By Christine Darg
We’re living in the time of “Dire Straits,” and I’m not talking about the British rock band by that title!
Every year there is a specific time period on the biblical Hebrew calendar that commemorates troublous times in the past. But the good news is that these troubles will not last forever. The coming Messianic kingdom, when Jesus returns to rule for a thousand years, will end this season of sorrows!
“Dire straits” started today on the 17th of Tammuz on the Hebrew calendar and will end three weeks from now on the 9th of Av on the biblical calendar.
This year, the potentially ominous three-week period falls between July 23 and 24 and August 13 and 14.
The first day and the last day are like two bookends, and they are the first two Jewish fast days mentioned in Zechariah 8:19,
Thus saith YHVH of hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love truth and peace.
We can rejoice that these mournful fasts for the Jewish people will come to an end and will be replaced by feasting and rejoicing and the loving of peace and truth!
During this three-week period the Jewish people ask for forgiveness for national sins just as the prophet Daniel accomplished in Daniel 9:3-19.
Five great catastrophes occurred today (the 17th of Tammuz) in history:
- Moses broke the tablets at Mount Sinai as he beheld the sin of the Golden Calf. (Ex 32:19)
- The daily offerings in the First Temple were suspended during the siege of Jerusalem.
- Jerusalem’s walls were breached, prior to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD.
- A Torah scroll was burned by a Roman general, setting a terrible precedent for burning of Jewish books throughout history, pogroms and the Holocaust.
- An idolatrous image was placed in the Temple.
Many Bible scholars believe two of these events will have a second fulfillment during the Tribulation period. The daily sacrifices of the future Third Temple will be halted and another idolatrous image will be set up in the Holy Place. (Daniel 11:31; Ezekiel 8:3-5; Revevelation 13:14-15)
Traditionally, the book of Lamentations is read on the 9th of Av. This is because many calamities have befallen the Jewish people at this time. The following catalogue of calamities on the 9th of Av (Tisha’B’Av) is documented by many sources:
~The 12 spies sent out by Moses to scout the Promised Land returned from their mission but only two (Joshua and Caleb) gave a good report; 10 of the spies gave an evil fear-filled report, not trusting in God after the miracles they had already experienced in the Exodus. (Numbers 13-14)
~Solomon’s Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. (2 Kings 25:8-9; Jeremiah 52:12-13)
~Herod’s Temple, the second temple, was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD on the 9th of Av. Approximately two million Jews died, and a million were exiled. The Romans burned the Second Temple. The fire melted the gold between the stones. Afterwards, when the gold had hardened, Roman soldiers used tools to overturn every stone, stealing the gold. Thus Luke 19:44 was fulfilled.
~The Jewish revolt of Bar Kochba was crushed by Roman Emperor Hadrian. The Temple area and its surroundings were plowed under. Jerusalem was rebuilt as a pagan city and renamed Aelia Capitolina in an attempt to wipe out Jewish identity. Access was forbidden to Jews.
~In 1290 England’s King Edward I ordered the expulsion of all Jews on the 9th of Av.
~ Spain’s King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella ordered all Jews to leave Spain by the end of July 1492 which was Tisha B’Av.
~In 1914, World War I broke out on the eve of Tisha B’Av when Germany declared war on Russia, and the stage for the Holocaust was set.
~In 1942, on the eve of Tisha B’Av, mass deportation of Jews began from the Warsaw Ghetto en route to Treblinka.
~On Tisha B’Av, August 14, 2005, 8,000 Jewish settlers were forcefully expelled by their own government from Gush Katif in the Gaza strip.
According to Jewish sages (Talmud, Yoma 9b) the First Temple was destroyed due to widespread sexual immorality, murder and idolatry. After their humiliation and dispersion to Babylon, the sin of bowing down to idols was basically wiped out among the Jewish people.
However, sages taught that the cause for the destruction of the Second Temple and the worldwide dispersion of the Jewish people was for basically one reason: the sin baseless hatred.
Today many of the rabbis believe that the Messiah can only appear in a generation that is righteous, so they are busy trying to convince as many Jews as possible to return to God.
But because mankind is inherently sinful and everybody is in need of the Savior, it is not possible for mankind to produce a guiltless generation.
In fact, in Matthew 12:39, Jesus called his generation a “wicked and adulterous generation.”
John 15: 25 says, “This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’” That was the sin of baseless hatred, just as the rabbis have described it. (Psalms 35:19; 69:4)
Only the return of Jesus can produce the messianic kingdom of peace and righteous that this world desperately needs.
How then should we pray during Dire Straits 2016?
–Pray for God to minimize the shedding of blood, to expose plots of terrorism before they can happen and to protect the borders of his people
–As watchmen we stand in the gap guarding and protecting Jerusalem until Jerusalem can once again come up to the level of faith necessary to recognize their Messiah (Zechariah 12 & 13)
–For Israel’s military intelligence to be alert
–For the crushing of ISIS
–Pray Zechariah 8: 19 and Zechariah 12:10
Thus saith YHVH of hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love truth and peace. (Zechariah 8:19) Commentaries on this verse say, Therefore — Rather, but, love the truth and peace — in other words, take care to have a regard to truth in your dealings and conversation with each other; and cultivate a meek and peaceable disposition, which will be far more pleasing to God than any of your outward performances. Such divine instructions as these prepared men’s minds for the reception of the Gospel.
“I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.” (Zechariah 12: 10)
–Finally, remit the sin of baseless hatred. “Whosoever’s sins you remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosoever’s sins you retain, they are retained.” (John 20:23) We do not need to point to our elders, the Jews and say to them that they have committed the sin of baseless hatred, because they themselves have said this was their national sin. But we can point the finger at ourselves individually to ask forgiveness for when we have committed the sin of baseless hatred against our fellow men as well as the church’s baseless hatred against the Jewish people through the sin of replacement theology.