I'm going to start this article with a quote from a commercial currently playing during NASCAR races. Yes, I'm a fan of NASCAR, but that's not where I'm going here. If you watch like I do, I'm sure you will recognize where this comes from, but here we go. Ready? "Who doesn't love, love?" Sounds a little corny, I know, yet ask yourself that question. Don't we all love the feeling of being in love? Yet what many don't seem to understand, or better yet feel, is that the Gospel of Christ is a story of love. Most believers should know by now that the hope of the Church, what we call the rapture, is the culmination of this love story. Since Jesus is Jewish, it is expected that His wedding to His bride, the Church, will follow the pattern and traditions associated with Jewish weddings.
In this country, we observe a holiday called Valentines Day, a day set aside to celebrate love. But what most people don't know is that in the Jewish culture, they have a similar holiday called Tu B' Av, or the fifteenth of Av. Yet I call it an unknown holiday because most have never even heard of it, much less understand the traditional beliefs associated with it. It isn't even listed on my Jewish calendar along with all of their other holidays, which makes me wonder why it is so "forgotten"? If you look it up on the internet, you will find that most sites call it a "minor" holiday in Jewish culture, but for the reasons I am about to make you familiar with, I think it's entirely possible this might be the most important holiday you've never heard of.
One; Tu B'Av was declared a celebration by the first generation after the forty year wilderness wandering from Egypt during the Exodus. If you recall, God commanded that an entire generation must die because of their sin before a new generation could enter the Promised Land. After forty years, seeing the full moon told the new generation that the appointed time had passed, and they were able to enter the land that God had led them to. Remember the Jewish calendar is lunar, so the months are calculated by observing the phases of the moon. and the full moon always occurs on the night of the 14th/15th. (don't forget the new day starts at sunset). So this new generation declared this day a new day of celebration.
Two; The Jewish Talmud, which is a collection of ancient Rabbinic writings, teaches that on this day, Tu B' Av, the tribes of Israel were allowed to intermarry. The rest of the year, it was required that you marry only within your tribe, but on this one day every year, women were free to marry whomever they wished from any tribe. For this reason, and because it also marks the end of the wheat harvest in Israel, many believe this is the day that Ruth married Boaz. If you recall the story, Ruth was not a Jew, but a Gentile. Yet as a distant relation, she and Boaz, who was Jewish, were allowed to marry. Their marriage occured at the end of the harvest, and since on this day, marriages to others were allowed, it follows that this must have been the day of their wedding.
Three; As a result of a civil war between the tribe of Benjamin and the rest of Israel, only 600 males survived the conflict. The leaders of Israel decided they would allow these men to take wives from "the daughters from Shiloh". It seems there was a celebration at the beginning of the grape harvest at Shiloh where the daughters would go into the vineyards and dance. The surviving men were told they were to hide in the vineyards and catch themselves a wife from the girls who came out to dance. (Judges 21:16-22) In later years this day became known as a traditional day of love and courtship, where girls would exchange white clothing so that prospective husbands would not know who was rich or who was poor.
Four; Tu B' Av is the last holiday of the year in Israel. Since the New Year begins on Rosh Ha Shanah, which is just a month and a half away, this is the last holiday, as well as the last harvest of the year. Being the last of the holidays, it is a time of celebration both in looking back, and looking forward to the new year that is approaching. This day is also considered to be the time where planting of crops or trees was to end for the year. During the time of the Second Temple, Tu B' Av was proclaimed as the beginning of the grape harvest which continues until Yom Kippur.
Five; Prophetically speaking, Tu B' Av pictures the future marriage of Christ with His church.
"In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
John 14:2-3 NKJV
So in review, there is a holiday in Israel that many know nothing about, is a traditional day celebrating love, a day many choose as their wedding day, is the only day that Jews were allowed to marry outside their own tribes, comes at the end of the wheat harvest, is the last celebration of the year, and perfectly pictures the future marriage of Christ with His church. Many look at this day as a perfect time for the rapture of the Church to occur, and in all honesty, I would have to agree. But as we all know, God has His own timetable and as far as we know, He hasn't made it crystal clear. Yet with all the clues we do have, and all that has been happening lately in the world, many are convinced that this truly could be the day. Who knows, but as tomorrow is the full moon, I would be lying if I said I wasn't going to be watching the skies more than usual. The day is approaching when we will be taken to be with our Lord forever. I'm praying it will be soon.