1. The Feasts Are Approaching
As September arrives this year, the month of Elul arrives on the Biblical Calendar and that means the Fall Feasts are approaching. These are some of the “set apart” days that God created that point to Jesus and help us to see Him, hear Him, and encounter Him. That’s why I am here today.
Elul is a really important month. As a reminder, every year has two Biblical Calendars – one that begins in the Spring at Passover – and another that begins in the Fall at Rosh Hashanah. So, there are two beginnings (two New Year’s Days every year).
Elul is one of the transition months. It’s the last month of the Spring/Summer Calendar. And since the Fall Calendar begins in 30 days with Rosh Hashanah, which is the anniversary of the creation of man on the 6th Day of creation, that means that the first 5 days of creation happen in the last week of Elul, before the next calendar begins. So, there’s a lot in Elul to talk about.
First Things First – Elul is about Romance.
The roadmap for Elul is Solomon’s beautiful allegory, Song of Songs.
Song of Songs 3:4, “…I [have] found the one my soul loves…”
Song of Songs 5:2a, “I was sleeping, but my heart was awake…”
Song of Songs 6:3, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”
The Four Hebrew Letters that Spell Elul [alef, lamed, vav, lamed] are an acronym for the phrase in Song of Songs: [Ani LeDodi VeDodi li] which translates, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”
Since Song of Songs is both the story of two people in love and a beautiful allegory of our Bridegroom Jesus and us, the Bride of Christ – it has a double meaning.
The first letter aleph – the “I am” – can refer to “the beloved” as being God, or the person you love. Lots of couples get this verse as a tattoo or on jewelry (I have it on my wedding ring).
Whenever we draw close to God with a humble heart seeking to follow, we are saying, “I am my beloved’s”. God’s response, as He pours out mercy and forgiveness, is always, “And my beloved is mine”.
Elul is part of a forty-day period to search out and awaken our heart for God and for others.
An Elul type of love goes beyond “I am my beloved’s” to “My beloved is mine”, which is to ask from a more mature place, “How am I doing at loving God and loving this person” – “How can I grow, do better, be closer?”
God gave us the Biblical Calendar with its Feasts, Fasts, Holy Days, and Special Days.
And He is asking us to set these days apart because, as we properly encounter these special days, they reveal His heart to us. He wants us to discover that His romance is impossible to resist.
Hosea 2:16 “In that day,” declares Yehovah, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’” So, the first goal of Elul is Awakening Romance with God.
Secondly, Elul is About Preparing to Meet with God
On Pentecost (early in the summer) Moses ascended Mount Sinai to get the 10 Commandments – it did not end well.
Moses ascended Mount Sinai for his third 40-day period in a row (120 days Fasting on the Mountain with God).
The first time Moses ascended was to receive the first tablets;
40 days later – on the 17th of Tammuz, the people were sinning with the golden calf and
God wanted to destroy them, but Moses asked for mercy and God relented.
Then Moses descended with the tablets to find Israel committing the worst possible abominations of immorality and idolatry around the idol of the calf and Moses smashed the tablets. The next day Moses returned for a second 40-day period to ask for forgiveness for the Israelites. God agrees to forgive them, but only for the sake of Moses, who comes down and prepares two new stone tablets.
And that brings us to the 1st of Elul when Moses climbed Mount Sinai for the third 40-day period to receive the second set of tablets, the Law, and to see God’s glory. Elul is the beginning of a 40-day period that is all about prayer, repentance, changing your actions, and encountering God like Moses did. It lasts all the way to Yom Kippur.
Moses would prove to be a trendsetter. On Elul Day 1: Jonah left for 40 days to tell Nineveh to repent; Moses ascended Sinai for the third time and would receive the second set of tablets; Yeshua (Jesus) went into the wilderness for 40 days.
As we look at Preparations and Repentance, we’re going to journey back and visit Moses during his 120 days with God; See the Glory of Yehovah; Discover what it means that “The King Is In The Field” during Elul.
Thirdly – Elul Includes the First 5 Days of Creation
During the last week of Elul, on Day 25, we celebrate the literal beginning of creation when God said “Bereshit” (In The Beginning).
I will take a look at two little letters that pack a big punch (the aleph and the tav).
During days 2, 3, 4, and 5 of creation, God would separate the light from the darkness; divide the waters and create the sky; create land and cause seeds to produce life; create the lights in the sky; the fish in the sea; animals that fly, and those that creep.
We will journey back to Day 4 later on to briefly discover if: Is There a Gospel Written in The Stars? And the answer is of course, Yes.
