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Elul: The Month of the Bride and Emotional Healing

The sixth Biblical month of Elul is often considered “the month of the Bride.” It is a special time of tenderness between the King and His Bride; a time where Bridegroom and Bride can connect in a very intimate and different way than in the rest of the year. In fact, Elul is considered to be an acronym for Song of Solomon 6:3, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine. Ani L‘dodi V‘dodi Li (אלול).”

Before her wedding day, a bride goes through a time of preparation. She must make sure everything is ready and in place; that the food is prepared for her guests and that her dress is perfect to meet her husband. But there are inward preparations she must make as well. Is she ready to be a wife? Is she prepared to be joined to another person for the rest of her life? Is she prepared to be her husband’s helpmate? For us, as the Bride of Yeshua, we too go through a time of preparation during the month of Elul which includes a time of emotional healing.

Kidneys
Biblically, emotions are closely connected to the kidneys. Often times, the word for kidney is inaccurately translated as “heart,” “mind,” or “soul” in the Bible. Certainly there is some overlap between the kidneys and the heart, but it seems that the kidneys are more restricted to the emotional center of man, while the heart is more concerned with the thoughts and attitudes of man. Consider the first use of “heart” in Genesis 6:5: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

Other verses seem to confirm this idea.  Genesis 8:21 “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”; Genesis 27:41 “…and Esau said in his heart,”; Psalms 14:1 “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.”; “out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders….”

In Hebrew, the word for “kidney” is kilyah. It is the feminine form of the word kelîy – which means tool, vessel, or weapon. In a literal sense, kilyah is the kidney organ. Figuratively, it is the seat of man’s emotions. In Hebrew psychology, the kidneys are viewed as the seat of man’s emotions, the innermost being, the soul, the central location of the passions, the seat of human joy and grief, as well as the seat of moral & ethical character. As the Creator of this moral and ethical capacity in each of us, YHVH examines the kidneys to determine each individual’s attitudes and motives, and to determine the appropriate reward or punishment. Appropriately, the kidneys figured prominently in the offering of sacrifices upon YHVH’s altar.

Because of the important connection to man’s emotions, it’s important to examine the function and role of the kidneys not only in our physical health but our emotional health as well. Keep in mind that what happens in the physical is often a mirror of what happens in the spiritual — so be thinking about the spiritual application of the physical ailments and the kidneys as our emotional center as we go on.

Kidney Damage and Emotional Health
Physically, the kidneys filter out waste from the body, so when the kidneys’ functioning is impaired it quickly becomes a dangerous situation. Some kidney problems happen quickly, such as when an accident injures the kidneys. Losing a lot of blood can cause sudden kidney failure. Some drugs or poisons can make the kidneys stop working. Acute Kidney Injury may lead to permanent loss of kidney function. But if the kidneys are not seriously damaged, acute kidney disease may be reversed.

Most kidney problems, however, happen slowly and over time. A person may have “silent” kidney disease for years and never know. People with Chronic Kidney Disease may go on to develop permanent kidney failure. They also have a high risk of death from a stroke or heart attack. Think about it…a person with long-lasting kidney/emotional damage is at a high risk for stroke or heart attack. A stroke kills the brain/mind and a heart attack kills the heart.

There are two major causes of kidney failure: diabetes and high blood pressure. Diabetes can be caused by poor diet, being overweight and emotional stress, among other things. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is dangerous because it makes the heart work harder to pump blood to the body and it contributes to hardening of the arteries and the development of heart failure. While diabetes is the result of not being able to properly process and high blood pressure is the result of excessive amounts of pressure, both can be caused by factors related to emotional stress.

So let’s think about this in a spiritual sense. If we experience emotional trauma, whether in a specific situation or over a long period of time, we are at risk for shutting down emotionally and becoming emotionally unhealthy. When our emotions fail, our mind and heart fail as well. However, if we maintain a healthy lifestyle of being in the Word, drinking the living waters of life, and strengthening our spiritual muscles, then our kidneys will work as designed: to flush out the toxins and poisons that inevitably enter our bodies.

Kilyah and Emotional Healing
In Hebrew, there is a depth to each word that is missing when translated to English. Each Hebrew letter has a word picture and a numerical value attached to it. The gematria, as this is called, allows us to see a deeper level full of rich meaning for Hebrew words and the Scriptures. Below are the word pictures and numerical values for the letters that make up the word kilyah or kidneys.

