1. An Example and A Warning
This Is Not a Feast Day So Why Am I Here?
For the same reason as on Feast Days – God likes repetition.
He often does things on the same day across millennia. For instance, the date of Passover,
the 14th of Aviv/Nissan, was significant multiple times for 500 years before the first Passover.
And the purpose of Passover wasn’t fulfilled until 1,500 years after the first Passover,
when Yeshua Jesus came and died on the cross on that same date, Passover as the Lamb of God.
Even though the 17th of Tammuz isn’t a major Feast Day, it’s been a significant day for 4,000 years.
This is what 1 Corinthians says about these dates and times, “I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that all our ancestors who left Egypt were under the cloud, and they all went through the sea. They were all united with Moses by baptism in the cloud and in the sea…Yet, God was not pleased with most of them, so their dead bodies were scattered over the desert. These things have become examples for us so that we won’t desire what is evil, as they did.”
“So don’t worship false gods as some of them did, as Scripture says, “The people sat down to a feast which turned into an orgy.” [that is specifically about Tammuz 17]…We shouldn’t sin sexually as some of them did. Twenty-three thousand of them died in one day. We shouldn’t put Yehovah to the test as some of them did. They were killed by snakes. Don’t complain as some of them did. The angel of death destroyed them.”
“These things happened to make them an example for others. These things were written down as a warning for us who are living in the closing days of history. So, people who think they are standing firmly should be careful that they don’t fall.”
“There isn’t any temptation that you have experienced which is unusual for man. God, who faithfully keeps his promises, will not allow you to be tempted beyond your power to resist. But when you are tempted, he will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
So, these dates and times aren’t just true history – they are answers as to how to stand!
We will be looking at the 17th of Tammuz this morning (it begins Friday evening and continues until Saturday evening). That date is significant because of what happened at Mount Sinai 3,500 years ago, but it was significant all the way back at the time of Noah.
Let’s look at where we are historically. Let’s go back 3,500 years to when the Israelites first arrived at Mount Sinai for two significant events that lead us to today’s topic, Tammuz 17. It’s the first Pentecost and God spoke to the people from the Mountain, which terrified them. He invited them to come near Him and they were too scared and refused.
Deuteronomy 5 gives us the words of all the heads of the tribes and elders, “We have seen this day that God speaks with man; yet he still lives. Now therefore, why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of Yehovah our God anymore, then we shall die.” And so, they told Moses: “You go near and hear all that Yehovah our God may say, and tell us all that Yehovah our God says to you, and we will hear and do it.”
So, for Pentecost it’s just Moses and Hoshea who climbed up the mountain to receive the 10 Commandments and the Law of God. The people all stay below and wait. Moses stayed for 40 days. The people waited until they believed they could wait no more – and we know their thought process – God had killed Moses. So, they convince Aaron to build a golden calf.
Exodus 32:3-4 “So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf.” “Then they said, “This is your god [elohim], O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”
“So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow [Tammuz 17] is a feast to Yehovah.”
So, he’s breaking the first 2 laws given to him by God 39 days before at Pentecost. It happened on Day 39 – the 16th of Tammuz (which begins this evening and continues until tomorrow evening). They were at Day 39 – One day away from blessing!
2. The 17th of Tammuz
This Saturday is the 17th of Tammuz when Moses smashed the 10 Commandments of stone.
It was Day 40 for Moses on the mountain with God. (It begins tomorrow evening and continues until Saturday evening). Exodus 31:18 tells us what was happening on the mountain, “…So, God gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.”
And now at the foot of the mountain, “Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play [indulge in revelry or mocking or sensuality].”
“So it was, as soon as he came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing. So Moses’ anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain.”
“Then he took the calf which they had made, burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder; and he scattered it on the water and made the children of Israel drink it.”
“And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?” So Aaron said, “Do not let the anger of my lord become hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil [It’s not my fault].”
“For they said to me, ‘Make us gods that shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ And I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out.” [It just came out – it was a miracle – I didn’t do it] And Aaron is the older brother (3 years older than Moses).
