The 17th of Tammuz – a day of mourning and hope
Today as I write this – July 15, 2014 – today is the 17th of Tammuz on the Hebrew calendar. It’s a day of mourning – but also of hope for what’s to come in the near future.
Remember that under King David and later King Solomon, all 12 tribes of Israel were called “Israel”. But after King Solomon’s death, the kingdom split into two kingdoms, or two houses: the House of Israel (the northern 10 tribes) and the House of Judah (mostly the southern tribe of Judah and Levites). The country we all know today as “Israel” is in reality just the remnants of the House of Judah primarily. Some individuals of the northern tribes did decide to live in Judah. Anyway, each House went into captivity for breaking the sabbaths, for idolatry and generally for forsaking the Way of YHVH. Look at Jeremiah 2:17:
“Have you not brought this on yourselves by forsaking YHVH your Elohim (God) when He led you in the way?” (Jeremiah 2:17).
What I’m about to say has to be more than coincidence.
Today devout Jews are mourning what happened on this day. On this very day, both in 586 BC and 70 AD, the walls around Jerusalem were breached by invading armies -- the first time by Babylon and the 2nd time by the Romans. On the very same day!
But the “coincidences” continued. Both the First Temple (the one Solomon built) and the Second temple (the one Yeshua was involved with) were destroyed, burned and razed to the ground on the same Hebrew calendar date just three weeks later: the 9th of Av.
This is common knowledge among devout Jews, but there are lessons for us today too.
Be sure to click on “Continue reading” to the right to read the rest of this informative blog, and learn how this relates to us today.
So these days –the 17th of Tammuz (Hebrew 4th month) and the 9th of Av (the Hebrew 5th month) are kept as days of fasting among observant Jews, to mourn the breach of the walls of Jerusalem and the destruction of the physical house of YHVH. Actually a whole series of serious events have happened to Jews throughout history on the 9th of Av. Perhaps I’ll re-run a blog I wrote a while back on that (you can probably use our new Search button – 9th of Av.)
In Jeremiah 7:1-15, we can see that many in that day thought “there’s no way we’re in any real trouble, because after all, don’t we have right here the very ‘House of God” – the Temple of the LORD?” Here we can still read God’s words – both of warning and of hope – that if they would turn from their wicked ways and seek His way, that He would keep them safely in the land. But if not, they had certain punishment and captivity coming. Unfortunately, Judah did not listen to God’s words through Jeremiah.
Observant Jews are fasting today until nightfall in order to mourn the breach of Jerusalem's walls. In fact many Jews are in a 3-week period of repentance, which they call teshuvah. It’s a period of mourning, in a way. They won’t have weddings, they’ll avoid expressions of joy, and they won’t sing songs of praise or play musical instruments.
But for us today, let’s not just make these moments of historical interest, or days of fasting by rote, but let’s learn the lesson from these events. We can be in the spiritual House of God – and still incur His displeasure and punishments if we go back to the old ways we were called to put behind us! The apostle Peter calls that being like a dog going back to its own vomit or a pig wallowing in its own mire.
As some of you know, I believe the northern 10 tribes are still “out there” – just by different names. Jacob – renamed Israel –told each of his 12 sons what would befall them in the last days. You can read that in Genesis 49. It makes no sense, unless there are real countries out there today that correspond to each of the 12 tribes. So yes – many of us believe that the USA and Britain, for example (along with Canada and Australia), are the modern descendants of Joseph, who had two sons – Ephraim and Manasseh. We believe most of the other tribes settled in what is now predominantly northwestern Europe.
But here’s the point: Our great Creator God is patient, but the time is coming soon when once more our nations will receive his correction for forsaking the Bible, forsaking Him and living a different way of life than our nations generally followed for centuries – until now. I realize that we were never predominantly sabbath-keeping nations, but now that we’re abandoning any semblance to things Biblical in a wholesale manner, I think we can expect some punishment to our nations. I’m primarily including the nation-state called Israel but also the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia – and eventually even the northwestern nations of Europe.
We must also apply the lessons to each of us individually and personally. We must never, ever, take our relationship with our heavenly Father for granted. We must be sure we are closer to Him and more obedient today than we’ve ever been in our lives, by the power of His Holy Spirit living in us. Those who follow the lead of the Spirit are the children of God, remember (Romans 8:14).
But it ends well.
The true God of Israel - and by that I mean all 12 tribes – will abundantly pardon when our peoples repent. There are scriptures that speak of both houses coming back from captivity as one, together. The Two Houses will become one again. That’s for another time, another blog or sermon. And though this day and the 9th of Tammuz are known as days of fasting and sorrow today, they will be become joyful and glad occasions. Look what Zechariah says in his prophecy:
“The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.” (Zechariah 8:19).
We can all look forward to that.
The point is: we can’t take our relationship with Yah our Father for granted. (Yah is the shortened form of YHVH). All relationships require attention and nurturing. We are not to leave our first love, become lethargic, self-satisfied, or spiritual sleepy or even dead! We are to use this time to seek our Father and Savior with all our might and soul and seek to follow His Way.
There’s another lesson: it’s not too late to pray FOR the nation. Daniel certainly did in Daniel 9. Read it for yourself. The Apostle Paul’s desire was that his fellow Jews all come to understand who their Messiah is. Look at Jonah’s prophecy for Nineveh; they repented, turned from their evil works, and God in heaven saw and heard – and relented the severe punishment he was about to dish out on Nineveh. In any case, in Ezekiel 9, we are told that those who “sigh and cry” for the abominations in the land receive a special mark from God. So – as Jews mourn on this day and on the 9th of Av in 3 weeks, let’s be praying that our loving God will call more and more of them and our/your countrymen to form a true and honest relationship with their Savior.