This coming Monday evening begins the 9th of Av. It is a day that calls Israel to fasting, prayer, and repentance. The Mishna in the tractate of Ta’anis 4:6 explains that we fast because of the five tragedies that occurred on this day. Slide 1

The five are:
1. The day our fathers would not enter the land of Israel
2. The day the first Temple was destroyed
3. The day that the second Temple was destroyed
4. The day that the city of Betar was conquered

Betar was the last standing Jewish fortress in the Bar Kochba revolt of the 2nd century, destroyed by the Roman army.

5. The day Jerusalem was plowed over and renamed to Aelina Captialina and a Temple was built to Jupiter.

It was also the day Jewish people were expelled from Spain [1492]

So the 9th of Av or T’sh B’Av is a day when God decreed judgment on Israel for her rebellion and idolatry.

The Rabbis in commenting on the first tragedy, the failure to enter the Promised Land, taught why this decree was made.

When Israel approached the Promised Land, Moses sent spies to survey the land so they could give a report to the people.

When the spies returned, instead of telling the people the praises of the land (such as the larger than normal produce) they gave a totally slanted and negative report.

Their negative report and horrifying predictions caused many to become grief-stricken and lose their faith in G-d. The Gemara tells us that when G-d heard their bitter weeping over what they believed was to be their certain demise, He responded “You wept a weeping without cause. Therefore, I shall establish for you a weeping (on this day) for generations to come.”

Their weeping was without cause because G-d had promised to take the nation into the land. While the report of the spies may have been disheartening, the people should have trusted that G-d would keep His promise.

The decree that G-d issued was that the nation would wander for 40 years in the desert until all adult males of that generation died. Only then would their children enter the land. This decree was issued on the 9th of Av.

We would do well to remember this day and consider that God is the same Yesterday, Today and Forever, and the standards he gave Israel have not changed for we who have come to faith in Yeshua as Messiah.

SLIDE 2 The Shema [Deut. 6:4-5] is a focal point for our worship.

SLIDE “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

It calls us to the wonder of the Mystery that is our God (ECHAD). Yeshua quoted the Shema, in Mark (12:29) to a Rabbi, who was earnestly seeking to draw closer to God.

This Rabbi asked Him what the most important command is. Yeshua, said that the key in seeking to understand God is LOVE!

Slide 3 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘ Hear, O Israel:The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. ’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

God is to be loved, not merely ‘studied’ or ‘talked about’ with disinterest. And Yeshua quickly added that we need to love our neighbor as well. Our neighbor included the hated Samaritans.

Israel’s failure was to forget that love as they were about to enter the Land. The result was the first 9th of Av.
We should always have this understanding that God loves us, and trust and obey Him in every circumstance we face.

As we reflect on this 9th of Av look with me at the truths contained in the Shema and Deut 4.

SLIDE 4 Deuteronomy 2nd Law
Click Devarim = Words as it is called in the Jewish Scriptures is written in the form of a Click Ketubah. God is Husband Israel is God’s Wife.

If we want to avoid the mistakes that Israel remembers on the 9th of Av we need to remember that: SLIDE 5

I. CLICK OUR GOD IS THE GOD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH

CLICK There is only One GOD– a God for all of life and living. The nations that occupied the land as Israel was preparing to enter did not operate from this radical concept.

They had gods who met their perceived needs. The reason their gods fitted their situation so well was pretty simple: they had invented their own gods.

There was probably a strong temptation on the part of the Israelis to take the gods of their neighbors seriously.

It “made sense” their God had done miracles in Egypt and the
Desert; But what did HE know about agriculture and living in Canaan? So Moses reminded them: ONE God– for all of life!

But before we condemn those idol-makers did you ever consider that we pick and choose bits and pieces of scripture to make a composite sketch of a “God” of the Bible who meets OUR needs—or what we feel or “believe” to be our needs?

EVERYBODY seems to be an “expert” on the subject of God! We hear people say, “God wouldn’t do that!” or, “God doesn’t care about that!” And amazingly, God usually agrees with the person talking! (at least that’s what they think).

If we select those scripturally true statements about God that appeal to us, and refuse to meet face-to-face with the God who IS, we are no better than the enemies of Israel, and our God is NOT the God of the Bible.

II. CLICK ONE GOD FOR ALL OF LIFE AND LIVING

We want a “heavenly God” that we can meet (and leave) on Shabbat; a God to whom we dedicate our babies, and before Whom we take our wedding vows. We want a God to explain our fears of death away.

But when we leave the congregation and after Shabbat we have a variety of earthly influences that demand that we listen to them. They want to set our values that motivate what we esteem.

Our idols may be as concrete and real as a fine car, or as abstract as “financial security”– they can be the pursuit of “eternal youth,” or as subtle as the intellectual pride of proving we are keeping up with the academic cutting edge.