These activities all occurred during the Final Week of Elul. All the activity was just preparation.
At the end of 30 days, the month of Elul transitions into the Month of Tishrei, and the New Year, which begins with Rosh Hashanah (The Feast of Trumpets), which is the 6th day of creation when God created all the land animals and most importantly, Adam and Eve on Rosh Hashanah. Later it would mark the birth of the second Adam Yehoshua Jesus.
On the 10th day of Tishrei, Moses, Jonah, and Jesus all returned from their 40-day journeys– on the holiest day on the Jewish calendar – Yom Kippur.
2. Goodness of God
Elul is the Sixth Month of the calendar that begins in Spring with Passover
& the Twelfth Month of the calendar that begins in Fall with Rosh Hashanah.
Elul connects the past year with the coming year – so we reflect on where we are, how we got here, where we are going, and if it’s where we should be going.
It is called “the month of repentance,” “the month of mercy” and “the month of forgiveness.”
Long before Moses, Elul was all about beginnings. The last week of Elul was when God discussed creating man in His own image and then spoke the universe into being with His first words on the 25th day of Elul. The last week of Elul includes the first five days of creation.
It’s important to recognize here that Rosh Hashanah, which literally means the Head or Beginning of the year, isn’t the actual beginning, because the month of Elul was an intricate part of the foundation.
As the 6th day began, it was the first day of the month of Tishrei, when God created all the land animals and most importantly, mankind. Which means that the 25th of Elul is the 1st day of creation (the 2nd day, 3rd day, 4th day, and 5th day are all in Elul)
At creation we see God hovering over the waters speaking light into being and separating it from the darkness. Then making a separation for the waters above and the waters below, making the land and seas and causing seed bearing plants and trees to grow. He made the sun, moon, and stars, and created sea creatures and birds.
The month of Elul connects the past year with the coming year and so it is a time to reflect on where we are, where we are headed, and where we should be going. It is customary to blow the shofar every morning (except on Shabbat) to announce the coming of the month of Tishrei and the New Year. The blasts are meant to awaken one’s spirit from the slumber of sin and inspire him to begin the soul searching which will prepare him for the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah, the Days of Awe and Yom Kippur.
It is also customary to recite the 14 verses of Psalm 27 every day till the end of Sukkot.
Psalm 27 is a wonderful morning or evening devotion with a focus on the Feasts.
1 “Yehovah is my light and my salvation [On Day 25 of Elul, God spoke light into existence – creation. On Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur / the Birth of Yehoshua (Jesus) and probably the Fall – both are about Salvation] – whom shall I fear? Yehovah is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me [encamps against me], my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.
4 One thing I ask from Yehovah, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of Yehovah all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of Yehovah and to seek Him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling [Sukkah]; In the secret place of His tabernacle, He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at His sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to Yehovah.
7 Hear my voice when I call, Yehovah; be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of You, “Seek His face!” Your face, Yehovah, I will seek.
9 Do not hide Your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; You have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me, Yehovah will receive me.
11 Teach me Your way, Yehovah; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations.
13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of Yehovah in the land of the living.
[I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of Yehovah in the land of the living.] [the word “unless” is [lulei] (in Hebrew, lulei spelled backward is Elul) So Elul is the time when God can reverse your doubts and fear to make your “unless” real. He will help a lost heart be found and fill you with faith.]
14 Wait for Yehovah; be strong and take heart and wait for Yehovah.”
3. The King Is In The Field
During this Forty-Day Period – You Are Moses – Meeting on the Mountain with Yehovah.
Based on your life and relationship with God, how will it go?
I often refer to Deuteronomy 5 (when God spoke face to face to all of Israel at Mount Sinai), “Yehovah talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire.” It terrified them so much they refused to approach Him again, “Why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of Yehovah our God anymore...”
In Genesis 32 Jacob became the first person whose relationship with God was described as “face to face”, “Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day…So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”
It’s a very different story with Moses; God called him His friend in Exodus 33, “So Yehovah spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” In Numbers 12 God describes them growing even closer, “I speak with him face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of Yehovah.”
The heart of David was much like that of Moses. Here he is in Psalm 27:8, “When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, Yehovah, I will seek.”
With this in mind, the month of Elul includes the beautiful imagery of “The King is in the Field”. Which is to say, God has drawn near to look closely at how we are tending the fields – the specific blessings and responsibilities that He has given us.
It’s a bit of a parable. Our King is coming to visit His home away from home (earth) to meet with us, as well as to examine us; and we will have a chance to encounter His presence [His glory – shekinah] as Emmanuel (God with us).
