In part 23 of this series, we showed that the end of a year in God’s calendar is not an instantaneous event, like December 31st at midnight, but over a period of days that begins with Rosh HaShana, and ends with the blowing of the shofars on Yom Kippur.
In this article series we have usually waited for events to happen, watching what God might do, and then writing about those events. These included, for example, the declaration of a Jubilee Year by the Pope, and the declaration of Golan being forever part of Israel by the Prime Minister of Israel. But in this case, we choose to write about the Ninth of Av before it happens.
The day on the Jewish calendar that is commonly referred to in English as the Ninth of Av is in Hebrew, called Tisha Be’Av, literally meaning “9th in Av.” Av is the fifth month of the Biblical calendar that started in spring with the month of Nissan, and is the 11th month of the Civil calendar that began the Jubilee Year last Fall in the month of Tishri.
Tragedy of Tragedies
This day is both famous and infamous in Jewish history as the day on which more trouble has occurred for the Jewish people than any other day. On the Gregorian calendar, this day falls either in July or August, but the remarkable series of events that have occurred on this day throughout is beyond any random coincidence when seen on the Jewish calendar.
It was on this day that the spies reported back to the Israelite people that the land of Canaan was too difficult to conquer. This negative report delayed the entry into the Promised Land by forty years.
It was the exact day of the destruction of the First Temple built by Solomon.
It was the exact day of the destruction of the Second Temple in the 1st Century.
It was the exact day of the crushing of the Bar Kochba revolt in the 2nd Century.
It marked the expulsion of Jews from England in 1290 CE.
It marked the first day of the absence of Jews in Spain after they were expelled in 1492 CE.
It marked the day of the start of World War I, which is seen as the beginning of the sequence of events that led to the Holocaust during World War II.
Fasting and Praying on Ninth of Av
Today Jews abstain from food and water on this day, to physically identify with the suffering of the history of the Jews. They begin preparing for this event three weeks in advance, on the 17th day of Tammuz, the month prior to Av, which marks the day that Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian army breached the walls of Jerusalem three weeks before the destruction of the First Temple.
After the return of the Jewish people to the Land after the Babylonian exile, they completed the building of the Second Temple. The prophet Zechariah records in chapter 7 of his book that the Jews asked if they should continue to be sorrowful on each 9th of Av, in commemoration of the destruction of the First Temple, now that a Second Temple was standing in its place. The prophet Zechariah answered yes, do not cease being sorrowful, but look towards the future, as recorded in Zechariah 8:18-19:
Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘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.’”
The fast of the fourth month is the 17th day of Tammuz mentioned earlier. The fast on the fifth month is the Ninth of Av, falling in 2016 on Sunday August 14th. The fast on the seventh month is the Fast of Gedaliah (next occurring on October 5th, 2016, and the fast on the tenth month was already held this past winter.
For more details on how these fasts are observed, we recommend a free video lesson recorded by Gidon Ariel here (www.root-source.com/blog/tisha-beav-day-of-calamity-prayer-for-redemption).
The prayer on this day is not just one of expressing sorrow for the past loss, but it is also a prayer for the future, that God would hasten and bring in the promise of Zechariah 8.
An Invitation to Join with Jews in Prayer
We would like to take this opportunity to invite Christians to join together with the Jewish people in prayer, as we pray each year:
May this be the Year that this day of sorrow will be turned into joy and redemption for the Jewish people.
The video lesson mentioned previously gives background and information about how you might pray with us. It may be that some Christians desire to fast on that day as well. You are welcome to join in any part of our fast, but please do so only if you can do it safely and responsibly.
The Importance of Joining
There is a context for joining in this particular year as it relates to the Jubilee.
The good news is that in all Jewish history, none of the 9th of Av tragedies mentioned above seems to have fallen on a Jubilee year. Last year’s 9th of Av in the Shemitah year was also relatively trouble-free in Israel.
But it seems to me that the nation collectively “holds its breath” each year on this day, wondering if another tragedy may befall it, and so the first reason to join is because of brotherly love.
The second reason to join in this particular year is within the context of the Jubilee Year. it is rare for any great gains in land to occur without conflict. If God were to do something amazing in this Jubilee year as He did in 1967, it may well be associated with conflict, even though we have repeated prayed that such would not happen in this case.
The third reason to join in prayer with Jews in this particular year is that some notable Christian prophecies have spoken about war or conflict coming to the Land of Israel soon. If such conflict were to come in Jewish year 5776, the current Jewish year, then the Ninth of Av would be a prime day for it to begin.
But the fourth and final reason to join in prayer with Jews this year is that since we may well be in a Jubilee year right now, THIS IS THE START OF A NEW CYCLE. That passage in Zechariah 8 continues with a prophecy that involves all peoples and not just the Jews. As you read it, consider this year for ourselves as an opportunity to BEGIN SOMETHING NEW, a new way of walking with the Jewish people. Zechariah 8:20-21 says:
Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘It will yet be that peoples will come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one will go to another, saying, “Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts; I will also go.”
Who is to say that this fulfillment has to begin only when the Ninth of Av becomes a day of joy? Why can’t we, who are non-Jews, begin to fulfill this verse on Sunday, August 14th, 2016?
Connect with Others
If you accept our invitation to join with Jews in prayer and/or fasting on August 14, 2016, the Ninth day of the month of Av, then please write: Count me in! In the comments below.
Join us next time as we continue to watch current events and examine all clues to the meaning and the Mystery of the Lost Jubilee.