Steve Conover: Welcome to the Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover, and with me is our host and teacher, Chris Katulka. We believe God in His Word has revealed a unique plan for Israel and the Jewish people. It's at the very heart of our mission to communicate this truth, and that's why we want to offer you a free one-year subscription to our award-winning magazine, Israel My Glory.
Chris Katulka: And that's why today our entire show is dedicated to our most recent issue of Israel My Glory, which is all about the prophet Ezekiel. This is our Israel My Glory in-depth program where we highlight one of our writers of IMG and I share with you some of my thoughts about this issue. Today on the program, Steve Herzig, Director of North American Ministries, will join me in the studio to share about his article on the Jewish people and their mourning of the destruction of the Jewish Temples during Tisha B'Av. And I'm going to share with you about Ezekiel's vision of God's departure from the first Temple and what it meant to the Jewish people of his time. But first, the news.
Maria Estrada, a Democratic candidate for the California state assembly said Israel is committing genocidal acts against the Palestinians. And she's not the only one. Alexandria Cortez, a progressive Socialist Democrat who shockingly won the primary in New York City, has been quoted calling Israel's defense against Palestinian rioters in May "a massacre." Well, here's my take. During the 2016 presidential election, Democrat Bernie Sanders was incredibly critical of Israel and his large following agreed. There is a rise of the progressive left in the U.S. and this really could be detrimental to U.S. support for Israel in the long term as more and more Americans gravitate to a progressive left agenda.
Our most recent issue of Israel My Glory is called The Long Road Home, highlights from Ezekiel's messages to the Jewish people in exile. It's a really great overview. If you want to get your modern mind around what was happening in the prophet Ezekiel's world, this is a great issue to get your hands on. And with me in-studio is one of the writers of the most recent issue, Steve Herzig, who's the Director of North American Ministries. Steve, great to have you in-studio.
Steve Herzig: Great to be here, Chris. Thank you.
Chris Katulka: You wrote an article called "If I Forget You, O Jerusalem." In the article, you share this story from the 1800s about a French statesman and military leader that many people know, Napoleon Bonaparte, who overheard the Jewish people mourning in a synagogue, and you write this: "A story is told of the 19th century French leader, Napoleon Bonaparte, who learned a lesson from Tisha B'Av when he passed a synagogue in Paris and heard the sounds of mourning and crying. And he asked his aide 'What is this all about?' and his aide explained that the Jewish people were mourning the loss of their Temple. And he said, 'When did this happen? Surely I would have heard such a thing from my military.' And the aide replied, 'Sir, it occurred 1700 years ago.' And Napoleon reportedly declared 'Certainly a people which has mourned the loss of their Temple for so long will merit to see it rebuilt.'"
Steve, you mentioned the phrase in there Tisha B'Av. Can you share a bit about Tisha B'Av and why Jewish people were mourning during the days of Napoleon Bonaparte? And they're mourning today as well, aren't they?
Steve Herzig: Yeah, I'll be happy to explain. Isn't that a great story, by the way?
Chris Katulka: It's fantastic.
Steve Herzig: That's a great story, and I think it captures the essence of what Jewish people do on Tisha B'Av. But let me first be 100% honest here and tell you that most Jewish people today -- that would be our listeners who might know Jewish people -- they'll be aware of Tisha B'Av, but the kind of things that I'm talking about and the kind of things that Napoleon encountered were from people who are observant. In other words, they have a healthy respect of the text, that is the Scriptures, they are observant. Many Jewish people today are not, which by the way, leads to the whole issue.
Tisha B'Av is a memorial day of mourning. It mourns the Temple loss. And I think the only way to fully understand it if I might go back to Jeremiah Chapter 5, because traditionally at least, Jeremiah is the person who has written Lamentations. But in order to understand Tisha B'Av, let's first read what he says in Chapter 5 and Verse 30. He says, "An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely and the priests rule by their own power, and my people love to have it so."
