Sunday, August 28, 2011

Coming Soon? (updated 8/30/11)

One of the questions I get asked the most in relation to current events in the Middle East is what, if anything, does the Bible say about what is happening right now? My response is that I am extremely concerned with the events in Syria, especially as they relate to the prophecy given to us in Isaiah 17 where we are told that at some point in time, Israel will destroy the city of Damascus.

As I have studied prophecy and how it relates to the current situation we see in the Middle East today, I believe strongly the destruction of Damascus is the next major fulfillment of biblical prophecy that the world will see. Because of that belief, and the unrest in Syria today, I thought it might be helpful to explore the subject of this prophecy a little today. At the end of this blog there are also links to a couple of articles published just this weekend that you may wish to read which are very relevant to this discussion as well.

Many might say that since the establishment of the state of Israel, although attacked often and with increasing intensity, Israel has responded with notable restraint. Certainly many would state emphatically that Israel is a peaceful nation, simply defending herself and wishing only to be left alone, living securely without the fear of attack. However, since it would appear that its neighbors have been reluctant to embrace that position, and seem determined to be preparing for another conflict, the logical question that must be asked is how would Israel respond to the ultimate attack; an attack with the use of weapons of mass destruction?

It should surprise no one by now that the intent here is to explain why I believe Isaiah 17 tells us exactly how Israel would respond to such an attack, and that it seems very clear that the result is the total and complete destruction of the city of Damascus, the capital of Syria. So let's first look at what the Bible has to say and examine the clues that might lead us to such a conclusion. The seventeenth chapter of Isaiah begins by stating;

The burden against Damascus. "Behold, Damascus will cease from [being] a city, And it will be a ruinous heap.
Isaiah 17:1 NKJV

So here we learn about "The Burden of Damascus". Now if we look up "burden" in the Hebrew dictionary we find it's the word "massa" which is defined as "a doom, prophecy, tribute, prophetical speech of a threatening nature". From that definition, the obvious conclusion is that what we are about to read is not going to be pleasant to the inhabitants of Damascus for God says that He is about to reveal a prophecy of the future doom of Damascus. Why future? Simply explained, if you research the city of Damascus you will find that all resources will tell you that it is the "oldest continually inhabited city" in the world. From that it is easy to conclude that there has been no time in the past when this prophecy could have occurred, because if we read the next sentence in Isaiah 17, we see that the prophecy states that "Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap".

Now I think it would help if we look at some of the individual words contained in this prophecy, because as I have studied the Bible I have often found that it helps to understand the "what and the why" if you do. There are two words in this sentence I think are important for us to examine in order to understand what is happening here. The first is the word "taken". In the Hebrew, "suwr" is defined as to "depart, lay away, pluck away, remove", and by that it would certainly seem to imply the removal is involuntary. The second word is "ruin", or "mappalah", which means "something fallen, ruin, (from "naphal"-fallen by judgment)". Now there are a couple of ideas that come to me as I think about these two definitions. One is the idea of to "pluck away", which to me at least, gives the impression of happening very quickly, even instantaneously. Two, Damascus ceases to be a city because, according to this definition, they receive a judgment from God. Most people understand the principle that God judge’s wrongdoing, so we are left to wonder what Damascus does in order to bring Gods judgment down on them in such a complete and total way.

In the book of Amos, we may just have the answer to that question. This passage also talks about the judgment that will fall on Damascus, and it says;

Thus says the LORD: "For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away its [punishment], Because they have threshed Gilead with implements of iron.
Amos 1:3 NKJV

What we are told here specifically that the judgment is received in response to four "transgressions" against "Gilead". Again we should look closer at these words in order to better understand what is actually being said here. Transgression, or "pesha" in Hebrew means "sin, or trespass", and Gilead, although at certain times refers to a specific location, most often is used in a general sense to refer to the region east of the Jordan River, which as most people know would include the city of Jerusalem.

Now if you recall we have said previously that Syria has gone to war against Israel three times since 1948 when the modern state of Israel was established. Is it possible that what God is telling us here is that the destruction of Damascus will be His judgment upon them for attacking Israel the fourth time? I believe it’s not only possible, but likely considering all the other factors we can take into account concerning the situation we find in the Middle East today. I believe there are several other conclusions we can safely arrive at here by looking closer at these two passages. If God tells us this judgment is a result of something Damascus has done, I think it's safe to assume that Syria is the aggressor here, and that what occurs is in response to their actions. Also if Damascus is the city that receives the judgment, regardless of what form the aggression takes, Israel obviously believes that whatever decisions are made must originate there. So we are left to conclude that Syria moves on Israel in one form or another, and God judges them by allowing Israel to destroy Damascus. Now let’s look at how God might accomplish that event given what we know about Israel and its military capabilities.

