1. What It’s All About:
At creation, God set apart appointed times (Fasts and Feasts) or Sacred Times in every season, in which He would draw near to us, and we could draw near to Him. He still uses these Sacred Times to reveal Himself in more intimate ways, to share vision, to encourage us, to celebrate all that Jesus has done, and so much more.
Today is not one of those days. Today is what I like to call a Proverbs 12 Day. Proverbs 12:1-2, 15 – “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid. Good people obtain favor from Yehovah, but he condemns those who devise wicked schemes…The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.”
The worst thing that can happen to us is getting stuck in stupid. It’s called going round the mountain. You circle and circle till you learn your lesson and are willing to make changes.
And I’m not throwing stones at the Israelites 3,500 years ago. God shared that scripture with me many years ago when I was stuck in stupid and He helped deliver me, but it took a long time because I wasn’t open to listening to any of the people He sent to help me.
When I was ministering in jail years ago, I would read that scripture to the inmates ask them who that was speaking about, and everyone would raise their hands because when the state replaces your name with a number, and gives you a jumpsuit for clothes, and a cell to live in, it’s an eye opening experience. Oh that we would learn without that experience!
About 50 years ago, when I was young, I was hanging out with a kid my mom told me I should stay away from. We saw a garage filled with empty pop (coke) bottles which were worth a little refund money, so we stole enough to go turn in for a few dollars – enough for some ice cream.
A neighbor saw us and told us if we didn’t turn ourselves in, she would. My dad gave me money and I went and apologized to the man, and asked him to forgive me. He said, “No, I won’t forgive you, and I don’t want to see you in my yard, or playing with my kids ever again.” It was the yard we all played in so it was a good but hurtful lesson on consequences.
The apostle Paul explained how we can avoid getting stuck in stupid.
1 Corinthians says about these Old Testament events, “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.”
The 9th day of the month of Av – in Hebrew it’s Tisha B’av [Tee-sha-bah-auv] – it’s quite unique.
It begins this Friday evening and goes thru Saturday evening.
It is a Fasting Day for the Rabbinic/Orthodox Jews – the fast begins with eating an egg dipped in ashes – and there are lots of other traditions including sitting on low stools, they don’t bathe or wear perfumes, they don’t play or listen to music, and pretty all pleasure is forbidden, even reading the Torah.
The 9th of Av marks the climax of three weeks of fasting and sorrow because the Jews consider it the saddest day of the year.
How did the 9th of Av become so sad? 3,500 years ago, the Israelites were camped on the edge of the Promised Land waiting for the 12 spies to return from their 40-day probe of the Land of Canaan. They returned on the 8th of Av and 10 of them gave a bad report which caused all of the tribes to refuse to enter the Promised Land and rail against God. So, on the 9th of Av God condemned them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. But that was just the beginning for the 9th of Av. Just so they would not miss the point, whenever God brought judgment, He did it on the 9th of Av.
Even after they entered the Promised land, their rebelliousness and rejection of Him continued for generations. So, eventually God brought the fitting judgment on them. It was on the 9th of Av in 586 B.C. the Babylonians destroyed Solomon’s Temple and exiled most of the survivors to Babylon. So, once again they were forced to live outside the Promised Land. Then, after 70 years in exile, God would allow them to return home again, and eventually they were even able to rebuild the temple.
Still, most of them would never give Yehovah their hearts, so the fate of the second temple would be just like the first. Just before His crucifixion in 30 A.D., Yeshua Jesus prophesied of the destruction of Herod’s Temple saying, “not one stone would be left upon another.” And that’s exactly what happened on the 9th of Av in 70 A.D. when four Roman legions breached the city walls and killed everyone in sight as they flattened Jerusalem and destroyed the second temple and sold the survivors into slavery in Rome and Egypt. Once again, they were forced to live outside the Promised Land.
On the 9th of Av in 138 A.D, the Jews united to wage the Bar Kokhba revolt, which dashed their hopes for an alternate Messiah. Instead, this final defeat to Rome resulted in utter devastation and genocide for the Jews, and led to the banning of Mosaic Law, circumcision, speaking of the name of Yehovah, and all Jews were barred from residing within a ten-mile radius of Jerusalem. They were allowed to re-enter Jerusalem only one day a year – on the 9th of Av.
