"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
Tisha B' Av, or the ninth of Av which is the fast of the fifth month begins this year at sundown, Monday July 31st. Much has been written about this day in Israel’s history, and I am sure many of you are familiar with it. Events unfolding today in the Middle East and the situation which exists on the ground, especially the current violence at the Temple Mount, makes this day especially poignant this year. Will something happen which will change the dynamic in Israel? I am not sure but I thought it prudent to share this column with you today.
"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.' Zecharaiah 8:19 NKJV
Zechariah goes on to say that when the Messiah comes, these fast days will become days of celebration and feasting, but for now they are still days of mourning. The fast of the fourth month remembers the day that Moses came down from the mountain to find the children of Israel worshiping the golden calf and then broke the tablets God had given him. The seventh commemorates the assassination of the governor appointed by Nebuchadnezzar to govern the Jews left behind in Israel after the destruction of the temple. The tenth recalls the day that Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to the city of Jerusalem. But it is the fifth fast, which occurs on the ninth of Av that I would like to explore today.
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. What immediately crossed my mind was something 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.
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.