Joshua, the Man & the Book #8 December 5, 2017

Joshua 7 comes as a bit of a surprise.

The children of Israel under Joshua’s leadership have just witnessed the tremendous defeat of the city of Jericho and they are still basking in the glow of that great event. But, verse 1 tells us that God was upset with the people. Israel thought that everything was all right. They thought that they were standing on the edge of a great string of victories that would see them conquering the entire land of promise. Yet, what they didn’t know was that there was a problem in the camp. There was one in their midst who was causing a problem for the entire family of God.  Because of that, the nation was about to suffer a painful defeat.

In vs. 2-3 of chapter 7, Israel is a confident people. They looked at Ai and felt like that little town would be no problem for such a great army, but their confidence was misplaced. Israel did not realize it, but they were living through one of the most dangerous times of life. You see, the time just after a great spiritual victory is a dangerous time. Often, like Israel, we will be over confident and believe that we can handle any battle that comes our way.When we have that attitude, we are vulnerable to suffer our greatest defeats.  Why? Because we are trusting in ‘OUR’ achievement, rather than in the grace of God.

When Israel, without consulting the LORD, set out to conquer Ai they suffered a terrible defeat and 36 of their number were killed. Shock waves went through the camp. How could this happen?

Achan

Joshua, as commander, takes responsibility and goes before the LORD in prayer with a broken heart, v. 6. However, he also displays a hint of anger and accusation against the Lord.  Joshua is about to learn that prayer is the correct recourse in a time of trouble, but that prayer will avail nothing until sin has been dealt with, Psalm 66:18! Joshua wonders why Israel was powerless in the battle. He learns that the answer wasn’t to blame God, or to dispute His will. The answer was within their own camp.

When our decisions bring unpleasant consequences, it is not the time to play the ‘blame game’.  It is also not the time to accuse God of anything. We need to look within and see where the problem is.  When there is a lack of power in my life, the problem is not with God, nor is it with others, the problem is always with me!

While Joshua and Israel try to figure out what is going on, God in Heaven already knows and tells Joshua all about it.

The answer is quite simple: there is sin in the camp of Israel.

The LORD makes Joshua to understand that this sin that is hindering His power and is the cause of their defeat. Further, the LORD gives Joshua instructions on how to discover the guilty party. In these words to Joshua, God gives us some insights into sin, insights worthy of our attention.

1. God knows about our sins – vs. 11 (Proverbs 15:3)

2. God hates our sins – vs. 11 (Proverbs 6:6-19)

3. God has a plan for our sins – vs. 14-15  (Psalm 32:5)

4. Sin affects those around us – vs. 11-12

5. Sin must be dealt with; it cannot be ignored. vs. 13

Essentially, God makes clear to Joshua: Either you deal with the sin in the camp or I will. Either way, sin must be confronted.

God knew who was guilty so why didn’t He just tell Joshua who they were looking for? In my opinion, He was giving Achan time to repent and to confess his sins voluntarily. In any case, Achan was identified as the culprit.

In verse 19, Joshua speaks to Achan with love in his heart. He knows that Achan is condemned, but Joshua still cares for this man who brought so much trouble to Israel. In the next verses, Achan finally confesses his sin but grudgingly. Don’t believe for a second that Achan truly repented! He, like some others in the Bible, only confessed his sin after he got caught, when it was impossible to hide it any longer!

God’s way is for His people to throw the covers off their sins and tell God the truth that He already knows. He blesses the person who handles sin the Biblical way. However, the person who tries to hide his sins will never prosper, but will face God in judgment.  Our sins will be exposed in one way or another. You can confess them sincerely and be forgiven, or you will be forced to confess them when you face the LORD in Judgment. Either way, you will confess your sins.  Far better to be a quick repenter like David, than an unwilling repenter like Achan.

The following verses give us the sad conclusion to this tragic tale. Achan and all that he had were taken out and stoned to death by the people of Israel. It didn’t have to end this way! However, these verses demonstrate the horrible end of all sinners who refuse to repent.