כליה

כ (Kaph): open palm; to bend, open, allow or tame

ל (Lamed): shepherd’s staff; teach, yoke, bind, toward

י (Yod): arm/closed hand; work, throw

ה (He): man with arms raised; look, reveal, breath

 *To bend and allow to be tamed by the shepherd’s staff which teaches, yokes and binds us to the work revealed to the man with raised arms.*


 כ (Kaph) 20: – balance between YHVH/man and man/man ten times over

ל (Lamed) 30: covenant ten times over

י (Yod) 10 – confidence in YHVH

ה (He) 5 – faith, grace and mercy

*Kidneys restore a balance between YHVH & man and man & man ten times over and establish a covenant of confidence in YHVH of faith, grace and mercy.*

What we see from the gematria is that our kidneys/emotional health determines if we will yield ourselves in complete surrender to the Shepherd and the work that must be done. When we completely surrender to the work of emotional healing during Elul, our kidneys then restore balance in our relationship with God and others. When our kidneys/emotional being is healthy, we can then filter out waste and allow the purification process to take place.

Kilyah and the Month of the Bride
So what do the kidneys and emotional health have to do with the month of the bride? In order for the Bride to be prepared for Judgment Day she must be found to be without spot or blemish. She must also wash herself clean and be clothed in white for her Bridegroom at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. This requires her to remove any spot or blemish from her life.

The month of Elul is a gift from YHVH in which He gives us the time, opportunity, and circumstances to accomplish this cleaning and repentance. Our Bridegroom is not only concerned with our physical and spiritual health, but with our emotional health too!

Our mind-body-soul connection is undeniably important. However, as believers, too often we get so focused on our spiritual health that we neglect our physical or emotional health. While they are all connected, they are also uniquely individual. Emotional healing is just one aspect of our health that YHVH may choose to address during Elul — but emotional wounds are often the most neglected because they are the most difficult to uproot. Whatever area of your life YHVH chooses to shine His spotlight on, I encourage you to fight the urge to downplay the issue as “not that big of a deal” or to dismiss the way God chooses to get your attention as merely a coincidence. But as Gibbs from NCIS would say, “Rule #39: There’s no such thing as a coincidence.”

Field at Sunrise

Elul: When our King is in the Field

On Sunday, July 16, 2015, the new moon was spotted in Jerusalem. This marked the start of the sixth Biblical month of Elul (pronounced E-lool). The month of Elul is a time of teshuvah or repentance. It is the preparation time before the High Holy Days of Yom Teruach (Day of Trumpets), Yom Kippur (Day of Coverings/Judgement), and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). Elul means to search, as in to search our hearts through introspection. It is a time to reflect on the past year and to prepare for the “Days of Awe,” a time marked by repenting from the failings of the past and resolve for the future.

This is also traditionally the time Moses spent on the mountain in preparation to receive the tablets and is considered the month of the Bride. A shofar, or ram’s horn, is traditionally blown every morning during the month of Elul to serve as a wake-up call for those who are spiritually asleep, to awaken the people from complacency, and as a call to repentance.

The month of Elul is a difficult one. It’s marked with trials, pressing, and testing. It’s a time when we ask YHVH to search us and reveal to us the wrongs we have committed in order to repent and correct these issues. During the month of Elul, YHVH relates to us in a more open and compassionate manner than He does during the other months. This is the month where our King is in the field.

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi offers this anecdote:

The king’s usual place is in the capital city, in the royal palace. Anyone wishing to approach the king must go through the appropriate channels in the palace bureaucracy and gain the approval of a succession of secretaries and ministers. He must journey to the capital and pass through the many gates, corridors and antechambers that lead to the throne room. His presentation must be meticulously prepared, and he must adhere to an exacting code of dress, speech and mannerism upon entering into the royal presence.

However, there are times when the king comes out to the fields outside the city. At such times, anyone can approach him; the king receives them all with a smiling face and a radiant countenance. The peasant behind his plow has access to the king in a manner unavailable to the highest ranking minister in the royal court when the king is in the palace.