“Now when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained…then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on Yehovah’s side—come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him.” [Now Moses and Aaron and Miriam are siblings and are from the tribe of Levi – one of them is the head of the tribe.] “And he said to them, “Thus says Yehovah God of Israel: ‘Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’”
So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day. Then Moses said, “Consecrate yourselves today to the Lord, that He may bestow on you a blessing this day, for every man has opposed his son and his brother.”
The descendants of Aaron had the special role as priests. And Numbers 18 tells us the new role given to the Levites was to serve Aaron and the priesthood, “…that they may join you and minister to you while you and your sons with you are before the tent of the testimony. They shall keep guard over you and over the whole tent…And you shall keep guard over the sanctuary and over the altar, that there may never again be wrath on the people of Israel…”
It’s interesting that the sons of Levi were given this role because it was Levi and his brother Simeon who murdered an entire town’s males to avenge their sister Dinah who was defiled by and then married to Shechem. Always a warrior!
Most served by playing music, opening and closing the gates, and standing guard. They were responsible for packing up, transporting, and reconstructing the Tabernacle.
The most sacred tasks, including bringing the sacrifices, were reserved for the kohanim (priests), descendants of Aaron.
Then Moses goes to ask God to forgive them. “Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin – but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.” And the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.”
Here we find the first hint of the Book of Life when Moses asked to be stricken from “the Book you have written” on the people’s behalf; it’s a powerful image of the mediating role of Yeshua.
Meanwhile, The Talmud or oral law, says that three books of account are opened on Rosh Hashanah, where the fate of the wicked, the righteous, and a middle group are recorded.
The names of the righteous are immediately inscribed in the Book of Life and they are sealed “to live”. The intermediate class is given ten days, until Yom Kippur, to reflect, repent, and become righteous; the wicked are “blotted out of the book of the living forever.”
For centuries Tammuz 17 was just one of the days that the spies were in Canaan, nothing special happened. But as time goes by, a profound irony emerges from those events. After generations of rebelliousness and worshiping idols, the walls of stone that surrounded Jerusalem were breached by Babylon and then Rome on Tammuz 17, the exact same day as those commandments of stone were smashed by Moses.
So, is that significant? I’ll look at that in a little bit.
3 .Tammuz is the Fourth Month
The Biblical calendar (which changes with the moon) is quite different from the Gregorian calendar (which follows the sun).
It is two six-month segments, 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.
Tammuz begins the “season” of summer, which includes Tammuz, Av, and Elul.
The 1st of Tammuz is the day Moses struck a rock in anger while seeking water for the people.
Tammuz was the Sumerian sun god. The Sumerians marked the decline in daylight hours with a weeklong funeral for him beginning on the first of Tammuz at the summer solstice with great lamentation.
This is the beginning of a literal journey into darkness. From that point forward in the year, the sun will begin to be seen less, leaving the world in ever-greater darkness as the seasons change to Fall and Winter.
Ezekiel 8:14 tells us, “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 warned that the temple would be destroyed if they refused to repent. They didn’t.
The Three Weeks
The period between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av is called The Three Weeks.
It’s three-weeks of fasting and mourning.
It concludes with an even more solemn fast on the 9th of Av, the saddest day of the Jewish calendar. I’ll be back in 3 weeks to tell you about the 9th of Av in detail.
The 17th of Tammuz commemorates 5 tragic events that occurred on this date:
- Moses broke the tablets of stone on the 17th when he saw the people worshiping the Golden Calf.
- During the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, the Jews were forced to cease offering the daily sacrifices on the 17th due to the lack of sheep.
- The Babylonians breached the walls of Jerusalem on the 17th on their way to destroying the first Temple. The wall was 22 feet thick and 24 feet high. It took 1 ½ years.
- 600 years later the walls of Jerusalem were breached again on the 17th by the Romans, in 70AD, after a siege that lasted three weeks.
The Romans destroyed the second Holy Temple on the 9th of Av.)
- Roman General Apostomos burned the Torah and placed an idol in the Temple.
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
- Get a haircut or shave
- Go on vacation
If the 17th of Tammuz falls on Shabbat, the fast is postponed until Sunday.
