The month on the Gregorian (solar) calendar is September 2018. But, on God’s calendar, we are currently in the biblical month of Elul. If you are not familiar with the Hebrew calendar (God’s calendar), you may feel a little out of your element. That’s how I felt a few years ago, before I understood the significance. The more I learned, the more I realized God’s calendar was something I could not ignore.
There are 12 months on the Hebrew calendar, so in that way it is similar to the Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar consists of 12 months- starting with January and ending with December.
God’s calendar has both a civil and a religious calendar. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll talk mainly about the religious calendar in this blog.
On the religious calendar, the first month of the year would be Nisan. On the Gregorian calendar, Nisan falls in March or April, depending on the year. Nisan is when the religious observances known as Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread and First Fruits occur (First Fruits is likened to Easter to most Christians).
Elul is the 6th month on the Hebrew calendar. On the Gregorian calendar, this would fall in August or September (or within both). Being the 6th month, it has special significance. The number 6 itself points to man, and to sin. We know man was created on the 6th day, but man fell to sin. Jesus Christ atoned for this sin on the cross. He hung on the cross for six hours to atone for this sin. While Jesus was on the cross at the sixth hour, darkness fell across the land. Symbolically, this tells us Jesus took on the “darkness” of man. He became the curse of sin so we would no longer take on curses for our sin.
Elul being the sixth month points us to something very important about this time of year. Elul is known as THE MONTH OF REPENTANCE. Even though most Christians do not think to observe Elul, there are some amazing things they should take note of regarding this month on God’s calendar. Keep in mind that God’s calendar has been around forever, whereas man’s calendar was invented and created by MAN. The reason we follow a Gregorian calendar, which is a SUN calendar, is because a MAN, named Pope Gregory, instituted it! This calendar was made out of convenience, but it is not the calendar God follows. Is God aware of it the Gregorian calendar? Of course! Does he observe it? No.
Many people think because Jesus became the law that means we are to throw away everything God instituted in the Old Testament. That is ridiculous! What it means is that we are not under the curse of the law and we are saved by grace. God never threw out his biblical calendar that HE created. Are we under a curse if we don’t observe it? No, of course not. But, we are missing out on some key observances and rich experiences. Also, prophecy is tied to God’s calendar and understanding it will open your eyes to both past and present moves of God. Elul is one of those months that is heavily tied to prophecy, and God’s Holy Feasts.
Elul, as I said earlier, is the month of REPENTANCE. It is the month which leads to the Lord’s Feast known as the Feast of Trumpets (also known as Rosh Hashanah). The significance of the Feast of Trumpets cannot be underscored as it has been linked to the Rapture of the Church by biblical scholars. This is when the Bride of Christ is taken to heaven in the blink of an eye. This also ushers in the Tribulation on Earth. Will the rapture occur some year in the future on the Feast of Trumpets? No one can say for sure. Christ has fulfilled the Spring Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread and First Fruits and Pentecost, so it is very possible Christ would fulfill his Fall Feasts which are the Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. We do not know the day or hour Christ will return for his church, but we are to be aware of the season. Notice how season is used in this verse from 1 Thessalonians 5, as the Apostle Paul is referring to the coming of our Lord-
“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have not need that I write to you. For ye know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh like a thief in the night.” In Hebrew the word season means FEAST. So, Paul is saying we do not know the day or hour, but we should know about his feasts. It is important to note that the Feasts of the Lord were considered appointments with God. Keep in mind Paul is saying this to the Thessalonians, who were composed of a very large portion of Gentile believers. Many are Gentiles and he is reminding them of the Lord’s Feasts, which are important appointments with God/Christ.
Even if we were to say Christ will return on one of the Feasts, such as the Feast of Trumpets, we would still not know the day or the hour because this feast comes every single year at the appointed time on God’s calendar- not on man’s calendar- on God’s Hebrew calendar. We couldn’t know the year! Also, this is a two day feast so we wouldn’t know the day! In addition, there are at least 24 time zones in the world so the Feast of Trumpets would occur at various times throughout the world. It is clear we won’t know any exact date or time! Did you know the Feast of Trumpets is known as the feast of which no one knew the day or the hour! The reason for this is because it begins when the new moon is spotted on Tishrei 1. ( Tishrei 1 falls in September or October, depending on the year) Tishrei 1 would occur right after the month of Elul has ended, or right after Elul 29. Because the new moon is a tiny sliver in the sky, it was not always spotted right away. Clouds and weather could obscure it as well. Two witnesses had to verify the new moon had been seen before the Feast of Trumpets could begin. For more information about the Feast of Trumpets, check out this link which explains in detail. This is a blog post from 2016, but it will explain the meaning and traditions that are part of the Feast of Trumpets.
