Tisha B’Av

  1. What It’s All About:

This is not one of the Jewish Feasts I normally come in and teach. But 2020 is definitely unique, and Tisha B’av [Tee-sha-bah-auv] is also quite unique.

It is a Fast day – and the saddest day of the years for Jews – because of the many tragedies that occurred on it throughout history – including the destruction of both temples on this same day but around 650 years apart.

It’s a very important date with lots of lessons the church needs in this hour and may help us understand what’s happening in 2020, why it’s happening and most importantly what we are supposed to do about it.

And there is no better day than Tisha B’av that sums up the meaning of the Sound of Revival that Victory is all about.

The 9th of Av is all about tragedy and loss.

It’s about what happens when you don’t learn the lessons you should from what you have lost.
It’s about condemning yourself to relearn the lesson over and over, until absolute devastation occurs.

It’s about what happens when God withdraws His presence because we refuse to obey Him, or even worse, we don’t recognize Him or His voice.

After man sinned in the Garden of Eden [which was a form of temple because they could meet with God there and experienced His abiding presence].

Although God is omnipresent, He has chosen to manifest His presence in certain locations and at certain times within history. This physical manifestation of God has come to be called the Shekinah.

Sin separated them and us from meeting with God. He was holy and we were not, and His holiness is all consuming so in order not to destroy us, He had to withdraw.

The tabernacle in the wilderness and later the temple were the first meeting places He established where His abiding presence would come down where He could meet with Israel safely and deal with their sin through sacrifice and blood rather than destroy them.

Today the temple is no more because it was destroyed 2,000 years ago. They took His abiding presence for granted and He left.
This day, from beginning to end is not about buildings – It’s about His abiding presence.

The Spies

But wait – the story doesn’t start with the tragedy of the temple being destroyed – this story goes back to the days God brought Israel out of slavery in Egypt to take them into the promised land. If you know the story of the Exodus, you know the Israelites disobeyed and murmured and rebelled a lot.

Even when they were on the border of the promised land, they found a way not only to rebel, but to establish a special day that God would use to get their attention for the next 1,500 years. They sent out 12 men to spy out the land and 10 of them came back with a bad report which made the entire nation refuse to enter into the land. That day was Tisha B’Av 3,500 years ago today.

God would teach that generation that disobedience leads to mourning. Numbers 14:26-38 “The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites. So tell them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will do to you the very thing I heard you say: In this wilderness your bodies will fall—every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me…When Moses reported this to all the Israelites, they mourned bitterly.”

The 9th day of the month of Av, became a day of mourning ever since.

There Was a Precursor to the 9th of Av Tragedies

The issue that started it all happened a year before the Spies bad report, when they arrived at Mt. Sinai. Moses ascended Mount Sinai on Shavuot and remained there for forty days.
Aaron made the Golden Calf on the afternoon of the 16th of Tammuz and Moses descended the next day (the 17th), and saw that the Israelites were violating many of the laws he had just received from God, and smashed the tablets.

The Three Weeks

The 17th of Tammuz begins a three-week period of mourning called “The Three Weeks” or in Hebrew Bein haMetzarim [bane-huh-met-zuh-reem] which concludes with today’s fast on the 9th of Av, the saddest day of the Jewish calendar.

There is a logical progression in the three weeks. The 17th of Tammuz is their outright rejection of God’s law, which Moses was kind enough to express the significance when he smashed the tablets to the ground.

Not only did they reject His law, but they didn’t trust God to lead them and fulfill His promises, so on the very borders of His promises, they chose to believe the word of mere men over the promises of God on the 9th of Av.

Temple Temple

This date would be set apart to teach them to seek His presence.
They didn’t learn and nearly a thousand years passed when their first temple was destroyed because of their idolatry and sin and they would be exiled on the 9th of Av.

Another 650 years would pass and their second temple would be destroyed when they rejected their Messiah Yeshua Jesus on the 9th of Av.

Lots of bad tragic things happened on these days, but the overriding message that God would fight to place in their hearts was to seek His presence and love His presence.

I’m going to take you on a journey to explore what happened, how it happened, why it happened, and how it relates to us today as we dig into this very important day of Tisha B’Av. 

  1. The Glory

“Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body.” John 2:19-21

Over the next 40 years things got bad in Jerusalem. The Talmud bears record to a spiritual decay among the people, such that murders became so widespread that the Sanhedrin ceased to adjudicate capital crimes such as homicide.

They had totally missed their Messiah, and what came next was going to be impossible to miss.

There was a big difference between the destruction of the first temple and the destruction of the second temple. The first time they went into exile for 70 years and then returned to rebuild.

The second time they were thrown out of the land. Not long after the Triumphal Entry in 33 AD, Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, saying not one stone would be left upon another. That’s exactly what happened in 70 AD when four Roman legions breached the city walls and destroyed the city until there was left nothing to make those that came believe Jerusalem had ever been inhabited”. Hundreds of thousands of Jews perished, looted treasures were carried off to Rome along with about 1/3 of the population carried off as slaves.

The conquering general Titus refused the victory wreath because he thought there was no merit in vanquishing a people forsaken by their own God.