Now technically, since Yeshua (Jesus) lives in us, He is always near. Scripture tells us that if we will seek Him, we will find Him. In this case, He is seeking us. We have not even begun to experience His presence yet, so this encounter is something that’s His idea. He’s not just coming to sit around with us. He’s coming to prepare us to labor better.
He has gone to prepare an eternal place for us, so He is taking time away from that labor to make sure we are on track to go there and are inviting those still trapped in the world around us.
It’s so easy for us to become preoccupied with our work, friends, family, life, dreams, goals, etc. Which means it’s easy to miss the King when He visits and even easier to miss Him while He is dwelling within us. Will you recognize Him? Can you recognize Him?
Elul is when you are preparing to meet God for judgment – But He comes to the field to be the most approachable so we can truly know Him in His mercy. It’s a type or shadow of Yeshua (Jesus) coming to earth to walk among us, and even a more beautiful shadow of the 30 days He walked the earth following His resurrection. The resurrected King was in the field.
During Elul, Torah Study and Prayer are the Focus because they are both associated with the verse, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth – for your love is more delightful than wine.” (Song of Songs 1:2) which alludes to God’s words being in one’s mouth.
Sabbaths – Holy Times Are Compared to a Lookout Tower:
- We are lifted up high above our labor to see the purpose of the work from a higher perspective.
- It is a time to be nurtured, to allow Him to fix what has been broken and to nurture us back into a place of health and prosperity.
- There are things that have been recorded in our heart through the years that are now incorrect because God has come and dealt with them.
- There are accusations and condemnations that need to be removed, and mistakes that need to be reconciled.
- God wants to rewrite our story and change the way we see it.
Isaiah 55:6-7 “Seek Yehovah while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to Yehovah, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”
Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts, and see if any wicked way is in me; and lead me in the way everlasting.”
During the month of Elul, our Savior will be drawing near in a million different ways, and encountering us each in His, and our unique ways. The question is, will we hear the sound of His voice in our home, our car, our office, or even our church. Will we be like the Shunamite bride in Song of Solomon 3:4 and 5:2, “…I have found the one my soul loves…I was sleeping, but my heart was awake…”
Yehovah established the Feasts and Fasts so that we can encounter Him in a practical way so we can discover His delight for us; to teach us how to be in Yehovah’s presence both now and for eternity.
4. Who May Ascend?
Acts 3:19 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from Yehovah.”
Repent – sins are removed – times of refreshing come.
We want to get our way and be refreshed by people or things.
If we turn to God, He will remove the things that are hindering us from being refreshed.
He is our Bridegroom – when we submit to Him everything changes.
Elul is the beginning of the season of “Teshuvah”, which is often translated as repentance,
but it’s much bigger than that.
Shuv means to return or to turn back (to God and from evil).
Since God is the means by which we turn from evil,
Shuv is more about turning back to God with all of your heart, soul, and strength
to change our direction or destiny. It’s not just regretting the past but changing the present.
Since God heard the prayer of Moses to forgive the people,
Elul is set apart as a time to remember when God revealed His great mercy.
There are three areas to deal with as we turn around:
- Turning to God (Tefillah – prayer)
- Turning to others we’ve harmed (Teshuvah – changing our behavior & asking for forgiveness)
- Turning to those in need (giving Tzedakah)
True Teshuvah means honestly examining ourselves and repairing breaches in our relationships “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16.
Proper Tzedakah means turning away from ourselves, to consider the needs of others as greater.
We honor God when we repent and 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.
- Forsake The Sin (agree with the Truth or saying the same thing)
- Regret The Break in your relationship with God
- Confess The Truth and make amends
- Accept Forgiveness
We all make choices, some good and some bad, but we can’t choose the consequences of our choices. Those are inherent in the choices.
We are all becoming something and someone beyond ourselves.
No one is shocked when they harvest tomatoes unless they planted something else.
Still, we all hope to escape the fruit of our worst decisions.
Scriptures & Prophetic Aspects
Psalm 24:3-7, “Who may ascend the mountain of Yehovah? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from Yehovah and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek your face, God of Jacob. Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.”
Isaiah 1:16-17, “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
Lamentations 5:21, “Restore us to yourself, O Yehovah, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old.”
Authentic repentance is a lifestyle; we never finish; making progress means continuing to do it.
If you are doing it right, you are called a “master of returning,” because you are always turning away from yourself and back toward God. The season of teshuvah and the message of Elul is timeless.