Chris, think about this. Jeremiah Chapter 5, the prophet is saying bad things are happening in Israel. The prophets aren't doing what they're supposed to do. The priests are doing their own thing, and the people love it. They love it. Now let's go to the end of Lamentations Chapter 5 and Verse 16: "The crown has fallen from our head. Woe to us, for we have sinned." You see, Tisha B'Av is a remembrance of the destruction of the Temple, not only the first Temple in 586 B.C., but the next Temple, Herod's Temple, as well in 70 A.D. And what the rabbis have done is taken this day and lumped a lot of bad events that are unclear as to their dates and they put them in there as well. It is a single day of mourning. In fact, the Hebrew word for lamentations means "alas, woe to us." The idea of Lamentations is, there's five lamentations that are in the text. It's like a funeral procession.
Chris Katulka: That's where we get our word lament from.
Steve Herzig: Exactly.
Chris Katulka: You don't hear that word a lot.
Steve Herzig: No.
Chris Katulka: In fact, you don't really hear that much about the Bible book, Lamentations. But Tisha B'Av is the remembrance of what should be the heart and soul of the Jewish people, the Temple. And it was at the Temple where God's presence was. And how did they lose their Temple? Jeremiah prophesied come back, repent, come to Him. And they said you know what? We're having too much fun to-
Steve Herzig: We're doing what we want to do.
Chris Katulka: And you mentioned a little bit earlier about your childhood. You grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family, and you even mention this in the article that you wrote. And you share a little bit about your own personal upbringing as an Orthodox Jewish boy, and you say among the many things God cares about, three stand out: Israel, Jerusalem, and the Temple. Can you share a little bit more about how you grew up and how that gives you an appreciation or understanding of Tisha B'Av?
Steve Herzig: When I grew up attending Hebrew school, the single focus we had was Mashiach, Messiah; when will He come? Well, He'll come when every Jewish person is righteous. How does that happen? Well, you have to keep the law and there's a whole set of things we could discuss there maybe for another day. But Israel is the chosen land for the Chosen People, and God was the one that chose it, so Israel's number one. Jerusalem is that center of that country; it's the focal point. And the reason it's the focal point is because the Temple is lumped right at Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. So those are the three places that are important. When I was in synagogue, like any synagogue around the world, they would find which direction Jerusalem is and point the congregation to face towards Jerusalem, and the Temple, obviously, there. So that's a remembrance of how important the Temple is.
Chris Katulka: You were discussing Israel, Jerusalem, the Temple. It's almost as if it's a bullseye, if you will. The land is important, the whole land; it's land that God chose. Then you zoom in a little more, you get closer; Jerusalem is the city of God's choosing; it's the city He chose to put His name in as Deuteronomy gives a future vision of. But then you get even closer and it's the Temple where the very presence of God dwelt. And you know the reason Tisha B'Av and Ezekiel fit so well together is because Ezekiel actually takes us into the Temple. God gives Ezekiel a vision of how the glory of God left in order for another nation to come in, the Babylonians, to destroy the Temple; to lay it bare in judgment for what you were talking about in the prophet Jeremiah, the idea that the Jewish people, the Israelites, had gone so far astray that they sinned and God was going to punish them.
And in this passage in Lamentations, there is always one verse that we go to in Lamentations. And I'm sure all of my listeners know that verse really well and you highlight it, Chapter 3, Verses 22 and 23 which says this: "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness." That verse means so much to all of us as believers that every morning we wake up, we know God's mercies are new. But this particular verse, if we want to put it in its context, is connected to this idea of Tisha B'Av, the destruction of the Temple. What do you think it really means? As we think about the faithfulness of God, what do you think it means in light of Tisha B'Av when we read that in Lamentations Chapter 3?
Steve Herzig: I think it's an example of the way God works with His remnant since the fall. It is a green flower in the midst of a desert. It's a cup of water for a person who is thirsty. You have in Lamentations and you have in Tisha B'Av mourning. How much mourning? If you're in America, most people understand the date September 11th, or December 7th when Pearl Harbor was bombed, where your heart sinks. Multiply that, put steroids in it. That's what happened when the Temple was destroyed. This is a taking away of the most important place, and here in the midst of that God still is going to be faithful. They're going through their difficulty now, but He will keep his promise. He will not change from what He has promised. And so I think that's the little nugget that could be used personally, as you just described, and certainly nationally.
