Tisha B'Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, is a day of fasting and mourning to commemorate the tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people, many of which have occurred on the ninth of Av.
It is the culmination of a three-week period of increased mourning, beginning with the fast on the 17th day of Tammuz, which commemorates the first breach in the walls of Jerusalem, before the First Temple was destroyed.
Customs During Tisha B’Av:
There are a number of customs that may seem odd to the Western culture, but for the traditional Jewish culture, these practices have been a part of their history for generations.
Traditions include refraining from the following:
- Weddings and other parties
- The cutting of hair
- The eating of meat and drinking of wine (except on the Shabbat)
- The wearing of new clothing
Although observing Tisha B'Av primarily commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples, both of which were destroyed on the ninth of Av—the first by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, and the second by the Romans in 70 CE—there were actually many tragedies that befell the fathers of Judaism on the ninth of Av.
“Now in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month (which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, who served the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He burned the house of the Lord and the king’s house; all the houses of Jerusalem, that is, all the houses of the great, he burned with fire.”—Jeremiah 52:12-13
A List of Tragedies That Occurred on Tisha B’Av Include:
- It was decreed that a generation of Israelites—crying in despair—would not enter the Promised Land after they believed the spies (who gave a bad report) instead of believing the One who had brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand.
- Bethar (an ancient Judean farming community and last fortress of Bar Kokhba, Jewish leader of a rebellion against the Roman rule) was captured and destroyed.
- The city of Jerusalem was destroyed, along with the first and second Temples.
- The Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492 and from England in 1290—both events happened on or very close to the ninth of Av.
With all this tragedy happening at the same time of year, it is understandable that Israel has decided to observe the ninth of Av as a day of fasting, mourning and repentance. It is the climax to three weeks of recognizing painful truths about their past and then repenting and realigning to allow God’s restoration of Israel to take place.
What Can Believers Learn from Observing Tisha B’Av?
Followers of Yeshua—believers rooted in Christ—are called to be a light to the nations. It is a calling to come alongside Israel with understanding in her rejoicing and compassion in her suffering.
Much can be gained from standing with Israel as they are observing Tisha B’Av and mourning with her, the loss of so much in her history. When we see Israel surrendering in repentance to God, we also get to see God fulfill biblical prophecy as He continues to restore Israel, the land and her people.
Believers are called to be vessels that bring truth in love to the ends of the earth, and the starting point is Jerusalem.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”—Acts 1:8 (NIV)
As Israel mourns, fasts, and repents on August 10 and 11 this year, Christ’s followers need to be prayerfully aligning with Jerusalem for the redemption that is to come. We should be asking ourselves, as believers, what we need to mourn and repent for and how we can be a part of God’s bigger picture.
“And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.”—Genesis 17:7
This covenant between God and Israel is everlasting! It is important for believers to recognize the significance of what God is doing within His chosen city. We should be embracing the role that He is allowing us to play in fulfilling the terms of His promised restoration.
“For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.”—Romans 11:15-16 (NIV)
There is a calling for all believers to search our own hearts for anything that needs to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus so we may repent and then align our renewed hearts with Jesus and Jerusalem as He prepares for His soon return.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”—Psalm 139:23-24
Jerusalem | God’s First Love
Rest assured that God is restoring Israel to prepare for Jesus’ return! As God carries out His plan, all who follow Him need to have eyes to see and ears to hear. We cannot fall victim to the replacement theology that dilutes His truth.
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect.”—Hebrews 12:22-23
It is not hard to see that the Western church is drifting further and further from righteousness and starting to look like a country and church that does not know God or honor His ways.
Perhaps, by observing Tisha B’Av, a mournful and repentant day on the Jewish calendar, we as the grafted in branch (see Romans 11:24), can start to redirect our path and allow for redemption and renewal of the church in America.
Remember that repentance brings restoration. Just as Israel is being restored, we can rest in the restored hope of Jesus.
Believers have hope in Christ, and the church has been given an opportunity to shine in the darkness. We can all be a part of God’s prophetic fulfillment by blessing Israel in prayer, thought, and deed.