The idea of the word “Confession” [yāḏâ] and [tôḏâ] in the Hebrew is to bring yourself naked before God’s light and to agree with the truth about who you are.
Confession in the Greek is [homologeo] which means to “say the same thing or word” – from [ὁμός] (same) and [λόγος] (word).
“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Proverbs 28:13
One of the more significant areas we need to address in our souls is our expectations.
When we or those we love experience suffering, great loss, or difficulties that go beyond what our belief system can handle, we can lose our bearings and even our faith.
1 Peter 5:8-10, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”
The Jewish leaders of His time rejected Yeshua (Jesus) when He first came.
He didn’t meet their expectations. They were expecting a Messiah who would bring relief from the Romans and restore the Kingdom of David.
When Yeshua (Jesus) failed to even try to restore the Kingdom of David, he was dismissed as a false Messiah. Likewise, it’s possible for our expectations to be wrong or contaminated by our own sin.
If we expect only victory but fail to understand the suffering that we are called to, we can reject the work of our Messiah in us. It’s a narrow path with real dangers and real enemies that He leads us on.
Elul is the perfect time to check what our expectations are based upon?
Selfish or carnal motives or the purifying fires of suffering.
True fellowship with Him leads to the greatest joy.
5. Leaving Hathor
It’s impossible to actually experience what Moses did, or the children of Israel in Egypt, at the Mountain, in the desert, or even in the Promised Land. But we know from 1 Corinthians that, “God was not pleased with most of them, so their dead bodies were scattered over the desert. These things have become examples for us so that we won’t desire what is evil, as they did…So, people who think they are standing firmly should be careful that they don’t fall. There isn’t any temptation that you have experienced which is unusual for man.”
And Paul is nice enough to list some common examples of just how we are like them, “…don’t worship false gods as some of them did…The people sat down to a feast which turned into an orgy…We shouldn’t sin sexually as some of them did…We shouldn’t put Yehovah to the test as some of them did. Don’t complain as some of them did.” (The result of all of those things was death.)
Let’s put our feet back in the sandals of Moses again so we can really see what we have to specifically deal with in our hidden life. Let’s go back to Pentecost. We have been with God on the mountain for 40 days – we have the commandments and now we are coming to share that intimacy with the people.
“When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. And he took the calf the people had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.” Exodus 32:19-20
Let’s break it down: What does it mean by, “He saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned?” All of the plagues in Egypt were against the idols/gods of the land. The 10 plagues were God dealing with their top 10 idols/false gods (The Nile, frogs, the earth, creation, cows, healing, the sky, the harvest, the sun, life & death). The 5th Plague in Egypt was against Cattle. There were several cow gods in Egypt:
Hathor was the cow goddess of love, beauty, and joy (I kid you not). Remember, Ham – the father of Canaan – founded Egypt – so Canaanite depravity ran wild there). The female cow was their love goddess and considered the concubine of two sacred bulls – Ptah, who they called their creator and Mnevis, his oracle.
So, making a golden calf (and calling it Yehovah) and worshiping it intimately after telling the Living God that they didn’t want to be with Him, was beyond offensive.
There was actually a song that was sung in Egypt while worshiping Hathor (and they very well may have been singing it at the foot of the mountain, “Come, oh Golden One, who eats of praise, because the food of her desire is dancing…who is satisfied with the dancing at night. ‘Come! The procession is in the place of drunkenness…of traveling through the marshes.”
I can’t even describe what many of those words are alluding to…because it’s that bad. So, the outrage we see from Moses is the result of coming from the heights of meeting with Yehovah face to face, and then coming down the mountain to find his people in a drunken orgy around the Egyptian cow love goddess, who they are calling Yehovah, because Aaron designated this day of idolatry as a celebration to Yehovah?
Most ancient cultures believed that divine beings entered statues through which worshippers could interact with their gods. The Egyptians believed that Ptah, as their creator god, created shrines for all the other gods and graven images according to each of their wishes which they could then inhabit.
In fact, they believed gods entered every wood, every stone, every clay. So, they would perform a “mouth-opening” ritual after an idol was made to provide a doorway for that deity to enter and animate the idol.
We may not have idols made of gold or stone anymore, but we have our idols – addictions – fantasies – pornography – clubs/bars – hidden thoughts and private places – darkness that allows us to feel free – to experience who we think we want to be.
Coming up, Moses creates a visual lesson of repentance.
6. The Red Heifer and The Glory
Moses sent the Levites in with swords to kill those who continued their false worship and he took the calf idol and, “He burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.” This is just like the punishment in the law of an adulteress (since the nation had ‘committed harlotry’ with a false god.
