Tag Archive | Zechariah

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 Judas Paradigm

 He had a kind boss, but for some inexplicable reason,
that wasn’t enough.

He had seen amazing things at the hands of his master, and thousands of people were touched by his goodness. Yet, as in many cases, the saying of him was definitely true… “No good deed goes unpunished”. And when betrayal comes with a pricetag…

Well, where do we sign up?

judasHe waited for the opportune time to spring his trap — a time when all was quiet, the adoring crowds were gone, and he was relatively alone, except for maybe a few of his closest friends. His accusers were seconds away in hiding, just waiting for a sign…

A kiss. Yes!!! Such a sign of affection would be unmistakable for the wolves hiding in the shadows.

By now, if you know anything about the life of Jesus, you have probably figured out that I am talking about His betrayal at the hands of Judas Iscariot. With his singular act of betrayal, Judas entered the ranks of the most despised individuals in Biblical history, joining names like Cain, Goliath, Jezebel, Absalom, and many others. Yet his betrayal of the Son of God moved him straight to the head of the class; Judas had betrayed God for 30 pieces of silver, and although remorse soon set in, and he tried to undo the damage he had done, some things cannot be undone.

In a matter of days, Jesus was tried, convicted, killed, and rose from the grave.

Judas, on the other hand…

(For the whole story, read Matthew 26 – 27:9)

So how does one go from a position of favor to embracing a curse? How does one go from a place of honor to dying by suicide, and being buried in an unmarked grave? While I’m sure the other eleven disciples were somewhat surprised by Judas’s betrayal, none of this caught Jesus by surprise. After all, this historic betrayal had been foretold hundreds of years before…

Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted,
Who ate my bread,
Has lifted up his heel against me. ~ Psalm 41:9

And was again alluded to in Zechariah…

 Then I said to them, “If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.”
So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver.
And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—that princely price they set on me.
So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into
the house of the Lord for the potter. ~Zechariah 11:12-13

So what drove Judas to betray the Creator of the Universe to a self-serving and self-righteous bunch? What path did Judas take that led him to the hanging tree? What are the symptoms of The Judas Paradigm?

  • Judas had no faith. In John 6, Jesus puts before His disciples some pretty tough language about what it takes to follow Him. He recognized that there were many of His disciples who did not really believe, and their desertion bore out this fact (v.64-66). In the face of unpopular and controversial teaching, they bailed out. Even when given the choice to leave, and hearing Peter declare, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 68-69), Judas still masqueraded as a follower, and gave the illusion of devotion and trust. 
  • Judas had no respect for the sacred. When Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with a costly perfume (John 12), Judas objected. “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” (v. 5). The next verse reveals that Judas had no care or concern for the poor, but that he was a thief, and as the one tasked with the care of the money box, he regularly stole from the money that was given to Jesus and His disciples for their needs and the care of the poor.
  • Judas had no loyalty to the Truth. Because of the deceit of his heart, Judas was ripe to be used by the devil. John 13 bears out the fact that the rest of the disciples were clueless to his deceit (v.28-29). In verse 2, we learn that the devil had “put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot” to betray Jesus. At that point, he was considering his betrayal. But when consideration turned to commitment, Satan entered into him (v. 27). At that point, he was totally under the control of the demonic. In spite of the fact that Jesus had, in an act of abject humility, just washed Judas’s feet (as well as the other disciples), Judas maintained his destructive path that ultimately took him to the grave.

In our world today, we are seeing The Judas Paradigm alive and at work in our homes, our churches, and our government.

As statistics bear out, we are seeing a decline in the organized church in America today. Children are abandoning the faith of their parents for convenience, comfort, and a feel-good Gospel that requires no sacrifice, no commitment, and no tough choices. The goal is relevance and inclusion, at the expense of Truth and holiness. We have so blurred the lines between the sacred and the secular that the message of the blood of Jesus has been lost in pop-psychology and moral relativism. We have forgotten the words of Jesus, that fly in the face of this 21st century mindset…

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me,
let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” ~ Matthew 16:24

When we lose our faith, it’s open season on what is sacred. We are seeing that at work in America today. Our founding documents (The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution) were written by men of faith that held the teachings of the Bible as guiding principles in their authorship of these documents. You cannot disregard one without catastrophic results to the others. When we removed the Bible from a place of prominence and respect in our society, it was a matter of time before our nation’s founding documents followed suit. The assault on our freedoms that we are seeing now, with utter disregard for The Constitution, is unprecedented. With the fate of the Supreme Court in the balance, America stands on the edge of a precipice. This year’s election will determine whether we move away from the edge, or plunge headlong into an abyss of lawlessness and Godlessness.

Where there is no vision, the people perish:
but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. ~ Proverbs 29:18

It’s easy to be loyal when people agree with you. But when society stands in opposition to the Word of God, we are forced to make a choice: We are forced to choose between the acceptance of the world or the approval of God. But make no mistake about it… if we choose the acceptance of the world, it puts us at odds with a Holy God. James 4:4 is pretty clear on the subject…

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity (hostility) against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. ~ James 4:4

Yet we are seeing an astounding number of “Christian” churches and pastors who are ignoring this dire warning, and condoning what God condemns. We are seeing politicians who — because of personalities — have abandoned their principles, promising to support a candidate who represents everything that is wrong with our political system, and who promises to continue us down a path of secularism, hedonism, and liberalism. The Judas Paradigm (spirit) allows loyalty to the Truth to take a back seat to our own comfort, feelings, and agenda. If we don’t like criticism, we cower to conformity. If we don’t like the messenger, we reject the message. If the road gets tough, we retire to the median and resign ourselves to being another casualty to a society bent on running over the righteous and off the cliff.

 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. ~ 2 Chronicles 16:9a

God is still looking…

He is looking for those who have faith, however small.

He is looking for those who recognize and respect the sacred.

He is looking for people of honor, who are loyal to Him.

He is looking for those who will stand when the crowd sits, be loud when the crowd is silent, and be faithful when the crowd is faithless.

He is looking for those who will gaze defiantly into the face of The Judas Paradigm, and refuse the 30 pieces of silver.

He is looking for YOU!

Pastor Ron