But we need to recognize them for what they are: the idols of our day.

But God is the One that we must set our hearts and minds on and His Word which brings and sustains real life – not the illusion that life in this world is.

Tish B’Av teaches us that God is a jealous God in fact Deut. 4 is the portion of Scripture that is read on Tish’B’av and in Deut. 4:24 we read For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

And in Deut. 4:31 we read something that seems to contradict this: For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy or forget the covenant with your fathers, which he confirmed to them by oath.

III. CLICK GOD IS BOTH MERCIFUL AND HOLY

This is a difficult truth but a truth nonetheless. When we wonder at the trials our people have experienced it is a reminder that God is Holy and Just and so He must punish sin.

Sometimes justice, righteousness and holiness seem to be incompatible with forgiveness, tenderness and mercy. A God of both justice and great compassion seems to us a paradox:

WHAT IS THIS ONE GOD? Is He demanding just and aloof? Or is He condescending and merciful, a sort of cosmic grandfather? Is He a God fit for heaven? Or, is He a God for city streets?

Some think if only this God would stay in heaven– and sort of shout down from time to time when he wanted a sacrifice, but for the most part just leave the day-to-day living to us, so that we didn’t have to miss our favorite TV shows or whatever we want to do, we could get along fine.

We could call on Him if our children got a high fever or there was a tornado watch, but for the most part He can just stay in heaven where He belongs.

But NO– we do not have just one simple statement that God is HOLY! or God is JUST! or God is ‘UNCONDITIONAL LOVE’. We have what appear to be conflicting statements:

GOD IS A CONSUMING FIRE, again in the Scriptures that are read on TishB’av in Deut. 4:24 we are told that we have a jealous God “For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God”.

Some Christians believe that there is a difference between the God of the Older Covenant and the God of the New Covenant. That the God of the Old Covenant is an angry and judgmental God while in the New we have God in forgiveness and love.

“Jealousy” is usually thought of as a mean & ungracious. But as we study both Old and New Covenants we come to understand that there is appropriate jealousy!

In a marriage relationship petty jealousy can stifle and crush trust and love; but a marriage relationship must be based on the fidelity of both partners to their covenant vows.

If the solemn vows of marriage are taken lightly the relationship is in serious trouble. God cares about us so much that He does not take our covenant with Him lightly!

GOD IS ALWAYS OPEN TO HEAR OUR CRY; HE IS MERCIFUL AND LOVING again from the Deut 4:31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath.

God has not changed. The God who brought our people into the Promised Land who fought their battles for them and cares for them is the same God today.

God cares about His people! He listens when they cry to Him.
He is NOT anxious to find fault, to abandon His own. His conviction that comes to us through His Word and His Spirit is for the purpose of restoration and communion. God loves YOU!

But Can we live with this paradox? If we take the one, That God is loving and gracious, we can and must also take the other view That God is just and must punish sin.

IV. CLICK WORSHIP THE GOD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH

The 9th of Av or Tish A’Bav is a call to worship. We are never told about God simply for the purpose of information. What we think we KNOW about God is probably not as important as HOW WE ENDEAVOR TO RELATE TO GOD.

God has promised: Every effort to draw near to Him will be met with a divine response: As God spoke to King Asa through His prophet: (2 Chr 15:2) The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.

TWO important facts we need to understand from Deut. 4. (SLIDE 6)

1. God will always hear our cry to know Him! Deut 4:29 CLICK “But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.

God wants a people who are absolutely devoted to Him! He wants a family who thinks that He is Who He is wonderful, gracious, kind powerful, forgiving!

He delights in our love—in some small way reflecting the great and tender kindness with which He already loves us!

2. CLICK God does not exist for us; we exist for Him! Our love for Him demands that we make Him Lord of heaven and earth! ONE God! Only one!

This is one of the key reasons we recite the Shema every week, Hear O Israel the Lord our God the Lord is One. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart mind and strength.

God is to be God of ALL your life! Nothing is to be beyond His
jealous care: (SLIDE 7) Deut. 4:39 know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other

In summation on this 9th of Av we are called to LET GOD BE GOD! Acknowledge the mystery of God. Affirm in our hearts that this God is a GOOD God! But don’t try to make Him into YOUR image!

LET GOD BE GOD! We must Seek to make ourselves available to HIM, rather than simply using our religion to help us accomplish OUR purposes!

The 9th of Av is a call and reminder that our lives are not our own.

Just as Israel was purchased or redeemed from slavery by the Lord, so that they might serve Him so too have we been redeemed to serve Him.

The 9th of Av is a time to reflect to repent to fast to pray that we might align ourselves afresh to God as Lord of our lives.