God wanted to be very clear just how profoundly they missed him 2,000 years ago, even though today most still haven’t been able to hear or receive the good news of Jesus Christ and recognize Yeshua their Messiah.

The message was very loud. After almost 60 years of peace after the temple was destroyed, many Jews quietly began coming back and buying land and restarting their lives,

but then the Bar Kokhba revolt exploded when Emperor Hadrian came to build a temple to Jupiter on the site of the destroyed Temple around 130 AD. In fact, Hadrian was coming to Jerusalem to defeat Christianity due to its rapid spread across the Empire. Rome sent ten legions, a third of the empire’s army and killed 580,000 Jews.

The Romans erased any ancient names and associations with Israel and Judah, banned the Mosaic Law and Judaism in the city, circumcision was forbidden, Jews were expelled from the city and barred Jews from entering Jerusalem except once a year on Tisha B’Av. Jews were forbidden to reside within a ten-mile radius of Jerusalem.

Hadrian rebuilt Jerusalem as a Roman colony and renamed the city Aelia Capitolina and the province was renamed Palestine, eliminating the name Israel. Sites which had an association with Jesus Hadrian built pagan temples and shrines over them. Three years later, in conformity with Roman custom, Jerusalem was plowed up with a yoke of oxen and sowed with salt. Emperor Constantine I, who brought back the name Jerusalem in 324.

The Glory Has Departed

God prophesied the departure of His glory in Deuteronomy 31:17-18, “Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?’” In Hosea 9:12, God proclaimed, “Woe to them when I depart from them!”

God’s Shekinah glory came to dwell in the temple built by Solomon and remained in the temple for centuries. But after the Jews continued in false, idolatrous worship, the presence of God left the temple prior to its destruction by the Babylonians.

Ezekiel 10 begins with the image of the living cherubim carrying God’s throne. God gives the order to the man in linen to gather coals of fire from between the cherubim and scatter them over the city of Jerusalem (verses 1-3). This symbolizes that God has now judged the city.

The glory or presence of God then begins to move from the Holy of Holies to the threshold of the temple. Then the glory of God leaves the temple through the east gate, it proceeds to the Mount of Olives and ascends to heaven. Just as Jesus did in the same spot.

Even when the second temple was rebuilt after the exile, God’s glory did not occupy it.

When the Shekinah glory came Centuries later the shepherds saw the glory appear in the sky as angels announced the birth of Jesus. The coming of Christ in the flesh was God’s Shekinah coming to dwell with human beings as Emmanuel, but the leaders of the temple didn’t recognize Him or the glory.

When the Jesus was offered on the cross, the veil of the Second Temple was torn from top to bottom showing that separation between God and a priest was done away with by Christ.

“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” Hebrews 10

God’s temple is now His Church. He now dwells in us through the Holy Spirit.

In Revelation 21:22-23 we learn about the new Jerusalem on the new earth, “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.”

This is quite possibly the most important revelation we can grasp about the temple. The Messiah and His bride have become one. The temples of old were always just a place for man to encounter God.

Even now, we are the temples of God because He is dwelling in us here on the earth. Each of the temples that were destroyed and the tabernacle that preceded them were in fact representative of Jesus. They were never intended to last; they were always just a picture of what was to come when we would be one. In Jesus, the temple is eternal.

For Christians, this day is the time to examine our union with God. Are we living in revival?
During the 21 days, our focus is on the sin and the condition of our hearts that made His glory depart. 

  1. Lamenting

The book in the Bible that we call Lamentations is read on Tisha B’Av.
It is a song of mourning for the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.

In Hebrew it’s called Eicha [e-haw], which is the first word of the book, which is a question – How.
“Eicha! lies the city, once so full of people! She who was great among the nations has become a widow. The princess of the provinces has become a slave.”

The First Temple was lost because of idol worship, sexual immorality, and bloodshed.
but the Jews believe that the Second Temple was destroyed because of unjustifiable hatred that was permeating Jewish society. Those actions were rampant and evil – but NOT why the temple was destroyed.

Their sin was rejecting Jesus their Messiah (Yeshua Salvation). He came to be crucified for their sins, and they did play that part along with the Romans, but while the apostles and the early Christians were all Jews, most of the Jews rejected Him and persecuted the Church.

Eicha is the perfect place to start for all of us asking with emotion, “God; “How, Alas”, did we get here, so far apart from You?”

The word “Eicha” appears for the first time in the Torah in Genesis in the Garden of Eden.
In Hebrew, Eicha, is written with the same letters as the word “ayeka” [eye] when God turns to Adam and Eve and asks them, “Where are you?”

So it’s asking us to take stock of where we are and how we got here, with the purpose of finding a solution. It’s also assuming that you are asking God, where are you, and why are you not with me, why did you leave?

Deuteronomy 1:12 Moses says, “[Eicha] How can I alone bear your problems and your burdens and your complaints?”
Isaiah 1:21 Isaiah laments Israel, “Eicha, she has become a harlot, the faithful city that was filled with justice, where righteousness dwelt- but now murderers.”

The real purpose of Tisha B’Av and this season of fasting is to quiet yourself to God’s voice, allow Jesus to speak, and then to obey.

Just after Pentecost Peter preached this to the Jews in Jerusalem in Acts 3, “But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses…Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”

Wherever we go, we now take the tabernacle with us. 1 Corinthians 6:19 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?”

Can We Hear God Speaking to America

In 2020 America has faced a deadly virus and injustice. The world has responded with a mask, quarantine, preventing doctors from prescribing medicines of choice, shutting down the economy, separation, protests, rioting, looting, destruction, and anarchy. This year 2020, or biblical 5780, is the Hebrew word “peywhich means mouth, speech, and breath. This corona virus pandemic is spread by breath which can kill, but it is the words spoken that take away peace.

The news media, social media, and aspects of the government portray Americans as deeply divided with positions that are growing more extreme daily. In reality, apart from the relentless spiritual attack that has been waged this year, almost all of this discord that we are allowing to separate us is superficial, and few can describe what they are so passionately against. Most issues will pass following the election. Many that are divisive today, will repent when the spiritual attacks subside.

The Grave is a Mouth

The meaning of Hebrew letters comes from the first time they are used in Scriptures. The 1st use of the letter pey in the Torah is Genesis 4:11 when Cain kills Able, “Now you are cursed because of the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.”

So, the mouth (pey) is the grave. There is death and curses and a last breath. If you have wondered why this year seems so out of control and somewhat exasperating, the spiritual forces we are struggling against are stirring up a lot of disunity and control.

Luke 6:45 tells us, “The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.”

A mask, protests, and violence won’t help covid, racism, hatred, anarchy, or any other spiritual entity. Sin is a heart issue. God wants to deal with our hearts.

God has highlighted the issues we need to deal with, but the world’s response has been to cover it, not correct it. To control others, to hinder freedom, to ostracize and deceive. The one thing that should be clear by now is that the world can’t solve these problems because they are coming from the demonic realm. The church seems ill equipped to be much help.

“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms?” Ephesians 6:12

If you wonder why and how this battle of control is taking place. It’s crazy insane nothing makes sense. It’s spiritual. Want to see these same demons in history, watch the Holocaust. You’ll keep asking how is this possible?

Purim / Bein haMetzarim [bane-huh-met-zuh-reem]

At Pentecost, I shared “Pentecost and the Pale Horse”, a teaching on the end-times glimpses that were occurring during those appointed times, including brief but terrible glimpses of the four horsemen of Revelation. I had hoped that those glimpses were behind us, but I believe that a second wave has begun with this month’s fasts called “The Three Weeks” which conclude today, the 9th of Av.

So, just as the Spring’s White Horse Glimpse occurred on Purim during the final month of winter, so the Fall Glimpse occurred during these last three weeks on Bein haMetzarim [bane-huh-met-zuh-reem] during the end of summer.

The biblical calendar is split into two 6-month periods, each with their own set of feasts. Much prophetic writing is written in the chiastic form, with two pieces looking at the other’s reflection. The Spring and Fall Feasts are like this. They mirror each other.

I’m not going to repeat the details of the “Pentecost and the Pale Horse” teachings, but it is available on our blog and podcasts at victory.radio. The glimpse of the Second Horse is just weeks away at Rosh Hashanah. I’ll also be in to share in about three weeks on the 1st of the month Elul to help get us ready for the great things God has planned. 

  1. Round Two of the Horsemen

The 1st Seal & The White Horse of Purim / Bein haMetzarim: “I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.” Revelation 6:2

Why did the 1st Horse glimpse occur during Purim and why did the second wave start with the 1st Horse glimpse now? Purim is the only Feast Day specifically about a crown (a king) and a conqueror that is bent on conquest. Likewise, Bein haMetzarim is a series of fast days focused on conquest and destruction.

This isn’t a second wave, it’s a second opportunity to fight and win. The church and the world lost the first wave in the Spring during the 1st Horseman Glimpse.Deception won. Division won. Separation won. It’s still winning every day.

The church cannot afford to have any purpose other than to shine His light, to love, to forgive, to do everything Jesus did. And to those at the cross, it looked like He was losing.

We have to be 100% confident of resurrection for ourselves, for the church, and for America. We have to believe in revival as an inevitability…not prepare for a new ab-normal.

If in order to win souls I have to temporarily surrender some rights, temporarily wear a mask…endure racial injustice…I need to guard my heart…honor those who dishonor me… I need to rightly represent Jesus.

There is a military tactic called a tactical retreat, or an organized withdrawal, which has led to brilliant victories throughout history. Washington’s escape across the East River after a terrible defeat enabled future victories. The Allies escape at Gallipoli in WWI proved to be a stroke of genius, as was the miraculous evacuation from Dunkirk in WWII.

The point of the strategy is to create unity not to be isolated and loud in a place of danger. There’s not just one way. There are many callings from doctors uniting to police uniting, etc.

