This week marked the observance of Tisha B’Av, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. It’s the anniversary of many tragedies—the destruction of both the First and Second Temples, the expulsion of the Jewish people from England in 1290 and from Spain in 1492, and more. Remembering these painful memories eventually takes its toll. That’s why some rabbis have historically wanted to get rid of this day as a Jewish holiday.
But Tisha B’Av can’t be left to history. God didn’t let these tragedies happen for no reason. Bitter memories are not always meant to be forgotten because they can strengthen our relationship with God through repentance and trust. This week we’ll learn why mourning our sin is a healthy habit, and we’ll see how our failures can teach us to live differently with an accurate understanding of who we are and who God is.
Steve Conover: Welcome to The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover, and with me is our host and teacher, Chris Katulka. This past week, the Jewish people honored the saddest and most solemn day on their religious calendar, Tisha B'Av. Today on the program, we are going to explain how and why the Jewish people honor Tisha B'Av and how it applies to the life of the believer.
Chris Katulka: Now you might be thinking, "I don't want to hear anything sad. There's enough sadness going on around the world. Give me something good. Give me something happy, something joyful." Well, you know what? Tisha B'Av is something that I think is important for a believer to understand because sadness is a part of life, and we have to know as Christians how to understand sadness and how it should draw us closer to God. So I think this is going to be a great episode. I hope you stick around to listen.
Also, don't forget to visit our website, foiradio.org, to keep up with everything that's happening with our radio broadcast. Also while you're there at FOIradio.org, you can click on a link to register for our Anchored: Hope Secured in Turbulent Times online conference that just finished up. It's still available, though. You can go online. You can register at foiradio.org, and there you'll have access to all eight sessions, as well as this, I'm happy to let you know, you'll get a free PDF book of Elwood McQuaid's There is Hope. That's at foiradio.org,
Steve Conover: But first in the news, Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan is receiving more attention than usual, thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement. Celebrities have been attending his speeches and sharing his messages on social media. Farrakhan in his 4th of July speech said Jews hate him because he reveals their wickedness, and Israel is the reason guns, drugs, and counterfeit money are in the black neighborhoods. Farrakhan has a long history of making anti-Semitic remarks about Israel and the Jewish people.
Chris Katulka: Yeah, he is recorded. He has soundbites. We have video of him making very anti-Semitic ... That's the hatred of the Jewish people ... very antisemitic and anti-Israel statements like you just read, Steve. But you know, this isn't a surprise to me that the Black Lives Matter movement is becoming anti-Semitic. Because really, the issue is this, anytime leftists are controlling a movement, it often turns into an opportunity for anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment.
For instance, the Occupy Wall Street movement, if you remember that. It blamed the Jewish people for their economic problems. The Women's March recently was plagued with anti-Semitic board members who actually had to step down because it got so bad. And now the Black Lives Matter movement is taking the same path.
Sadly, anti-racism movements often foster anti-Semitism. Which sounds like an oxymoron, but it isn't. It actually always tends to go toward anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments. So during this difficult time, please continue to pray for Israel and the Jewish people.
The Jewish people have a calendar they follow that's strictly related to the feasts and festivals they honor throughout the year. I always like to say how sympathetic I am to the Jewish people, because they not only have a religious calendar that they have to follow, but they also have a Jewish civil calendar they follow. And then on top of that, they have the calendar that the rest of the world uses. They have three calendars. I have a hard time managing one calendar. I could never imagine keeping three, but they do. Their religious, their civil, and then the calendar that the rest of the world uses.
Now, the holiday calendar the Jewish people follow has all of the biblical holidays on it, like Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the Feast of Tabernacles. Those are the biblical festivals that can be found in Leviticus 23. Then there is the celebration of Purim from the Bible. You can find that in the book of Esther. That's on the Jewish calendar, but that does not appear in Leviticus 23, but it is in the Bible.
And then there's Hanukkah. Now, that's not a biblically mandated festival, but that's one that took place between the testaments. So by the time Jesus is ministering in John 10, the Jewish people have made Hanukkah a part of their religious calendar to honor God's protection and provision over His people.
Some Jewish holidays are full of celebration and happiness like Passover and Purim and the Feast of Tabernacles. Well some are somber days like Yom Kippur. But today, I want to talk about the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. I know. I know. You're probably saying, "Chris, I don't need more sadness right now." Well, the reason I want to talk about this day is because the Jewish people just honored it a few days ago on July 30th.
Now, this day isn't technically a biblically mandated festival or feast, but it does have biblical ties. The day is called Tisha B'Av. Tisha B'Av Is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar because it commemorates the events that took place on Tisha B'Av. That's right. The name on the Hebrew calendar is actually the date on the calendar. Tisha is the number nine. So it's the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, Tisha B'Av.
