The Hebrew calendar month of Elul begins next Tuesday. Each day during the month of Elul, a shofar blast is sounded to announce the coming month of Tishrei – wherein the festival of Yom Teruah – the feast of trumpets-- takes place, calling for all people to repent. Elul, therefore, is identified as a month during which a serious emphasis is placed on personal self-examination and repentance, an end-of-the year opportunity to set our lives in order before Yom Teruah (Rosh Hashana), the days of Awe, and finally, Yom Kippur. Chronologically, Elul begins 40 days before Yom Kippur.
The number "forty" throughout the Bible consistently denotes a season of probation, trial or testing. For example, Yeshua fasted for 40 days in the wilderness before he was tested by Satan; the children of Israel wandered 40 years in the desert; Goliath tormented Israel 40 days before David stood up to the giant; God caused the rains to come down 40 days and 40 nights during the days of Noah, to name a few examples.
We in the Body of Messiah may also sense and identify with this season on the Lord's calendar if we choose, to initiate a time of self-inspection and reflection. As it happens, the entire United States will witness a total solar eclipse on Monday, the day before Elul begins on Tuesday. Whatever this heavenly sign may portend, we note that it happens to coincide with this season of repentance.
The Hebrew calendar extends to all of us an invitation to concentrate on and pray about the particular areas of our lives which need attention, adjustment, or even elimination. We can be sure that our Lord will honor and respond to a humble self-inquiry along the line of 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."
While this ought to be an attitude we walk in all year round, perhaps a particular emphasis on it during this season will please the Lord, and prepare us for the times ahead.