Another page in our quest to figure out if celebrations and commemorations are Biblical or pagan. If we should adopt them or reject them. Most of these celebrations have developed because they are fun. This one is a little odd as it does not fall in the fun celebration category at all, it is more of a commemoration, as the chief activity is to fast.
This day is treated as a day of morning and much of what a family would do at the loss of a loved one is performed i.e. shiva. The book of Lamentations is read and some congregations will also read Job.
The reasons for this day of morning and fasting are truly unfortunate and tragic. The destruction of the first temple of Solomon and the second temple of Herod, though 650 years apart they occurred on this same date on the Hebrew calendar, the ninth of Av. (Av is the fifth month of the Hebrew calendar corresponding to July or August on the Gregorian calendar). Included in the fast is also a regard that great misfortunes often happen to the Jewish people on this date. According to the Mishnah [Taanit 4:6] there are five great calamities have all fallen on this day.
1. The return of the 12 spies [Num 13–14]
2. The destruction of Solomon’s Temple [2 Kings 25:8 -12]
3. The destruction of Herod’s temple, in 69 A.D. [Matt 24]
4. The razing of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D.
5. The failure of The Second Jewish revolt, or The Bar Kochba Rebellion
Over the years other disasters have been included as reasons for this fast:
- Jews were expelled from England in 1290.
- Jews were expelled from Spain, by the Alhambra Decree of 1492, took effect on the 7th of Av.
- The day Germany declared war on Russia and the Swiss army mobilized. World War I caused unprecedented devastation across Europe and set the stage for World War II and the Holocaust.
- The mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka on the eve of Tisha B’Av 1942.
- Israel began the expulsion of Gush Katif residents in the Gaza Strip. The expulsion was pushed back by a day, so as not to coincide with Tisha B’Av.
- The Second Lebanon War took place in the three weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av in 2006.
These are truly tragic events in the history of the Jewish people. But are they for the adopted sons of Abraham? The only passages in the New Testament that mention fasting are either about the bridegroom’s being absent for a long time, or selecting leaders, or when casting out some demons.
And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. Matt. 9:15
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. Acts 13:2-3
And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. Mark 9:29
Fasting for the loss of the temple makes no since, for believers. It is almost like wishing that we are not waiting for the bridegroom’s to return. Fasting for the way things were before we were betrothed, and yearning to return those days when we did not know our bridegroom. The temple and its sacrificial system were but a shadow.
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. Heb. 10:1 KJV
Messiah himself said the temple was to be destroyed. [Matt. 24:2] It seems that instead of fasting about the temple’s destruction, we should be celebrating its demise. The shadow is gone, we are the fulfillment. We are the temples of the Holy Spirit. The law can never make anyone perfect, it never could, it was always just a shadow. It never achieved being the image of God. It never could, because we are that image. We are the image of God, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, we are a holy priesthood, and someday we will be the city of Zion. (Zion means monument) [Gen. 1:27; 1Cor. 3:16-17; 1 Pet. 2:4-10; Rev. 21:9-14] The law was intended to be the path, or the way we walked, it was a type but never the image.
Stop crying over spilt milk. The temple is gone and in all probability is not coming back. One should not live in the past, learn from it and move on. Don’t look back at what was, look forward to what will be. Don’t dwell on the shadow, live the image.
See Also: The Promise of a Third Temple