It's what took place in biblical history that makes this so sad. On the ninth day of the month of Av, Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king ordered the destruction of Solomon's Temple. The temple, which is the central place of Israelite worship in the old Testament, was destroyed. And let me tell you folks, this is a true reason to mourn. It's because of Israel's perpetual sin God gave permission for Nebuchadnezzar to destroy the Holy Place. And this isn't just me talking as a Christian living 2600 years after the event. It's biblical. God called Nebuchadnezzar his “servant” in Jeremiah 27:6. The First Temple was destroyed in 586 BC because of Israel's sin, and this is a reason to mourn. It was destroyed on Tisha B'Av, the 9th of Av.
And if that wasn't bad enough, the Jewish people rebuilt the temple, and then Herod the Great upgraded it to make it one of the most incredible temples in the Roman Empire. Herod's Temple is the one that Jesus and the apostles ministered in. Yet, in 70 AD, under the direction of Roman Emperor Vespasian, he gave Titus the task of crushing the Jewish people for their revolts against Rome. Titus, like Nebuchadnezzar, leveled the Jewish temple. Again, this was predicted by Jesus himself when he pointed at the temple and said this in Mark 13:2, "Not one stone here will be left on another. Every one will be thrown down." And here's what's fascinating. Titus destroyed Herod's Temple on Tisha B'Av. The same day Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Solomon's temple.
Yes, this is a major day of mourning and sadness. And to add insult to injury, the date also includes these mournful events. The final day of Bar Kochba's rebellion against the Romans in 135 AD happened on Tisha B'Av. The Jewish people in 135 AD believed Bar Kochba was a messiah figure. He ended up, of course not being one. Jesus is the Messiah. But his fall and the rebellion, which ultimately led to Jerusalem's ultimate destruction and Israel being named Palestinia and Jerusalem being changed to a pagan city called Aelia Capitolina. All of that happened as a result of an event that took place on Tisha B'Av.
Again, another one. The edict of King Edward I compelling the Jews of England to leave the country was signed on the 9th of Av in 1290 AD. The Jews were expelled from Spain on that same day in 1492. World War I broke out in 1914 on Tisha B'Av. And even those in the Warsaw Ghetto were transferred to Nazi death camps in Treblinka in 1942 on Tisha B'Av.
It's a day of mourning for the Jewish people. The major events, namely the destruction of the temples that define Tisha B'Av are biblical. Even the honoring of the day that was placed on the Jewish calendar dates back to the destruction of the First Temple when Zachariah the Prophet actually talks about four fast days that would happen in remembrance of the destruction of the temple.
It says this in Zachariah 7:3-5. It says, "Say to the priests of the House of the Lord of Hosts and the prophets, 'Should I weep and abstain in the fifth month as I have done for so many years?' Then the word of the Lord of Hosts came to me, 'Say to all the people of the land and the priests, "When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh for these 70 years, was it for me that you fasted?"'" So over time, you can see in Zachariah there is a fast day, a day of mourning that is connected to the destruction of the temple in 586 BC.
But as time marched on, Tisha B'Av started to lose its significance. The famous Talmudic rabbi, Judah ha-Nasi, lived around 175 AD. He actually was in favor of abolishing Tisha B'Av altogether. Rashi, another famous rabbi, wished that the four fast days dedicated to mourning would become feast days during times of peace. These aren't the first rabbis who wished to kind of get rid of the mourning side of their faith, the sadness side of their faith.
Rabbi Hillel, a very famous rabbi who lived around the time of Jesus, was fed up with eating only bitter herbs during Passover meal. The bitterness was too much to bear, so he created what was called the Hillel sandwich that Jewish people eat during Passover, where it actually combines the bitterness of the horseradish with the sweetness of this apple mixture called a haroset, because he believed that the bitterness of Egyptian bondage met with the sweetness of freedom. So he was tired of just the bitterness, the bitterness, the bitterness. He wanted to add sweetness for freedom. So again, here's a rabbi that didn't want to just deal with the mourning side of his faith. He wanted to bring in some happiness and joy.
But back to honoring Tisha B'Av. As we moved through history, the observance of Tisha B'Av became more strict between the 15th and 18th century AD, but what's often known as one of the darkest periods in Jewish life. The rabbis say this, "He who does not mourn the destruction of Zion will not live to see her joy." The rabbinical statement here, it's pretty severe. It's saying Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Jewish people, and its destruction should affect everyone.
And what's amazing about the Jewish people is this. Think about this. Is that when Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 BC, when the temple was destroyed, instead of simply blaming God for not showing up to protect them, the Jewish people did something which no other people group has ever done. They blame themselves. They knew the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple was because of their spiritual apathy, their sin. So mourning over Jerusalem is important to the Jewish people because it's connected to their own spiritual condition.