It should not surprise anyone that given its history of being surrounded by hostile countries, and having to endure not only several wars of aggression but incessant terrorist attacks as well, not to mention the holocaust of the second world war, its hardly a surprise that Israel would pursue defensive technology that would insure the upper hand in any future conflict. As early as 1949, Israel began searching for uranium reserves in the Negev with an eye to beginning a nuclear program. In 1952 the Israel Atomic Energy Commission was created, and its chairman publicly said the best way to avoid a repeat of the holocaust was the possession of nuclear weapons. By design, however, not very much is known about Israel’s nuclear capabilities for from the beginning, Israel has pursued what has been called a “policy of nuclear ambiguity”. This of course, is simply a fancy way of saying that they aren’t about to tell anybody if they have nuclear bombs or not, they simply refuse to “either confirm or deny”. But from the beginning, we know much about their pursuit of nuclear technology because they needed help from other countries that already had the knowledge and expertise.

Sometime in the mid-1950’s, France agreed to help Israel construct a nuclear reactor and processing plant located outside the Negev city of Dimona and by1964, with their assistance, the facility was completed and production of plutonium began. In the mid-1960’s, several countries shipped materials to Israel for use at Dimona, and the most interesting one might be a shipment of highly enriched lithium-6, used to boost the yield of fission type thermonuclear devices. However it wasn’t until 1986 that the world discovered Israel’s possession of bombs thanks to information released by a former employee at Dimona, Mordechai Vanunu. In response to his revelations, Vanunu was convicted of espionage and treason, and sentenced to 18 years in prison. As far as nuclear weapons are concerned though, Israel has never admitted to possessing any, and no proof of their existence has been revealed, as to the world’s knowledge, Israel has never tested one.

There have been, however, incidents that could have been small tests of the different parts needed for a bomb, such as the trigger device, and others. Also there was an incident in September of 1979 off the coast of South Africa which may have been an underwater nuclear explosion conducted jointly by Israel and South Africa. Israel has publicly declared that they will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East; however, Israel has also never signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which would require them to submit to inspections. World opinion though, is that there is more than enough circumstantial evidence to not only confirm their existence, but to also have a fairly good idea of what kind, how many, and most of all, the conditions that would provoke their use.

It has been widely reported, and generally accepted that Israel possessed approximately 100-200 nuclear devices by the 1980's, and could deliver them with their Jericho missiles. By the year 2000, that number had risen to about 400. It is also known that Israel has submarines equipped with both U.S. "Harpoon", and Israeli "Popeye Turbo" missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead within a distance of up to 2400 kilometers. This effectively gives Israel not only a "first strike" capability, but a "second strike" one as well, which should be sufficient to deter anyone interested in attacking them. The world at present is more than a little concerned about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and the possibility that it is really seeking to produce its own nuclear weapons. No nation is more concerned than Israel, for as most know, Iran’s president has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel.

As they move closer to achieving their goals, speculation is rampant that either the United States or Israel will strike Iran’s facilities with a pre-emptive strike aimed at crippling their program. There have been repeated calls in Israel by both politicians and the media to act quickly and decisively by striking Iran, and interestingly enough, these calls advocate the use of Israel’s own nuclear weapons in the attempt. In February of 2007, then President Chirac of France made the following statement concerning Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapon, and what Israel might do if Iran were so foolish as to try to launch one at Israel. Speaking of Iran he said; "Where will it drop it, this bomb? On Israel? It would not have gone 200 metres into the atmosphere before Tehran would be razed". So although Israel has never gone public with any of the details of their nuclear capabilities, the world knows they have them, and more importantly, would use them if sufficiently provoked. But this raises the obvious question, what would it take to provoke Israel to use them, and are they really prepared to do so? The answer to this question can be found by examining what the world has come to know as the Sampson Option.

