Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An Israeli Messianic View of Tisha B'av - On the 9th of Av by Orna Greenman, A Sign & A Wonder Ministry

In Hebrew we call it "Tish-ah Be-av" - the 9th day of the 5th month (called "Av"). On this month, the first and second temples were destroyed, and many other tragedies came upon our nation. This date is now a symbol of mourning and of a national disaster. Religious Jews fast on Tishah Beav, and this fast is as severe as the one we hold on the day of Atonement.

The fast of Tishah Beav is Biblical. The OT calls it "the fast of the fifth month". In the days of the prophet Zechariah, the Jews were busy building the second temple. Some of them came to the prophet, to inquire whether there is any need to observe this fast, since the temple was being restored (Zech. 7:3).

I have a feeling that Zechariah's answer surprised them. It was sharp and clear: "what were you fasting for all these years, since the first house was destroyed? You think you don't have to fast anymore just because the house is being rebuilt? Guys, don't you understand - it is not about a ruined house. It is about ruined hearts. If you were fasting in order to find favor with me, you would have taken care of things that are precious in my sight - you would have put an end to your baseless hatred towards one another, and especially stopped the oppression of widows, the fatherless, the aliens and the poor" (see 7:4-11).

Photo of an ancient mosaic by Marty Shoub in Israel

Zechariah is basically rebuking the people for thinking that the first temple was destroyed for no special reason. As if the Lord is an arbitrary God, who sometimes chooses to turn His face from us and enable enemies to trample us, for no seeming reason. The prophet makes it clear that it is the people's behavior that has brought the ruin of the house and the following exile, and that this is what they should fast for, if they do not want history to repeat itself.

Good to know that Zechariah promises that the day will come, when all the fasts which commemorate national disasters will turn into cheerful feasts (8:18). But this time has not come yet. Baseless hatred and exploitation of the poor and the needy are everywhere. Our nation does not understand yet how crucial to our health is the way we treat those who live in the margins. Even among the believers, the emphasis is mostly on those who are capable. They are called "leadership material" and they are considered to be those who are worthy of investment.

But with the rapid changes around the world, it becomes clearer that this world is on the threshold of a major shift - that things will never go back to what they used to be. Days are coming where we will have to believe God for our daily bread literally. I am not afraid of these days, since the world will not be the only place that will change. When evil will become more clear and prevalent, so will God's presence. We may see mana coming down from heaven in creative ways, as God will make sure that His children are well fed and provided for.

But we will need forerunners to march before us in this battle and encourage us to believe that "Yes, He Can". That He does mean what He says. Those forerunners are already being trained now. They are all over the place, in our midst. Those are the brothers and sisters, who are right now learning to rely on Him for their daily bread. Who need daily miracles. Whose God's presence is the only relief from their loneliness and poverty. Who dare to lift their eyes higher than circumstances, and call upon His various names. Most of them are poor and needy, and many of them are widows and fatherless.

This is what our ministry in Ot U'Mofet is all about. God did not call our team to focus on humanitarian aid, as much needed as it is. He called us to teach those He brings to us, to lift their eyes up and allow Him to be what He loves to be - God. All in all. Their providor and husband. The one who brings forth water in impossible places.

The ninth of Av starts this evening. Religious Jews will go to the synagogue and lament for the loss of the second temple and for the other hardships that struck our nation through history.

I will take the next 24 hours to read the book of Lamentations and cry to God for the restoration of a pure and undefiled worship in this nation. I will pray that He will restore it in the body, so that we won't focus so much on temples and buildings and restoration of stones, but on the things that are precious to His heart. I will also pray that this attitude will spread wide into all the levels of the Israeli society, who has become so secular and capitalist. I will take the time to interceed for the many women we have ministered to through the 6 years of our ministry, and will ask the Lord to help them lift their eyes from the enormous mountains they are facing, and use their hardships to build real tabernacles in their own hearts.

If the Lord puts it on your hearts, please take this opportunity to pray along these lines.

Orna Greenman and Ot Of'Mofet (A Sign & A Wonder) ministers to orphans, widows and single parents in the Body of Messiah in Israel. Her website is Restorers of Zion

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Donna! I wanted to get more info on the 9th of Av, so i googled it, and lo and behold! got to your web site! I love how the Lord works! Shalom!