Understanding Tisha B’Av

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The saddest day on the Jewish calendar will commence tonight at sundown and extend through sundown tomorrow.  Jews around the world will commemorate Tisha B’av (the ninth of the Hebrew month, Av) by fasting and refraining from any sort of pleasure or enjoyment.

But what exactly are they commemorating?  The destruction of both the first and second temples, as well as all the other tragedy the Jewish people have faced.  Ironically, both temples were destroyed on the same calendar day…Tisha B’av.  Moreover, tragedy of all kinds has also befallen the Jewish people on this day.  Here are some examples:

  • Spies sent into the Promise Land returned with bad news.
  • Final defeat of the Bar Kockhba Rebellion in which the Romans squashed the last Jewish attempt to retain their sovereignty by killing 500,000 Jews.
  • British King Edward’s edict to banish the Jews from England in 1290 AD.
  • Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492.
  • Germany declared war on Russia in 1914, which launched WWI, which then led to WWII and the Holocaust.

Tragedy upon tragedy.  Yet, notice that, though it is a day of extreme mourning, it is also a day of hope.  How and why?  Because the Jewish people anxiously await HaMashiach…the Messiah!  Their hope!

I have now heard multiple highly-respected Israelis (including Messianic believers) say there is an increase of talk in Israel about the coming Messiah.  They are beginning to look for Him.  Instinctively, they know their hope is found in their Messiah, and that Sovereign God is working out His plan for them, despite the hardships.

I think back to our lesson entitled, The Suffering Call, in which we considered the vultures attacking and God throwing open a window to allow Abraham to see what tragedy would befall his people.  In that, the Lord laid out what is commemorated in Tisha B’Av!

I will end with two things.  First, if you would like to hear an American Jewish rabbi describe Tisha B’Av, click here.  (Keep in mind this is purely a Jewish perspective.)  Secondly, Amir Tsarfati (a Messianic Jew from Israel) also provides commentary here.

Mourning for a season, but soon comes rejoicing!  The Blessed Hope of Israel is coming soon!

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