In Numbers 19 was see the rituals around the sacrifice of a red heifer which are eerily similar. When he reduces the cow to ash and mixes the ash in water, the Kohen (priest), who is a direct descendent of Aaron who made the Golden Calf) imitates Moses and symbolically reduces our own evil impulses to ash. The act that recalls the disgrace of Aaron, brings purity for all of Israel.
This is the reason all priests involved in the red heifer sacrifice, even the one who merely carries the bucket, become impure in the process: he carries or “bears the guilt” of Aaron, thereby becoming the vessel of purification for the whole nation. Down through the generations the same need was there because the same sin nature was there…maybe even worse, so the golden calf became a full-grown bull – a red heifer.
Sidenote: There are several stone tablets that were found in a mine near Egypt that have handwriting believed to be that of Moses. They are from the Exodus era, and one appears to be a warning not to be seduced by the cult of Hathor whose temple stood there. It orders them to clear the idol from the area and remove themselves from its influence.
We know that the Israelites encamped there for about a week after leaving Egypt on their way to Mt. Sinai. Apparently, they stopped there to absorb the seasonal Hebrew slaves working the mines who had stayed there out of fear of the plagues. It’s likely that this mixed multitude were attached to the cult of Hathor and initiated the Golden Calf incident.
So, Moses smashed the tablets on the ground and broke them, ground up the idol and made the people drink it, and sent the Levites to kill those who were still disregarding God. The next day Moses returned for a second 40-day period to ask for forgiveness for the Israelites. “Moses went back to Yehovah and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.
Yehovah replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book. Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin…Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.” So, Moses continued his appeal until God relented and agreed to go with them, but only because He was pleased with Moses.
“And Yehovah said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” And Yehovah said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, Yehovah, in your presence…And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming:
“Yehovah, Yehovah El, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”
He is compassionate and gracious to those who have sinned and repented.
God created mankind and created the way we would return to Him even before we fell.
Yeshua is called the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8)
[Rachamim] means “mercy” / [rechem] means “womb“. It’s teshuvah –
We are made to return to Him. God desires atonement with mankind even after we sin.
Keep in mind that God is revealing these things about Himself right after the abominations of their worship of the golden calf.
Years later the prophet Micah (in chapter 7) breaks this down even more, “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because He delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old”.
7. The Aleph Tav
Elul was when God first determined to create man. To do this He first creates a world for them to live in and causes Himself to be slain for them. At creation, He is speaking light into being and separating it from the darkness. Then He separates the waters above and the waters below, making the land and seas and causing seed bearing plants and trees to grow. He made the sun, moon, and stars, and created sea creatures and birds.
When He spoke the universe into being His first words on the 25th day of Elul are (In English),
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
In Hebrew, “Bereshit bara [buh-raw] Elohim et [silent] ha-sha-ma-yim v’et ha’aretz [ha-ah-retz].”
There are two silent Hebrew letters joined together as a stand-alone word directly after the word 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.
Aleph Tav is one of the most common words found in the Hebrew scripture.
Why is it here in His first breath? Before God could create anything using words, He needed to create language. He would create and use the 22 Hebrew letters/numbers from Aleph to Tav to speak everything into existence.
The Aleph Tav “combined as a word”, occurs around 7,181 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. Many Hebrew scholars argue that the use of “aleph tav” is purely grammatical in nature; it’s mostly used to point to the object of a sentence.
But not always – In fact, there are hundreds of chapters in the Tanakh with direct objects but no aleph tav’s. Many of the most famous Jewish rabbis throughout history (including Akiva and R.S. Hirsch) taught “the aleph tav was a mark of the hand of the Almighty with profound spiritual significance.” The evidence suggests the aleph tav is something astonishing in biblical text. There are many reasons to suggest that they may be choosing not to see something that draws attention to the Messiah who they missed.
When Jesus spoke to the Apostle John on Patmos in Revelation 1:8 (and also in 22:13), the Greek reads, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, says the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”
But if you read the ancient manuscript of Revelation in Hebrew that’s in the British Library, (also the Passion Translation) which is taken from the Hebrew and Aramaic, it reads:
“[Ani h’Aleph v’tav] I am the Aleph and the Tav, the beginning and the ending,” says the Lord God [Yehovah Elohim], who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
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 1:12-13, “When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest.”
So, clearly Yeshua Jesus is the aleph tav from God’s first breath in Genesis to His final words in the Revelation. But there are a couple of even more profound reasons to pay attention to those two little letters.
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.