When our King comes to the field, He communes with us in our environment and circumstances. Every other day, we must go to Him and abide by the rules and protocols of the palace. But during Elul, He comes to us and meets us in our environment. Our circumstances become tools that are used in such a way that we are taught important lessons that we otherwise wouldn’t learn or that would take much longer to learn. The purpose of these lessons is to 1) make us ready for our encounter with our King at the wedding feast of Sukkot, 2) to bring us to repentance, and 3) to draw us closer to Him.

Often times during Elul, things that seem out-of-the-blue or random will happen. For instance, that person you haven’t heard from in years suddenly calls you or sends you a text. You hurt your back doing something you routinely do. You have a random fight with the person you’re closest to and never fight with. All of these things seem random and out-of-the-blue, but during it Elul it could actually be God trying to get your attention.

It is important, however, to see these events and circumstances with the right mindset. YHVH isn’t trying to punish you for something you’ve done wrong; rather, He may be trying to shine His spotlight on an area in your life you haven’t been able to see.

For instance, the back can represent carrying a burden that is too heavy. The lower back, in particular, usually represents anger. Perhaps God is trying to shine light on a burden you shouldn’t be carrying, a burden that is too heavy for you to carry alone, or your anger in a specific area of your life. Perhaps YHVH wants you to mend the relationship with the person you randomly hear from after years of silence. Maybe YHVH used your closest friend to push a button on an issue you never dealt with in order for you to finally deal with it.

This is a time of introspection and fervent prayer. As we draw close to YHVH, we are to ask Him to search and reveal to us the areas that need attention in our lives. YHVH is faithful to reveal our issues to us through circumstances, through the people He has put in our lives, and through revelation in prayer. But in the midst of things, it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming. I would encourage you to keep some sort of journal or take notes on what happens during this time. It can be difficult to process and connect the dots between everything that happens but a journal can help you refer back and give you some perspective as you work through it all.

Elul is a very trying time. But if we can persevere to the end, our reward will be great. I’m reminded of the 10 virgins in Yeshua’s parable. Five of the virgins were foolish and hadn’t prepared themselves to meet the Bridegroom, while the other 5 had prepared and made themselves ready. Their reward was joining the Bridegroom at the wedding feast.

So even in this difficult month, I pray that we will all do the hard work of cleaning out our hearts and removing the junk that YHVH reveals to us. If we will be the faithful and obedient Bride that prepares herself, our Bridegroom will be faithful to meet us at the Wedding Feast of Sukkot.

Elul - A Season of Repentance and Teshuvah

Elul: A Season of Repentance and Forgiveness

Have you ever felt like the time in early fall was an especially difficult time of year? As if things always go wrong during this time? Or that the spiritual pressing and testing intensifies somehow? If you’ve ever felt this way, you’re definitely not alone!

The month is Elul. It is the sixth Biblical month. And it. Is. Tough.

During this time, YHVH uses our circumstances in a way that “presses our buttons” and forces us to examine unresolved issues in our life. Often times, this process involves the relationships and people that YHVH has placed in our lives. YHVH uses these people and relationships to show us the issues that need our attention and the areas of our lives where we need emotional healing. (To read more about emotional healing, check out “Elul: The Month of the Bride pt2).

So when your spouse, parent, child, or best friend says or does something that hits a nerve, try to not react out of anger but realize that YHVH is using your circumstances to make you healed and whole! It’s hard…believe me, I know…but it’s so worth it to be able to present yourself spotless before YHVH.

During this time, we ask YHVH to search us and reveal ANY wrongs that we have not yet made right, any areas of our lives we still need healing in, and any issues we have not yet resolved in order that we can make them right. One year, YHVH showed me how I had hurt someone years before and had not apologized for the hurt I caused. I asked YHVH why He would show me something that seemed so far in the past and how something so small could be such a big deal. His answer was, “When you present yourself to Me on Yom Kippur and Sukkot, I want you to be perfect and spotless. It may be a tiny spot but I don’t want to see any spot or blemish on your garments.”

Needless to say, I called that person immediately and apologized.

So you might be asking, “Why does YHVH do this? And why during the month of Elul?” Well the short answer is to bring us into a state of repentance before we enter into what are traditionally known as the High Holy Days.

