Light for the Last Days

Events around Tisha b’Av and the Temple

Written in September 2018

In recent times, Jerusalem has been in the hands of the Jewish people as a unified city only since the Six Day War of 1967.  Before this it has been ruled by different Gentile powers for centuries, following the destruction of the city and the temple and the dispersion of the Jewish people to the nations.   The Babylonians destroyed the first Temple in around 586 BC and the Romans destroyed the second Temple in 70 AD.

Remarkably both the first and second Temples fell on the same day in the Hebrew calendar, the ninth day of the month of Av, Tisha b’Av.  On this day Jewish people have a day of fasting in which they mourn for the destruction of the TempleThis year Tisha b’Av fell on July 22-3. 

Just before Tisha b’Av, the Galilee region was hit by an unusual number of earthquakes, which were felt as far away as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.  Although there were no casualties and limited damage, seismologists warned that the region is in line for a major shake up.  Breaking Israel News reported the prediction of a mystic rabbi that there would be a major earthquake in Israel before the war of Gog and Magog and the coming of the Messiah, adding to the Messianic fervour sweeping some sections of Orthodox Jews in Israel.

On the evening of 22nd July tens of thousands of Orthodox Jews commemorated the event by gathering at the Western Wall to recite the Book of Lamentations. The following morning thousands ascended the Temple Mount (the area of the Al Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock), including Temple Mount activists who wish to rebuild the Jewish Temple and are dedicated to preparing the vessels and other materials and resources for the third Temple.

Yehuda Glick, a member of the Knesset and leading Temple Mount activist said: ’The Jewish people are coming to the Temple Mount as the realisation of the prophecy.  The Jewish people without the Temple Mount is a body without a soul, and we here are beginning to resuscitate the soul. God willing, we will see the building and won’t need to continue to mourn over the destruction.’  The group believes the building of a third Temple is a necessary pre-requisite for the coming of the Messiah.

Orthodox Jews on the Temple Mount
Orthodox Jews on the Temple Mount

The Muslims who control the area are totally opposed to any Jewish building on the Temple Mount, or the Haram al Sharif as they call it, which they consider to be the third holiest site in Islam.   Under an agreement made with Jordanian government, Israel ceded control of the Mount to the WAKF, the Islamic authority under Jordanian authority, after the Six Day War in 1967.  After the Jewish visit to the site on Tisha b’Av, Jordan sent a strong letter of protest to Israel, saying Jews who visited the Temple Mount “defiled” the site and were a “provocation” to Muslims throughout the world. 

The Jordanians have also commented on the unusual earthquakes in Galilee.  A Jordanian Muslim source, Maal Zakarna, a columnist for Jordan’s Ad-Dustour daily, has claimed that Israel caused the recent earthquakes by testing nuclear weapons or a new type of weapon underground.  He said these “experiments” are part of Israel’s attempt to cause a man-made earthquake in order to collapse Al-Aqsa mosque, the Dome of the Rock, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in preparation for creating a Holy Temple in the attempt to Judaise Jerusalem.’

This is of course an absurd allegation, but it does speak of fears the Muslims have that something like an earthquake will happen to collapse the mosques.  Interestingly the day after Tisha b’Av a large block of stone fell from the Western Wall onto an area where people were praying.  No one was hurt, but it was a reminder that the site is not totally stable.  Israeli experts have been warning for years that the entire Temple Mount is at risk of collapse, and in need of urgent attention by structural engineers.

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, who is the head rabbi at the Western Wall, said that “this is an exceptional and rare event that has not happened in decades … The fact that such a powerful event took place after the fast on Tisha b’Av, in which we mourned the destruction of our temples, raises questions and demands soul-searching.”    

In Ezekiel 38 we are told that when the armies come against Israel in the war of Gog and Magog we read that there will be a ‘great earthquake in the land of Israel … and every wall will fall to the ground.’  (38.19-20).  One view of prophecy is that the war of Gog and Magog comes at the beginning, or before, the seven-year period of the Great Tribulation, and that in the process the mosques on the Temple Mount will collapse, along with the Western Wall.  Out of this will come the false peace covenant which will lead the way to the rebuilding of a temple, then to be defiled by the antichrist with the ‘abomination of desolation’, according to Daniel 11 and Matthew 24.15.

