Tag Archive | Jewish

History and The 9th of Av

Israeli Flag 1

The 17th day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz begins a special season for the Jewish faith (Israel) to which we, as believers in Christ, have been grafted in (Romans 11). The fast of the 17th of Tammuz, (Shivah Asar B’Tammuz), is the beginning of a three-week season of mourning that commemorates the destruction of Jerusalem and the First and Second Temples.

A 21-day period of teshuvah (repentance) is called Bein haMetzarim. This is translated “between the straits” (between the days of distress), or The Three Weeks. This twenty-one day period of mourning and fasting begins with the 17th of Tammuz and ends with the 9th of Av.

During this period, the Orthodox will limit celebrations and enter into a more solemn season of prayer.  This solemn rite is not without hope. Zechariah 8:19 prophesied an outbreak of joy and hope…

“Thus says the Lord of hosts:

The fast of the fourth month,
The fast of the fifth,
The fast of the seventh,
And the fast of the tenth,
Shall be joy and gladness and cheerful feasts
For the house of Judah.
Therefore love truth and peace.’

The Siege and Destrucion of Jerusalem. David Roberts, 1850This season is especially remembered because of the destruction of the First Jewish Temple (Solomon’s Temple) in 586 BC by the Babylonians, and the destruction of the Second Temple (built by Ezra and Nehemiah) by Titus and the Romans in 70 AD. Both events occurred on the 9th of Av, nearly 655 years apart. But the 9th of Av holds other significance in the life of the Jewish people. Other historic events of significance are associated with this day…

  • Rabbinic tradition says (Mishnah Taanit 4:6) that ten of the twelve spies sent into the Promised Land (all but Joshua and Caleb) brought back a negative report on the Promised Land (Numbers 13), and the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness ensued . The night the people cried out in unbelief marks the first 9th of Av becoming a day of mourning for all time.
  • Following the destruction of the Second Temple, the Romans subsequently crushed Bar Kokhba’s revolt, destroying the city of Betar and killing over half-a-million Jewish civilians (approximately 580,000). This took place on 9th of Av, 135 AD. Following the revolt, Roman commander Turnus Rufus plowed the site of the Temple in Jerusalem, along with the surrounding area.
  • In 1096, at the decree of Pope Urban II, the First Crusade commenced, unleashing anti-Semitic fever across Europe resulting in 10,000 Jews killed the first month in France and the Rhineland.
  • Jews expelled from England… 1290.
  • Jews expelled from France… 1306.
  • Jews expelled from Spain… 1492.
  • HimmlerGermany entered World War I… 1914. Most historians also believe that the events surrounding the end of World War I led directly to World War II and the Holocaust, wiping out nearly 1/3 of the earth’s Jewish population.
  • Nazi SS Commander Heinrich Himmler received approval from Adolph Hitler for “The Final Solution” resulting in the Holocaust… 1941.
  • The deportation of Polish Jews by Hitler… 1942.

 … and I could go on.

Yet it was this season when they expected
the coming of Sar Shalom… the Prince of Peace!

I am praying in these days, as we move toward the 9th of Av (sunset July 31st through nightfall August 1st) that Jesus the Prince of Peace would protect Israel and His Church, and that soon He would come.

Across the Water

The Festival of Lights

Whether referred to as the Feast of Dedication or the Festival of Lights, the celebration of Hanukkah holds great significance for both the Jew and Christian alike. One of the main symbols of Hanukkah, the menorah, holds great symbolism as well. So, how did Hanukkah come to be? What is the historical and spiritual significance of Hanukkah? What does the menorah symbolize for the believer in Christ?

Let’s take a look…

In 167 BC, Syrian-Greco forces seized the Jewish temple and dedicated it to the worship of the Greek god Zeus. The Jewish people were, understandably, distraught, but fear of governmental retaliation kept them in check. Antiochus Epiphanes, the governor, then made the observance of Judaism a capital offense. Following that, in a move copied directly from Daniel’s experience in Babylon, the Jewish people were ordered to worship only Greek gods.

It was in the village of Modi’in that the seeds of revolt began to break through the hardened ground of apathy. It was there that Greek soldiers gathered the villagers and forced them to bow down to an idol. Then, in a move meant to pour salt on the wound, the villagers were forced to eat the flesh of a pig. It was when soldiers ordered Mattathias, the local high priest, to bow and eat that the unrest began. Not surprisingly, Mattathias refused submit. When a villager stepped forward and offered to participate on Mattathias’s behalf, the high priest drew his sword and, in a fit of rage, killed the Greek soldier and the indulgent villager. Mattathias’s five sons, along with zealous villagers, armed themselves and killed the rest of the garrison in the village.