Chris Katulka: And I think as we're talking about the most recent issue of Israel My Glory, this issue about Ezekiel, what we see in the prophets -- not just in Jeremiah, not just in Lamentations -- in Ezekiel as well is that God lays out the judgment, but He isn't a God that says I'm over, this is done, we're finished. In the midst of the judgment, God provides a light at the end of the tunnel. It's the hope of His faithfulness and His righteousness, and His desire to restore all things. And you see that even in the prophet Ezekiel.
And that's why I want to encourage you, our listeners, be sure to go to FOIRadio.org. And if you're not already a subscriber to Israel My Glory, I want you to go because you know what? The truth is this, God is at work in your life. And there might be a moment when you're sinning; you might have a moment where you feel like, Lord, are You there? Maybe you feel destroyed. Maybe you feel things are in ruins. God has a hope for you and you can pick that up right in what the prophets are saying. I want you to go to FOIRadio.org to sign up for our most recent issue of Israel My Glory, all about Ezekiel.
Steve, thank you so much for sharing about the importance of Tisha B'Av, what it means to the Jewish people, and really what it means to us as well.
Steve Herzig: Thanks, Chris.
Steve Conover: If you're familiar with our ministry, you know that we emphasize the need for solid Biblical teaching and accurate analysis on the news of the day. One of the best resources for great Biblical teaching that I know is the Friends Of Israel's magazine, Israel My Glory. Chris, some may not realize that Israel My Glory has been around since 1942 and has well over 150,000 subscribers.
Chris Katulka: Yeah, I'll tell you. I travel the country speaking in churches, churches in big cities and small, rural towns. And no matter where I go, I always meet people who read our magazine and trust it as a resource for Middle East news and great Biblical teaching.
Steve Conover: To order your free one-year trial subscription to Israel My Glory magazine, visit FOIRadio.org. Again, that's F-O-I-Radio-dot-O-R-G.
Chris Katulka: I want to thank Steve Herzig again for coming on and sharing about Tisha B'Av, the Jewish mourning of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Our conversation about Tisha B'Av plays into our latest issue of Israel My Glory which is titled The Long Road Home, highlights from Ezekiel's message to the Jewish people in exile. As I mentioned to Steve, at the heart of Ezekiel's message to those Jewish people that had been exiled from the land of Israel into Babylon is this concept of Israel's punishment for their sin for leaving the Lord, and how it was God who permitted the Temple to be destroyed.
You know, during Tisha B'Av the Jewish people are mourning the destruction of the Temple, but it's important to remember that it was God who gave permission for the Temple to be destroyed out of judgment for Israel's sins. And I think it's important to know as we're studying through the Old Testament and even as we're studying through the New Testament, I think it's really important to understand and even vital to know where exactly God is dwelling.
Listen, when you go back to Exodus, so let's go back to Exodus a little bit here. We're talking about the prophet Ezekiel and we're going to get there in a moment, but let's go back to Exodus. God tells Moses in Exodus to build for Him a tabernacle. God doesn't tell him to build a tabernacle so that sacrifices can be done. I think that's where most Christians go. They think about the tabernacle, they think about the Temple, and that's just, their mind automatically goes to, oh, this is the place where sacrifices are done. And they were.
But the purpose of the tabernacle, the purpose of the Temple was much more significant. Exodus, Chapter 25 Verse 8 says this: "Let them make for Me a sanctuary, a place of worship, so that I may live, I may dwell among them." Folks, God wanted to dwell with His people. He wanted to be with them so that He could physically lead them. The very last verses of Exodus Chapter 40 show what happens the moment after the tabernacle was built. So God says in Exodus Chapter 25, "Build Me a tabernacle." So now the story unfolds, and when you get to the very end of Exodus the tabernacle is finished and it's about to be inaugurated, and I want you to hear what Exodus Chapter 40, Verses 34 through 38 say. Listen to this:
"Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting," that's the tabernacle, "and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. But when the cloud was lifted up from the tabernacle, the Israelites would set out on all their journeys. But if the cloud was not lifted up, they would not journey further until the day it was lifted up for the cloud of Yahweh, the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day but fire would be on it at night in plain view of all the house of Israel throughout their generations."