But there was truly no end to the tragedy of the 9th of Av. Even when they were cast out of the Promised Land, it was a curse that followed them everywhere:
The 9th of Av in 1096 was the beginning of the First Crusade; The 9th of Av in 1290 saw the expulsion of Jews from England, then from France in 1306 and from Spain in 1492 all on the 9th of Av.
The 9th of Av was the beginning of World War I in 1914; and during WWII, the 9th of Av in 1942 was the start of mass liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto.
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.
In the Garden of Eden (where man met with God and experienced His abiding presence)
man sinned, and that sin separated them from meeting with God. He is holy and we are not,
and His holiness is all consuming so in order not to destroy them in the Garden, He had to withdraw.
God is omnipresent, but He has chosen to manifest His presence in certain locations and at certain times within history. This physical manifestation is called the Shekinah.
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 temples – It’s about His abiding presence.
In the midst of all the mourning, fasting, and sadness God had an answer.
He was going to change the concept of temples forever, but not just for the Jews.
Today is not all bad news – We’re going to look at a new kind of temple and we’ll look at the most famous Gentile in Israel’s history – What happens when Gentiles become temples?
We will journey back to this day 3,500 years ago to see.
2. How We Got Here
40 days ago, I told you about the terrible decision Israel made to refuse to enter the Land of Canaan, but instead to send 12 spies.
Moses tells the story in Deuteronomy 1: “So we departed from Horeb, and went through all that great and terrible wilderness which you saw on the way to the mountains of the Amorites, as Yehovah our God had commanded us. 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.”
Spoiler Alert: they didn’t go up – they didn’t obey God – they were afraid – and they were very 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.”
Spoiler Alert: These folks are just as rebellious as they were on every other part of this exodus. They say, “Let’s send someone else first.”
And Moses made the worst mistake of his life. Moses said,
“The plan pleased me well….” Later in a summary of the story God said, “Send for yourself men so that they may spy out the land“, meaning “It’s not my command, but your desire, so you may send them.” Spoiler Alert: You don’t want your way.
Moses tells them: “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. You shall see what [kind of] land it is, and the people who inhabit it; are they strong or weak? Are there few or many?
And what of the land they inhabit? Is it good or bad?
And what of the cities in which they reside—are they in camps or in fortresses?
What is the soil like is it fat or lean? Are there any trees in it or not?
You shall be courageous and take from the fruit of the land.”
So, they are on a very specific mission to prepare to conquer this land.
“So they went up and explored the land from the Desert of Zin as far as Rehob, toward Lebo Hamath. They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, lived. When they reached the Valley of Eshkol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs…”
Forty days later, on the eighth day of Av , the spies returned, bearing samples of the land’s huge fruit, along with some bad news: “We came to the land that you have sent us, and indeed it flows with milk and honey; this is its fruit. “However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very great; we also saw giants there. The Amalekites dwell in the Negev; the Hittites, the Jebusites and the Emorites in the hills; and the Canaanites at the sea and on the banks of the Jordan.” [To sum up: There were Giants in the South; Giants up North in the mountains; Giants in the East by the Jordan; and Giants in the West by the Sea].
So far, the report is just what Moses asked for…although quite scary. And it’s implied that the people start reacting to the news so…
“Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses [Notice it’s just Caleb this time], and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.”
“But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” (Numbers 14)
And this is where the wheels come off, and the 10 spies make a bad mistake.
The “than we are” is the Hebrew word [mimenu (mim-men-nu)] which also translates as “than He”. So, the spies were saying, in effect, “the giants are mightier than us and mightier than Yehovah”.
“And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants,
Two things: First, that thought of a bad report or evil talk is the Hebrew word Dibah. This is one of only two places it appears in scripture – Remember that!
Second, think about that line, “a land that devours its inhabitants”. That’s a creepy idea.
“And all the people [not some of the people…but all of the people] whom we saw in it are men of great stature.” We know all the people are not giants, so now, they are just out of control.
“We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”
The giants were huge – but “we are like grasshoppers” compared to them is a terrible over-exaggeration.
3. Joy Did Not Come “In the Morning”
“That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud.”
To this day, the night from the 8th to the 9th of Av is part of the fasting and mourning period for this reason.
“All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! They are saying, “We would rather die than obey and go back!”
“Why is Yehovah bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” Again, they say “Forget God. Let’s go back.”
“Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there. Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If Yehovah is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against Yehovah. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but Yehovah is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” Best speech ever!
“But the whole assembly talked about stoning them.” It’s not a Braveheart moment for these guys.
“Then the glory of Yehovah appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites.”
Let me just say it again. 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 what happens when God withdraws His presence because we refuse to obey Him, or even worse, we don’t recognize Him or His voice. They were so caught up in fear, they forgot that God, who led them there, was there in their midst.
“Yehovah said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?”
Then God threatened to kill them all, and Moses pleaded with Him to forgive them, which God does…Then the hammer dropped:
“Then Yehovah said… tell them: ‘As surely as I live, declares Yehovah, I will do to you the very thing I heard you say: The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness (Except for Caleb and Joshua.) “According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection…those very men who brought the evil report about the land, died by the plague before Yehovah.”
The next morning, they repented and said they were ready to go into the land. Moses said Yehovah is not with you, don’t do it. Of course, they did it anyway and were utterly defeated.
For what it’s worth…39 years later when they returned to the border as a new generation of warriors, Moses gave a rather somber “Braveheart speech”: “You will be coming to conquer nations that are greater and more powerful than you, with great cities, fortified to the skies. They are a great nation, as tall as giants…” (Deut. 9:1-2) Moses was saying, “Be realistic.”
Remember how we started today, with a reminder of a verse in Corinthians, “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, what is the lesson we should take away from this? There are a lot of them.
Mostly, just obey. It’s always the best idea. I come in and teach on the Feasts of Yehovah and the events of the Exodus journey throughout the year, because it’s so important. So, let’s go back a bit.
Now I want you to think about all the stories from Genesis that you have heard or read or studied that might be similar to this one. Because looking at the two stories together is how we can learn the best lesson.
I’m going to give you a bit of a riddle – Think about another story that includes many of the identical elements as the story of the 12 spies and their bad report.
Both stories share these 10 elements (and many others similar elements):
1. All Twelve Tribes are involved
2. A mission someone was sent on to bring back a report
3. Dibah (evil talk or a bad report) is in both stories and nowhere else in the Torah.
4. That mission involves the Hebron Valley and the Valley of Eshkol (Shechem)
5. The idea of spying out the land is involved
6. The idea of being devoured is also involved and it’s also a lie in the other story
7. There’s also the desire to kill in the other plan
8. Just like Joshua & Caleb there are two people in the focus (from similar tribes)
9. There’s Weeping and Mourning
10. The consequence of this other event is that they are not able to live in the land for a long time
4. The Story of Joseph Is a Parallel to The Story of The 12 Spies
Let’s look at the 10+ Parallels
“Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, and he brought their father a bad report about them.”
1. You have all 12 sons (tribes).
2. The story is also about bringing (dibah) a bad report.
3. Joseph becomes the father of Ephraim (the tribe Joshua will represent).
“Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons…they hated him.
Joseph had dreams, and when he told them to his brothers, they hated him all the more. Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. I am going to send you to them…Go and see if all is well…and bring word back to me.”
Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron.”
4. The story moves from Hebron to the Valley of Eshkol (Shechem).
5. There is a sending (shelach) / To see the conditions (re’eh) / He is to report back (heishiv davar). The exact same phrases in both stories.
“They saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him…and throw him into [a cistern] and say that a ferocious animal devoured him.”
6. There a plot to kill.
7. A lie about animals devouring someone.
“So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe…and they took him and threw him into the cistern. They looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead…on their way to take them down to Egypt. Judah said to his brothers…let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him…His brothers agreed.”
8. Judah is the tribe Caleb will come from.
“Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. They took the ornate robe back to their father…Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.”
“Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days…but he refused to be comforted….I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave…So his father wept for him.”
9. There is mourning and weeping – grief that causes him to desire to die.
“Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.”
Joseph accuses them of coming to spy out the land – Spies (meraglim)
“So Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt, taking with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan. Jacob brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters – all his offspring.”