And Now Something Truly Unique
Tammuz 17 is also one of the most significant days that we celebrate in America.
But we celebrate this day every year without knowing it – we already did this year.
What day is that on our calendar?
July 4th of 1776, the birthday of our nation was the 17th of Tammuz.
About every 10-20 years our calendar will coincide with God’s calendar the way it did in 1776 and America’s Independence Day will correspond with this fast day for Israel.
So, if we see out nation’s birth as a work of God’s sovereign hand (which I think it was), then we could have two Independence Days each year (one this Saturday).
Noah First Released the Dove on This Day
On the 10th of Tammuz Noah released a raven from the window of the ark, only to have the bird return. Seven days later, on the 17th of Tammuz, he sent out a dove, who also returned since he could find no ground on which to land. The dove was sent out again seven days later, and this time returned with an olive leaf in his beak.
4. Deuteronomy 28 – Blessing and Cursing
Blessings on obedience.
“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of Yehovah your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that Yehovah your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of Yehovah your God.”
Curses on disobedience.
“You shall be driven mad because of the sight which your eyes see. Yehovah will bring a nation against you from afar.”
A disobedient Israel would be attacked and conquered by a nation of fierce countenance
“…and they would fight until they have destroyed you. Yehovah will scatter you among all the peoples, from one end of the earth to the other.”
Some of these curses on disobedience happened to them when Babylon conquered them and took them into exile in 586 B.C., but God brought them back 70 years later and they were able to rebuild the temple.
Then 600 years later, these curses came down on their heads fully. Around 68 A.D., the Romans finally had enough of their rebellions, so they laid siege to Jerusalem.
The Jews of that day were so confident of the Messiah’s coming that their factions actually fought each other and burned each other’s food, trying to be the most powerful group when the Messiah came.
When the Roman general Vespasian came to Jerusalem, the Jewish factions were busy fighting each other. His staff urged him to attack immediately, but he knew that an attack would instantly unite the Jews. So, he held back and let them destroy each other for as long as possible.
He said that God was a better general than he, and that He was delivering the Jews into the hands of the Romans. Before Jerusalem was attacked, Vespasian became emperor, and he put his son Titus in charge of the attack.
Christians in Jerusalem heeded the words of Jesus in Luke 21:20-24, to flee Jerusalem when it was “surrounded by armies”, because “the days of vengeance” were at hand.
The streets were soon filled with bodies, and as it was hot summer weather, epidemics broke out. Hundreds of people were found dead every morning.
Hunger became so great that many tried to escape the walls and forage for food. Five hundred or more were captured and crucified daily. On one night alone, 5,000 were crucified. More than 600,000 died from starvation.
When Titus saw that the Jews were weakened by hunger, he had his soldiers cut down all the trees in a thirteen-mile swath around Jerusalem in order to build a rampart for their assault and battered the Antonia fortress. The defenders retreated behind the walls of the Temple complex. On the 17th of Tammuz, the wall of the Temple complex was breached. The temple was still intact and the battle would rage for three weeks until the 9th of Av. The final group of Zealots was put down in Masada three years later. I’ll tell you more about that in 3 weeks.
In total, more than a million died, and 100,000 were captured, with most of the captives being shipped as slaves to Egypt. The promise of Deuteronomy 28:68 was tragically fulfilled: “you shall be offered for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.” This happened as too many Jewish slaves glutted the Egyptian slave market, and no one could buy all the available slaves.
5. The Problem With All Their Mourning And Fasting
They rejected their Messiah Yeshua Jesus who came and died for all sin. And then their temple was destroyed leaving them with a huge problem – they have no way to make a blood sacrifice for their sins.
The Hebrew word translated “sacrifice” is korban which literally means “drawing near“.
Meaning the sacrifice restores your relationship that sin broke and allows you to draw near again.
Leviticus 17:11 says, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.”
During the synagogue services and prayer during The Three Weeks they read Exodus 32, which discusses the aftermath of the Golden Calf incident, “Then Moses pleaded with Yehovah…So Yehovah relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.” They note how Moses successfully interceded on the Israelites’ behalf and attained forgiveness for their sin.