Today, Tisha B'Av is honored through fasting, abstaining from work, sitting and sleeping on the ground, especially for the very orthodox, religious Jewish people. And only mournful portions of the scriptures are to be read during Tisha B'Av. In the synagogue, only one lamp lights the whole room, and it's the Book of Lamentations that's read, which is the mourning of Jeremiah as he watches Jerusalem fall by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.
Again, this is a solemn time. It's a time of mourning. You know, we live in a culture today that shuns sadness. We hate the idea of mourning. I want us to look at Tisha B'Av as a lens to ask ourselves as Christians, "Is mourning something that should be a part of the Christian life or not?" I hope you stick around to find out.
We've been studying Tisha B'Av, the 9th of Av, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. There are many different Jewish events that happen on their calendar: Passover, Yom Kippur, the Feast of Tabernacles, Hanukkah. All of these amazing holidays are important to understanding the culture and customs of the Jewish people. And not only the Jewish people, but also your Bible.
Your Bible is a Jewish book, and all throughout it, you find these Jewish holidays that the people of Israel were celebrating. That's why I want to introduce you to a book that I personally use to study these Jewish holidays. It's the Feasts of Israel by Bruce Scott. This book is going to walk you through each of the different holidays that the Jewish people celebrate, give you insights into the holidays, the historical reasons that they celebrate the holiday, but also why it matters to you as a Christian. It's the Feasts of Israel by Bruce Scott.
Steve Conover: Yeah, Chris. And you can purchase your copy of the Feasts of Israel by Bruce Scott by visiting us at foiradio.org. That's foiradio.org. Or you can call our listener line at 888-343-6940, and someone will return your call during our regular business hours. Again, that's 888-343-6940. You can order in Canada by calling 888-664-2584. Again in Canada, that's 888-664-2584.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back, everyone. The Jewish people just honored the most solemn, sad day on their calendar. It's the Jewish holiday Tisha B'Av, the 9th of Av. The day the Jewish people look back and remember when the Jewish temples were destroyed and mourn their loss.
That's what I want to focus on here for a moment. The idea of morning. We live in a culture that shies away from sadness and can even attempt to medicate sadness. But here, we see something in Tisha B'Av that's quite astonishing. The Jewish people embrace their sadness. They embrace the loss. They embrace the moments that we would often wish to erase from our memory.
I want you to hear what Rabbi Isaac Klein, a conservative authority on Jewish law, has to say about this concept of Tisha B'Av. He writes that the events of Tisha B'Av cannot be undone, and it's necessary to remember the tragedies to establish continuity with the past as a constant stimulus for repentance and good deeds. Folks, did you hear what he's saying? You can't erase the past. That moment in your life you wish you could rewind and undo, or that tragedy that's always in the back of your mind, Rabbi Klein says it can't be undone. There's no time machine that's going to take you back to erase that moment.
But Klein says these moments aren't for not. They aren't worthless events. They actually should compel us to live differently. There's a continuity, he says, that should be connected. And Tisha B'Av gives us this picture, that the events that happened in the past have a connection to how we live today. There's a continuity that's there. The reason the temples were destroyed, as I mentioned earlier, is because the people of Israel sinned. Their sin was so grave that God's presence needed to leave the temple. You can read about that in Ezekiel 9-11. Israel recognized their sin. And instead of masking it, instead of covering it up and acting like it never happened, instead they dedicated a day to mourn to it.
James reminds us of this in the New Testament when he says this in James 4. "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners. Make your hearts pure, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn, and weep. Turn your laughter into mourning, and your joy into despair." Listen, sins and the effects of sin should cause us to stop and mourn.
Paul says it a different way. He reminds us of all the grave sins in the world in I Corinthians 6:9. He says, "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don't be deceived." Paul goes on to list those who practice sexual immorality. Those who are idolaters. Those who have committed adultery. Those who are thieves or greedy or abuse alcohol. Those who are verbally abusive. Those who are swindlers. Paul says they will not inherit the Kingdom of God. And then to humble the Christian who might think just a little too highly of themselves for not having those qualities, Paul says this in verse eleven. "Some of you as Christians, some of you once lived this way."
I like what the rabbi said about Tisha B'Av, the day of mourning, that it should force us to do some spiritual evaluation. It should force us to do some spiritual evaluation in our life. And the rabbi was right. It should draw us into repentance. Ask God to forgive our sins. It's healthy to mourn our sin. It's healthy to evaluate our spiritual condition. It's healthy to look back at the past mistakes in our lives. But all of those reasons to mourn, think about this, all of those reasons to mourn should be met in the person of Jesus Christ and the work that He did on the cross for us.