Solomon taught, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and to die, a time to plant and to uproot, a time to kill and to heal, a time to tear down and to build, a time to weep and to laugh, a time to mourn and to dance, a time to scatter stones, and to gather them, a time to embrace and to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and to throw away, a time to tear and to mend, a time to be silent and to speak, a time to love and to hate, a time for war and for peace…I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.” Ecclesiastes 3

Remember the 12 spies and Caleb and Joshua’s bold stand. Their words are inspiring,
“Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.” Numbers 14
It happened today in history. Their confidence wasn’t in themselves, but God.

We are about three weeks from the month of Elul which will lead to the new Biblical Year of 5781, and a New Year is a good thing. It’s a time when the King is in the field, closer than every before.
They read Psalm 27 every day. “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14

Do everything to encounter Jesus and do His will. You will never regret your choices. The thief, in the form of this 1st Horseman, is stealing, killing, and destroying – at will – and we seem to be powerless to stop him – because we are demanding our rights, justice, and not walking in peace.

The First Horseman is still conquering on a grand scale so he will attack authority, rights, freedom, and justice. But this wave will be different. He will be conquering the areas of our individual compromises where God hasn’t been given authority.

While I did not deal with the identity of the 1st Horsemen in the Spring, I believe the fruit of his actions as a conqueror reveal a lot. There were two prominent falls from grace, Lucifer and Adam and Eve.

What is the source of their falls? Ezekiel 28 tells us of Lucifer, “Because your heart is lifted up” [or proud]…and also…“You were perfect…till iniquity [injustice, unrighteousness] was found in you.”

As for the Garden, Eve talked with that same fallen angel about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, “God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.”

The 1st Horseman

Ultimately, whatever name you call this horseman (pride, injustice, or knowing good and evil – instead of life), 1 Corinthians 15:56 tells us, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” We cannot know good and evil without the law, and the law always distracts us from knowing Jesus who is Life, because it focuses us on ourselves. What’s happening in our streets? Regardless if we are self-righteous or unrighteous, measuring using standards of what is good and what is bad is the fruit of death, because our eyes are completely off Jesus and on ourselves.

1 Samuel 16:7 reminds us, “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” When God does that, He’s looking for His reflection, Galatians 4:6 says, “Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” The remedy is the cross; the cure is life in Jesus. Meeting ours or other’s expectations can make us feel good, even when we are empty, dead, and bloated – yet unable to identify our pride?

Genesis 1:11 reveals a great truth, “Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind…” The fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, of which we ate, is always death because, what we sow…we will reap. Only Christ can rescue us by planting the new seed of Life in us.

Ephesians 2:6 tells us that Christ, “…raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” The fruit of what God did replaces our fallen temples and exiled hearts with His presence and perspective inside a renewed heart that is a new temple.

Able understood that his effective hunting didn’t bring about God’s approval any more than Cain’s excellent farming by toil and sweat. Blood made the difference, not what either did. Cain’s murderous rage was the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge. Remember, a tree has only one fruit, and the Tree of Knowledge didn’t produce good fruit and evil fruit, it produced one – the knowledge of good and evil.

An antichrist like the First Horseman is deceiving the world by offering it a false fruit that carries both natures so that what appears good to them and feels right to them is attracting them into following him instead of their calling.

  1. Tammuz is the Fourth Month

The Biblical calendar (which changes with the moon) is quite different than the Gregorian calendar (which follows the sun).

It is two six-month segments, that are each filled with feast days to encounter God in repentance, or to thank Him for the harvest and His blessings. Each has a new year. The Fall and Winter segment begins at creation. The Spring and Summer segment begins at Passover when we were born again or created anew. Each Biblical month begins somewhere toward the middle of the Gregorian months, so the month of July featured part of the months of Tammuz and Av. Today, July 30th is the 9th of Av which closes out The Three Weeks of fasting which began on July 9th, which was the 17th of Tammuz.

Tammuz begins the “season” of summer, which includes Tammuz, Av and Elul.

“Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the LORD, and I saw women sitting there, mourning the god Tammuz.” Ezekiel 8:14

Tammuz was the Sumerian sun god. The Sumerians marked the decline in daylight hours with a week long funeral for him beginning on the first of Tammuz at the summer solstice with great lamentation. This is the beginning of the literal journey into the dark. From that point forward the sun will begin to be seen less, leaving the world in ever-greater darkness as you head into Fall and Winter.

Ezekiel warned that the temple would be destroyed if they refused to repent. On Tammuz 9 Nebuchadnezzar breached the walls of Jerusalem, then on Tammuz 17, they ran out of animals to sacrifice so services had to be stopped. Three weeks later the temple was destroyed on the Ninth of Av.

The Three Weeks – Mourning from a Promise

The 17th of Tammuz begins a three-week period of mourning called Bein haMetzarim [bane-huh-met-zuh-reem] “The Three Weeks” which concludes with the fast on the 9th of Av, which is the saddest day of the Jewish calendar.