LGBT march in Tel Aviv and Haifa.

On a totally different theme, a number of Israelis marked Tisha b’Av with marches for gay rights in Haifa and Tel Aviv.  Members of the LGBT community and their supporters went on strike across Israel on Tisha b’Av in protest at a law passed in the Knesset that excludes single fathers and gay male couples from adopting children via surrogacy. 

Homosexual activists used the command to ‘be fruitful and multiply’ in Genesis, to demand the right to be parents, which they say is a ‘basic human right.’  In reality homosexual acts are by nature incapable of procreation so those who practice them can never be real parents.  In addition the Torah clearly forbids homosexuality: ‘You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.’  Leviticus 18.22.

A number of Orthodox Rabbis signed a letter of protest at the homosexual marches on Tisha b’Av saying they offended the ‘eternal truth of our holy Torah and human normalcy, which the healthy majority of the State of Israel identifies with.’  It castigated the organisers for arranging ‘marches of abomination on the Fast of Av, a day of national mourning for the Temple which was destroyed in part due to illicit sexual relations and baseless hatred.’

This letter was swiftly condemned by left-wing and centrist lawmakers in the Knesset, and a petition was started demanding that any of the 200 rabbis who draw a government salary should be fired immediately.  This incident tells us that as well as the threat Israel faces from its enemies beyond its borders, it also faces a threat from within, as some of its citizens follow the decadent western nations in their assault on biblical family values and promotion of homosexuality. 

In the book of Jeremiah we read how God told the people to repent of disregarding His commandments, walking in the ways of the Gentiles and committing abomination in His sight: 

‘Behold you trust in lying words that cannot profit.  Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, and then come and stand before me in this house which is called by my name and say “We are delivered to do all these abominations”?’  

Jeremiah 7.8-10.

If they did not repent the judgement of God would fall and the Temple would be destroyed and the people taken into captivity.  They did not repent and on the ninth of Av the Babylonians broke through the defences of Jerusalem, sacked the city, destroying its Temple and taking the people into captivity. 

Jeremiah also prophesied that there would be a return of the Jews to Jerusalem and the Temple would be rebuilt.  This took place following the decree of the Persian King Cyrus that the Jews should return and rebuild their Temple in Jerusalem.  (Jeremiah 29.10-14, Isaiah 44.29-45.6, Daniel 9, 2 Chronicles 36.22-23.

Why was the Second Temple destroyed?

The reference in the rabbis’ letter to ‘baseless hatred’ is interesting.  ‘Baseless or causeless hatred’ (Hebrew ‘sinath achim’) is the reason given by rabbinic Judaism for the destruction of the Second Temple.  In other words the reason God allowed this disaster was hatred of Jews for one another.  The problem with this explanation is that it lacks any support from prophetic scripture, whereas there are many passages in the Hebrew prophets giving the reason for the fall of the First Temple. 

The fall of the second Temple was an even more calamitous event than the fall of the first Temple, leading as it did to the world-wide dispersion of the Jewish people and nearly 2000 years of hostile Gentile powers ruling Jerusalem and the land of Israel.  Why did God allow this to happen?

Despite what the rabbis say, there is no prophecy in the Hebrew Bible which speaks of causeless hatred as the reason for the fall of the Second Temple.  There is one clear reference to this event which gives us a clue as to why it happened:

And after the sixty-two week Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city (Jerusalem) and the sanctuary (the second Temple).  The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined.’  Daniel 9.26.

According to the New Covenant, this scripture was fulfilled by the Messiah Yeshua, Jesus, coming as a sacrifice for the sin of the world, to be cut off (die a violent death), not for Himself (His own sins) but for the sins of others.  This was fulfilled when ‘Messiah (Christ) died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and He was buried, and He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.’  1 Corinthians 15.3-4.  40 years after this event the Romans came ‘with a flood’ (invasion) to destroy the city (Jerusalem) and the sanctuary (the Temple) as Daniel said would happen after the coming of the Messiah. 

Jesus Himself prophesied this event when He wept over Jerusalem, saying, 

“If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.  For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”  Luke 19.41-44.