Consequence of both stories – Israel not living in the land
Consequence of the spies’ bad report: 40 years out of the Promised Land
Consequence of Joseph’s story: Joseph is out of the land 22 years then everyone joins him,
and the 12 tribes spend hundreds of years outside the land
The parallels in the story bring up so many issues:
The Joseph story is what brought them to Egypt
they threw Joseph into a pit and God sent them all to live in the pit of slavery
Egypt was the answer to their needs and now they constantly want to return there and even to kill to get there. What’s the story about? Family Disunity, Betrayal
There’s an almost eerie repetition with which brother stands up for good and heroic:
Judah stops the murder – he is the tribe Caleb will come from.
Joseph becomes the father of Ephraim (the tribe Joshua will represent).
Apart from the never-ending Family Disunity and Betrayal, why did no one follow Moses, Aaron, Joshua or Caleb? They were tribal leaders that were chosen by everyone but no one listened to them, why?
After the golden calf incident, the Levites rallied behind Moses. This time, no one did.
No one in Ephraim would follow Joshua, why?
No one in Judah would follow Caleb, why?
They were tribal leaders that were chosen by everyone, but no one listened to them, why?
They were constantly warned about the dangers of not destroying the Canaanites:
Numbers 33:55-56 “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.” Warning didn’t work!
Here is why:
Genesis 37 tells us, “Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.”
Genesis 38 tells us, “At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah. There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. He married her and…they raised a family together and his firstborn son is described as…“wicked in Yehovah’s sight; so Yehovah put him to death.” So, he had another son and…“What he did was wicked in Yehovah’s sight; so Yehovah put him to death also.”
So, the tribes of Israel that arrived at the edge of the Land of Canaan were not just the sons and daughters of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They had already intermixed with the Canaanites, so the land and the people were not people to destroy in their eyes; they were family; and their gods were also their gods; and there were also giants in the land and they were terrifying.
And even after they conquered the land, they left many of the Canaanites alive. So, Joshua’s final speech included these words in Joshua 23:13, “Know for certain that Yehovah your Elohim will no longer drive out these nations from before you. But they shall be snares and traps to you and scourges on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which Yehovah your Elohim has given you.”
Now of course, it wasn’t all bad. Let’s go back to the days of Abram in Gen 15:18-21 “On that day Yehovah made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the River of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates – the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”
One of the really important men of Judah is a guy named Caleb.
He’s one the two spies who lived because he didn’t bring back a bad report.
Numbers 32:12, it mentions “Caleb the son of Jephunneh, the Kenizzite.”
In Joshua 14:6, “Caleb the son of Jephunneh, the Kenizzite.”
In Joshua 14:14, “Caleb the son of Jephunneh, the Kenizzite.”
Caleb is a Gentile (specifically a Canaanite) who has joined himself to the God of Israel.
So, we have the command – “Wipe them out…they’re idolaters.”
But some of them turn from idolatry and becomes loyal to the God of Israel. Not only did Caleb accept Yehovah’s covenant, he becomes one of the leaders of the people, and eventually THE leader of the tribe.
Numbers 34:19 – once the Promised Land has been conquered Caleb is first on the list of the princes of the 12 tribes who will assign the land. “The Prince of the Tribe of Judah is now Caleb the son of Jephunneh.”
So, it’s not a racial issue. Every one of those Canaanites had the opportunity to repent and turn to the real God. We have a few people who did that – Rahab in the Book of Joshua.
And of course, Caleb’s first journey into the Promised Land with the other 11 spies isn’t filled with terror because he was just coming home, but he was adopted by God into the tribe of Judah, so he was looking at home in a very different way. And the giants were God’s enemies, so he wasn’t afraid.
So, there was a hero on the 9th of Av. He was a Kenizzite. He was a Canaanite. He was a Foreigner to the promises of God. And he was a Child of the Living God.
We can look at how this works in the future Kingdom, specifically dividing up the land under the Messiah in the future kingdom. Here’s Ezekiel 47:21-23, “You are to distribute this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the foreigners residing among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. In whatever tribe a foreigner resides, there you are to give them their inheritance,” declares Adonai Yehovah.”
There is more to the 9th of Av than sadness and mourning, because 2 of the 10 spies had faith. The 9th of Av is also a day to remember a Gentile named Caleb. In him, we have a picture of what it means to find a way to do right, even when it looks like your destiny is bad.
This day is a signpost – a warning of what happens when you choose our own way. This is what 1 Corinthians says, “These things happened to make them an example for others. These things were written down as 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, this date isn’t just history – it’s the answer of how to stand!
The Spies – We tend to focus on punishment – getting caught – we should focus on being guilty.