The 17th of Tammuz is a fast day to commemorate five tragic events that occurred on this date,

  1. Moses broke the tablets when he saw the Jewish people worshiping the Golden Calf.
    • Moses ascended Mount Sinai on Shavuot and remained there for forty days.
      Aaron made the Golden Calf on the afternoon of the 16th of Tammuz and Moses descended the next day (the 17th), and saw that the Israelites were violating many of the laws he had just received from God, and smashed the tablets
  2. During the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, the Jews were forced to cease offering the daily sacrifices due to the lack of sheep.
  3. Roman General Apostomos burned the Torah and placed an idol in the Temple.
  4. The Babylonians breached the walls of Jerusalem on their way to destroying the first Temple.
    • The wall was 22 feet thick and 24 feet high. It took 1 ½ years.
  5. The walls of Jerusalem were breached again on the 17th by the Romans, in 70AD, after a lengthy siege.

Mourning Observances During “The Three Weeks”:

They deliberately refrain from pleasure, so they don’t:

  • Conduct weddings
  • Play musical instruments, listen to music, or dance
  • Buy or wear new clothing
  • Eat fruit which we have not yet eaten this season
  • Get a haircut or shave
  • Go on vacation 
  1. The 9th of Av

  • The Spies Returned With a Bad Report 
  • Both Holy Temples Were Destroyed

The First Temple was destroyed on the 9th of Av (586 BC).
Five centuries later (in 70AD), the Romans destroyed the Second Temple on the same day as the first.

  • The Battle at Betar Was Lost

The Jews rebelled against Roman rule in 133 CE (the Bar Kokhba revolt) and were brutally butchered in the final battle at Betar on the 9th of Av, over 500,000 Jews killed!

  • The Romans Plowed the over the Temple Mount

One year after their conquest of Betar, the Romans plowed over the Temple Mount on the 9th of Av.

This was a common tactic of the Romans; they would plow over defeated cities with salt. The rationale was that nothing could grow following this treatment. This was both a symbol of total defeat and a way of subjugating the defeated inhabitants of the city.

This had already been prophesied by Micah. “Hear this, you leaders of Jacob, you rulers of Israel, who despise justice and distort all that is right; who build Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with wickedness. Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say, “Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us.” Therefore because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.” Micah 3:9-12

  • The Jews Were Expelled From England in 1290 CE on the 9th of Av! 
  • The Jews Were Banished From Spain

In 1492, Queen Isabella and Ferdinand ordered that the Jews be banished from the land. The Jews were given exactly four months to put their affairs in order and leave the country by the 9th of Av

  • World War I Began

Germany declared war on Russia, effectively catapulting the First World War into motion, in 1914 on the 9th of Av, which caused the upheaval of many Jewish communities and started the groundwork for World War II.

  • The Final Solution by Heinrich Himmler was approved on the ninth of Av in 1941, leading to the Holocaust, which killed one third of the world’s Jewish population.
  • The mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka in 1942.

Mourning Observances During The Nine Days

The final Nine Days of the Three Weeks are a time of intensified mourning. Starting on the first of Av, they refrain from:

  • eating meat
  • drinking wine
  • wearing freshly laundered clothes
  • Swim or bathe for pleasure
  • Remodel or expand a home
  • Plant trees to be used for shade or fragrance (as opposed to fruit trees)
  • Cut your nails
  • Traveling
  • You can become engaged to be married, but you can’t celebrate until after Tisha B’Av

The 9th of Av

Nine Av has even more stringent fasting restrictions. They abstain from:

  • Washing
  • applying lotions or creams
  • wearing leather shoes
  • marital relations
  • Until midday they sit on the floor or on low stools.
  • On Tisha B’Av, it is forbidden to study Torah since this is considered an enjoyable activity. However, upsetting texts such as the Book of Lamentations, and portions of Jeremiah are permitted.
  • In the pre-fast meal, a hard-boiled egg and a piece of bread dipped into ashes are eaten while sitting on the floor. 
  1. The Book of Eicha or Lamentations – How Lonely Lies the City!

1 How lonely lies the city, once so full of people! She who was great among the nations has become a widow. The princess of the provinces has become a slave.

2 She weeps aloud in the night, with tears upon her cheeks. Among all her lovers there is no one to comfort her. All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies.

3 Judah has gone into exile under affliction and harsh slavery; she dwells among the nations but finds no place to rest. All her pursuers have overtaken her in the midst of her distress.

4 The roads to Zion mourn, because no one comes to her appointed feasts. All her gates are deserted; her priests groan, her maidens grieve, and she herself is bitter with anguish.

5 Her foes have become her masters; her enemies are at ease. For the LORD has brought her grief because of her many transgressions. Her children have gone away as captives before the enemy.

6 All the splendor has departed from the Daughter of Zion. Her princes are like deer that find no pasture; they lack the strength to flee in the face of the hunter.

7 In the days of her affliction and wandering Jerusalem remembers all the treasures that were hers in days of old. When her people fell into enemy hands she received no help. Her enemies looked upon her, laughing at her downfall.

8 Jerusalem has sinned greatly; therefore she has become an object of scorn. All who honored her now despise her, for they have seen her nakedness; she herself groans and turns away.

9 Her uncleanness stains her skirts; she did not consider her end. Her downfall was astounding; there was no one to comfort her. Look, O LORD, on my affliction, for the enemy has triumphed!

10 The adversary has seized all her treasures. For she has seen the nations enter her sanctuary—those You had forbidden to enter Your assembly.

