"The Spirit of the Lord GOD [is] upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to [those who are] bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,
Isaiah 61:1-2 NKJV
While many are familiar with the seven Feasts of Israel, which were celebrations appointed by God and revealed to Moses during the Exodus, not as many are familiar with the Fasts of Mourning which are days which commemorate a tragic event or events that have occurred in Israel's history. While these days of remembrance were not instituted by God, He does mention them when He reveals to the prophet Zechariah that the time will come when they will be turned into days of celebration after the tribulation ends and the Messiah begins His reign on the earth.
"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.'
Zechariah 8:19 NKJV
This coming Saturday is the seventeenth of Tammuz, which is the first fast day, or the fast of the fourth month referred to by Zechariah in the passage above. This day begins a period of three weeks of national mourning in Israel that lead up to Tisha B' Av, or the ninth of Av which is the fast of the fifth month. When discussing this first fast day in his book “Armageddon: Appointment With Destiny”, the late Grant Jeffrey says that the events which have occurred on the seventeenth of Tammuz serve to show the nation of Israel that God's favor had been withdrawn from them because of their sin as a nation. It also served as a sign that God's judgment was soon to follow, which throughout history has certainly occurred on the ninth of Av.
The first passage we looked at this morning comes from the book of Isaiah, and is noteworthy because it was also quoted by Jesus during His ministry here on earth. If you look in the fourth chapter of Luke you find this account;
So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
Luke 4:16-17 NKJV
Jesus then reads the passage from Isaiah 61 but does an interesting thing; He stops reading in the middle of verse two where it begins to talk about the day of vengeance. Then Jesus explains to the people;
And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
Luke 4:21 NKJV
Almost every commentator I have read agrees that this is because the day of vengeance that Jesus does not talk about is the future tribulation period that will come upon Israel because of their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah. It is during this time of tribulation that the rest of verse two comes into play because it describes that period of time as a time of mourning in Israel. If you are at all familiar with the events described in the book of Revelation concerning this coming time of judgment you might think that there will be plenty of reasons to mourn, yet the Bible makes it clear that God intends for the world and the nation of Israel to know the real reason to mourn;
"Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Matthew 24:30 NKJV
"And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for [his] only [son], and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.
Zechariah 12:10 NKJV
As I thought about the subject of mourning this week, and the fact that we are approaching the period of time in Israel's history where they have historically been given reason to mourn, I couldn't help but wonder what future event might occur which would remind Israel that there is a reason to mourn. It was as I was thinking these things when articles began to appear in the news recalling the prediction of Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri, the chief rabbi of Israel who passed away in 2006. Just before his death he revealed that he had experienced a dream where he had met the Messiah and had been told when He would return. When asked who the Messiah was he replied “Yeshua”, which is Jesus, and that He would return in the month of Av in 5772, which is this year.
Now you would think that this would be a cause for celebration in the month of Av, and not a time to mourn, yet the thought that immediately crossed my mind when I read this was one which applies to everyone and not just Israel. You see, the next time Jesus returns will be the rapture when He comes in the clouds to take His bride, the Church made up of all who believe in Him, back to Heaven. That being the case, while it will be a time of celebration for those who go, don't you think it will be a reason to mourn for those who don't? Of all the events which have occurred throughout history during the three weeks of mourning in Israel, they would all pale in comparison to being left behind when the rapture happens.
Is it possible that God would allow Jesus to take His bride on the seventeenth of Tammuz as a sign that His judgment is coming? Certainly. Am I making a prediction here? No, but would I be surprised if the rapture occurs in the next few weeks? Seriously? Consider all the things that are happening in the world right now. We have the signs of war in the Middle East beginning at any time, floods in parts of the world while half of the United States is experiencing record heat. Earthquakes occurring and volcanoes erupting, not to mention the tragedy of wildfires burning in several states. With all these things in mind I think it seems more important than ever for all of us to consider our eternal destiny and make sure we know we will accompany our Lord when He returns for His bride.
If you are reading this today and have never made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I urge you to do it right now. All you need to do is pray a simple prayer like this;
Jesus I know I am a sinner in need of salvation. I believe you sent your Son Jesus to die on the cross for my sin, and I ask you now to forgive me of my sins. I want to receive your gift of salvation so please come into my heart and help me to live for you from now on. In Jesus' name, Amen.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
John 1:12 NKJV
If you have prayed that prayer, or one just like it, you can rejoice that you will spend eternity with God. If not, I'm sorry to say that very soon you might just have a reason to mourn.