Nearly thirty years ago, after Kelly and I had been dating for quite a while, I proposed to her in early February and we began trying to choose a wedding date. November would give us lots of time, but seemed so far off, so we settled on September.
But you know young love, days felt like weeks and soon, we re-settled on June 1st. It was a wise choice. I knew the one failure you could never risk was to forget your anniversary, and who could forget the first day of the month? Plus, as a bonus we get to say “Happy Anniversary-ish” on the 1st of any month and unleash a mini-celebration while appearing positively adoring.
“When that day comes,” says the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master.’” Hosea 2:16
I have forgotten plenty of dates as the years have passed, but whenever August arrives, my mind travels back to a muddy field in Pennsylvania in 1979 when I attended a Christian Festival and gave my heart to Jesus. And a romance of a different sort began. I didn’t know it at the time, but long before I was born again, or even born, God had set this season apart.
About mid-August, the month of Elul arrives on the Biblical Calendar [this year August 21st-September 18th]. It arrives not long after a marriage holiday which is one of the happiest days on the Jewish calendar. Even the four letters of the name Elul are an acronym for the phrase in “Song of Songs” (6:3): “I am my beloveds and my beloved is mine.” Whenever we draw close to God with a humble heart seeking to follow, we are saying, “I am my beloveds”. God’s response, as He pours out mercy and forgiveness, is always, “And my beloved is mine”.
As I have come to explore the Biblical Calendar with its Feasts, Fasts, and Holy Days that God asks us to remember, I feel an urgency to be faithful to not just remember, but to set them apart. In my recent on-air teaching times on Tisha B’av and Elul 1, I’ve been trying to reveal His heart, in hopes that you will come to find the romance of God too difficult to resist. I’ll continue breaking it down in September for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and in October for Sukkot. As always the on-air teachings are available at victory.radio/podcasts and on our MOR Music App.
Elul is the beginning of a 40-day period of repentance. It was on Elul 1st that Jonah left for 40 days to tell Nineveh to repent; Moses went back up Mt. Sinai to get a new set of commandments after he smashed the first ones when he discovered the Golden Calf; and it was on Elul 1 that Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days. Moses came down from Sinai on Yom Kippur, and that’s just when Jesus returned to begin His ministry. Why does this month get so much attention?
The month of Elul was when God first discussed creating man in His own image and then spoke the universe into being with His first words on the 25th day of Elul. At creation we find Him hovering over the waters speaking light into existence and separating it from the darkness. Then separating the waters above from the waters below. He formed the land and seas and caused seed bearing plants and trees to grow. He made the sun, moon, and stars, and created sea creatures and birds.
These activities all occurred during the final week of the Summer month Elul. All this activity was just preparation. As the 6th day began, God created all the land animals and most importantly, mankind on Rosh Hashanah.
In the chart above, reading right to left – you will notice two Hebrew letters together as a stand-alone word after the name of God (Elohim). These are the first and the last letters of their alphabet Aleph and Tav. In Hebrew, it’s transliterated as “et”; there is no English translation.
The Aleph Tav “combined as a word”, occurs around 7,000 times in the Tanakh (Old Testament), most often as part of covenant events where God is directly involved. Aleph Tav is silent, meaning it’s not spoken. It’s often used in a grammatical way to point to the object of a sentence. But mostly it’s used with the name of God (Yahweh), to indicate the presence of God, specifically intended to reveal the Messiah.
The Jews refuse to speak the name Yahweh because they believe it’s too holy to say. They don’t recognize Aleph Tav as the name of the Messiah, yet they treat this word the exact same way, refusing to speak it.
The Aleph Tav is one of the most important concepts in the Hebrew scriptures. It’s always near the name of God, and it means “the Strength of the Covenant.” It’s in Zechariah 12:10 “and they shall look upon me ALEPH-TAV whom they have pierced…”
When Jesus spoke to his old friend John in Revelation 1:8 and 22:13, The Passion Translation, which is translated from the Hebrew and Aramaic, reads, “I am the Aleph and the Tav,” says the Lord God, “who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty… I am the Aleph and the Tav, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the Completion.” His name is normally taken from Greek by translators, so Jesus is called the Alpha and the Omega.
Interestingly, Rabbis call Genesis 1:1 “the first Menorah”. Each word is a candle and Aleph Tav is the candle in the middle which is called the helper which you use to light the others. Which brings us back to Revelation 1, “I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.”
In Genesis, when we are introduced to Jacob and Esau, the Aleph Tav are in front of each of their names. But after Esau sells his birthright and blessing to Jacob, the name of Esau is used another 78 times but the Aleph Tav are never there again, because his birthright and covenant are gone.
The presence of the Aleph Tav is the same with Ruth. The first 10 times her name is used, there is no Aleph Tav . But when Boaz redeems her, the Aleph Tav is added in front of her name.
When we take communion, we are literally taking His name as ours, and putting our hope in the strength of His covenant – like a Jewish couple at their wedding sharing a cup of wine and then smashing the cup so no one else can ever enter that covenant. When you drink the wine of communion you are saying “I do” to His proposal. And He is adding the Aleph Tav to your name.