Application

 

No human being is perfect or sinless.  But God in His great mercy and loving kindness, before we were ever born, had already made provision for us to return to Him after sinning: REPENTANCE.  And what is repentance? It is the decision – made sincerely – to approach the Holy One of Israel with humility to acknowledge what we have done wrong and to ask for His forgiveness.  It is coming to Him with no pretense, no hypocrisy, no mental excuses or rationalizations regarding what we have done, but to simply acknowledge the truth: I have sinned, I sincerely regret having offended You, My God, You, who have blessed me with so many blessings. I ask for Your mercy and forgiveness.

Knowing from His written Word that He is faithful to forgive us when we repent, we then thank Him for that forgiveness and pray for grace to refrain from repeating that sin again.

If Achan had only taken this course of action, his entire family would have been spared.

A sobering thought…

Weekly Torah Commentary – Pinchas July 29, 2016

Numbers 25:10 – 30:1

To properly appreciate this week’s lesson we need to go back to the end of last week’s Torah portion.  Zimri, from the tribe of Shimon, takes Cosbi, a daughter of the king of Midian and in direct defiance of Moses, the Torah and the Tabernacle, has public sexual relations with this non-Israelite right in front of the Tabernacle – a shocking and horrifying act.  At the same time, a plague was spreading through the camp so that 24,000 people had already died.

Phinehas, a grandson of Aaron the High Priest, rose up from the midst of the congregation, took a spear and thrust it through the cavorting couple.  The plague was stopped and as this week’s Torah portion opens, we learn that the Lord was pleased with Pinchas’ action.

Then the Lord spoke to Moses saying, ‘Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned away My wrath from the sons of Israel in that he was jealous with My jealousy among them, so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My jealousy. Therefore say, Behold I give him My covenant of peace; and it shall be for him and his descendants after him, a covenant of perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the sons of Israel.’ Numbers 25: 10-13

Remember that last week, after Bilam was prevented from cursing the children of Israel, he and Balak colluded to destroy Israel another way: by having the women of Moab seduce the men of Israel and cause them to worship idols.

Zimri was among the men who had by this time lost all respect for God, Moses and the Torah.  His blatant immorality was pure hedonism, the pursuit of selfish indulgence.  It was a public act flaunting his disrespect.  We may be tempted to view the response of Pinchas as fanaticism but in fact, perhaps neither his nor Zimri’s should surprise us.

We are told that Zimri was from the tribe of Shimon and Pinchas was a Levite, the grandson of Aaron. Now think back with me to the book of Genesis.

After Jacob’s daughter, Dinah, was violated, it was Shimon and Levi who joined together to vent their unbridled rage on the men of Shechem after they had all been circumcised. On the third day which is the most painful, Shimon and Levi descended into the city by night and slew all the men of Shechem to avenge their sister’s violation.  To them, the rape of Dinah was more than personal, more than familial; it was a national insult.

Later in Genesis, when Jacob is on his deathbed he pronounces prophetic blessings over his twelve sons.  Of Shimon and Levi, he says:

Shimon and Levi are brothers; their swords are implements of violence. Let me soul not enter into their council; let not my glory be united with their assembly; because in their anger they slew men and in their self-will they lamed oxen. Cursed be their anger for it is fierce; and their wrath for it is cruel.  I will separate them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel.  Gen. 48: 5-7

Jacob decreed that they should be separated for whenever these two got together, it never ended well!

As we follow the tribe of Levi through the Torah, we read that after the Golden Calf, it was the Levites that gathered around Moses and like their descendant, Pinchas, at Moses’ command they slew all who had been involved in the episode of the Golden Calf.  They were passionate for the Lord’s honor.

In 150 BC, the Maccabees were also from the tribe of Levi.  Incensed at the desecration of the Temple by Antiochus, they launched a bloody revolt against the Seleucids.  Again, Levites; again, passionate for the honor of the Lord.

So we have two tribes, both passionate and both easily moved to intense responses to situations. Their challenge was to turn that passion and anger into love.

Over time, the tribe of Levi learned to direct their passion for the honor of God in a righteous anger that exercised judgment for the Lord’s sake.  The anger of Shimon by contrast was loosed for negative and self-serving reasons.  Levi moved toward greatness; Shimon toward destruction.