40 days ago – they refused to enter the land when they arrived – instead, they insisted on sending 12 men to spy out the land. As you know, the spy idea ended badly because 10 of them came back 40 days later on the 8th of Av with a bad report which made the entire nation refuse to enter into the land. The next day was Tisha B’Av 3,500 years ago.
God would teach that generation that disobedience leads to mourning. Numbers 14:26-38 “Yehovah 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 Yehovah, 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.
But mourning wasn’t the answer then and it’s not now. Even after they entered the Promised land, their rebelliousness continued for generations, so God used this same day to bring His judgment on them. It was on the 9th of Av in 586 B.C. the Babylonians destroyed Solomon’s Temple and exiled most of the survivors to Babylon. After 70 years in exile, God allowed them to return home again and eventually they rebuilt the temple.
2,000 years ago, that second temple was the one that Jesus came to and declared that He was the Messiah. That ended on the cross, in the grave, and finally three days later with His resurrection. “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 really 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 30 A.D., 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 A.D. 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”.
While many Jews put their hope in Yeshua, most continued looking for a different Messiah. As the legions of Rome surrounded Jerusalem, these Jews were so confident a Messiah would rescue them that they left no other option. In an attempt to force all of the people to fight against the Romans, the Zealots burned the city’s grain storage (enough to feed several million people for two-three years).
Hunger became so great that many tried to escape to forage for food and more than 500 were captured and crucified daily. By the time it was over, 600,000 had died from starvation, another million were killed, and 100,000 were captured and sold as slaves to Egypt. The conquering general Titus refused the victory wreath because he thought there was no merit in vanquishing a people forsaken by their own God. Amazingly, even after the utter destruction of Herod’s Temple and Jerusalem, the echoing judgments of the 9th of Av were still not complete.
Coming up, the revolt that dashed every hope.
So, how should we as Christians share in their grief on the 9th of Av, as they mourn the destruction of both of the temples and Jerusalem? Truly, these are horrific tragedies – the consequence of relentless rebellion – but there’s much more to the story than perpetual rubble.
When Yeshua Jesus was born in 3 B.C, the shepherds saw the glory [shekinah] that once dwelt in Solomon’s temple appear in the sky as the angels announced His birth. The coming of Christ in the flesh was just the firstfruits of God’s shekinah coming to dwell within as Emmanuel (God with us).
John 2:19-21 reveals how Yeshua Jesus forever changed the reality of a “temple”: “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.” He was the temple where the shekinah dwelled. But His endgame was still bigger.
1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” When Jesus died on the cross, the veil of Herod’s Temple was torn from top to bottom to show that the separation between God and man was forever removed by Christ. John 20:22 tells us, “He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” We became God’s holy temple; He dwells in us through the Holy Spirit.
In Revelation 21 we see into eternity as the “New Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband…having the glory of God…” The walls are of jasper and the city was pure gold, with twelve foundations adorned with precious stones and the gates were twelve pearls. But there are two things missing from the New Jerusalem which stand out to the Jewish disciple John, “there shall be no night there” and “I did not see a temple in the city, because Adonoi Yehovah El Shaddai and the Lamb are its temple.”
The bride is now the city and within that great city, Jesus is the eternal temple, and His glory is the fire that is never quenched. We are His bride, Jews and Gentiles who have Yeshua dwelling within. Those who reject the Messiah as their Groom are perpetually fated to three weeks of fasting and sorrow when “marriages are not normally held.” Their loss is worthy of many tears and the hope of their restoration to Yeshua is worthy of endless prayer.
The prophet Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations. It’s a song of mourning for the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem which is read in synagogues on the 9th of Av. In Hebrew, the book is called Eicha, meaning “How?”
“How [Eicha] lonely lies the city, once so full of people! How [Eicha] like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations! She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave.”
For most of Eicha, Jeremiah is reporting about the suffering he sees: “She weeps aloud in the night….her friends have betrayed her…they have become her enemies…Judah has gone into exile…Jerusalem has sinned greatly…All her people groan.”
But then as we approach chapter 3, Jeremiah switches to first person – it becomes personal. “For these things I weep; my eyes flow with tears. I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of God’s wrath.” When I read the stories of rebelliousness in the Torah, I think, “How could they…”, and then God reveals my unfaithful heart. Like Jeremiah I realize that I am the real problem. And like Jeremiah, I know hope remains: “Yet I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope: Surely Yehovah’s kindness is not consumed; surely His mercy is not exhausted. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!”