The High Holy Days
This “High Holy Day” season begins with the month of Elul. When Elul is over, we celebrate Yom Teruach – “Day of Trumpets.” This day is inaccurately referred to as Rosh Hashanah – “the head of the new year” — in modern Judaism. After Yom Teruach, we enter the 10 Days of Awe or Repentance. These 10 days are a final chance to repent and make things right, not only between you and other people, but also between you and YHVH. After the 10 Days of Awe, Yom Kippur – “Day of Covering” aka Day of Atonement or Judgment Day – occurs.

Ultimately, everything from the beginning of Elul to this point is to lead us into the Festival of Sukkot – “Tabernacles.” Occurring five days after Yom Kippur, Sukkot is known as the Festival of the Ingathering. It is a time when the nations with gather together and when the lost sheep of the House of Israel will return to be reunited with Messiah Yeshua.

Sukkot
And the Word became flesh and pitched His tent (or dwelt) among us, and we saw His esteem, esteem as of an only brought-forth of a father, complete in favor and truth. John 1:14

When the Word says “pitched a tent” or “dwelt among us,” what it is actually saying is “He tabernacle among us.” The word “tabernacle” in Hebrew is sukkah. It can mean tabernacle, dwelling, or booth. So when Yeshua promised that He would come and tabernacle among us, what He was really saying is that He would celebrate Sukkot with us!

Revelation 21:3 also points us to a future Sukkot.

And I heard a loud voice from the heaven saying, “See, the Booth of Elohim is with men, and He shall dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and Elohim Himself shall be with them and be their Elohim.

Sukkot is also known as a time of great rejoicing and celebrating. After making ti through Elul and Judgment Day, I suppose there is plenty to celebrate! For all these reasons, Sukkot is generally seen as the Wedding Feast of the Lamb! Now, I don’t want this post to be all about Sukkot – there will be plenty of time for that as we approach Sukkot.

Rather, I say all this to emphasize just how important Elul and the time leading up to Sukkot really is. If we haven’t done the hard work and made things right with God and man, how can we expect to stand on the Day of Judgment? And if we can’t stand on the Day of Atonement, how can we expect to rejoice at the Wedding Feast?

The Process of Repentance
So how do we make things right and resolve our unresolved issues? Well it all starts by being humble and submitting to the process. When YHVH allows circumstances to test us and uses the people He has put in our lives to speak to us, don’t fight it. When your buttons get pushed and He places His thumb on a nerve, don’t stiffen your neck. Rather, humble yourself and submit to the process of repentance that brings forth healing. Forgiveness plays a huge role in this process.

A quick side-note clarification: when I talk about YHVH using the people in your life, I’m not talking about everybody. I’m only referring to the people that you know YHVH has placed into your life. The people who always turn you back to Him. The people who encourage you to walk in His ways and to seek after His face. Now, YHVH has used a donkey so I’m not saying it’s impossible that He would use other people, but more often than not, His pattern is that He will strictly use the people He has specifically put in your life. The other people may just be a distraction.

There are three separate levels in the process of forgiveness. The first is known as slichah. The second is mechilah. And the third is kapparah. Each level has it’s own focus and objective that must be met. The cycle of forgiveness is a living process that is completely dependent on our actions, so you may pass between these phases at any given time during the entire process.

Slichah
The first stage in the process of forgiveness is slichah. In Hebrew, this means to pardon. In fact, if you ever spend time in Israel and need to say “excuse me,” you will actually say “slichah.” It is the most basic level of forgiveness. It’s primary focus is on man; specifically the other person involved in the situation. Slichah

If you take a look at the picture, the chaos and darkness is kind of what its like when we start the process of forgiveness. Its dark, chaotic, and hard to make sense of anything. So it is with slichah. Before we can deal with the root of the matter, we must forgive the other person for their role in the situation.

When we look at the gematria for this word, this is what we learn.

ס : 60 Man’s number, ten times over
ל : 30 Covenants, ten times over
י : 10 Confidence in YHVH
ח : 8 New Beginnings
ה : 5 Faith, grace and mercy

Man’s covenants through confidence in YHVH for new beginnings of faith, grace and mercy

ס : A prop, support; To turn
ל : Shepherd’s staff; To teach, yoke, bind, toward
י : Arm/closed hand; To work, throw or make
ח : Wall; Outside, divide, half
ה : Man with raised arms; To look, reveal, breath

The arm that turns the shepherd’s staff to teach the man with raised arms how to build a wall that divides himself from the outside chaos.