Most people are familiar with the story of Sampson found in the Old Testament, and the fact that in the conclusion of the story, rather than give in to his captors, Sampson was willing to commit suicide if the result was also the destruction of his enemies as well. The term "Sampson Option" is one of the terms the Israeli Defense Force uses in planning for their worst case scenarios, and what their response might be. So make no mistake about it, Israel is prepared to use its entire nuclear arsenal on its enemies even if it results in its own destruction. Is it really possible that Israel would use its nuclear arsenal on an attacker? Consider then the occasions that intelligence agencies know for sure that Israel has actually armed the devices and declared a nuclear alert. The first time was at the beginning of the Six Day War in 1967 when, reportedly only possessing two devices, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol ordered them armed and prepared for use.

The second time was during the Yom Kippur War of 1973. An attack by Israel’s enemies when most of the Israeli Army was on leave to celebrate their most holy day resulted in the swift overrunning of Israel’s front lines. Their enemies were advancing so rapidly that Prime Minister Golda Meir directed that the nuclear strike force of jets at the air base at Tel Nof, as well as the Jericho missiles located at Hirbat Zachariah be armed and ready for launching. The third time was in 1991 on the first day of Desert Storm, when as American forces attacked Iraq, seven scud missiles were launched at the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa. Fortunately these missiles carried only conventional warheads, because Yitzhak Shamir, Israel’s Prime Minister was reported to have threatened an Israeli response if any of the scuds contained chemical warheads. Many believed this was a declaration of intent to use their nuclear option as those forces were on alert for the duration of the war.

So if Israel has a nuclear capability, and has a plan to use it if sufficiently provoked, does the passage in Isaiah provide us with a modern day scenario that would accurately describe such a conflict? Take note that Isaiah says that Damascus will be "taken away from being a city", and also says that "it shall be a ruinous heap". Many would claim this accurately describes the effects of using nuclear weapons, because not only would the city be destroyed, it could not be rebuilt and repopulated due to the radiological contamination. Now you might ask the question, "wouldn't the contamination spread to Israel or other unintended locations"? That is certainly possible, and probably a cause for concern to many in Israel's government should the use of such weapons be considered. There is, however, a way around that as well, and that is by use of a neutron or enhanced radiation bomb.

These bombs are different from a typical nuclear bomb in that the neutrons are released at the time of detonation, as opposed to being contained inside and enhanced which occurs in a conventional thermonuclear device. Using this technology, the "blast effects" are smaller, but the effect on the population is deadly. In a normal nuclear explosion, the population is killed by heat and blast effects, where in a neutron detonation the population is killed by intense ionizing radiation which though lethal, is quickly absorbed by the air with no radiological fallout left behind. A common misconception, however, is that a neutron bomb kills the population but leaves the buildings intact. This effect is possible if a very small device is used, such as those intended for use in a battlefield environment. But as you increase the yield of the weapon to enlarge the killing zone, you begin to produce more heat and blast effects. There are now neutron weapons reportedly in the kiloton range, which would probably be enough to reduce any structures in the lethal range to rubble.

Does this technology answer the questions raised in Isaiah when he describes the destruction of Damascus? It would certainly seem to, because if Israel were to be attacked by Syria with a weapon of mass destruction, they could respond with a weapon of their own without the fear of collateral damage to themselves caused by the proximity of Damascus to Israel proper. It is known that by 1995, Israel possessed neutron bombs, but the type, size, and yield are unknown. Would Israel resort to using this technology if attacked? Would they risk offending the entire civilized world by using nuclear weapons on another country?

I think Isaiah answers that question quite emphatically when he states that sometime in the future, Damascus ceases to be a city. If that isn't enough to get your attention, a close reading of this oracle shows we have one more part that we need to examine, for it states there is another location that suffers from the effects of this conflict. This may be the most controversial part of this story for, according to some, what it describes is possibly the prophetic future of the United States.

I hope this helps your understanding of the prophecy of Isaiah, and as always, I encourage you to keep watching.

8/30/11 ...note the last paragraph!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Fruit Means Harmony

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Galatians 5:22,23 NKJV

As we have been talking about the Holy Spirit and what effect it has on those who believe, like many of you my thoughts turned to this passage with which I am sure most of us are familiar. I even have a framed print of it hanging on a wall in my home to remind me of what is expected from me as a believer. “Expected”? Yes, if we accept the fact that being filled with the Holy Spirit is a choice, as we discussed last week, then it follows that producing the fruits of the Spirit is also a choice. In other words, the ability to produce the fruit of the Spirit is in us, but we must also choose to exhibit them.