The Aleph-Tav is 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…”
In that first verse of Genesis, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
Which in Hebrew is, “Bereshit bara Elohim et [aleph tav] ha-sha-ma-yim (heaven)
v’et (this is a second aleph tav with a vav attached) ha’aretz [earth].”
The “vav” attached to the aleph tav is used to join and link clauses’ subjects. In this case, the “vav” is connecting the heavens and the earth. And what is the Hebrew word pictograph for vav?
It is a nail or peg used for joining, attaching, and securing things. Christ connected the heavens and the earth through His death and resurrection.
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.
8. The Ox and the Cross
The Aleph – The first letter, Aleph, denotes the first position in all things.
Aleph is depicted as an ox head. The ox head became the symbol of leadership.
The work accomplished by the ox is the bearing of a yoke which is made of wood and enables the ox to pull a burden of some kind. The yoke that Christ wore to bear our sin burden was a similar wooden horizontal beam of a cross.
Lamentations 1:14-15 “The yoke of my transgressions has been fastened by His hand; they intertwine themselves and set upon my neck” (the cross on His back is the transgressions);”
[Transgressions [peysha’im] – They are intentional sins (rebellion) which requires that the offender experience judgment and destruction. But there is good news – the three letters in the word are [Pey] which points to a new birth; [Sheen] represents the final blood sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God; and [Ayin] speaks of the end result: perfect spiritual order bringing spiritual power and significance.]
“He has made my strength to fall; Yehovah has delivered me into the hands of those whom I am not able to rise up. Yehovah has taken away all my strong ones in my midst(all His friends abandoned Him and scattered); He has proclaimed a mo’ed(only used for Set times / Feast Days like Passover when Jesus died) against me to crush my young men;”
“Yehovah has trodden the winepress for the virgin daughter of Judah.”
(Isaiah 63, “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, and trampled them in My fury; their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My robes.”
Revelation 9, “He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God….He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.”)
Aleph is often used with the name of Yehovah, to indicate His presence, and especially to reveal the Messiah.
The Aleph is made up of 3 parts.
A yod above (the heavens) and a yod below (the earth).
So, they are divided – Yet connected by the mediator vav
which is called [ben Elohim] (Son of God) and: vav means nail.
So, the letter Aleph is: The yod – The right hand of God. The other yod (The left hand of God)
and the vav (The Messiah). The hands of God on the earth and in the heavens is connected by the vav, which means the nail.
So, the aleph tav points to Yeshua Jesus as Messiah, and separately the aleph does as well. What about the tav?
The Tav – Tav was a sign of a covenant before it was used as a tool of execution.
The tav can represent [ticheyeh], which means “life.”
But it can also represent the word [tamus], which means “death.”
The Tav in Paleo Hebrew was a mark that was essentially the crossing of two sticks to form a “t” or a cross. The Tav is considered the mark of salvation or protection by God.
This “tav” mark appears back in Ezekiel 8 and 9 and ironically, during Elul: “On the fifth day of the sixth month [Elul] Yehovah spoke this word to Ezekiel as he was sitting among the captives in Babylon…and Yehovah said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark Tav (תו) on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”
All those who were found without this mark of salvation or protection were slain. “Don’t let your eye spare; have no pity!” This is the same word as the mark that God put on Cain to protect him after he killed his brother Abel.
The first appearance of the aleph tav is in the first breath of creation.
The final times Yeshua Jesus identifies Himself as the aleph and the tav is when that old heaven and earth disappear and a new heaven and earth arrive,
First in Revelation 21:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband…
And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”
6 And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Aleph and the Tav – the Beginning and the End.
To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.
8 “But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
And then in Revelation 22 in His last few words:
12 “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. 13 I am the Aleph and the Tav, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
9. The Hidden Haftarah
When Jewish people come to know Yeshua Jesus as their Messiah, they recognize Him because of Messianic prophecies. Every week in Shabbat (Sabbath) synagogue services around the world, portions of the Torah (first 5 books all written by Moses) and the Haftarah (prophetic books) are read out loud. They read the entire Torah every year, but only selected portions of the Prophets.
Many of the prophecies that speak about the Messiah are not read at all because they strongly support the conclusion that Yeshua Jesus is the Messiah and because they are mentioned in the New Testament.
Each Haftarah reading usually relates in some way to the Torah portion (Parasha) for that Shabbat. The earliest mention of this practice is found in Luke 4:16–19 when Yeshua Jesus read in a Nazareth synagogue from the scroll of Isaiah: “The Spirit of Yehovah is on Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of Yehovah’s favor.” (also Isaiah 61:1–2)
So, Which Prophetic Passages Are Never Scheduled in The Haftarah Readings?
