I grew up in a church that didn’t pay much attention to the traditional “church calendar.” The Christian inventions of Lent and so forth were far removed from my experience. In the last few years, I have come to learn more about both the “Christian calendar” with its “feasts” and the timetable of God’s Feasts that it was designed to supplant for the most part.
Last week, there was a post over at iMonk about the current season of the church calendar. Apparently it is referred to as “ordinary time.” I again had one of those moments that makes the Bible simply come alive for me as I pondered and wondered anew at all of the calls in Scripture for God’s people to wake up. If the church has long been in a habit of pushing the snooze button right when God’s timetable starts to heat up; that call makes much more sense.
Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.
There are few in the modern church who understand this admonition fully. The book of Revelation is patterned after and alludes to the fall Feasts of the Lord from the Torah. Verse 20 of this chapter, about the Lord standing at the door and knocking, isn’t directed as a plea to a sinner to “let Him in.” It is a plea to those who call themselves by His name and claim to be His church to LET HIM IN. Go read it and see.
These days are far from ordinary. They are treacherous and wonderful at the same time. The month of Tammuz is starting on the calendar and a day of fasting that the Jews still observe falls on the 17th of that month (corresponding to June 29th for us). This is one of the fast days that the Lord declared of old would be changed to a day of feasting instead.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts: The fast of the fourth month and the fast of the fifth and the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth shall be to the house of Judah seasons of joy and gladness and cheerful feasts. Therefore love truth and peace.20“Thus says the LORD of hosts: Peoples shall yet come, even the inhabitants of many cities. 21The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the LORD and to seek the LORD of hosts; I myself am going.’ 22 Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD. 23Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.'”
This hasn’t happened yet, but it will happen one day. This time is far from ordinary, it is one of the darkest times of the year for God’s people.
Earlier today, I preached from John 10 and the fact that we are to be a part of one flock with Israel. As people of the same flock, we should be aware of what is going on with each other. In a little over a month, the Jews observe their most solemn fast day, the 9th of Av. Most Christians have little understanding of exactly what this day means, and some overlook such things as mere folly. Others (who I would daresay are unbelievers) will chalk these kinds of things up to mere coincidence. God doesn’t do coincidence!
WHAT HAPPENED ON THE NINTH OF AV?
On Tisha B’Av, five national calamities occurred:
• During the time of Moses, Jews in the desert accepted the slanderous report of the 10 Spies, and the decree was issued forbidding them from entering the Land of Israel. (1312 BCE)
• The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar. 100,000 Jews were slaughtered and millions more exiled. (586 BCE)
• The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans, led by Titus. Some two million Jews died, and another one million were exiled. (70 CE)
• The Bar Kochba revolt was crushed by Roman Emperor Hadrian. The city of Betar — the Jews’ last stand against the Romans — was captured and liquidated. Over 100,000 Jews were slaughtered. (135 CE)
• The Temple area and its surroundings were plowed under by the Roman general Turnus Rufus. Jerusalem was rebuilt as a pagan city — renamed Aelia Capitolina — and access was forbidden to Jews.
Other grave misfortunes throughout Jewish history occurred on the Ninth of Av, including:
- The Spanish Inquisition culminated with the expulsion of Jews from Spain on Tisha B’Av in 1492.
- World War One broke out on the eve of Tisha B’Av in 1914 when Germany declared war on Russia. German resentment from the war set the stage for the Holocaust.
- On the eve of Tisha B’Av 1942, the mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka.
Far from ordinary time, these are the days of awe. Awe at what God has done and is preparing to do. This is the lead in to the fall Feasts of the Lord that herald his second coming. He fulfilled the Spring Feasts on their exact days or appointed times. He will do no less with these. I have written elsewhere about these issues and I invite you to investigate them further.
I will leave you with this admonition however. Wake up, the time is far from ordinary. It is God’s appointed time.