 

Notice that the first picture relates to “man’s covenants.” Remember that the focus of this particular stage is the other person…so it’s appropriate that the word picture would describe covenants with man.

The gematria also describes a wall. These are not the emotional walls that we put up to keep people and relationships out but, rather, these are the walls that keep us in the Father’s House and stop us from returning to the hurt we have experienced. Once we have extended forgiveness to someone and started the process of forgiveness, we cannot return to the place from which we started. Remember, once you extend this level of forgiveness, the focus shifts from the other person to you. Notice that this level requires the person to learn how to build these walls. These are the “baby steps” that are being taken; it’s a learning phase.

These walls are comparable to being in the Father’s House. There is a wall that divides us from those on the outside of His house. This is similar to the parable of the wedding feast. Inside are the honored guests who accepted the invitation and the wall separates them from those who rejected the invitation and are on the outside where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Mechilah
The second level of forgiveness is mechilah. In this phase, the person learns how to let go; to be free from the power that others hold over you. The focus of mechilah is on yourself. In my opinion, this is the hardest level of forgiveness because for most of us it is very difficult to get over the obstacle of our own self.

Mechilah

Many times we hold on to the hurts and justify why shouldn’t let them go. When we let go of these hurts is when we are finally able to receive a vital piece of healing within ourselves. We are letting go of the power that others hold over us and instead returning that power back to God. Notice this picture for mechilah. The colors have returned and things are beginning to take shape. The picture isn’t complete yet, but you can see it beginning to take form.

The gematria for mechilah shows us the following picture.

ם : 40 The coming plan of YHVH, ten times over
ח : 8 New beginnings
י : 10 Confidence in YHVH
ל : 30 Covenants, ten times over
ה : 5 Faith, grace and mercy

The coming plan of YHVH for new beginnings brought through confidence in YHVH’s covenants of faith, grace and mercy.

ם : Water, chaos, overpower
ח : Wall, outside, divide, half
י : Arm, closed hand; To work, throw or make
ל : Shepherd’s staff; To teach, yoke, bind, toward
ה : Man with raised arms; To look, reveal, breath

The wall that divides the overpowering chaos from the man with raised arms which has been yoked by the shepherd’s staff to YHVH’s strong arm.

The picture we see in this stage is one of new beginnings through the coming plan of YHVH. When we learn to release the power that others hold over us through unforgiveness, we make YHVH free to release those new beginnings in our lives. When we surrender (the man with raised arms), YHVH becomes the wall that divides us from the outside chaos and, instead, keeps us in His perfect peace.

Kapparah
The third and final stage of forgiveness is kapparah. In this phase, a person is made whole again. Kapparah’s focus is on YHVH. Now, while every stage requires YHVH to help learn the lesson, it is this stage where He takes center stage and where only He can do the work necessary. In the first two stages, the work that needed to be done required the other person or yourself. In this stage, however, we have let go of the other person and our own self and finally let YHVH take over and complete the process of forgiveness.

The gematria shows us the following about kapparah.

כ : 20 Balance between man & YHVH, ten times over
פ : 80 New beginnings, ten times over
ר : 200 Balance between man & YHVH one hundred times over
ה : 5 Faith, grace and mercy

The faith, grace and mercy which restores the balance between man and man ten times over and the new beginnings which restore balance between man and YHVH a hundred times over.

כ : Open palm, arm; To bend, open, allow or tame
פ : Mouth; Speak, open or word
ר : Head, person, highest
ה : Man with raised arms; To look, reveal, breath

The strong arm of YHVH which tames the mouth and reveals the man with raised arms as the highest or the head.

This level of forgiveness starts and ends with balance but the end does not come back empty or void but instead increases a hundredfold.

Notice we see the pictures of a mouth and a head. The Word tells us, “out of the mouth, the heart speaks.” For this reason, YHVH tames and softens the heart of the one who forgives and has been hurt. This means that once you have truly forgiven someone, you cannot bring up the matter anymore. It is over and done with. You cannot make snide remarks or hold it against them in any way. By surrendering to forgiveness and the softening our hearts, we let our hurt and anger go. Only then can YHVH make us “the head and not the tail.”

When we allow YHVH to take us through the entire process of forgiveness, we receive the healing we so desperately need. The chaos is released and the final picture can finally come together.  Kapparah

Click here to listen to Matthew West “Forgiveness”