One day in the Hebrew calendar is connected to devastation. The fifth month (known as Av or Ab) witnessed the destruction of two Jewish Temples – Solomon’s and Herod’s. That catastrophe (ḥurban in Hebrew) and its spiritual significance are unpacked in the prophetic Scriptures. These tragic lessons still resonate for us today.
Building the Temple was a good thing
- King David wanted to build a House for YHVH, and God said that this was a wonderful idea. “But YHVH said to my father David, ‘Because it was in your heart to build a House for My name, you did well that it was in your heart’”(1 Kings 8:19)
- YHVH told Solomon that He Himself chose the Temple area as a place of sacrifice and worship: “Thus Solomon finished the House of YHVH and the king’s palace, and successfully completed all that he had planned on doing in the House of YHVH and in his palace.Then YHVH appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, ‘I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a House of Sacrifice’” (2 Chronicles 7:11-12).
- That area was sanctified by YHVH and set apart forever. “I have heard your prayer and your supplication, which you have made before Me; I have consecrated this House which you have built by putting My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually” (1 Kings 9:3)
Distancing our hearts from YHVH leads to severe shaking
On the day of Solomon’s dedication of the Temple, YHVH prophesied that Solomon’s dynasty would eventually undermine the spiritual foundations of the House. This would lead to the destruction of the Temple and the Exile of the Jewish people:
- “But if you or your sons indeed turn away from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them,then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them, and the House which I have consecrated for My name, I will cast out of My sight. So Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And this House will become a heap of ruins; everyone who passes by will be astonished and hiss and say, ‘Why has YHVH done thus to this land and to this House?’”(1 Kings 9:6-8)
- “I will do to the House which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to the place which I gave you and your fathers, as I did to Shiloh” (Jeremiah 7:14)
- “I have forsaken My House, I have abandoned My inheritance. I have given the beloved of My soul into the hand of her enemies” (Jeremiah 12:7)
The ecumenical encounter between Babylon and Zion
The iron fist of Babylon broke into Jerusalem on the 7th of Av, 587 B.C. and completed the full destruction of the Temple by the 10th of Av.
- “Now on the seventh day of the fifth month, which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem.He burned the House of YHVH, the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem. Even every great house he burned with fire” (2 Kings 25:8-9)
- “Now on the tenth day of the fifth month, which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan the captain of the bodyguard, who was in the service of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He burned the House of YHVH” (Jeremiah 52:12-13)
Jewish tradition blended those two dates together, synthesizing the Ninth of Av as the memorial day. Since that time Tisha B’Av has become a day of mourning and fasting.
Throughout Jewish history, many tragedies fell upon the Jewish people on or about the 9th of Av, including:
- the expulsion of all Jews from England (July 18, 1290 – 9th of Av)
- the expulsion of all Jews from France (July 22, 1306 – 10th of Av)
- the expulsion of all Jews from Spain (July 31, 1492 – 7th of Av)
- SS Reichsmarschall Göring authorizes a Final Solution (genocide) of the Jewish people (July 31, 1941 – 6th of Av)
- the mass deportation of the Jewish Warsaw ghetto begins (July 23, 1942 – 9th of Av)
- the Hezbollah bombing of the AMIA Buenos Aires Jewish community center – 85 killed, 300 injured (July 18, 1994 – 10th of Av)
The Ninth of Av is a day when many Jews remember these tragedies, humble their souls and hope for better.
How does God view Tisha B’Av?
Zechariah was a prophet who ministered at the same time as Haggai, during the era of Nehemiah.
- In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of YHVH came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, which is Kislev.Now the town of Bethel had sent Shar-ezer and Regem-Melech and their men to seek the favor of YHVH,speaking to the priests who belong to the House of YHVH of armies, and to the prophets, saying, “Shall I weep in the fifth month and abstain, as I have done these many years?”Then the word of YHVH of armies came to me, saying, “Say to all the people of the land and to the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months these seventy years, was it actually for Me that you fasted?” (Zechariah 7:1-5)
The God of Israel notes that He had not established the Fast of Tisha B’Av. That decision had been taken independently by the spiritual leaders of Israel. Mourning and fasting have an important place, but they are no substitute for a repentant heart. Lack of repentance had led to the destruction of the Temple and to the Exile. God was looking for a change of heart in Judah – repentance, confession and return to the prophetic words of the Scriptures. And that repentance was still largely lacking in Zechariah’s day:
- “YHVH was very angry with your fathers.Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says YHVH of armies, Return to Me, declares YHVH of armies, that I may return to you … Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets proclaimed, saying, “Thus says YHVH of armies, Return now from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.” But they did not listen or give heed to Me, declares YHVH. Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? But did not My words and My statutes, which I commanded My servants the prophets, overtake your fathers? Then they repented and said, “As YHVH of armies purposed to do to us in accordance with our ways and our deeds, so He has dealt with us” (Zechariah 1:2-6)
God was speaking clearly: it’s not another fast day which is needed. Real turning back to YHVH is what’s on the agenda.
- “‘Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother;and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.’ But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears from hearing. They made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the teaching and the words which YHVH of armies had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great wrath came from YHVH of armies. And just as He called and they would not listen, so they called and I would not listen, says YHVH of armies. But I scattered them with a storm wind among all the nations whom they have not known” (Zechariah 7:9-14)
Consider also the prophecy of Ezekiel 20, given on the 10th of Av, hammering home the same message.
What God called for among the Jewish people in Zechariah’s day – He is still calling for today.
My Jewish people need to turn back to our God, repent of our rejection of David and His dynasty (1 Kings 12:16-19) – our rejection of David’s Greater Son Yeshua the Messiah (Isaiah 53) – and our rejection of His gracious New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34). We need to learn the biblical lessons of Tisha B’Av. National mourning without national repentance will not tip the balances.
Double prophetic blessing
A day is coming when Israel will repent with a whole heart (see Zechariah 12-14). In that day Tisha B’Av will not be memorialized with mourning and fasting, but with joy, gladness and cheerful feasting: “Then the word of YHVH of armies came to me, saying, ‘Thus says YHVH of armies, The fast of the fourth, the fast of the fifth, the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth months will become joy, gladness, and cheerful feasts for the house of Judah; so love truth and peace’” (Zechariah 8:18-19).
Isaiah proclaims that a future Temple will be established on the Temple Mount, known as YHVH’s House of Prayer: “Even those I will bring to My holy mountain And make them joyful in My House of Prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar. For My House will be called a House of Prayer for all the peoples” (Isaiah 56:7).
God will heal the Jewish people’s wounds. He will rebuild our land and our promises. Messiah will rule and reign in our midst.
- And in that day you will say, “Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples. Make them remember that His name is exalted… Let this be known throughout the earth. Cry aloud and shout for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 12:4-6)
- Shout for joy, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! YHVHhas taken away His judgments against you. He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, YHVH, is in your midst. You will fear disaster no more … He will exult over you with joy… He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. I will gather those who grieve about the appointed feasts … The reproach of exile is a burden on them. Behold, I am going to deal at that time with all your oppressors … At that time I will bring you in, even at the time when I gather you together. Indeed, I will give you renown and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says YHVH (Zephaniah 3:14-20)
How should we then pray?
- Pray for a revelation of repentance to come to the Jewish people which will touch God’s heart
- Pray for an increase of revelation for Messianic Jews about the burning message of the Good News for Israel
- Pray for Messiah Yeshua to be revealed to and accepted by many hungry Jewish hearts
- Pray for the raising up of Ezekiel’s prophetic Jewish army throughout the earth
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
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