11 All her people groan as they search for bread. They have traded their treasures for food to keep themselves alive. Look, O LORD, and consider, for I have become despised.

16 For these things I weep; my eyes flow with tears. For there is no one nearby to comfort me, no one to revive my soul. My children are destitute because the enemy has prevailed.

Eicha – Chapter 3 – It Now Becomes Personal

Most of Lamentations or Eicha is painful to read and meditate on. That changes some in chapter 3 when Jeremiah shifts from mourning the temple and Jerusalem’s destruction to personalizing what was happening and finding hope in God.

1 I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of God’s wrath.
2 He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness instead of light.

3 Indeed, He keeps turning His hand against me all day long.
4 He has worn away my flesh and skin; He has shattered my bones.

5 He has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship.
6 He has made me dwell in darkness like those dead for ages.

7 He has walled me in so I cannot escape; He has weighed me down with chains.
8 Even when I cry out and plead for help, He shuts out my prayer.

17 My soul has been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18 So I say, “My strength has perished, along with my hope from the LORD.”

The Prophet’s Hope

21 Yet I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the loving devotion of the LORD we are not consumed, for His mercies never fail.
23 They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!

24 “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.”
25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.
26 It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

31 For the Lord will not cast us off forever.
32 Even if He causes grief, He will show compassion according to His abundant loving devotion.
33 For He does not willingly afflict or grieve the sons of men. 

  1. Effective Mourning

How to Mourn

Silence, Humility, Watchfulness

Silence and stillness before God are never empty, they are doorways that lead to His presence which is overflowing with joy, meaning, and truth; while endless words and information are sponges that soak up time while providing only meaningless opinions.

Set aside time every day to “Be still and know that HE is God.” Silence your phone and computer along with the bells, notices, and noise of social media, news, sports, and entertainment. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

“The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to hear as the learned.” Isaiah 50:4


Humility
is not thinking more highly of ourselves than we should. No one is worthy of the good God gives them or deserves the bad the devil brings. We know that “the rain falls on the just and the unjust.” How we respond to suffering, life, and the actions of others will flow from how we see ourselves and how we see our Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer. Worship the God who is greatest.

There was a day when the Israelites rejoiced at the thought of the temple. When Moses was to build the Tabernacle in the desert, the people rejoiced so much, that they gave too much.

“And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.” Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.” Exodus 36:2-7

Watchfulness is caution and awareness. Before any journey, we need to determine where we are and where we want to go. Write the details down, whether it’s how much you overspend, cheat the rules, neglect to do, or your tendency to be negative. Do you search for faults or virtues? Become aware, wake up, and get real with the real you.

We walk step by step and day by day with the confident, “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

Every month the new moon is dark to our eyes, but half of the Moon’s surface is always illuminated by the sun. However, our point of view determines just how much of that light we can see. That’s called a phase. As it begins to spin it waxes until it is fully lit up, and then it wanes until it’s dark again.

Life is also like that. It can seem dark at times and unbearable until life slowly lights up what we couldn’t see. When all is well and our joy is full, the little joys are neglected until they seem to all be gone, until…. 

  1. Rachel’s Sin

Rachel is one of the most beloved and honored patriarch women in Israel. And she has one of the most unusual stories, endings, and prophetic connections to the birth of Jesus the Messiah and connections to the exile into Babylon, and the endingless mourning of her people.

The weeping prophet Jeremiah prophesies of her legacy 1,300 years after she dies, “This is what the Lord says: “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” This is what the Lord says: “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,” declares the Lord. “They will return from the land of the enemy. So there is hope for your descendants,” declares the Lord. “Your children will return to their own land. “I have surely heard Ephraim’s moaning:”

Another 600 years would pass until the first part of that prophecy came to pass with a horrific genocide following the birth of Jesus, Herod put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: “A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” Matthew 2:16-18

You probably know some of the story. Jacob asked for her hand and her father agreed. “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her.” (Genesis 29:20) and then it got interesting. Laban slips her older sister Leah under the chuppah and in the morning tells Jacob he can have Rachel if he works another 7 years. Amazingly, he does. His love for her is that great.

The Cave of Machpela

Let’s skip to the end of the story and visit The Cave of Machpela, which is called the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron that holds the bodies of four couples.

Adam and Eve are said to be buried in the cave. Of course, you’ll find Abraham and Sarah, and Isaac and Rebekah. There’s a Midrash that says, “Whoever is interred there has multiple rewards”, which bring us to the final couple, Jacob and…Leah? They are all buried in Hebron, but not Rachel, the beloved of Jacob. And it’s a big deal where you are buried. Even Joseph made his kids promise to bring his bones 460 miles from Egypt to be buried in Shechem, where he had been sold into slavery by his brothers. It was the place his father Jacob had dug a well, where Abram had met with God, and where Moses would speak blessing and curses over Israel. Graves were a big deal.