Now if you think about it, I am sure you will realize that we as believers sometimes stumble and exhibit fruits not of the Spirit. I am also sure that at one time or another you have observed someone who claims to be a believer act or speak in a manner which does not show any of the fruit listed in this passage. I am not suggesting that those who do not exhibit the fruits of the Spirit are not true believers, but rather that just as being filled with the Spirit is a choice, producing the fruit of the Spirit is a choice as well. It is one thing to go to church, study, fellowship, and grow as a believer, but it is another thing entirely to choose to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.

This year I decided to do something I haven't done in many years, and that was to plant a garden. Now I would be the first to tell you I had no idea what I was doing other than putting seed in the ground and watering with the hope something other than weeds would appear. Imagine my surprise when absolutely everything I planted came up! I have enjoyed watching these plants grow and mature, even to the point of taking a picture or two and sharing them with my kids. Yet now that we are approaching harvest time, there is something odd that I have noticed about some of my plants. You see, the plants are huge, and apparently very, very healthy, yet there is absolutely no “fruit” to be found on them! Even though they have arrived at the “maturation” date given on the package of seed, and the plants are huge, no fruit.

As I considered the subject of the fruits of the Spirit this week, I quite naturally looked at my garden and wondered how many of us sometimes look like these plants. We appear quite healthy and mature as believers, but upon closer examination there is no fruit to be found. What I think God expects from us as believers is to approach every decision we make every single day with the thought of “how do I show others the fruit of the Spirit in this particular instance”? So often we believe that if we arrive at a certain level of maturity in our walk with Christ the fruit will appear “naturally” in everything we do. However if we take a good look around, especially in the body, I think we can see that may not be the case.

If you have followed my blog for long you know I encourage you to always examine scripture in the context in which it was written. If you look at the context of this passage on the fruits of the Spirit you might be surprised by what you find. You see, Paul was writing to the Galatian church because a problem had arisen between the members of the church. It seems there was a disagreement on doctrinal issues that had resulted in a lack of harmony in the church body. It is in this context that Paul gives us this list of fruits of the Spirit, so in essence, although certainly applicable in our relationship to unbelievers, Paul is really telling believers how to act towards other believers with whom they may disagree.

Jesus also had something to say about this subject.

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves". You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? . “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
Matthew 7:15-17 NKJV

Obviously we can learn something from the fruit we observe. Personally I have had, over the years, discussions on doctrinal positions with many of my fellow believers and I can certainly attest to the differences in the fruit I have had occasion to observe. Fortunately the majority have been good, frank, and profitable discussions that were presented with all the fruits of the Spirit manifested. If no agreement resulted from these discussions, the decision was made to lovingly agree to disagree. There have been, however, a few times where a person felt so strongly in their belief that their attitude towards those who chose to disagree exhibited none of the fruits listed in the passage from Galatians. Their attitude then led to hard feelings and disharmony among the body. This is what was happening in the church at Galatia, and Paul makes it clear God does not condone this type of behavior. Understandable too, if you look at this next passage.

These six [things] the LORD hates, Yes, seven [are] an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness [who] speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.
Proverbs 6:16-19 NKJV

Sowing “discord among brethren” is something God “hates”. Strong words would you agree? You see, harmony between believers in the body of Christ is of utmost importance if we are to perform the work that God had set before us. The fruits of the Spirit are part of what we have obtained from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but as always, we must choose to use them in order to live the Spirit filled Christian life. Are you exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit? May I suggest you check your relationships with others in the body in order to find out.

Keep watching.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Being Filled is a Choice

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV

Ever notice there are certain subjects that either get little attention from the pulpit, or when examined are given such light treatment that conclusions are rather unclear and open to interpretation? As I grow in my spiritual life, it appears to me that one of the subjects high on that list would have to be a study of the Holy Spirit. At times it almost seems that teachers are afraid to broach the subject, yet my personal opinion is that it is probably the most important one we need to understand in order to perform the duties of a true believer.

A couple of weeks ago we spoke about the Holy Spirit as a person, and not just a power, coming into the lives of all believers at the time of their decision to ask for forgiveness from their sin and turn their lives over to Christ. We are told that at that time we receive power as a result of the Spirit's “indwelling”, a gift we are given in order to get the help we will need to live our lives according to His wishes.

"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
Acts 1:8 NKJV

Now one of the first things I learned when I first began to study the Holy Spirit is that there is often confusion between what is known as being “indwelt” and in being “filled” with the Holy Spirit. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul tells believers that they should be filled with the Spirit.