Paul says, "Some of you once lived that way, but you were washed. You were sanctified, and you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." James says, "Mourn your sin." But then he says, "Humble yourself. And through that humbling, God will exalt you." I'm going to tell you something. Prideful people never find reason to mourn their sin. That's why James says humble yourself instead, and it's there that God will exalt you.
My friends, let's take a moment on Tisha B'Av to look back on our lives as Christians, and remember what life was like before we knew Christ. Or maybe you're struggling with sin right now. It's okay to mourn and grieve, but then use that opportunity to draw you into repentance, and through Christ, you will be forgiven by God's never-ending grace.
Steve Conover: Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life and ministry of Holocaust survivor Zvi Kalisher.
Mike Kellogg: When I returned home from one of my frequent army tours of duty, I took my family for a walk through the district of Mea She'arim, inhabited by the most Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem. Several children were dancing around a bonfire singing, "We shall rebuild the Holy Temple." When I came close, I noticed New Testaments burning in the bonfire. I asked the children, "Why do you burn these books?" I said, "Everything in this book is about the living God and Messiah." They all shouted, "We must destroy it! Burning these books is a mitzvah!" Which means a good deed. Suddenly a bearded man came up and said, "Throw that book back into the fire." I said, "I will not throw this holy book into the fire. I will show it to your rabbi and ask him if he permitted you to do this."
As soon as I said this, the rabbi came. I opened the New Testament and started reading from it at random. The page to which I opened was Hebrews 11. I read it aloud and all listened. And when I finished the rabbi asked, "Did you study in the yeshiva?" "No," I said, "the book was my yeshiva." Then I opened to Matthew 5:43-44. "You have heard what it was said. You should love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you love your enemies. Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use and persecute you."
The rabbis looked at the New Testament and shouted, "He's a goy!" Goy means gentile. I said, "I only tried to show you what this book is all about. Here, you may have it if you still want to burn it." He reached out to take the book, but suddenly his hand started shaking. I asked, "Why are you shaking? Perhaps the Spirit of God is speaking to you. This New Testament is the same Holy Scripture of whom did Isaiah speak when he wrote, 'And therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel.' Or this, 'For unto us a child is born. Unto us, a son is given. And the government will be upon His shoulder, and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.' You are burning the very faith you profess to believe."
"I am also a Jew," I said, "but I believe with all my heart in Messiah. Through Him I receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life." His poor lambs started yelling, "Meshumed!" Meshumed means apostate. This time, the rabbi silenced them and asked me, "Are you still angry at me?" "No, I'm not angry at you or your foolish sheep. I just feel sorry." I gave him the New Testament and asked him to read it. This time, he did not cast it into the fire, but put it into his pocket. A good sign. The Lord can do the rest.
Steve Conover: As we wrap up the program, we're so glad you chose to join us today. Chris, where are we headed next week?
Chris Katulka: Yeah, next week is our Israel My Glory in-depth episode. We have our award winning magazine, Steve. Israel My Glory magazine. It's a bimonthly magazine. It's all over the world. People read it all around the world. It's the most recent issue that we have. It's called Jesus is Coming Again, But When? A look at why the King must come before the Kingdom. I'm very excited about looking at this particular issue and inviting our listeners to subscribe if they don't already yet.
Steve Conover: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry has been sharing the love of the Messiah and supporting Israel and the Jewish people since 1938. If you feel led to support our work, or you simply want to reach out to us, visit foiradio.org. That's foiradio.org.
In the United States, you can call our Listener Line at 888-343-6940. Again, that's 888-343-6940. You can write to us at FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. Again, that's FOI Radio, PO box 914 Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. Call our Canada office at 888-664-2584. Again in Canada, that's 888-664-2584. And please, 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. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. And once again, 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 evangelical ministry, proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
The Feasts Of Israel: Seasons Of The Messiah
By Bruce Scott
The Bible is a Jewish book written by Jewish writers with a Jewish worldview. That means the holidays and feasts of the Old Testament have hidden meanings that are clear in a Jewish context that we should know, too!
The Feasts of Israel: Seasons of the Messiah will teach you the fullness of Jesus’ ministry by explaining the rich symbolism of the feasts of Israel.
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Apples of Gold: Unholy Fire
When Zvi came home from serving in the army, he and his family visited a town where they were burning books. He noticed New Testament Bibles in the fire. He asked why they were burning Holy Scriptures, and they proclaimed it was filled with lies. Brokenhearted, Zvi took one out of the fire and read to them from Hebrews 11 and other Scriptures. The people listened to the truth of God’s Word, and God changed a rabbi’s heart through Zvi’s bold faith.
Zvi’s story is available in Elwood McQuaid’s book, “Zvi: The Miraculous Story of Triumph over the Holocaust,” available at our online store.
More stories from Zvi are also available in his book, “The Best of Zvi,” available at our online store.
ANCHORED: HOPE SECURED IN TURBULENT TIMES
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