So what about Rachel? The beloved girl Jacob worked a total of 14 years to marry, she’s buried right where she died giving birth to Benjamin, alongside the road by Bethlehem Ephrath, 14 miles from Hebron. There is a story there. After Jacob worked 20 years for her father, it was time for their family to leave, and they did during the night. But while packing, Rachel stole the precious household idols that were her fathers. Laban chases them, catches them, and confronts them, “And now you have surely gone because you greatly long for your father’s house, but why did you steal my gods?” Jacob knew nothing about it and said: “With whomever you find your gods, they shall not live.” It turns out, Rachel who was probably pregnant and therefore unclean, had put the idols in her camel’s saddle, and sat on them. And she said to her father, “I cannot rise before you, for the manner of women is with me.” And he searched everywhere else but did not find the household idols.” Genesis 31:28-35

Teraphim

The idols in question were called an abomination called teraphim first created by the idolatrous and evil Canaanites. They were mummified heads of their ancestors and they were considered magic so people would talk to them and supposedly they would talk back (so essentially they were inhabited by demons). Sadly, they were not uncommon (David’s wife Mical, the daughter of King Saul, had them).

While her lies and treachery worked, she hadn’t counted on the curse from Jacob, “With whomever you find your gods, they shall not live.” At this point Jacob wrestles with God and meets Esau and reconciles with him, God changes Jacob’s name to Israel and then they arrive at their destination and apparently Jacob found the idols, “Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments…So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree which was by Shechem.”

Then they journeyed from Bethel. And when there was but a little distance to go to Ephrath, Rachel labored in childbirth, and she had hard labor. And so it was, as her soul was departing (for she died), that she called his name Ben-Oni (son of my sorrow); but his father called him Benjamin (son of my right hand). So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). And Jacob set a pillar on her grave.” Genesis 35:1-4,16-20

Jacob wrestled with a pre-incarnate Jesus who changed his name and heart so much that he gave his fortune to Esau. But Rachel was still hoping to hear from dead skulls.

Her lonely grave (not far from where her destiny was in Hebron) is a reminder that those who hold on to their father’s sins will forfeit the inheritance that God has set apart for them.

 One of the more disturbing things about this story is that Rachel, who obsessed over these talking dead skulls was venerated after she died by many Jews in the same way Mary is venerated to many Catholics. People started praying to Rachel, and when the Jews were taken into captivity, they stacked stones on her grave for her to remember them and pray for them.

  1. Rachel’s Tomb

Now, do you remember Jeremiah’s prophecy that’s quoted in Matthew 2? “A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). And Jacob set a pillar on her grave.”

Rachel’s Tomb is located in Bethlehem Ephrath
Is that significant? She was part of the tribe of Judah, who were shepherds. She died in the place Passover lambs were raised and birthed. The shepherds of Bethlehem were in charge of raising sheep for the temple sacrifices. Every lamb born there made its way to Jerusalem to be sacrificed.

Micah 4:8 “And you, O Tower of the Flock (in Hebrew, Migdal Eder [mig-dale e-dar]),
the stronghold of the daughter of Zion,
unto you shall it come, even the first dominion;
the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem”
Meaning, a king would be born at Migdal Eder to a girl from the line of David.

The shepherds of Bethlehem Ephratah knew that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
Just northeast of the shepherd’s fields are the ruins of ancient Bethlehem Ephratah,
near a place called Migdal Eder – near the tomb of Rachel. At the base of the Migdal Eder watchtower was a special birthing room called The Manger, for birthing these very special sacrificial lambs. 1,900 years before Jesus was born, He was lining things up to redeem Rachel.

“This is what the LORD says: “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

What’s significant about Jeremiah’s prophecy?

Ramah means “from a mountain height or high place”

  • It was one of the high places in northern Israel just north of Bethlehem, where they made sacrifices to false gods.
  • It was where Nebuzaradan (the commander of Nebuchadnezzar’s guard) assigned the fate of each captive “such as were for death” to death, others to exile, and others again to remain as bondsmen in the land.]
  • Ramah was located in the land of Benjamin. He was the baby that was born as Rachel died.

Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

  • Rachel’s name means a ewe – so her cry in Ramah is literally the cry of a lamb alone on a high hill, which will cause the shepherd to leave the 99 to find it.
  • What’s significant about her focus on death and refusing to be comforted? She struggled with barrenness her whole life. Genesis 30:1 “Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die!”
  • Fast forward many years in the future when Joseph was grown and his brothers sold him into slavery and said he was dead. “Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” So his father wept for him.” Genesis 37:34
  1. Rachel’s Reward

Her barrenness was so bad that she said, “Here is Bilhah, my servant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and I too can build a family through her.” So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. The first son was named Dan, which means, “God has vindicated me”.

Bilhah’s second son was even more interesting, “And Rachel’s maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. Then Rachel said, “With great wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and indeed I have prevailed. So she called his name Naphtali.” Genesis 30:7-8

It looks like she says she defeated her sister, but “Great wrestlings” in Hebrew is “Elohiym naphtuwl” which means wrestling with God.
That’s pretty prophetic. Several years in the future Jacob will literally wrestle with God and have his name changed to Israel because he prevailed.

“Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.” She named him Joseph, [which means “Jehovah has added” – and the name also implies that God healed her womb so that she can continue to have children] and she said, “May the Lord add to me another son.” Joseph was born near the end of the month of Tammuz.