This forty-day period that begins on Elul 1st includes the beautiful imagery of “The King is in the field”. Which is to say, God has drawn near to look closely at how you are tending the fields – the specific blessings and responsibilities that He has given you. Elul is when you are preparing to meet God for judgment – But He comes to the field to be most approachable so we can truly know Him in His mercy. We in turn are to show mercy and forgiveness to others. “Teshuvah” or “turning back around to face Him” is shown not only by repentance, but also by intentionally finding ways to do good to others.
On Firstfruits or Resurrection Day, they begin “Counting the Omer”, counting the fifty days until Pentecost arrives. After the resurrection, the reason for all this counting became clear when Jesus remained on the earth in His risen glorified body for 40 days before He ascended, and ten days later poured out the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Thirty-three years earlier Jesus had laid down his crown and glory and came to earth as a baby. He had spent 3 ½ years doing miracles, preaching, and revealing Himself to His people. But now He had been crucified and was raised to life again. He took up His crown and His glory and walked the earth. For the first time since the Garden of Eden, the King was in the field, walking amidst His people.
During those 40 days, the Jewish people blow the shofar daily, recite special pre-dawn prayers for forgiveness, and they also read Psalm 27 which includes: “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear…When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall…though war break out against me, even then…I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
2020 has been a unique year for me to teach on the Feasts of the Lord, because there have been End Times implications in each Feast. It’s not the End Times or the Great Tribulation, but we have experienced “Glimpses” of the Four Horsemen of Revelation that coincided with the Spring Feasts. The 1st occurred at Purim, the 2nd at Passover, the 3rd at Passover Sheni, and the 4th at Pentecost. Sadly, we learned very little from the painful experience, another wave of Glimpses began with the White Horse in July during the fast time called The Three Weeks. The Spring Passover season correlates to the month of Elul, which means the Red Horse Glimpse began on Elul 1st.
The 2nd Seal & The Red Horse: “Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword.” Revelation 6:4
Peace is taken and people are made to kill each other – the instrument is a large sword. In the judgments of Revelation, you see the sword coming out of the mouth of Jesus. Likewise, the Devil was a liar from the very beginning, and his warfare is with words. Spiritual Swords are not for stabbing – Words penetrate separating soul from spirit. The “power to take peace from the earth” is the spirit of fear, and it is spread with lies.
What happened in the Spring? The rule of law was placed into the hands of the medical community hierarchy. Most Businesses were labeled non-essential and forced to close. Fear and panic were mandated. There was rage, and hatred, and people reporting each other. It never stopped, and the next wave is here now.
2020 is the biblical year 5780. The number 80 in Hebrew is Pey. It means mouth, speech, and breath. This corona virus pandemic is spread by breath which can kill, but it is the words spoken that take away peace. A spirit of fear doesn’t just make you afraid, it takes control and is irrational. The number Pey (80), is the 17th letter in the Hebrew alphabet and symbolizes “overcoming the enemy” and “complete victory.” The Holy Spirit dwelling in Christians is helping restrain lawlessness.
Death and Life are in the Tongue. What is the Churches Response? Isaiah 49:2 says “He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of His hand He hid me.” And Psalm 149 declares, “May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, to carry out the sentence written against them – this is the glory of all his faithful people. Praise the Lord.”
“Only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2
It is an interesting irony that when the devil wreaks havoc with his breath, Jesus destroys him with His own all-consuming breath. Also notice the things we are seeing in the streets this year are the description of what happens to the lawless: completely deluded, unable to not believe lies, and finding pleasure in unrighteousness. Don’t let this second wave of the 2nd Horseman Glimpse frighten you. God is completely in control.
The Book of Revelation (1:1-4, 22:6) describes these battles as being inevitable and scheduled; they are: “things which must take place swiftly…things which must take place after this…things which must take place shortly.” These glimpses of the Four Horsemen are also Glimpses into the Great Tribulation in the end times. There are reasons these spiritual battles “must” take place.
“We walk by faith not by sight;” or perhaps, “we walk using spiritual sight, not physical sight.” The test of 2020 will be how well our spiritual sight functions. “This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.” Matthew 13:13-14
All the Feasts and Fasts of the Biblical year take place for one reason – so that God’s people will truly repent and turn fully to God. Sadly, most won’t. Revelation 9 and 16 say it four times: “…they did not repent.” You can see it in the streets of the world this year very clearly. There is no sense of right or wrong, truth, or morality. Evil is called good and good is called evil. It may not be fun to watch, but hopefully your spiritual eyes can see.
Why does the Second Horseman ride at Passover and Elul? Passover was very significant because pey is the first letter of Pesach and Passover is all about death and graves. So, why does this horseman ride again during the month of Elul? Jesus is the Passover Lamb who hung on a cross to take our sins upon Himself for our salvation, but He is also the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. That foundation occurred during Elul.
If you want to dig deeper into these issues, the notes from my on-air teaching from the 1st of Elul, which is much more in-depth is also on the blog. And you will find the actual on-air segments on victory.radio/podcasts.