Mourning over temples of rubble is a bit like deciding to go into the Promised Land on the 10th of Av, after God has forbid you, “Here we are, and we will go up to the place which Yehovah has promised, for we have sinned!” And Moses said, “this will not succeed. Do not go up, lest you be defeated by your enemies, for Yehovah is not among you…because you have turned away from Yehovah.”
The 9th of Av is a time for mourning over different temples. It is the time to search our heart to make sure God has all of it. The word Eicha appears for the first time in the Torah in the Garden of Eden. In Hebrew, Eicha is written with the same letters as the word “Ayeka”, when God turns to Adam and Eve and asks them, “Where [are you?]” Eicha is the perfect place to start for all of us honestly asking God to examine the heart He indwells and reveal its condition to us.
It’s asking Where we are, and How we got here, with the purpose of finding a solution. The real purpose of Tisha B’Av and this season of fasting is to quiet ourselves to allow Yeshua Jesus to speak, and then to obey. As we submit to His whip, Yeshua Jesus will get our temples in order and Acts 3 will come about, “so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of Yehovah.”
Luke 22:19 tells us, “And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Our 9th of Av should be a continual remembrance; when we take bread – His body – the temple – and remember the destruction we caused on the cross; when we sip wine mingled with water – His blood of forgiveness poured out – and we commune with Him in the temple of our body. Consider setting aside time each day for communion.
The temples that were destroyed and the tabernacle that preceded them were just a place for man to encounter God; as such they were just a picture of what was to come when we would be one. In Jesus, the temple is eternal. For Christians, the 9th of Av is the time to examine our union with God. Make time and take time to meet with Him, to be still and know Him.
8. Bar Kokhba
GK Chesterton: “When a man stops believing in God, he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything.” [Nathan’s version: “becomes capable of believing in anything.”]
After another 60 years of peace (following the temple’s destruction), some Jews quietly began coming back, buying land, and restarting their lives, but then around 132 A.D. the rumor started that the Roman Emperor Hadrian was coming to Jerusalem to build a temple to Jupiter on the site of the destroyed Temple. What became known as the Bar Kokhba revolt exploded. Rome sent ten legions, a third of the empire’s army and killed 580,000 Jews. In fact, Hadrian was coming to Jerusalem to defeat Christianity due to its rapid spread across the Empire.
Around 138 A.D., as part of the fallout of the Bar Kokhba, the Romans erased all ancient names and associations with Israel and Judah; they banned the Mosaic Law and Judaism in the city, forbid the speaking of the name of Yehovah; circumcision was forbidden, all Jews were expelled from the city and forbidden to reside within a ten-mile radius of Jerusalem. They were permitted to enter Jerusalem only once a year – on Tisha B’Av.
Hadrian rebuilt Jerusalem as a Roman colony and renamed the city, “Aelia Capitolina”, and the province was renamed Palestine, eliminating the name Israel. To deal with Christianity, Hadrian built pagan temples and shrines over all sites which had an association with Jesus. Three years later, in conformity with Roman custom, Jerusalem was plowed up with a yoke of oxen and sowed with salt. Emperor Constantine I, would restore the name Jerusalem in 324 A.D.
The fallout of Bar Kokhba was horrific, but one tragedy has become a way of life for the Jews which now has become a curse for Christians as well, so I don’t want you to miss it.
Emperor Hadrian forbid the speaking of The Name Of Yehovah
Many rabbis wouldn’t dream of NOT speaking the name of Yehovah, so it wasn’t very many days until that law was tested. Rabbi Hananiah ben Teradion became one of ten martyrs executed on the same day by the emperor Hadrian. According to the Talmud, it was because Hananiah was teaching from a Torah Scroll in public and whenever he came upon the name, Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey, he proclaimed the name aloud, “Yehovah.”
So, the Romans wrapped Hananiah in that Torah scroll and burned him at the stake (in a very brutal fashion). His last words as he burned were from Deuteronomy 32: “For I will proclaim the name of Yehovah: Ascribe greatness unto our God. The Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice: A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and right is He.”