Fast forward to our present situation. Pinchas, a Levite, receives as a reward for his action, a covenant of peace from the Lord.

But later when Joshua divided the land among the tribes of Israel,Shimon received only a small piece of land within the region given to Judah.  In the census that is taken right after the event of this week’s reading, the tribe of Shimon is listed as having only 22,000 members yet in the previous census Shimon had 59,000 members.  It is the only tribe that decreases in size.  Therefore it is safe to assume that most of the 24,000 who died in the plague were from the tribe of Shimon.

anger

Greatness is the result of taking our natural traits and turning them into virtue.  Great passion can become the kind of zeal for God which Pinchas demonstrated – or – it can lead to deeply destructive behavior.  The choice is ours.

At the end of the book of Deuteronomy, Moses, like Jacob before him, pronounces a blessing on the tribes of Israel. Sadly, Shimon is the only tribe that does not receive a blessing from Moses. The tribe of Shimon was scattered across the known world and still waits for its full redemption.

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In Tune with Torah this week: there is a righteous anger and there is an unrighteous anger.  It is critical that we know the difference between the two.  Righteous anger is other-centered; unrighteous anger is self-centered.

For example, to be angry at the senseless slaughter of innocent civilians in a terrorist attack is a righteous anger.  But to be enraged at a personal insult to the extent of pursuing the opportunity to exact revenge simply for the purpose of inflicting pain on the offender is an unrighteous anger.

May God give us grace to know the difference and apply this lesson to our own lives.

Shabbat Shalom

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Weekly Torah Commentary – Vayechi December 25, 2015

Genesis 27:28 – 50:26

This is the last Torah reading in the book of Genesis. It ends with the reconciliation between Joseph and his brothers and the death of Jacob.

Afraid that he had not really forgiven them for their betrayal of him, the brothers send Joseph a message after the death of Jacob, asking for forgiveness.  The message grieves Joseph who has indeed forgiven long ago.  He replies:

“Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. (Gen. 50:19-21)

This message bears a great resemblance to an earlier one. When he revealed himself to them seventeen years before, he said:

“I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no sowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.” (Gen. 45:3-8)

These two interactions between Joseph and his brothers are critical moments in the history of biblical faith.  These are the first occasions recorded in the Scriptures when one person forgives another for an offense.  But that’s not all: these two exchanges also establish the principle of Divine Providence.

History, as has been noted, is “His Story” – the unfolding of God’s plan and purpose for mankind. Though we think we are in command of our destiny, the truth is that God is on His throne and it is He Who reigns over our days. His purposes are accomplished, often in ways that we do not understand, but nevertheless work for our good and, more importantly, for His overall plan of Redemption.  There are no coincidences with God; no accidents.  God never says “Oops!”

Joseph’s greatness was that he sensed this. He learned that nothing in his life happened by accident. The brothers’ betrayal, the plot to kill him, his tenure as a slave, the false accusations of Potiphar’s wife, his time in prison, and his disappointed hope that the chief butler would remember him and secure his release – all these events failed to throw him into an unredeemable depression.  Rather, to his credit and for our example, they became stepping stones in the journey towards the fulfillment of his destiny.  How? Because along the way, Joseph chose to learn from his experiences rather than rail against them.

No leader succeeds without facing opposition, envy, false accusations and repeated setback. Given his closeness to his father, Jacob, before he was separated from him, it is reasonable to expect that Joseph learned this principle from Jacob, himself.

I don’t know if Winston Churchill read the Bible but he certainly reflects the life journey of Joseph in his famous quote:  “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

What sustained Joseph through the many trials he endured was his faith.  Somehow Joseph internalized that life was not just about him, but about something much bigger.  The faith he learned from his father, his grandfather and his great-grandfather stabilized him in the midst of chaos, encouraged him in the darkness and humbled him in success.  It as that very humility that enabled him to say to his brothers, “It was not you who sent me here, but God.”

In Tune with Torah this week = By recognizing, like Joseph, that we are no more than co-authors of our lives, we are empowered to survive without resentment towards the past or despair about the future. Trust in God despite any obstacles or setbacks is his message to us this week. Whatever malice other people may harbor against us, if we can say, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good,” we will survive, our strength intact, our energy undiminished.  May the God of Joseph, Whom we also serve, grant us that same perspective.