And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,
Ephesians 5:18 NKJV

Many people teach and believe that to be “filled” with the Spirit is a separate and different experience than the “indwelling” of the Holy Spirit which occurs at the time of our conversion. Yet the problem I and many others see in that position is that it infers that what we receive from God when we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit is somewhat inadequate, or that there is something more to get.

The best way I know to try and understand what Paul means here is to look closely at the word filled, and examine how it is used in other passages in order to understand what we are being told. The Greek word for filled used here is plēroō, which is a verb that means to be full in the sense that we are completely full of something.

And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
1 John 1:4 NKJV

In other words, what Paul is saying is that we have what we need inside of us in the person of the Holy Spirit, but we also need to make a choice to use that resource when the need arises. The problem occurs when we choose to try and use some other resource rather than the one we have already been given. I look at it this way; my life is a glass full of water. I am full to the brim with what I need, but if I choose to add ice, it displaces some of the water and I am left with a mixture of what God has given me, and what I have chosen to add. How often do we make that choice in our lives? We feel we have what it takes to solve a problem, make certain choices, or live a certain way. When we choose to utilize our own resources rather than the one that God has given us, we are making the choice to not be “filled” with the Holy Spirit. Ray Stedman put it this way;

Now here he touches the great secret of real Christianity, the possibility of being filled with the Spirit. I am sure all of you know that when you became a Christian, when you believed in Jesus Christ and received him as your Lord, the Holy Spirit came to live in you. You have the Spirit, but the interesting paradox is that, though all Christians have the Holy Spirit, we constantly need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The filling of the Holy Spirit is the momentary taking from him of the resources you need for the situation in which you are. It has nothing to do with an experience, or a feeling or a crisis; it is a quiet drinking again and again of an inner supply of strength. (Ray Stedman, “Watch How You Walk”Ephesians 5:15-20.

This idea makes more sense if you also consider this next passage.

Do not quench the Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 5:19 NKJV

So although we are filled with all that we need, it also is possible for us to choose not to use those resources, and in essence “quench” the Holy Spirit and the help He has for us. The word for quench in the Greek is sbennymi which means to extinguish, as in putting out a fire. Does it not make sense that if you choose to rely on something other than the Spirit, it is the same as putting out His fire in your life?

I believe the only problem most of us would have with this is that quite obviously if we are in need of filling it seems the fault is our own. God has given us all that we need to live the spirit filled life, but it is a choice we must make to utilize the power we have been given by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. How do we do that? To me, it means I need to understand fully all that is available to me and that comes as a result of study, becoming as familiar as I can with the power of the Holy Spirit.

In my present job at a automobile dealership I am sometimes asked to travel and drive back new vehicles that we have purchased. Lately I have found that it is not just as simple as getting in and turning the key, like it used to be. New vehicles are so complex that it is a requirement that you look at the manual and learn all the systems in order to access all the functions and information needed to utilize all the car can do. This is the mistake I believe many make about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They know He is inside, but they don't do the study necessary to become familiar with all that He can do for us. That leads many to try and look elsewhere for the help they need to deal with the challenges that life can present.

Being filled with the Spirit is a choice. Look to Him for the help and power and answers to all that life can throw at us. Study to “show thyself approved”, and begin to live the powerful life available by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Keep watching.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tu B' Av

I think most believers would agree that our hope, the event for which we are all watching and waiting is the rapture of the Church. I'm sure most of us too, are familiar with the Church being referred to as the “bride” of Christ. Many of you are also probably aware of how the events surrounding the rapture follow precisely the pattern of a Jewish wedding. 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. But there is one question I personally have always had with this idea and it is this; does it matter at all to this picture that we the Church are not, strictly speaking, Jewish? The Bible tells us we are "grafted" in, (Romans 11:17) but to which tribe do we belong?

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 reasons I want to share with you, 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

In the Jewish culture, after the engagement the groom goes to prepare the home in which he and his wife will reside, and it is up to his father to decide when the home is ready and the son is allowed to return for his bride.

So in review, we find there is a holiday in Israel that many are unfamiliar with which is a traditional day celebrating love. It is a day many choose as their wedding day, and historically is the only day that Jews were allowed to marry outside their own tribes. It comes at the end of the wheat harvest and along with being the last celebration of the year, because of the allowance to intermarry it also 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 since Tu B' Av starts Monday night the fourteenth at sunset, 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.

Keep watching.