Did you hear what Moses writes? The cloud -- the cloud by day, fire by night; maybe you've heard that before -- but the cloud was the physical presence of God settled, or dwelling, in the tabernacle. God, once that tabernacle is built, God is physically present with Israel. Ezekiel the prophet had already been carried away to Babylon. There were three exiles -- 605, 597, and 586 B.C. -- and Ezekiel had already been carried away in 597 B.C., so he's already in Babylon. He's in exile but God picks him up in a vision and brings him within the Temple in Jerusalem because God wants to show Ezekiel the abominations that are happening right in God's own house where His physical presence is dwelling.
And I want you to hear this, Ezekiel Chapter 8 Verse 16. There is many different abominations, but I think the one that really shows us what happened to the people of Israel is revealed here in Ezekiel Chapter 8 Verse 16. Listen to this. "Then He brought me, Ezekiel, into the inner core of the Lord's house, and right there at the entrance of the Lord's court between the porch and the altar were about 25 men with their backs to the Lord's Temple, facing the east. They were worshiping the sun toward the east." Ezekiel Chapter 8 Verse 16, God shows Ezekiel what the Jewish people were doing during this time. They were turning their backs on God and worshiping the sun.
And as a result of all the different abominations committed right in the heart of where God's presence is, God Himself tells Ezekiel He's leaving the Temple. And Ezekiel's Chapter 9 through 11 is this long, drawn out process of the Lord picking up from the Holy of Holies, leaving the sanctuary in the Temple complex, exiting out the eastern gate, down the Kidron Valley, and leaving Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. Now that God's presence was gone -- think about it, God's presence dwelled in the Holy of Holies -- and now that it's gone the Babylonians move in and destroy the Temple.
Ezekiel and the Jewish people who are in exile, they do something amazing. They actually recognize that it was their sin against God who had caused them to be kicked out of the land. Just as Moses said it would be in Deudrotomy Chapter 8, this should not have surprised the people. Moses told them in Deudrotomy Chapter 28 and in Leviticus Chapter 26, that if they continued to sin they will be kicked out of the land. It should have been no surprise to them according to the law.
But God doesn't leave Ezekiel hopeless in a foreign land. What a great testimony. God doesn't leave Ezekiel hopeless in a foreign land. I don't know where you are right now in life. Maybe you feel like you're in a foreign land. Maybe you feel like you are thirsty. Maybe you feel like you're hungry. Maybe you feel like you're in a place where you're not connecting with God. God never leaves you hopeless. For Ezekiel, God provides hope to the Jewish people who were in the pits in this moment of their history.
Ezekiel Chapter 36 and Chapter 37 is a vision of Israel who has once been banished into the foreign lands, exiled from the land of Israel. Ezekiel 36 and 37 is a vision of Israel becoming a nation again. And not just Israel becoming a nation again; the idea of Judah and Israel, these two divided kingdoms, becoming one nation as God leads them. The Valley of the Dry Bones coming back to life. The resurrection of Israel as a nation. Ezekiel's Chapter 40 through 48 describe a future Temple, a future millennial Temple, and listen to what God promises Ezekiel in Ezekiel Chapter 43 Verses 2 through 5. It says this:
"I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. The sound was like that of rushing water. The Earth radiated His glory. It was like the vision I saw when He came to destroy the city." That same vision I just read about to you in Ezekiel Chapter 8, and then 9 through 11. "And the vision I saw by the Kebar River, I threw myself face down. The glory of the Lord came into the Temple by the way of the gate that faces east. Then a wind lifted me up and brought me into the inner core, and I watched the glory of the Lord ..." Listen to this. Remember, God left the Temple? Now look, in Ezekiel Chapter 8, 9, 10 and 11, now look, Ezekiel sees something happening. God's glory is coming back to this future Temple. "I watched the glory of the Lord filling the Temple."
