On the 9th of Av the following historic catastrophes occurred:
- Ten Jewish spies returned from the Promised Land with a bad report (leading the people to lose heart and be consigned to wander in the wilderness for 40 years).
- The First and the Second temples were destroyed.
- The Battle of Betar was lost (the Jewish rebellion under Simon bar Kochba was crushed and the remaining rebels were annihilated).
- The Romans plowed the Temple Mount — in fulfillment of the prophecy of Micah 3:11-12.
- Jews were expelled from England (in 1290 AD).
- Jews were expelled from Spain (in 1492 — the same year Columbus “sailed the ocean blue”).
- Both World Wars in the 20th Century began — unleashing horrific tragedy upon the Jewish people.
- The Final Jewish Solution was signed by Hitler.
The 9th of Av will fall on August 5th this year. Jewish people will spend the day reflecting and mourning. The Christian sacrament of Communion offers us a regular opportunity to reflect and mourn — but our mourning is surmounted by the joy we have in knowing that Jesus lives.
Death could not hold Him. The tomb could not keep Him. Satan could not lock Him away.
When Jesus stood in the synagogue in Nazareth, He read verse 1 of Isaiah 61. He also spoke “to proclaim the favourable year of our Lord from verse 2 as this is applicable to both His first and Second coming.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent ME to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD…” Isaiah 61:1,2
Jesus stopped reading at that point, sat down, and said to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:16-21).
Isaiah 61:1 prophesied Jesus’ First Coming
The rest of Isaiah 61 prophesies Jesus’ Second Coming which is now not too far in the future.
“To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion – to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks; foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers; but you shall be called the priests of the Lord; they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God; you shall eat the wealth of the nations, and in their glory you shall boast. Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy. For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. Their offspring shall be known among the nations, and their descendants in the midst of the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are an offspring the Lord has blessed. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.“and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes; the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61: 2-11
If you are close to a Jew on the 9th of Av, mourn with them on that day of sadness as a good friend should. And then take the opportunity to tell them about the Good News that their prophet Isaiah spoke of in Isaiah 61 “turns ashes into beauty, mourning into joy, and despair into praise“. That is the power of the Gospel.