- The Spirit of Yehovah is On Me passage from Isaiah 60 which He read in Nazareth. (Isaiah 61:1–2)
- The Promise of an “Elijah” before the Arrival of Messiah passage from Malachi 3
“I will send My messenger, who will prepare the way before Me. Then suddenly Yehovah you are seeking will come to His temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says Yehovah.” (Malachi 3:1)
- The Messiah to Be Born in Bethlehempassage from Micah 5
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for Me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)
- The Virgin Birth passage fromIsaiah 7, “Yehovah himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel [God with us].” (Isaiah 7:14)
- The Messiah Riding into Jerusalem on a Donkey passage fromZechariah 9
“Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9)
- His Betrayal for 30 Pieces of Silverpassage from Zechariah 11
“Yehovah said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter’—the handsome price at which they valued Me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of Yehovah.” (Zechariah 11:13)
- The Suffering Servant on the cross passage from Isaiah 52, “His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and His form marred beyond human likeness.” (Isaiah 52:14)
- The Promise to Make a New Covenant passage from Jeremiah 31
“The days are coming,” declares Yehovah, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah…I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people…I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
The Gospel in the Stars
Has God revealed His plans in His creation, especially in the stars?
Psalm 19:1-4 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
The stars are revealing knowledge to us about Jesus
On Day 4 of creation, God made the galaxies filled with stars, planets, and moons, etc.
Isaiah 40:26 tells us, “Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”
God named each star, and their Hebrew names are still used today. He made each one with a purpose; their names tell us their purposes.
Long before Moses wrote down the gospel story in the Torah, God wrote the story in the stars. We can look up and literally read the Bible.
Revelation 13:8 identifies Jesus as, “the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.” (Meaning from Day 1 thru Day 6)
You may be familiar with the word zodiac –
it’s often associated with astrology but, The Zodiac actually comes from astronomy – in Hebrew it’s ‘zoad,’ meaning ‘path’ or ‘way. It refers to the way the sun appears to pass through the 12 constellations during the year.
The sky is actually laid out like a clock with each ancient constellation marking a number on the clock. It takes a month for the sun to pass through each one, so when it makes a full circuit, a year has passed.
That was the ancient calendar. You can tell what month it is by where the constellations are.
I use an app called Star Tracker Lite (it’s free in the app stores). It makes viewing the stars and finding the constellations easier because they make a dotted line mark the ecliptic.
The ecliptic is the path the sun, moon, planets and 12 constellations of the Zodiac appear to follow to cross the sky each day. That’s how it looks from the earth. In reality, it’s the earth and moon that are rotating.
Since ½ of the day the sun is in the sky and the stars are no longer visible, the entire Gospel of the Stars, told by the 12 constellations passes over every 24 hours, but take an entire year to pass over during the night when they can be seen, with each constellation getting a full month’s focus.
Genesis 1:14 says, “Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons [months], and for days and years.”
It was God’s design, so every star had original Hebrew/Aramaic names from creation (that told the Gospel story). The names were not based on false gods of mythology.
The word translated seasons is [mo-ad] – it means appointed times
It doesn’t mean the four seasons, but more likely months, because the phrase “appointed times” is only used for the Feasts, which were determined by the new moon which is at the beginning of every Biblical month.
The book of Job was probably written a few hundred years after the Flood, and the Pleiades and Orion are both mentioned by name. Job 26 describes a scene from Revelation 12 – God piercing the “nachash” (the fleeing serpent) – it’s located just below the ecliptic near the Virgin and Lion.
“Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” Revelation 12:7-9
The Stars Prophesy
When God was speaking with Job (Job 38), He asked, “Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, or loose the belt of Orion? Can you bring out Mazzaroth [Constellations] in its season? Or can you guide Arcturus? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you set their dominion over the earth?”
The first mention of the Gospel story, though it was rather veiled, is following the Fall when God pronounces judgement on the serpent. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed (zera) and her Seed (zera); He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:15
It was the story of the future Messiah, the Seed of the woman, crushing the head of the serpent (Satan). One of the many ways we see Jesus as the Lamb “slain from the foundation of the world” is when we first see death enter the world. God killed animals to clothe Adam and Eve, and we see blood sacrifices beginning soon after.
Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. This was also built into the design of the universe. Cain and Abel showed they understood the importance of sacrifice. So, the reality of the need for blood to enable forgiveness was taught from the beginning. We know that our righteousness is in Christ. That has never changed.