Back to the last part of Jeremiah’s prophecy about Rachel weeping, “This is what the Lord says: “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,” declares the Lord. “They will return from the land of the enemy. So there is hope for your descendants,” declares the Lord. “Your children will return to their own land.” Jeremiah 31:15-16

Why is her work of mourning rewarded?

Her last actions were to steal idols from her father and hide them. It probably led to her dying in childbirth and why she was buried on the roadside and her bones are not brought to Hebron with the other Patriarchs.

Fast forward to the birth of the Messiah Jesus. An angel warns Joseph to take him and Mary and escape to Egypt. So, Herod gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under.
Which leads to Jeremiah’s prophecy quoted by Matthew, “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” Matthew 2:13-17

So, Jesus goes to Egypt, where the Israelites would eventually be captive and enslaved, meanwhile, all of the babies from the same region in Benjamin where Nebuchadnezzar would slaughter everyone, are slaughtered 650 years later by Herod, so are all of the promises void? No, Jesus returns, like the captives, and dies for His people, and empties Hades taking every one of those babies.

Her Reward is both complicated and fascinating

Leah’s first-born Reuben picks her some mandrake plants. Rachel asks for some and Leah replies, “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son’s mandrakes too?”

So, Rachel trades the mandrakes to Leah to allow Leah to spend the evening with Jacob, and they have a 5th son named, Issachar which means [reward].

Rachel and Lea have been forced to compete for Jacob’s love and children the whole marriage, and finally Rachel learns to celebrate Leah’s children and ability to have children even though she remains childless. A few years would pass but God would open Rachel’s womb.

The lesson is: Just as Jesus tells us to pray for His kingdom to come and to seek it first, so we need to seek His will, not our own, and there is a reward – all things will be added to you. This is the heart that intercedes for the children of Israel.

This is a prophetic picture of Jesus praying in Gethsemane. He had laid down His glory, in laying down His life he was choosing to be childless. He finishes this prophetic picture of Jeremiah’s as His actions of dying bring the reward of not only children, but a kingdom.

He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied…Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great…and He shall divide the spoil with the strong.” Isaiah 53

12. Sabbath of Comforting

The Shabbat after Tisha B’Av is called the Sabbath of Comforting. They read parts of the Book of Isaiah, that speak of comforting the people for all their suffering and also redemption. They do that for seven weeks  leading up to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

Comforting Father

The fifth month is Av, literally means “father.” It is customary to add the name “Menachem,” which means “comforter” or “consoler”—so Menachem Av.

The month of Av includes the saddest day of the year – the 9th of Av that saw the sin of the spies, Israel’s rejection of the promised land, the destruction of both Temples, and many other tragedies occurred. Yet the Father is a comforter and consoler.

Marriage – Tu B’Av

But one week later on the 15th of Av is a time of celebration.
Similar to Valentine’s Day – it’s said to be a great day for weddings

It’s a marriage holiday and one of the happiest days on the Jewish calendar.
It is also a timeless picture of the promise that after Israel rebels and God scatters her,
God will restore her.

Tu B’Av was a joyous holiday in the days of the Temple in Jerusalem, marking the beginning of the grape harvest. Yom Kippur marked the end of the grape harvest.

On both dates the unmarried girls of Jerusalem dressed in white garments, and went out to dance in the vineyards

Various reasons for celebrating on Tu B’Av are cited by the Talmud and Talmudic commentators:

  • While the Jews wandered in the desert for forty years, female orphans without brothers could only marry within their tribe to prevent their father’s inherited territory in the Land of Israel from passing on to other tribes.
    On the fifteenth of Av, this ban was lifted and inter-tribal marriage was allowed.
  • During the 40th Year: The last of the rebellious generation died, and everyone who had been under the age of 20 during the rebellion stepped into the promise of God that they would enter the promise land.

For forty years in the desert, on every Tisha B’av night, the Jews made graves to sleep in for the night. Every year some woke up, and some didn’t.

In the 40th year, 15,000 went to sleep in the graves and woke up the next day. But after 40 years of burying their family members, they kept sleeping in graves every night for a week in case they made a mistake with the date.
They did this until they reached Tu B’Av and saw a full moon. Only then did they know they were going to enter the Land of Israel with the new generation.

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor [trouble] a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. “In that day,” declares the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’” Hosea 2:14-16

Seasons of Joy and Gladness

Zechariah 8:14-23 “For thus says the Lord of hosts: “As I purposed to bring disaster to you when your fathers provoked me to wrath, and I did not relent, says the Lord of hosts, so again have I purposed in these days to bring good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah; fear not. These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace; do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the Lord.

And the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month [Tammuz 17] and the fast of the fifth [9th of Av] and the fast of the seventh [this was a fast for Gedaliah, the governor of Jerusalem who inspired hope that the temple could be rebuilt, but was assassinated] and the fast of the tenth [when the siege of Nebuchadnezzar first began the previous year] shall be to the house of Judah seasons of joy and gladness and cheerful feasts. Therefore love truth and peace.”

So, again, all of these fast days, one day, will become seasons of joy and gladness and cheerful feasts.

 

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