If you have found this message helpful, pass it on to a friend.

Shabbat Shalom and blessings to all at this season.

Weekly Torah Commentary — Vayigash Dec. 18, 2015

Genesis 44:18-47:27

In this dramatic reading, Joseph and his brothers are finally united.  It is the first biblical record of forgiveness between family members and has much to say to us, not only about forgiveness but also about reconciliation.  They are not the same thing.

Forgiveness is a choice. Forgiveness means giving up the right to seek repayment from the one who harmed you. From one perspective, forgiveness is a form of voluntary ‘suffering’. Look at it this way.

If a friend hurts your reputation with gossip or unkind words, you have two choices: ‘pay’ them back with a cold shoulder, with unkind words about them to others, or refusing to reconcile with them.  Or you forgive, and you absorb the suffering yourself.  Someone always pays every debt.

Forgiveness is a promise first, to refrain from retribution or revenge and secondly, to deny yourself the luxury of brooding or obsessing over the wrong that was done.  Forgiveness does not excuse the misbehavior of the other person, but it does recognize that all humanity is flawed and therefore you choose to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  We all need forgiveness at various times throughout our lives so give it freely and you will reap it back in abundance.

In revealing himself to his brothers, Joseph freely expressed his forgiveness.  In fact, he went so far as to free them from the burden of guilt by saying, “it was not you, but God, who sent me here…”

But, you may ask, if he was so ready to forgive them, why did he treat them harshly when they first went down to Egypt?  This is where we learn about reconciliation.  You can forgive someone for an offense without reconciling with them.  In fact, reconciliation often takes some time depending on the nature of the offense.  Because you forgive someone who betrayed you, for example, doesn’t mean you have to trust them immediately.  That’s what we see displayed in Joseph’s actions.

Had his brothers truly changed? Or were they still quarrelsome and cantankerous? Joseph put them through a series of tests designed to reveal their character, the ultimate one being the encounter with his brother, Judah, in Genesis 44:18-34.  Judah – the one who originally suggested selling Joseph – now humbly pleads for mercy regarding Benjamin and even offers himself to take Benjamin’s place.  That was the moment when Joseph knew that his brother’s repentance was real.  And so the very next verse, Gen. 45:1, says “Joseph could stand it no longer…”and putting everyone out of the room he cries out, “I am Joseph!”  Though he had forgiven them long ago, at this moment they are reconciled.  Joseph could trust them again.  Why? Because when faced with the opportunity to abandon (betray) Benjamin as they had betrayed him, they refused to do so and instead begged for mercy.

Joseph never lost his hope for a restored and healed relationship with his brothers and reunion with his father.  But Joseph was wise enough to know that while forgiveness can be given – even at a distance from the offender – reconciliation requires a rebuilding of trust.  The tests he put his brothers through paved the way for full reconciliation.

We have all been hurt and we have all hurt others. If we refuse to forgive, we damage our own souls.  (Even the Mayo Clinic has published articles on the negative effects to one’s physical and mental health of harboring resentment and bitterness.)  The Torah – indeed – all of Scripture exhorts to forgive one another.  But that’s the first step.  The next is reconciliation.  Depending on the offense, it can take a little time or a lot of time. There will always be a need for patience on the road to reconciliation. What matters is that like Joseph we never give up hope.

In Tune with Torah this week = Are you holding on to any resentment or bitterness? Do you harbor a coldness, an irritability toward someone? Are you refusing to ‘let go’ of past hurts? Do you justify your negative attitude and anger towards someone?  If any of these questions elicit a ‘yes’, don’t you think it’s time to move on? To mend broken relationships? To cleanse your own soul of the damaging effects of nursing old wounds? May God help us all to move closer to unity and peace within our families and communities.

Shabbat shalom.