The month of Elul is heavily tied to repentance because it ushers in a Feast where God shows great mercy to those who trust in him and have truly asked for forgiveness. Before Christ came, this was extremely important for individuals. They did not have the Holy Spirit and needed serious self-reflection when it came to this time of year. This Feast continued to be celebrated even when Christ was on Earth. There is much historical documentation of its observance. Jesus is seen in the Bible observing many of the feasts such as Passover, Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Tabernacles and even Hanukkah (it is called the Feast of Dedication in the Bible). He is not seen in the Bible observing the Feast of Trumpets, which occurs right after Elul. But, that makes sense because he is SINLESS. He did not sin so he would not need to repent during Elul. Also this feast points to his return to Earth to rapture the Church, and is not a commanded feast.
During the month of Elul, the trumpet is sounded every day in the synagogue. This trumpet blast is a reminder to wake up and search one’s heart and life for sin. The goal is to turn toward God and away from sin. When we liken this to Christ, we see Jesus is our trumpet! He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within those who believe in him. The Holy Spirit is the trumpet blast that wakes our spirit up every day! But, the month of Elul is special because it is a time when God is participating in his calendar. He has the date and time (season) set on his calendar and he is every ready to listen and help. I’m not saying God isn’t listening at other times- times other than the month of Elul. What I’m saying is that he gives special attention to this time. It is said that he is in the field during Elul, waiting for us to come to him. Keep in mind the Hebrew word Elul means harvest.
Interestingly enough, all Hebrew letters have a number value assigned to them. This is how the alphabet was designed and is not something mystical or associated with numerology. It is just how the alphabet is set up. The values are not given by just numbering the letters. For example, there are 22 Hebrew letters but they aren’t numbered 1, 2, 3, 4 and so on in order. Each letter has a number value that is unique to its meaning. Unlike the English alphabet, and other alphabet systems, the Hebrew letters are designed to illustrate a multi-faceted concept and meaning. If you were to study them you would be fascinated and realize they all point to something about Christ! Anyway, the word Elul has four letters. When you add the numerical value of these letters, you get 67. Why is that significant? Firstly, the six points to man and sin, while the seven points to God/Christ’s perfection. Christ’s perfect, sinless life was sacrificed for the sin of man on the cross. During the month of Elul we reflect on, and turn from sin. Who do we pray to in order to forgive the sin? Jesus! One day, there will be a harvest (that’s what Elul means), and we will go to heaven with Christ at the sound of the trumpet! Will that happen on the Feast of Trumpets, which comes after the last day of Elul ???? We can’t know for sure, but it is amazing to think about the prospect and symbolism of it all. It just reminds me that we have a great promise to be fulfilled one day.
Since Christ died on the cross, believers in Christ have been working hard to produce a harvest. They are working the fields, helping share the gospel and leading people to Christ. These people who are led to Christ will be part of this great harvest of souls one day at the Rapture. They will literally be plucked from the Earth like pulling a ripe plant from the ground, or like a ripe piece of fruit plucked from a tree.
1 Corinthians 15:23
“But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest (the first fruit); then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.”
Christ was the first fruit out of the ground on the Feast of First Fruits when he resurrected. Most people call this Easter, even though that is not the biblical name. At the rapture, believers in Christ will be the First Fruits- some of us will be alive when it happens, but others will be those who have already died. Those who already died have spirits in heaven, but they await their resurrected bodies at the Rapture. Both groups will be united with Christ “in the air” at the Rapture.
God designed his seasons to remind us of his promises. As the Apostle Paul said, “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” (Colossians 2: 16,17).