The constellation Ara is an altar. The Milky Way usually represents the smoke rising from the altar. There is a Ram and a Bull constellation; a herdsman or shepherd similar to one you would find in Bethlehem raising sacrificial animals;
There is a serpent constellation to tell the Eden story. There is the great dragon, we know as Satan. An Eagle, which is associated with the gift of prophecy. There is the dove, which speaks of Noah and the Flood. There are several wreaths or crowns to speak of royalty and marriage. There is a cup or chalice, used in Sabbath meals, Passover and in communion. There is a celestial river, which you will find flowing from the throne of God. And of course, the Southern Cross.
11. The Gospel in the Stars – A Virgin With A Baby
Noah (born 1,000 years after Adam – the 10th generation) was the only righteous man in his time – the belief in a coming Messiah had vanished except for him.
Job (and his three comforters knew about it after the Flood: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh will I see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I and not another. How my heart yearns within me”.
Abraham was a contemporary of Job’s, about 400 years after the Flood. Noah was still alive.
God promised Abram he would have a son, and even changed his name to Abraham. He and Sarah were around 100 when Isaac was finally born. Then, in Genesis 22, we read what seems like an intensely disturbing command by God for Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.
He does not question God’s command. Why not? Did Abraham know the Messiah had to be sacrificed and then would be resurrected? And did he believe that his son was that sacrifice? How do all these ancient saints have such a profound understanding of the Gospel and are able to hold onto an unshakable faith for long stretches of time?
Had God revealed His plans in His creation, especially in the stars? Yes, and He did it during this month of Elul almost 5783 years ago.
The story that Jesus wrote on the stars begins as the Sun passes across the Virgin constellation.
The Virgin is the most interesting of the constellations God created. She’s holding a branch in her hand, and a baby on her lap. Bethulah is Hebrew for Virgin. The constellation is called many names all around the world, but they all mean “virgin.”
In the 8th Century, an Arabian astronomer named Albumazar described Bethulah as: “a young woman, whose Persian name denotes a pure virgin sitting on a throne, nourishing an infant boy…having a Hebrew name [which in Greek is called CHRISTOS].” Albumazar was a Muslim.
The ancient name of the top most star means The Sent One.
The first and brightest star in Bethulah, the Romans called Spica.
But its original Hebrew name is Zera – Meaning Seed.
The very word that was at the heart of God’s first promise to redeem mankind.
Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”
On day 16 when Adam and Eve fell, God had already written their story in the stars.
In Isaiah 7, the prophet tells Ahaz to, “ask a sign from God either from the depths (the ocean), or from the height above” (the heavens or stars).
Ahaz refuses, but Isaiah says God will give a sign, and God chose the Heavens about which Isaiah said, “Yehovah Himself will give you a sign, ‘Behold the Virgin will conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”
The Constellation Comah:
The Hebrew name means “the Desired or Longed for.” Other middle eastern nations refer to it in their languages with titles like Lord, King, and Great Son.
Haggai 2:7 uses the word speaking of the Messiah, “The Desire of All Nations Will Come.”
Mythology disparaged Comah by removing the “h” on the end so that in Greek and Latin it became Coma, the word for hair.
In Genesis 15 Abram is overwhelmed because he doesn’t have a son, even though God promised he would have a son.
“The word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision…He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and – tell the stars – if indeed you can count them.” [most Bibles say count the stars – but the early versions said, “tell the stars” and that’s the correct word]
The word translated from Hebrew as “count” in modern versions is “caphar” [Saw far]
It means recounting something or to tell the story.
God isn’t telling Abram to count the stars; He is telling him to tell the story that was written in the stars
which was passed on from the beginning.
So, Abram looks up at the Virgin Constellation…and probably begins to recount the story that was passed down since the Garden…“the virgin will give birth.”
I imagine about this time it occurred to him that if God’s plan was for a virgin to have a son, then it was also possible for a barren old woman to bear a son?
Maybe Abram looked at the first star, the brightest star, “The story starts with Zerah – a Seed.”
Then God said to him, “So shall your seed be.” God is saying “Your seed will produce the Messiah.”
God wasn’t just saying you’re going to have a son. He was saying you are going to have a son
who will start the lineage that will produce The Seed.
The other stars in Bethulah continue that amazing story.
One star means the “Beautiful LORD.” Another star means “The One Sent Forth” or “The Sent One” And still another means “Branch”. Isaiah 4:2 “In that day the Branch of Yehovah shall be beautiful and glorious;” The Branch (the Messiah) is to come as the Seed of the Virgin.