Almost six centuries after Ezekiel received this prophetic vision -- think about this -- six centuries later Jesus appears on the scene, and the apostle John says this about Jesus in John Chapter 1, Verse 14: "Now the Word became flesh," the Word is Jesus. "Now the Word became flesh and He took up residence, He dwelled among us. We saw His glory. Glory is of the only One full of grace and truth who came from the Father." Do you hear John's similarities as he describes Jesus' coming? It's the same exact wording that's used in Ezekiel Chapter 40 when God's presence dwelt in the Holy of Holies, and in First Kings Chapter 8, when God's presence came down into the Temple, the idea of Jesus is that He is the physical manifestation of God on Earth. Isn't that amazing? God's presence is dwelling with man. Jesus is the Messiah. And when you want to see who God is, all you have to do is look to see how Jesus acts with the people around him.
And that same word to dwell, inhabit, tabernacle from First Kings, from Ezekiel Chapter 43, from John Chapter 1 Verse 14, I'm going to leave this with you. It's also found in Revelation Chapter 21 Verse 3. At the end, listen to what God says. This is the very end of the Bible. "And I heard a loud voice from this throne saying, 'Look, the tabernacle, the residence of God is among man. He will dwell among them. They will be His people. God Himself will be with them'."
When the Jewish people felt hopeless in Babylon, God gave them a great hope of His coming. He wasn't going to leave them in a foreign land; He was coming back. His glory would return to them. That's the prophecy that Ezekiel leaves with his people, and that's why I want to encourage you, my friends, I want to encourage you to get this most recent issue of Israel My Glory, all about the prophet Ezekiel. If you're not already a subscriber to Israel My Glory, I want to encourage you to get your one-year free subscription, six issues of Israel My Glory. We'll be sure to send out this issue of Ezekiel to you right away, so be sure to sign up. And you can do that at F-O-I-Radio-dot-O-R-G.
Steve Conover: Thank you for joining us today. We'd like to thank Steve Herzig for being with us. Because of people like you, the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry has been sharing the love of the Messiah and supporting Israel and the Jewish people since 1938. You know, if you feel led to support our work or you simply want to reach out to us, you can visit us at F-O-I-Radio.org. That's F-O-I-Radio-dot-O-R-G. You can also call our listener line at 888-343-6940. Again, that's 888-343-6940. You can write to us at F-O-I Radio, P.O, Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. Again, that's F-O-I Radio, P.O. Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. And let us know where you're listening when you call or write.
Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione, co-written by Sarah Fern. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong, and I'm Steve Conover, Executive Producer. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide Christian ministry communicating Biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah while fostering solidarity with the Jewish people.
Interview: Steve Herzig — Tisha B’Av
We’re looking at our July/August issue of Israel My Glory magazine. We welcome Steve Herzig back to the program this week. Steve is the North American Director here at The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. Steve and Chris discuss Steve’s most recent article inside our magazine Israel My Glory titled, “If I Forget You, O’ Jerusalem.” We’ll learn about Tisha B’Av, the memorial day where the Jewish people mourn the loss of their Temple. Steve gives the history of this day and takes us to the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations where we see the uncaring state of the people of Israel before the destruction and the repentance of the people after. It’s a great lesson we can all learn from.
Israel My Glory Magazine
We believe that understanding sound Bible doctrine does not require a scholarly education and that the Bible can and should be taught to everyone. We also strive to bring you relevant, timely reports about what’s truly happening in the Middle East. And when it comes to current events as they relate to Bible prophecy, we do not sensationalize for the sake of “news” but look at events in light of God’s Word.
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Ezekiel’s Vision of God’s Departure from the First Temple
In our second segment, Chris will take us through the Old Testament where we will learn about the Temple and why it is so important to the Israelites and especially to God. We’ll hear how Ezekiel and the people of Israel were in exile because of their disobedience yet God gave Ezekiel a vision of the people coming back together in their land. It’s an encouraging message you won’t want to miss!
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.