What is the purpose of Repentance, Elul, and the Days of Awe?
As we enter this 40-day period in preparation for Yom Kippur, it may not be clear what the significance of Repentance, the month of Elul, and the Days of Awe are to a Messianic Jewish Believer in Messiah. Lets look at each of these and see how they relate to each other, and to belief in the Messiah.
1Jn 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.
1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1Jn 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
Note carefully verse 9 - "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
This is key to understanding our relationship to G-D. David Jeremiah in his daily commentary says, "Just like a car battery must have a alternator to recharge it, or it will soon go dead, we must have the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh), or we too will be powerless." Thus the Holy Spirit keeps recharging us to do the works and live the Faith we are given.
David Jeremiah goes on to point out that one of the main causes for a car battery to die is not the battery itself, but that the alternator is not charging it. Spiritually, our "battery" can go out if the alternator (Holy Spirit) is unable to recharge us.
What can keep the Spirit from recharging us? Unrepentant sin.
Unrepentant sin acts like a short circuit or a broken connector to G-D's power. With that short circuit, we cannot be recharged. Saying it another way, by having unconfessed sin, we are breaking fellowship with Him, and not allowing Him to work through us.
Looking again at verse 9 - "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness," we see the answer: confession and repentance. It should be noted in context that confession here includes turning away from the sin and, if possible, making it right.
So what does that have to do with Elul and the Days of Awe?
Elul is the Hebrew month preceding Rosh Hashanah; with the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur being referred to as "The Days of Awe." During this 40-day period, the shofar is sounded every morning to remind everyone to remember and confess their sins. It is a 40-day period of repentance (t'shuvah).
The Days of Awe are the final 10 days of repentance and are especially somber as we more diligently seek G-D's forgiveness, and our fellow man's forgiveness.
So what does all that have to do with a believer in Messiah?
Quite a bit, actually. Please note the passages quoted were from 1 John. Written by the Apostle Yochanan, "the one Yeshua loved," they are key to understanding how to maintain a right relationship with G-D. Please note verse 10 - "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His Word is not in us." The Word not being in us can mean two things: We are out of fellowship, or we are not saved. Either case is serious, with not being saved clearly being the most serious.
Thus, Elul and the Days of Awe provide a vivid, yearly reminder that we must repent and confess our sins, one to another, or the truth is not in us.
May we all heed G-D's Word and respond to it.