Romans 12:15 (NIV) “…mourn with those who mourn.”
For the last ten years or so, 9/11 has been a day of remembrance and sorrow. Nationally, we cannot forget that date. It is forever burned in the memories of any who watched, and we have told our children who may not have witnessed the horror.
Imagine for a moment if, against massive statistical odds, we could look back at numerous disasters that fell on that same date: 9/11! How then, as a people would we feel about that date? What if the combined deaths from those tragedies, always on (or very near) that date, totaled in the tens of millions? Blackness. Grief. Mourning!
There is such a date, and it begins at sundown tonight. It is Tisha B’Av, or ‘the ninth of Av.’
Against all statistical odds, this date has proved more disastrous for the Jewish people than any other date in history! On this day,
- 587 BCE Solomon’s Temple breached and burned/destroyed by the Babylonians.
- 70 CE Second Temple destroyed by Romans.
- 135 CE Bar Kokhba rebellion put down and 100,000 Jews slaughtered at Betar.
- 1096 CE First Crusade began by killing 10,000 Jews in first month and 1.2 million before it ended.
- 1290 CE Jews expelled from England.
- 1306 CE (10th of AV) Jews expelled from France.
- 1492 CE (7th of AV) Jews expelled from Spain.
- 1941 CE SS Officer Heinrich Himmler received approval to implement the ‘Final Solution,’ i.e. Holocaust.
- 1942 CE Jews in Warsaw Ghetto deported for Treblinka (death camp).
And those are just the biggies…. Many more tragedies fell on Tasha B’Av or within a day or so. Very strange… and sad.
How am I, as a non-Jewish follower of the Jewish Messiah, to react?
I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, [a]a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew…. Romans 11:1-2a
Rav Shaul makes it very clear in multiple places that the Jews are NOT rejected, forsaken or even simply forgotten. They have been and continue to be central to Yehovah’s plan and purpose in bringing redemption to mankind, non-Jews included! One day, and I believe that day may well be upon us, they will come to the Messiah in droves, but even until then, they are still precious to the Father for the sake of the fathers. Should they be any less precious to me?
Indeed, as followers of Messiah, in one form or another, Christendom needs to stop and ponder the gravity of grief that has been carried by Judah… often of our making.
If we are commanded ‘to the Jew first and also to the Greek,’ and we are, then how much better way to love and pray for and reach out to our brother Judah for the sake of the Jewish King who is the Holy One of Israel?
Getting back to Gentiles and Tisha B’Av, at the very least, I would encourage some sort of observance by Gentile believers, even if it’s not a full fast, not because it’s directly commanded in the Bible, but out of compassion and solidarity with the Jewish people. Christianity has caused a significant amount of Jewish suffering over the centuries, and fasting or otherwise shedding tears of grief with the Jewish people in their time of loss is a way to make Teshuvah. For if we are unwilling to stand with the Jewish people and nation in their time of sorrow, what right do we have to celebrate with them upon the return of the Jewish King Messiah in Israel’s joy and victory? Remember Genesis 12:1-3 and Psalm 122.
In yesterday’s blog post he further states,
This year, Tisha B’Av begins the evening of Monday, August 4th and ends some forty minutes after sundown the following day. We enter our own darkness when we face Jewish grief, for although the sin of baseless hatred caused the destruction of the Temple and the exile of the Jewish people, those acts of destruction were brought about by Gentiles. For the past twenty centuries, the Goyim, including the Christian Church, has been piling sorrow upon sorrow on the Jewish people and are at it to this very day.
The Jewish people fast, pray, and repent on Tisha B’Av but as the instruments of their suffering, we should fast, repent, and pray as well, entering our own darkness so we can recognize, through faith, the light of our hope.
I would ask each of you to take some time for reflection and to mourn with those who mourn. One day all of us will see the Jewish Messiah and we will rejoice with the Jews in that day, should we not also mourn with our brother?
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15