Mattathias and his family fled the village to hide in the mountains, and other incited Jews later joined them. Eventually the revolutionaries, who came to be known as the Maccabees, were successful in taking back their city and ultimately in regaining control of the temple in Jerusalem. Mattathias, who by this time had died, had ceded leadership of the revolt to his third son, Judah Maccabee (Judah the Hammer). Judah ordered the temple to be cleansed, a new altar to be erected in place of the polluted altar of Zeus, and new holy vessels to be made. When all had been completed and the time of dedication had come, it was discovered that there was only enough olive oil to keep the light of the menorah lit, not for the full eight days, but for only one day. The priest lit the wick anyway, and the flame burned for eight full days!

In the years that followed, this became a major feast in the land of Israel. Because the word Hanukkah stems from a word meaning “to dedicate”, we find references to this feast translated in many English Bibles, not incorrectly, as the Feast of Dedication. The Jewish people commonly call it “The Festival of Lights” and that is because out of that celebration (which occurs in the winter, before Christmas) came a peculiar menorah. The traditional menorah has seven branches and illuminated the Holy Place, wherein was the table of showbread and the altar of incense. In the New Testament book of Revelation, the seven branches represent the seven churches of Asia Minor as well as the church across the years. Recall the explanation given in the Book of Revelation:

The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches. ~ Revelation 1:20

The tradition of the nine-branched menorah comes from the eight-day miracle and the ninth mystery candle. Some rabbis believe seven of the branches represent the traditional menorah while the eighth branch represents new beginnings (which, historically, is the meaning of the number eight).

Here is a clip from our show, Ron Phillips from Abba’s House with my friend Rabbi Curt Landry, explaining the significance of the menorah…

 

The Survival of Israel

RP & PauletteHere are a few notable quotes:

“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
~ King David

“No man should escape our universities without knowing how little he knows.”
~ J. Robert Oppenheimer

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
~ Albert Einstein

“I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.”
~ Groucho Marx

“Too many young musicians today want to win polls before they learn their instruments.”
~ Benny Goodman

“One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present.”
~ Golda Meir

Mt. ScopusWhile a seemingly unrelated group of quotes, the one thing that they have in common is that all came from the mind, experience, wit, and wisdom of Jews. Each person quoted is Jewish. In fact, when listing the accomplishments of notable Jews throughout history, the list would include multiple Nobel, Pulitzer, Oscar, Tony, Grammy, and {insert name of award here} Award recipients. There is no denying the contribution the Jewish people and culture have made to our world. And why not? There is no other national group that has endured the mistreatment, disdain, and abuse that the Jews (and nation of Israel) has. No other nation has ever been carried away captive, yet returned to their homeland. No other nation was considered dead, and yet rose again.

Dachau 2I have stood on the Temple Mount, walked along the streets of Jerusalem, and broken bread along the Sea of Galilee. I have stood at the gas chambers and ovens at the Dachau concentration camp in Germany. I have seen both the rich history and horrific tragedies endured by the Jewish people. Having seen the evidence on both sides, one may ask the question…

What is so special about Israel and the Jews?

Dachau 1Well, my friend, The answer is both simple and mysterious. The short answer comes from the promise that God made to Abram (later Abraham), the father of the Jewish people:

Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
  ~ Genesis 12:1-3

Garden of GethsemaneWhile we tend to focus on verse 3, we often forget the promise made in verse 2… the promise that has the potential to affect the rest of the world… “thou shalt be a blessing.” Not only does God promise to bless the people (nation) that blesses Israel, but He states that Israel “shall be a blessing”. There is no denying the truth of that verse. Look at the rich history of contributions made by Jews in every area of society. Albert Einstein, Selman Waksman, Louis B. Mayer, George Gershwin, Jonas Salk, Niels Bohr, and the list goes on and on.

But I digress…

Wailing WallThe fact is that Israel is God’s timepiece. Whether you are talking about end-time prophecy, or the movement of hundreds of thousands of troops in and out of the Middle East, Israel is the focal point. Israel is the apple of God’s eye, and when you hear people preaching “replacement theology”, blaming, or speaking out against Israel, you should run (not walk) the other direction. If “the power of life and death are in the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21), and God “will curse him that curseth thee” — well… you do the math.

This Sunday on Ron Phillips from Abba’s House, I will be talking about Israel’s Survival. I invite you to watch on one of the many fine stations and networks listed here.

If it is not available where you live, you can also watch directly from our website. It will be available on-demand after 8:00a.m. on Sunday, October 20. Just click here.