They also read Isaiah 55:6-7, “Seek Yehovah when He is found, call Him when He is near. The wicked shall give up his way, and the man of iniquity his thoughts, and he shall return to Yehovah, who shall have mercy upon him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon.”
The problem for them is that they are trying to repent of sins that can only be covered by the blood of Yeshua Jesus – He alone provides the only solution to our greatest problem.
John 14:6 tells us, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Ephesians 1:7 says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
The answer to this massive issue from the Jewish Rabbis is beyond sad.
According to the Gemara, a commentary on the Torah, “Whoever is busy with [learning] Torah need not bring sacrifices.”
One interpreter explained, “Therefore, we understand that since everything begins and emanates from Torah, studying the Torah brings atonement and is considered even better than the Korban…”
So, instead of surrendering to Yeshua Jesus to deal with their sin by His blood sacrifice – they just ignore the Word. They argue that prayer alone is all they need.
Prayer and Torah study have become the modern replacement for sacrifices in modern Judaism, so activities are now the acceptable way to draw near to God, and even worse, they have declared that these activities represent the power of sacrifice.
Zechariah 8 promises, “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.”
Until they ignore their Rabbis these verses will wait.
This Saturday is the 17th of Tammuz when Moses smashed the 10 Commandments of stone.
It was Day 40 when he came down from Mount Sinai and saw the people worshiping the golden calf. For generations nothing significant happened on this date. But their rebelliousness and their worshiping idols never stopped so enemies came and the walls of stone that surrounded Jerusalem were breached by Babylon and then 600 years later Rome on Tammuz 17, both on the exact same day as those commandments of stone were smashed by Moses.
So, is that significant? How does God see the walls of Jerusalem, and how does it relate to us? Is there some connection between the commandments written on stone and the stone wall?
Isaiah 26:1 “In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: “We have a strong city; God will appoint salvation for walls and bulwarks.” So, this day, Tammuz 17, is about salvation.
Isaiah 60:18 “Violence shall no longer be heard in your land, neither wasting nor destruction within your borders; But you shall call your walls Salvation, And your gates Praise.” Salvation again.
Isaiah 30:13 “Therefore this iniquity shall be to you like a breach ready to fall, a bulge in a high wall, whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant.” Disobedience is compared to a breach.
Proverbs 25:28 “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit Is like a city broken down, without walls.” Again Disobedience.
So, how does God see the stones of the walls of Jerusalem, and how does it relate to us?
Is there some connection between the commandments written on stone and the stones in the wall?
Jasper is the last of 12 stones mentioned in the High Priest’s breastplate. Each equate to a tribe’s names – Benjamin was the last of the twelve sons of Jacob (from birth order), or Naphtali from the order of the camp. They camped on the west with Ephraim and Manasseh.
“After these things I (John) looked, and behold, a door opened in heaven…And immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one was sitting on the throne. And He Who was sitting was in appearance like a jasper stone.” Revelation 4
“…the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal…The construction of its wall was of jasper…The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper.” Revelation 21
Jasper symbolizes the glory of God, His splendor, brightness, magnificence, and beauty.
Jasper was also known for its highly polished finish; in the same way we should be known for our high moral standards and the character brought forth in us by obedience to God.
Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Let’s take a look at some folks who did not do any of those things.
I was here in the studio with Q three weeks ago at the end of June on the day the 12 Spies were Dispatched to Search Out the Promised Land About 3,500 years ago.
Moses tells the story in Deuteronomy 1: “So we departed from Horeb…Then we came to Kadesh Barnea. And I said to you, ‘You have come to the mountains of the Amorites, which Yehovah our God is giving us. Look, Yehovah your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as Yehovah Elohim of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be discouraged.
And every one of you came near to me and said, ‘Let us send men before us, and let them search out the land for us, and bring back word to us of the way by which we should go up, and of the cities into which we shall come.” They chose one leader from each tribe. And they crossed into a valley near Hebron which was filled with giants and then went up north into the mountains and spied out the entire land of Canaan.
It took 40 days and the decision to send them did not end well. We are now at the halfway point of those 40 days. The 9th of Av will arrive in three weeks, and I’ll be back for that.