Notice that Paul did not say the feasts save you! If you only observe the feasts, but do not know Christ as your Savior, it is pointless. The main point of the seasons (Feasts and God’s calendar) are to make you fully aware of what Christ has done and will do. The reality is found in him. It is in alignment with who he is as our Savior. If you know Christ, but do not observe his seasons/feasts, you are still saved. If you have received Jesus as Savior that is what saves you! But, I would encourage you to think about observing the Holy Feasts mentioned in Leviticus 23. You will see how they tie you to the Savior in a way that blesses you! After all, many of us celebrate holidays such as Halloween, St. Patty’s Day, Valentine’s Day etc. that are not tied to God or his appointments. Why not celebrate one of God’s special holidays that are listed in his word?
This year the month of Elul began on the eve of August 12, 2018. It will end on the eve of September 9. On the eve of September 9, the Feast of Trumpets will begin. Why do these seasons begin in the evening (when the sun goes down). The days on the Hebrew calendar go from sundown to sundown. When the sun goes down, a new day begins. So, if the sun goes down at 6:17, that’s when the new day begins. If the sun goes down at 8:15, that’s when the new day begins. This is not the same as how we observe the Gregorian calendar because a new day begins at midnight and continues until midnight the next day.
Before finishing this blog I want to make you aware of a very famous story that occurred during the month of Elul. It is the story of Jonah. Remember that Jonah’s main job was to go the pagan city of Nineveh. God had a message of repentance to deliver to the Ninevites. Jonah was reluctant to do this because the people were a pagan nation and Jonah considered them unworthy of God’s message. He did not think they deserved forgiveness, even if they repented of their evil deeds. God stopped Jonah’s reluctance with the help of a whale who swallowed him whole! After spending three days and nights in the whale Jonah repented and went on to the city of Nineveh.
When did Jonah go to Nineveh to preach repentance? During the month of Elul. Jonah preached for 40 days to the Ninevites. The message was clear, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” There was a way to avoid the destruction though. REPENTANCE. If the great city of Nineveh truly repented of their evil deeds, God would spare them the complete destruction of their city.
What did they do? The Ninevites believed Jonah, and the message he brought. They put on sackcloth and ashes, fasted and repented. Even the King repented! Because of this true repentance, the city was spared.
Jonah came to the people during Elul- the biblical month of repentance. Even though they were a pagan nation, God still spoke according to his calendar- he sent the prophet Jonah during Elul because it was the month of turning away from sin, and back to God.
Last year, on August 21, 2017 the United States experienced a total solar eclipse on the first day of Elul. Not long after the eclipse, the U.S. experienced three devastating hurricanes- Hurricane Harvey occurred on August 26 (the 4th of Elul). Hurricane Irma hit on September 10 and 11 (the 19th and 20th of Elul). Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20 at 6:15 am local time (10:15 UTC)- this would put the timing of the storm on the last day of Elul. At sundown on this date, the Feast of Trumpets began.
I don’t know about you, but I believe the Lord is calling out to us from his field during Elul. He is asking us to hear the call of the shofar and to heed its sound. He’s asking us to repent as individuals, and as a nation. Sometimes it takes the worst of circumstances for God’s children to hear his voice. The shofar has to be blown loud and clear.
This is the season to go into the field. It’s harvest time and God is ever-present with his appointment book in hand. He’s your doctor, therapist and King of the Universe all in one. The best part is that you don’t have to pay a fee, or wait in line. He already paid it for you. Your insurance is the cross. He’s ready to listen 24/7 and keeps a slot open for you anytime.
Elul began August 12 at sundown and will end at sundown on September 9.
This will usher in the Feast of Trumpets on September 10 (which begins at sundown on Sept 9), – The Feast of Trumpets will last until sundown on September 11.
Psalm 27 is recited every day during the month of Elul in the synagogue.
My favorite part of the psalm is in the verses below:
“For in the day of trouble, he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.”
Did you notice that it says “in the day of trouble, he will keep me safe in his dwelling and hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent” ? Sometime in the future a day of trouble will come- this is the day the Tribulation begins on earth. But believers in Jesus will not have to worry because the Rapture will occur and the Lord will come get his Bride and hide her in his secret place- his tabernacle in heaven. The trumpet will sound and we will meet the Lord in the air.
The Fall Feasts of Israel, by Mitch and Zhava Glaser
God’s Day Timer by: Mark Biltz
Revelation Unveiled by Tim LaHaye