The Rabbinic Sanhedrin decided that they would rather obey the Romans than be killed, so they ruled that the Rabbis would stop speaking the name of Yehovah aloud. They intended it to be temporary, but they still follow that today even without the threat of death from Rome; and they read the stories of the Ten Martyrs every year on the 9th of Av, so they know the true history.
Meanwhile, the Rabbinic/Orthodox Jews claim the tradition of not speaking the name is based on the Third Commandment, “You Shall Not Take His Name In Vain.” They have declared that, Just Saying His Name, is Taking it in Vain.
And they say when the Tanakh says “to speak the name,” it doesn’t mean that. But to just refer to the name or something great that God has done.
So, when it came time for English language translation of the Bible, they turned to the Rabbis for Hebrew standards and instruction. And they taught them to stumble over the same stumbling block they were tripping over – You don’t use the name of God – You replace it – You refer to it.
Mark 7:13 says, “You nullify (make the word of God of no effect – or powerless) through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
So, probably in your Bible, they replaced His real name with a term that just “refers to Him”, LORD in all capital letters. Lord is the Hebrew word Adonai – which means Lord or Master – but it’s not His name. In the preface to our Bibles, they even tell us they do this.
In Exodus 3:15, God first introduces Himself by Name, “Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel…Yehovah God of your fathers…has sent me to you. This is my name forever; this is how I am to be remembered generation after generation.” But almost every English Bible replaces His true name, Yehovah with, “The LORD “, making the rest of verse, “This is my name forever” absolutely nonsensical.
In Exodus 20:2, when God appeared to Israel on Mt Sinai, His first words were, “Anokhi Yehovah Elohekha].” “I am Yehovah, your God.” In Hebrew, the Name of God is [ יְ ה וָ ה ] and the names of those four letters are: Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey.
In the original Hebrew manuscripts and scriptures, the Name of God the Father is present 6,828 times. That’s about 7 times per page. How could anyone imagine that the presence of His name wasn’t important? When we transliterate those Hebrew letters into English, it’s the capital letters YHVH or YHWH. But you probably won’t see those in your favorite Bible either.
Isaiah 12:4 in English language Bibles says, “On that day you will say, “Give thanks to the LORD! Call on His name!” It should say “Give thanks to Yehovah” – or YHVH, or Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey, or יְ ה וָ ה,” because how exactly can you call on “a Name” if you remove it? “Make His deeds known among the peoples, declare how exalted is His name.”
For years, I read “LORD” in all of the places where His name “Yehovah” should have rightly been, and it never really bothered me until someone pointed out that His name had been replaced 6,828 times! And I thought, what if someone replaced the name of Jesus in the 1,043 places it appears in our Bibles. That would be an immeasurable loss. It would change everything!
And I realized that they had already changed everything. They have robbed me, and you, and everyone of a part of our Father that is most precious to Him. My Father wanted me to “call on His name”, to “proclaim His name” everywhere, to love His name, and to “put my hope in His name”, and I couldn’t because they had taken it from me.
So, I took it back because we have the power to do that. Whenever they print “LORD”, I read aloud “Yehovah”. And now it’s one of the first words out of my mouth every morning as I pray. And it makes my heart happy, and I know it makes His heart happy.
9 .Yehovah or Yahweh?
What’s His Name and How Do You Pronounce It?
The Hebrew language of the Old Testament was written without vowels, so The Four Letters of the Father’s Name has no vowels.
Medieval scribes/scholars called the Masoretes made it their life’s work to accurately copy the Hebrew Scriptures.
Since the Romans banned the speaking of His name in 138 A.D., and the Rabbinic Jews determined that speaking it was a sin, there was a need to preserve how Hebrew words without vowels, like God’s name, were pronounced.
Beginning around 500 A.D., the Masoretes decided to make sure this knowledge was preserved. They are credited by some as creating a system of vowel points which they placed around the letters/pictographs to show how to pronounce words (especially The Name of God).
Most of the Masoretes were Karaites (they considered only the written word or Torah as binding, but not the Oral Torah or rules and traditions of the rabbis).
There were two factions – one pronounced the name of Yehovah and the other forbid pronouncing it. But those who forbid it were around the ones who did, so they would have known how to pronounce it.
Yahweh has become the almost universally accepted pronunciation in our day, and its advocates are all over the internet to fight to the death over that opinion. But even the best opinions can’t trump the countless Masoretes manuscripts.
