Getting in Sync With YHVH Times and Seasons
What are the forty days of teshuvah (the Hebrew word meaning “repentance”) all about? Let’s briefly explore this concept to see how why they occur when they do and how they relate to the fall biblical feasts and the second coming of King Yeshua the Messiah.
During these forty days, which begin on the first day of the sixth month on the biblical calendar and end on the Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), it is time for the redeemed believer to get his or her spiritual house in order for the upcoming biblical high holy days. Why? Because these holidays prophetically picture the second coming of Yeshua the Messiah and his gathering his people to himself, and the coming judgments upon the earth of the wicked and lukewarm, and the pouring out of YHVH’s wrath upon the wicked along with the destruction of Babylon the Great by Yeshua. They also point to the time when Yeshua will establish his millennial kingdom on this earth, and finally, the coming of the new heaven and new earth at the end of the millennium.
Furthermore, during the forty days of teshuvah, it’s time for YHVH’s people to awake from their spiritual slumber (1 Thess 5:1–8; Rom 13:11–14) and repent (or make teshuvah) from sin and turn back to wholehearted obedience to Elohim. The three months between the biblical feasts of Shavuot or Pentecost and Yom Teruah (the Day of Shofar Blasts) prophetically pictures the 2000 year time period between the first and advents of Yeshua the Messiah. As we near the end of this period, it is time to get ready for Yeshua’s second coming and to put off spiritual lukewarmeness by repenting of sin (Torahlessness) and by putting on the robes of righteousness and looking heavenward in anticipation of our Messiah’s coming. The forty days between the first day of the sixth month and Yom Kippur is the time to be doing this.
Why forty days and why now? According to the biblical record and Jewish tradition, Moses received the tablets of the ten commandments on Shavuot (the Feast of Weeks or
Pentecost) after having been on Mount Sinai for forty days. When he came down with the tablets, the children of Israel had built the golden calf, and Moses reacted to this news by smashing the tablets. He ascended the mountain the second time where he pleaded on behalf of the Israelites for YHVH’s mercy for another forty days. He then ascended the mountain the third time (this time on the first day of the sixth month) for another forty days and returned on Yom Kippur (forty days later) with the second set of stone tablets as proof that YHVH had forgiven his people for their idolatry and had renewed his covenantal relationship with them. This is a good time to review the thirteen attributes of YHVH Elohim’s mercy as revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai in Exodus 34:6–7.
At the beginning of Elul, it’s customary to sound the shofar, not only because it’s a biblical command to do so at the beginning of each new month (Ps 81:3), but because the shofar was the means YHVH initiated to call his people to attention, to warn them, to wake them up, or to announce important events. In ancient Israel, different blasts of the shofar signified different things. During the forty days of teshuvah, it is customary to regularly sound the ram’s horn shofar. Hearing its plaintive and wailing sound can help to stir one’s heart to repentance.
The name Elul in Jewish tradition has been recognized as an acronym for the phrase in the Song of Solomon 6:3, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” For the redeemed believer in Yeshua, this signifies our love for our soon coming King and Bridegroom and our need to be fully devoted to him by putting off sin and anything else that would separate us from a loving relationship with him. This is why the month of Elul is a time for soul searching and repentance. At this time, “We must seek YHVH while he may be found” (Isa 55:6). Isaiah further admonishes us, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return [Heb. shuv] unto YHVH, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our Elohim, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isa 55:7). Psalm 27 is traditionally read during the month of Elul as well. This psalm speaks of YHVH being our salvation and delivering his people from their enemies by hiding them in his sukkah or tabernacle — a prophecy relating to YHVH delivering his people during the tumultuous last days just prior to Yeshua’s return after which he will set up his sukkah or dwelling place one earth to rule over the world during the millennium. This wonderful event is prophetically pictured by the Feast of Tabernacles (Heb. Sukkot, the plural form of the Hebrew word sukkah).
What Is Repentance?
According to Scripture, there are several basic steps to repentance. They are as follows:
- We must confess our sin before YHVH (Lev 5:5; Num 5:7).
- We must manifest heartfelt regret for our wrong actions by evidencing remorse and contrition before YHVH and our fellow man, if applicable. The Hebrew word for this is nacham and according to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament means, “to reflect the idea of ‘breathing deeply,’ hence the physical display of one’s feelings, usually sorrow, compassion, or comfort.” Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies says this of nacham: “In regard to others, to pity, to have compassion … in regard to one’s own doing, to lament, to grieve; hence to repent; in English, to rue; often of one who repents, grieves, for the evil he has brought upon another.” The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance says of nacham: It means “to breathe strongly, by implication, to be sorry … to repent means to make a strong turning to a new course of action. The emphasis is on turning from a less desirable course. Comfort is derived from ‘com’ (with) and ‘fort’ (strength). Hence, when one repents, he exerts strength to change, to re-grasp the situation, and exert effort for the situation to make a different course of purpose and action. The stress is not upon new information or new facts which cause the change as it is upon the visible action taken.”
- We must turn from our sins and resolve to stop sinning. This is expressed in the Hebrew word teshuvah meaning “to repent,” which is from the root word shub or shuv. The TWOT defines shuv as follows: “The Bible is rich in idioms describing man’s responsibility in the process of repentance. Such phrases would include the following: ‘incline your heart unto [YHVH your Elohim]’ (Josh 24:23); ‘circumcise yourselves to YHVH’ (Jer 4:4); ‘wash your heart from wickedness’ (Jer 4:14); ‘break up your fallow ground’ (Hos 10:12); and so forth. All of these expressions of man’s penitential activity, however, are subsumed and summarized by this one verb shub. Far better than any other verb it combines in itself the two requisites of repentance: to turn from evil and to turn to the good.”
- An offering of the legally prescribed sacrifice must be made for the sin (Lev 5:1–20). Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel, became that sacrifice for our sin once and for all when he died on the cross (Isa 53:5; Heb 4:14–5:10; 7:14–8:6; 9:11–10:22).
- When we have sinned against our fellow man, not only is confession and forsaking that sin required, but we must make restitution in full of whatever has been wrongfully obtained or withheld from one’s fellow man (Lev 5:14–19; Matt 5:23–25).
- We must then accept our Heavenly Father’s unconditional mercy and grace (Ps 103:3–4, 10–17).