We all need and want times of refreshing. Life is surely cycled for us and in the cycle “rest and reflection” are so necessary for us.
The Lord has constructed the days and years with periods of resting in mind, starting with Shabbat, a day to rest every week. But the more I think about it the more I realize that resting also includes reflection. Reflection in the Lord is very refreshing for us. It centers us and prepares us for the journey.
On the Hebrew calendar, Elul is a special month of preparation and repentance before the “Ten Days of Awe” starting with Rosh HaShanah – the Feast of Trumpets, and continuing until Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement ten days later. It is a time to turn away from the world, and look to the face of the One who loves and leads us.
If we want to say “repent” in Hebrew we say, “Lachzor be Teshuvah” – to return to the answer. Actually the two words both imply a return – one is to return as one might go away from home and return later, and the other is from the root word to respond, or reply, to come back with an answer.
The word “Elul”, the name of the month, is written like this: אלול – these four letters, in Hebrew, can stand for:
“Ani LeDodi, VeDodi Li” –
“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine”, from Song of Songs 6:3. TLV *
This reminds us of God’s great love for his people – and that this love should be reciprocal. The turning of repentance is like the turning in response to God’s great love and forgiveness; turning into the embrace of our God who loves us and turning away from sin and the world.
In Acts 3:19-21, Kefa (Peter) urges his fellow brothers and sisters in Jerusalem:
"Repent, therefore, and return—so your sins might be blotted out, so times of relief might come from the presence of Adonai and He might send Yeshua, the Messiah appointed for you. Heaven must receive Him, until the time of the restoration of all the things that God spoke about long ago through the mouth of His holy prophets." TLV
What then follows repentance in this passage?
1) Our sins will be blotted out
2) Times of refreshing will come from the face / presence of the Lord
3) There will be a promised season of restoration
4) Yeshua will be sent back for the next time
These things are assured — repentance must come first. This is what has to set the chain reaction into motion!
Jewish people and all unsaved people desperately need to know the total freedom of forgiveness that is only found in the Messiah. Just as Daniel, Nehemiah, Jeremiah and others wept, fasted, prayed and repented on behalf of Israel, so we too can stand in the gap and pray earnestly that Israel would turn and be healed. We are doing no favors to anyone by trying to whitewash away sin – this is not in our authority to do. Only Yeshua can blot out sin, and repentance is required first. But we can bring before God our sorrow for the sins that we see – first of all in our own lives, our own families, our own nations, but also cry out to him on behalf of his beloved Israel. It is time to bring things into the light:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9) TLV
He has assured us of total forgiveness, but ONLY on the condition that we confess our sin, and agree with him about it. And we can also count on God’s promises about what will follow repentance: times of refreshing will come from him, restoration will take place, and Yeshua will return.
Please pray for the Jewish people as we head towards the High Holidays. Many will be thinking, even if only fleetingly, about God, sin, and repentance at this time. Please pray for the Ruach haKodesh to lead them to true repentance, so that they can know the embrace of the Father through the powerful cleansing blood of Yeshua.
Love in Yeshua,
*Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.