Even though I am confident that Yehovah is correct, we play lots of songs that call Him Yahweh, and I have no plans to ever stop playing them.
When we check the earliest complete manuscripts of Scripture, YHVH is written with the vowel marking that establish that it is pronounced Yehovah.
This is how YHVH is written in the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex, which preserve the most accurate complete text of Scripture.
Pronouncing YHVH as Yahweh would break the primary rules of Biblical Hebrew Grammar, especially how you conjugate verbs. There are 7 possible conjugations, but verbs exist in only specific ones, not all of them.
There is no possible way to conjugate the root of YHVH (the verb HYH) into Yahweh because it would require the verb to exist in the 3rd and 4th conjugations (Piel and Hifil), but it only exists in the first and second conjugations (Qal and Niphal).
So, it’s grammatically impossible to end up with Yahweh. And there are many other basic grammatical rules you would break to pronounce YHVH as Yahweh.
It’s a disinformation campaign. But – It’s OK to say Yahweh or Jehovah.
The debate about pronunciation has raged a very long time, and as it has, the identity of Yehovah has been imposed on the name Yahweh and Jehovah.
Also, when we say Yahweh or Jehovah, we are still saying, Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey – we’re just pronouncing it differently (incorrectly).
Either way, He knows His sheep and His sheep know His voice.
God inhabits His name, even when we say it wrong, spell it wrong, or completely lose every semblance of the original Hebrew. God is Greater than His Great Name.
10. Sabbath of Comforting
The first 9 days of the month of Av are filled with sadness and mourning, but since they also believe that the Father is their comforter and consoler, they add the name “Menachem” (comforter or consoler) to the month.
The Shabbat after Tisha B’Av is called the Sabbath of Comforting [Tu B’Av]. They read the parts of the Book of Isaiah that speak of comforting the people and also redemption. They do that for seven weeks leading up to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
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 of them woke up, and some of them didn’t. 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.
On that final Tisha B’Av they went to sleep in the graves and woke up the next day. But after 40 years of burying their family members, they were afraid to hope, so 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 the 15th (Tu B’Av) and saw a full moon. Only then did they know that they were all going to enter the Promised Land.
Tu B’Av was a joyous holiday marking the beginning of the grape harvest.
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.
Unmarried girls of Jerusalem dressed in white garments and went out to dance in the vineyards. It’s a marriage holiday and one of the happiest days on the Jewish calendar. Tu B’Av is a time of celebration similar to Valentine’s Day.
It is also a timeless picture of the promise that after Israel rebels and God scatters her, God will restore her.
“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 Yehovah, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’” Hosea 2:14-16
Seasons of Joy and Gladness
Zechariah 7 looks at the 9th of Av
“On the fourth day of the ninth month (the month of Chislev) in Darius’ fourth year as king, Yehovah spoke his word to Zechariah. Now, the people from Bethel sent…their men to ask Yehovah…“Should we mourn and fast in the fifth month as we have done for so many years?”
“Then Yehovah Tsebaoth [Almighty] spoke his word to me. He said, “Tell all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months these past 70 years, did you really do it for me? When you ate and drank, didn’t you do it to benefit yourselves?”
“Then Yehovah spoke his word to Zechariah. He said, “This is what Yehovah Tsebaoth [Almighty] says: Administer real justice, and be compassionate and kind to each other. Don’t oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and poor people. And don’t even think of doing evil to each other.”
“But people refused to pay attention. They shrugged their shoulders at me and shut their ears so that they couldn’t hear. They made their hearts as hard as flint so that they couldn’t hear Yehovah’s teachings…“When I called, they wouldn’t listen. So now when they call, I won’t listen, says Yehovah Tsebaoth [Almighty]. I used a windstorm to scatter them among all the nations, nations they hadn’t even heard of. They left behind a land so ruined that no one is able to travel through it. They have turned a pleasant land into a wasteland.”
Zechariah Chapter 8:19 “This is what Yehovah Tsebaoth [Almighty] says: The fast in the fourth month, the fast in the fifth month, the fast in the seventh month, and the fast in the tenth month will become joyful and glad occasions as well as happy festivals for the nation of Judah. So love truth and peace.”
So, all of these fast days, one day, will become seasons of joy and gladness and cheerful feasts.