Jesus prophesied the Roman siege of Jerusalem and the terrible events of 70 CE when the city would be levelled to the ground and the Temple destroyed by fire and not one stone of the building left standing.  He also gave a reason for it ‘because you did not know the time of your visitation’, in other words you failed to recognise the Messiah coming to you in the person of Yeshua / Jesus the Messiah. 

In this He does not mean that no Jewish people would recognise Him, because many did and the Jewish disciples of Jesus were the ones who spread the message of Jesus to the nations of the world.  He was talking about the religious leaders whose rejection of Him led to the cross.  Interestingly He made reference to their ‘causeless hatred’ against His person, when He said: 

‘If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father.  But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law,They hated Me without a cause.’  John 15.24-25. 

Jesus also spoke of these events when He said:

‘But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.  But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people.  And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.’

Luke 21.21-24

In this verse Jesus prophesies the siege of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jewish people into the nations.  He also says that Jerusalem will be trampled or ruled by Gentile powers ‘until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.’  This indicates a return of the Jewish people to the land and to the Lord in the last days of this age, during which time the Gentile power over Jerusalem will be broken. 

Jerusalem is not yet free from the rule of the Gentiles.  We see the Temple Mount currently under the control of the Muslims and the Gentile nations seeking to impose a solution on its status, which would divide the city, making its eastern side, where the Old City is, the capital of Palestine. 

We see many of the Jewish people going into the ways of the Gentile nations, alternative sexual life styles and religious practices like yoga and New Age which are in conflict with the teaching of the Torah.  We also see the Orthodox Jews strongly rejecting Yeshua as the Messiah, while looking for their own messiah to come and save Israel. 

At the same time we see many who are coming to faith in Yeshua the Messiah and sharing their faith effectively with the Israelis, in preparation for His soon return.   Zechariah prophesies that at the end of days Jerusalem will look to one who has been pierced (died by crucifixion) and mourn for Him as an only Son (repent and recognise Jesus as Son of God): 

And I will pour on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on me whom they pierced and mourn for Him as one mourns for His only son and grieve for Him as one grieves for a first born.’  Zechariah 12.10.

Following this the same Messiah Jesus will return, standing on the Mount of Olives to the east of Jerusalem as He comes in power to bring an end to the war and set up His Messianic kingdom ruling the renewed earth from Jerusalem.

Blood red moon over Jerusalem.
Blood red moon over Jerusalem.

Coming back to the subject of Tisha b’Av, a week after this event there was an eclipse of the moon which was visible over much of the northern hemisphere.  It was particularly visible over Jerusalem, taking place on the minor Jewish festival of ‘Tu b’Av’.  In contrast to Tisha b’Av, Tu b’Av is a joyful festival celebrating wine, marriage and love.  

After all these events, the stone falling from the wall, the earthquakes in Galilee and the gay marches, the sight of such a remarkable blood red moon over Jerusalem had many seeing this as a sign of things to come.  A good sign of a bad sign?  Breaking Israel News website carried different rabbinic views on the subject.  Rabbi Brody noted the timing of the event on Tu b’Av, which he described as Rabbi Brody explains is “the best day of the year for the Jewish People.”  He said this could be an omen for good or for bad.  On the bad side, he said ‘If anything, this may be a warning specifically for Israel and potential war from the east.  In today’s context, that might be Iran.”

The moon turning to blood is a sign of the coming Day of the Lord.  According to Joel 2 in a passage quoted in Acts 2 by Peter on the day of Pentecost:

I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire and pillars of smoke.   The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the remnant whom the Lord calls.’  Joel 2.30-32. 

This event in Jerusalem was manifestly not the fulfilment of Joel 2, which will happen just before the ‘great and awesome day of the Lord’ (which is also the second coming of Jesus the Messiah).  However this and the other items mentioned in this article are a reminder that we are on the way to the fulfilment of this incredible event when ‘TheRedeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” says the Lord.’  Isaiah 59.20, Romans 11.26.  The Redeemer is Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah, coming the second time to save His people Israel and turn them from sin to faith and salvation.  Now is the time to get ready to meet Him!

Tony Pearce

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