A NEW DAY
SEASONS: TISHA B’AV 5777
They are a courageous, tenacious and resilient people.
For 10 days every summer, however, the Jewish people observe nine days of preparation for the collective expression of sorrow on Tisha B’Av—the saddest day on the Jewish calendar.
Falling on the ninth of the month of Av, Tisha B’Av is a commemoration of the very day that both Solomon’s and Herod’s Temples were destroyed along with other calamities experienced by the Jewish people on the same date. (CLICK HERE for more info about Tisha B’Av.)
TISHA B’AV 5777 — A NEW LEVEL OF ANGUISH
During the nine days of preparation this year, there has been a new level of anguish as Israelis endured yet another round of violent attacks and unrest.
On July 16 at 7:00 A.M., a stealth strike by terrorists left two Israeli policemen dead and two others wounded at the Lions’ Gate. The perpetrators were terminated, but vicious rioting and a wave of violence on the Temple Mount ensued when Israel attempted to prevent future attacks with the installment of metal detectors. Both metal detectors and surveillance cameras have since been removed as Palestinian violence escalated.
Just a month earlier, 23-year old female Border Police officer Hadas Malka was stabbed to death near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem as she responded to another attack close to Zedekiah’s cave. Moments before her death on that Friday, Staff Sergeant Major Malka messaged a selfie with her good wishes, “Shabbat Shalom to my loving friends.”
Then last week, the brutal murder of three members of the Salomon family in the village of Halamish rocked both the Jewish and Christian communities. Disguised as a Jewish guest, a Palestinian Arab knocked on the Salomon’s front door as they celebrated the birth of a new grandson with a Shabbat dinner. In a brutal and bloody attack, the terrorist murdered the grandfather, father and aunt of the newborn baby boy. Photos of the mayhem are gut-wrenching while the terrorist who was wounded by a neighbor is pictured smiling in an Israeli hospital bed. The grandmother suffered grave injuries and remains in hospital in critical condition.
As you know, the current reality in Israel is not a new development. To the Jewish people living in their ancient homeland, similar scenarios have threatened their very existence for over a century—even before Israel became a modern nation.
Since rebirth, Israel has endured three wars of survival with enemies determined to annihilate the Zionist state. Israeli citizens have been subjected to two major intifadas as well as the current “stabbing intifada” and thousands of rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza, Lebanon and Syria raining down on innocent civilians in Israel.
Yet, against all odds and despite being surrounded by sworn enemies numbering in the hundreds of millions committed to its destruction, Israel thrives. What is the secret?
TISHA B’AV 5777 — A NEW HOPE
In recent days, as I read numerous articles related to Tisha B’Av, I was struck by a profound answer to that question. The articles verbalize grief. They reflect sadness. But, conspicuously absent is the expression of bitterness or revenge—even in light of the victims of the latest tragedies.
One written by a young mother celebrating a third anniversary since making aliyah to Israel is an honest look at life in her new homeland.
The author acknowledged a hate-filled enemy seeking to discourage and destroy life itself. She was frank about the impact on the daily life of an average Israeli. But, instead of choosing words that echoed bitterness or hatred for Israel’s enemies, she wrote about celebrating the joy of living in Israel, the ancient homeland of the Jewish people:
“But today I dig. And I sift. And I search. Because all the good of living here [in Israel] demands it. In the rubble, I unearth words from three years of the mundane and the miraculous of living here.” (1)
The young mother speaks of the kindnesses experienced, the history rooted in the land, the importance and accomplishments of her family along with the spiritual connection to Israel. Despite danger routinely faced, she writes,
“I refuse to give up words like ‘hope’ and ‘peace’ but know they must also stand with ‘truth,’ ‘history,’ ‘strength’ and ‘faith’ . . . ‘We are here to stay.’”(2)
Chaim Richman, co-founder of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem, demonstrates a similar spirit. He made a startling observation about Tisha B’Av:
“We are no longer in exile, sixty-nine years ago we miraculously returned to our land and re-established Jewish sovereignty; fifty years ago we were reunited with Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. It’s time to wake-up and re-frame Tisha B’Av into a day of hope. We cannot continue to robotically mourn as if nothing has changed in the last century.” (3)
Whether his compatriots agree with Richman’s assessment or not, that’s what the Jewish community does the day after Tisha B’Av every year—they move on. They do not stay focused on the tragedies of the past. They spend Tisha B’Av recognizing these horrific events, reflecting on the significance and then wake up the next morning to a new day.
Throughout history, the Jewish people have faced every new day with courage, tenacity and resilience.
As our Jewish friends read the book of Lamentations during Tisha B’Av each year, there is the vivid reminder that even amid catastrophic tragedy there is hope—hope in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The prophet Jeremiah articulates the reality:
“This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘Therefore I hope in Him!’” (Lam. 3:21-24).
Tisha B’Av 5777 — Challenge for Christians
As important as it is to be aware of the tragedies in Israel’s past, that knowledge is of little value unless we, as people of faith in the Christian community, are willing to do something in the present.
Staying informed about the current challenges faced by the worldwide Jewish community is the best place to start. Standing in solidarity with God’s courageous, tenacious and resilient Chosen People puts action behind words. And, never underestimate the privilege of working in tandem with God through the power of prayer (Ps. 122:6-9).
1) Kupferberg, Jessica Levine, “No Words,” The Times of Israel website, July 23, 2017.
3) Israel, David, “Tisha B’Av: Time to Wake Up, Make the Dream a Reality,” Jewish Press website, July 24, 2017.
Charles E. McCracken is an international Bible teacher, long-time friend of Israel and advocate for the Jewish people. With 40 plus years of ministry experience, Rev. McCracken is known for authenticity in communicating biblical truth that makes his presentations relevant for those seeking to understand the significance of Israel and the church in Bible prophecy. He staunchly supports the nation of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist and live in peace.
© Charles E. McCracken 2016, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author via Contact Form under ABOUT. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
1) Israel Defense Forces Weapons Instructor. By Israel Defense Forces [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
2) Three friends pose at the Western Wall, Jerusalem. Laliv Gal Pikiwiki Israel [CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios