A narrow gorge near SdeBoker in the Negev south of Beer Sheva.
On Sunday Israel entered the 3rd week Bein haMetzarim—“Between the Straits.”
This past Friday July 13, we entered into the Fifth Month in the Hebrew calendar, the month of Av. Av, like other month-names on Hebrew calendars since the Babylonian captivity, is Babylonian in origin. It happens to spell and be pronounced like the Hebrew word for “father.” After the 9th of this month, it is sometimes called Menahem Av—“Father of Comfort” or “Comfort of the Fathers”—perhaps because for the seven weeks following the 9th, the readings from the prophets are taken from Isaiah (Beginning with Isaiah 40: “Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God.”), and focus upon the comfort God the Father (Isaiah 63:16; 64:8) desires to be released over His people and Jerusalem. Yet the first nine days are considered days of self-introspection and sobriety. Many dire things have happened to the Jewish people during these days (see below).
There are certainly sobering things taking place in Israel since the beginning Av this year. Since late Friday, around 200 projectiles were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip. A home in Sderot took a direct hit, injuring three; another hit a children’s playground, another, a synagogue. People along the border were required to stay close to bomb shelters. Around 30 projectiles were intercepted by Israel’s “Iron Dome” defense system (Missiles in the system are so expensive that only rockets judged to be headed for populated areas are targeted by it). In response, Israel launched the largest daytime operation since 2014’s “Protective Edge”, hitting some 40 Hamas targets across the Strip. The incendiary kite phenomenon, which has burned up thousands of acres of Israeli crops and woodlands, continued. Israel has restrained itself form firing directly at the perpetrators, because they are often children, put up to it by their elders. But millions’ of shekels-worth of damage has been done, and patience is wearing thin. On Sunday, the Air Force struck three cells of adult Palestinians who were launching the balloons. With the increase in rocket-fire this weekend, the IDF began to deploy Iron Dome across central Israel and called up a limited number of reserves to help man them. If this provocation continues, and Israel is required again to enter the Strip on the ground, there is no doubt that longer range rockets will be unleashed.
Meanwhile, this morning, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei sent a taunting tweet regarding a possible US peace plan, saying that “the turbulent dream that Al-Quds [i.e. Jerusalem] would be given to the Zionists will never come true…By Allah’s grace, the Palestinian nation will certainly gain victory over the enemies and will witness the day when the fabricated Zionist regime ill be eradicated.”
As we write, US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are in their first summit in Helsinki. One of their topics of discussion will undoubtedly be the situation in Syria, where America has troops in the east fighting ISIS, and Russia has forces assisting Syrian President Assad fighting insurgents in the south—and Iran continues to send forces in to assist them. Israel has sworn that it will not allow the establishment of these Iranian forces (read the Iranian leaders’ anti-Israeli agenda above) anywhere in Syria, and in fact was accused of attacking an Iranian base there last night.
*That the spirits of violence which are fueling the attacks on Israel’s southwest border would be silenced
* That Israel will not be drawn into a major military operation on the ground in Gaza, Syria or Lebanon or an aerial war with Iran outside of the timing of the LORD.
* That the LORD who “guards over Israel” (Psalm 121) will release counsel to Israel’s civil and military leaders regarding quelling the scourge of incendiary kites and balloons burning up her borderlands. That when necessary the military may have intelligence for accurate and surgical strikes to take out leadership cells inciting and controlling violent attacks against Israeli sovereign territory.
* That angels will be released to defend Israel’s borders—and to minister to all who will receive salvation.
*That President Trump and other leaders who have demonstrated a desire to stand with Israel will be guided in their dealings with other world-leaders…that they will not make or sign or be party to any alliances or agreements which would counter God’s purposes for His people Israel in the season ahead.
TISHA B’AV & PRAYING FOR RETURN OF THE GLORY!
Saturday July 21 will be Tisha B’Av— the 9th day of the Hebrew month Av. Because it falls on a Sabbath, the fast day will be commemorated the next day, Sunday July 22.
From ancient times it has been observed as a fast day (It is mentioned as the “Fast of the Fifth Month” in Zechariah 7:3-5, 8:19), and commemorates the destruction of the Temple of YHWH in Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.
In Jewish tradition as well as recorded history many other calamitous events have taken place on or near that date—
*the Return of the Spies with an “evil report” after scouting out Canaan (Numbers 13);
*destruction of the 2nd Temple by Titus in 70 C.E.,
*the order by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella for expulsion of all Jews refusing conversion from Spain in 1492.
In more modern times—
*67 Jewish adults and children were massacred by Muslim Arabs in Hebron in 1929;
*in 1994 the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina was bombed, killing 86 and wounding more than 300;
*On the 10th of Av in 2005 thousands of Jews began to be forcibly expelled from 25 towns and settlements in the Gaza Strip and Northern Samaria.
This is only a small selection of dire occurrences on this date. It seems that forces of darkness are stirred to increase their activity against the Covenant people at this time.
*We believe during this season it is important to pray for God’s watchful protection over His people (Psalm 121). Please pray that “Magen Avraham”—the shield of Abraham (Genesis 15:1) to be over all the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Pray that Angels watch over and protect those “who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14).
Because of these events, this has for many in Israel become a season of fear and superstition; for the three-week period preceding the 9th of Av, and especially on the day itself.
*Please pray Numbers 23:23: “For there is no sorcery against Jacob, nor any divination against Israel.” Pray against superstition, but that Jews would be led to submit their spirits into the hand of their Redeemer, realizing that their times are safe only in His Hand! That in the light of His face, they are delivered from the hand of their enemies (Psalm 31:5, 15-16).
On this day, many religious Jews seek to meditate soberly upon the destruction of the First Temple. We believe this to be right and good. Yet, before the burning of that beautiful building, something much more terrible had occurred. I Samuel 4:21 tells of a day some 450 years earlier, when the Ark of God had just been stolen, and the dying wife of one of the slain priests gave birth to a son, who was given the name Ee-Khavod (Ichabod)—“without glory” or “the glory is departed”. During David’s reign, the manifest Presence of the Glory was returned to the City of David on Mount Zion, and later by His Son in the Temple on Moria.
Now, on the 9th of Av in 586 BC, Jerusalem had fallen and the Temple was destroyed. But what was incomparably worse had taken place sometime earlier, when the very Glory of the Presence of the LORD—the Glory whose presence had made the building holy—had again departed, leaving behind a defiled and empty shell (Ezekiel 10:3, 18-19; 11:23).
But that Glory is going to return! –when the One who is “the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature (Heb. 1:3) is recognized and received. In Zechariah 2:5 the LORD declares,
“For I will be a wall of fire around her (i.e. Jerusalem), and I will be her glory within!”
A prayer from the Siddur still recited in Synagogues reads,
“Our eyes shall behold Your return with mercy to Zion. Blessed are You, LORD, that brings back His divine presence (Hebrew: sh’khina—“Shekinah”) to Zion”
* That the Glory of the LORD will return to Jerusalem—that His Spirit will awaken a longing for that glory in Jewish hearts—and revelation so that He will be recognized and received when He comes.
*Pray that the day hasten when “The fast of the fifth month…shall be joy and gladness and cheerful feasts for the house of Judah!” (Zechariah 8:18).
ON TISHA B’AV (OBSERVED), THE FOLLOWING PASSAGES WILL BE READ IN SYNAGOGUES AROUND THE WORLD:
TORAH: Deuteronomy 4:25-40
Haftarah: Jeremiah 8:13—9:23
Book of Lamentations