 

 

 

 

Weekly Torah Commentary — Ki Tetzei August 28, 2015

Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19

In this week’s Torah lesson we encounter the greatest number of commandments listed in a single reading. Among them is the following: Do not hate an Edomite, because he is your brother. Do not hate an Egyptian, because you were a stranger in his land. (Deut. 23:8)

We may read that verse casually but think about the context. Moses delivers this commandment to the children of former slaves. The generation about to enter the Promised Land are the offspring of those whom Moses led out of slavery in Egypt, those who stood at Mt. Sinai and saw the glory of God on the mountain. The experiences of their parents and grandparents are vivid memories. And of all things, God through Moses commands them (doesn’t suggest mind you but commands) to forsake hatred toward the very ones who had enslaved and abused their forefathers. They’d imposed hard labor on them, threw scores of their male infants into the Nile and made their lives difficult beyond our understanding.

Yet 40 years later, Moses utters this commandment as if none of those atrocities had happened! In fact, he implies that the children of Israel owed the Egyptians a debt of gratitude for their hospitality!! Isn’t this the same Moses who at the command of God instructed the Israelites to observe the Passover every year to remember what they’d been through and celebrate their divine deliverance? Why would God give such a commandment?

The answer is as simple as it is profound. To be free, you must let go of hate. The children of the former slaves must not continue in a slavery mentality for mental and emotional chains are the most devastating of all.

Hatred, bitterness, resentment, rage and the urge to ‘get even’ betray a profound lack of understanding regarding true freedom. What Moses is teaching them is that while they must remember the past, they must not live in it. Anyone who allows the past to define who they are in the present has not yet been set free.

When the Torah commands “you shall remember that you were slaves in Egypt” it never intends the remembrance as justification for hatred or revenge. Rather it is always to urge the children of Israel to learn from what they experienced and never impose the same on others but instead to build a compassionate and just society.

The message repeated several times: Don’t subject others to hard labor or impose burdens such as your fathers endured. Be careful to remember the rest and freedom of every seventh day. Give generously to the poor. Let them eat from the leftovers of the harvest. Share your blessings with others. Don’t deprive people of their livelihood, etc.

The framework of the Torah is built on this principle: you know in your heart what it feels like to be the victim of persecution, therefore do not persecute others.

“Remember” – not to live in the past but to prevent its repetition at your own hands.

To experience what God calls freedom, the enslaved must be able to let go of antagonism to his former master.

Hatred and freedom cannot coexist. To create a non-persecuting society out of people who have been persecuted, the chains of the past must be broken; memories must transform into constructive outlets that serve to build a different future.

Freedom requires the abandonment of hate, because hate is the abdication of freedom. It projects our conflicts onto someone or something else we can then blame, refusing to accept personal responsibility for the present. Moses’ message to those who were about to enter the promised land: that a free society can be built only by people who define themselves by love of God, not hatred of the other.

In Tune with Torah this week = how much do we let ourselves be defined by our past instead of learning from it and moving on into the future free of negativity, bitterness and hatred? Forgiveness and letting go is a fundamental requisite for experiencing the freedom God created us to enjoy.

Shabbat Shalom

Weekly Torah Commentary – Vayishlach December 5, 2014

Genesis 32:4-36:43

In this week’s reading, the brothers, Jacob and Esau, meet again after a separation of twenty two years. Years before, Esau had sworn to kill Jacob in revenge for what he saw as the theft of his blessing. Is he still angry enough to kill? Jacob sends messengers to let his brother know he is coming. On their return, they inform Jacob that Esau is coming to meet him with four hundred men. We then read:

Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. (32:8)

Jacob is in the grip of strong emotions. But what is the difference between fear and distress? Could it be that he was in fear of being killed? And distressed that he might have to kill his own brother in self-defense?

The difference between being afraid and distressed is that it is one thing to fear one’s own death, quite another to contemplate being the cause of someone else’s. Jacob was distressed at the possibility of being forced to kill even if that were entirely justified by the concept of self-defense..

At stake is a moral dilemma. A dilemma is not simply a conflict. There are many moral conflicts. May we perform an abortion to save the life of the mother, for example? When two duties conflict the higher value, once determined, takes priority. An answer is forthcoming.

A dilemma, however, is a situation in which there is no right answer. I ought not to do A (allow myself to be killed); I ought not to do B (kill someone else); but I must do one or the other. The fact that one principle (self-defense) overrides another (the prohibition against killing) does not mean that, faced with such a choice, I am without inner qualms. Sometimes being moral means that I experience distress at finding myself in the position to even make such a choice. Doing the right thing may mean that I do not feel guilt, but I may still feel regret that I had to do what I did at all.

A moral system which leaves room for the existence of dilemmas is one that does not attempt to eliminate the complexities of the human life. In a conflict between two rights or two wrongs, there may be a proper way to act but this does not cancel out all emotional pain. It is indicative of Jacob’s greatness that he was capable of moral anxiety even at the prospect of doing something entirely justified, namely defending his own life at the cost of his brother’s. A person or a nation capable of feeling distress, even in victory, is one that knows the tragic complexity of moral life.

In Tune with Torah this week = in the complicated times of life, are we the kind of people who seek to choose the higher ground and establish priorities while maintaining a sincere love towards our fellow man? Imagine yourself in Jacob’s shoes. How would you have felt?

Shabbat Shalom

What’s the Fuss about ELUL? August 25, 2014

The month of ELUL on the Hebrew calendar is a thirty day preparation period for the upcoming festival of Yom Teruah (The Day of the Blowing of the Shofar), also commonly called Rosh Hashana, the new year. Throughout this month, Jews around the world and other biblical believers who are in tune with the festivals of the Lord as described in Leviticus 23, turn their attention to the subject of repentance.

Rosh Hashana is seen as the world’s ‘annual review’. In the course of your career, many of you may have experienced a corporate annual review. You know what that means. But did you know that all peoples and all nations also undergo an Annual Review in the courts of heaven? That, in fact, is what the festival is all about.

Now, if you were facing an important court date, an event that could potentially alter your entire future depending on its outcome, you would likely prepare thoroughly for weeks ahead of time, driven by a desire for the most favorable outcome possible.

On Rosh Hashanah, whether mankind is aware of it or not, the heavenly books are opened and God conducts His own audit of each individual as well as each nation. What have you done in the past year with the blessings you’ve received, the challenges you’ve faced, the talents you possess? Have you used each one as a platform for higher growth as a person? Are you, for example, a bit wiser than you were at this time last year? Are you kinder? More compassionate? Or by contrast, is your temper shorter and your faith weaker?

What of the nation? Is justice and righteousness increasing? Or is morality breaking down?

In both cases, it is His assessment that ordains the events of the coming year. What is it that you need to experience in the year to come in order to draw closer to Him, to lead a meaningful and effective life and to advance personally towards the fulfillment of your life’s purpose?

Understanding what is at stake as Rosh Hashana approaches, on the first of Elul the wise begin a period of intensive introspection, of clarifying life’s goals, and of coming closer to God. It is a time for refocusing on our purpose in life while turning away from robotic existence. It is a time when we step back and look at ourselves critically and honestly with the intention of improving. After all, who doesn’t want a favorable ‘Annual Review’?

Elul is the time that we acknowledge our failures, apologize where necessary and make amends to repair any residual damage because of our words or actions.

Elul is THE month to be reminded that life on this earth is at best temporary but a greater world awaits.
Your position and mine in the world to come will profoundly reflect how we lived our time on this earth.
The young don’t often think of such realities, but as we get older, we do. And so we should…at every age.

Psalm 27 is thematic for the month of Elul and deserves our attention and meditation.

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the defense of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident.

One thing I have asked of the LORD, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD
And to meditate in His temple.

For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.

And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,
And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.

Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice, And be gracious to me and answer me.

When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me, Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help; Do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation!

For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me up.

Teach me Your way, O LORD, and lead me in a level path
Because of my foes.

Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries,
For false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence.
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.

Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.

Elul is a sober time but it is not a fearful time for the God of Israel reaches out to us as we turn towards Him. He loves the repentant soul and because His mercies are new every morning and His compassion never fails, we are assured of forgiveness as we prepare for a brand new start in a brand new Hebrew year.

Elul 1 falls on August 27, 2014, two days from now.

What does this post say to you? I look forward to your comments.