Today is Tisha B'Av- The fateful 9th of the month of Av. It is the day that is commemorated each year with fasting and mourning, much like Yom Kippur, but not for repentance, but in memory of loss. Nothing in History escapes God's notice and He loves repetitive themes for our benefit. It is not coincidence that Aaron's death, and the destruction of BOTH temples all occurred on the same day, you guessed it, the 9th of the month of Av. Although we have fasted in the past, as a family of now 4 kids, we haven't felt compelled to observe this day through the traditional fast. Of course it's never a pleasant experience to fast and I'm the first to confess that I am not a cheerful faster, and I've relished the "exemption" of being a nursing mother or pregnant for the last 8 years. Fasting is an important spiritual discipline, and does help us focus our thoughts and hearts on spiritual matters, so if fasting is good for you to observe Tisha B'Av then I would encourage you to do so. Do not let our family choice sway you from how you feel compelled to observe this day. But I do want to explain why Tisha B'Av is important and why we observe the event the way we do. Tradition is fine, but the ultimate goal in all we do as a family is to point our hearts and our children's hearts to Yeshua and His work of salvation. And so how we celebrate reveals the joy and hope of God's Holiness and Salvation, and helps us intercede for a world in despair. While the destruction of the temples was tragic, we have the hope and delight to be living temples at all times. We have the privilege of living post Yeshua's death and resurrection and living with the constant presence of God in our lives.
Tisha B'Av is a significant day on the calendar and is something that we still recognize and commemorate. There is no better physical symbol for the day than the Kotel, or Western Wall, of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. When we visit the Kotel, it brings about a heavy reverence in our hearts as we approach the place that God's presence was so clearly seen and felt for generations. His Holy presence is too heavy to bare in our sinful state, but for the grace of Yeshua's covering we can now stand in His Holy Presence. We are called to be Holy as He is Holy" (1 Peter 1:16) We are comforted that we can be Holy because we are dead and it is Yeshua who lives in us (Galatians 2:20). His Holiness is overwhelming and incomprehensible, and yet it is a sweet contrast to this broken, fallen world. We are privileged to taste and enjoy His Holy presence at all times, without regard for where we are, because Yeshua made it accessible to us! What a phenomenal gift to celebrate! Let us enter His Gates with Thanksgiving, and His courts with Praise! ( Psalm 100:4 )
Visiting the Kotel also brings with it the heaviness of grief. Some call it the Wailing Wall for it is here that many cry in loss and despair, that this wall is the closest they can ever get to where the temple stood. It is now the "closest" they can get to God. It's a tragedy. It's a stone wall, dead, and foreboding, standing in the way of worship and relationship. As believers we know that any separation to God's holy presence and relationship with him was torn with the veil of the Holy of Holies when Yeshua GAVE UP and SURRENDERED HIS SPIRIT on the cross. A full 40 years before the second temple was destroyed we were brought into the Holy of Holies into perfect relationship with God. With Yeshua as our High priest and the Holy Spirit dwelling not in a tabernacle of stone but in the heart of every believer. But remember in the book of Acts. The Jewish followers still gathered and sacrificed in the temple until the second temple was destroyed. But in this time of hopelessness, the followers of Yeshua had a living hope that their other Jewish brothers lacked, hope in our High priest Yeshua. While many grappled with the new paradigm of how to move forward, the Good Shepard had already prepared the way forward for those who would believe. One of my favorite movies of all time is the old Canadian mini-series of Anne of Greene Gables. Anne, being ever dramatic bewails to her yet-to-be adoptive mother Marilla that she is "in the depths of despair". And Marilla responds "to despair is to be without God" and to not speak of that lightly. There is a sense of despair in Tisha B'Av and in visiting the the Kotel without looking through the lens of Yeshua. It is an impossible, insurmountable wall blocking the way to God. The loss of the temple meant the loss of God's presence, and the loss of any way to atone for our sins. BECAUSE GOD HAD ALREADY ATONED FOR OUR SINS! Yeshua is the ultimate LIVING stone. He is the Stone that the builders (of religion) rejected, and HE has become our chief cornerstone ( Matthew 21:42 ) The firm foundation on which our faith and everything of our lives are built ( Matthew 7:24-29 ).
But in another perspective I think as we set our hearts on sober reflection we can remember Yeshua’s broken heart as he descended from the mount of olives weeping over Jerusalem, knowing the judgement to come. We see this time and time again in the prophets, where the Father’s heart is breaking and with each day of destruction that broke over His people there were the countless calls of the prophets and warning cries of the Father being full of mercy as compassion, also being fully just had to bring the judgment due. We fast for them. For the lives lost and the tragedies of old as well as those of today, for the lost around us who unless repentance comes will see a likewise destruction.
But with a contrast of hope, on this day of loss, we celebrate what God provided in it's place. Yeshua, and that we are living temples, homes of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 3:16 & 6:19 ). We want our kids to know the powerful gift of Yeshua's salvation, and to build their lives and world-views on his foundation. At the same time, we want them to be aware of those around us who are drowning in despair, separation from God, hopeless, and we want to equip them to intercede in prayer. So this is a day we spend in worship and prayer, much like many other days. But when Israel is mourning around the world feeling despair, we want to be sober-minded and aware of the high cost of salvation and rejection of Yeshua's salvation whether from ignorance or from misunderstanding or stubborn choice. The entire world is being confronted with a choice right now to serve God and embrace His salvation, Yeshua, or suffer from the multitude of our idols and despair. ( Ezekiel 14:4 )
I pray that on this Tisha B'Av, you can take a moment to thank our Almighty, Holy creator for His gift of salvation, and intercede on behalf of the lost and dying world around us for revelation of God's truth and salvation. You can read a more detailed description of Tisha B'Av here.