of August, is the first day of the Hebrew month called Elul. It begins a season that, according to Jewish tradition, is for searching hearts and lives before the LORD, including examining and repairing relationships with others. It would have been the first day of the sixth month in the Hebrew calendar, the one which Moses ascended Mt Sinai again for a second set of tablets. After the sin of the people in the shameful idolatrous episode of the golden calf, God was giving them a second chance. What a picture of the grace of God that we can appropriate! Sinfulness and failure is not the end, God responds to true repentance. He is the God of second… and third… chances.
Forty days later, Moses came down from the mountain. Forty days from the first of Elul is the Day of Atonement, the 10th day of the 7th month. Perhaps you can think of other biblical events that lasted forty days. There are many examples in the Scriptures of the number forty being the number of preparation and purification. This particular 40 day period is considered a time of preparing oneself for the day that the nation comes before God on the Day of Atonement.
From today onwards, the shofar sounds each morning in the synagogue, waking the spiritual sleepers to examine their lives, based on Isaiah 58:1, “Cry aloud, spare not; lift your voice, like a rams horn; tell my people their transgressions, And the house of Jacob their sins.” Paul warns in Romans 13:11 “You who are asleep wake up…”.
This season can serve as a lovely reminder to examine our hearts, our relationship with God and others. Psalm 27 is read each day during this period begins, “The LORD is my light and my salvation…”. The light of the LORD must shine into the hidden recesses of our lives, because as Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:4 (NLT) “Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.”
Click the link below to read more about the Hebrew/Biblical calendar.
A new Biblical month means that ICEJ’s Global Prayer chain has begun.
Click the link below for more information about Rosh Chodesh, including the Zoom link!
ICEJ Australia National Director