Beautiful picture taken by our daughter, Tovah, today.
This article below, written by Baruch, would be good to read during the fast day tomorrow.
This Tuesday, July 11, is the 17th day of the fourth month on the Biblical calendar, the month of Tammuz. Yes, I know that the word Tammuz is pagan, and refers to the name of an idol. The reason why Judaism uses the Babylonian name is to remind the people of the consequences of idolatry. The 17th day of Tammuz begins a three week period of both spiritual reflection and mourning. Most of you know that this period ends on the 9th day of the fifth month (Av), when the Temple was destroyed. The primary Scripture which is read is the book of Lamentations.
In this brief article, I would like for us to look at this period called Bein HaMetzarim בין המצרים as preparation for the End Times. Most people simply recall this period and the sad events which took place and mourn these as the actions of the enemies of Israel. Such a perspective fails to understand the message of the Prophets. The Prophets do not relate these events by portraying Israel as a victim of her enemies; rather it was G-d Who used these wicked people to bring His judgment upon Israel.
May I suggest to you that one remembers these events which concluded with the destruction of the Holy Temple as a testimony of HaShem’s consuming judgment. Today, there is a frequent tendency to speak of a “hyper-grace” that turns the L-rd into a G-d Who would never bring wrath upon people. Bein HaMetzarim should certainly remind us that when one violates the will of G-d, there are indeed consequences. Yes G-d’s grace through Yeshua is truly wonderful and greater than all our sins; but while this grace removes the barrier that our sins created between us and G-d, G-d’s grace does not necessarily stop the earthly implications of our disobedience.
Are the followers of Messiah Yeshua today more faithful than ancient Israel? Allow me to be very straight with you in this article. I am embarrassed by what many believers teach today. I see gatherings of believers that resemble a rock concert. I see how people dress at worship events, reflecting immodesty and a lack of consideration for the presence of the Holy Spirit. Instead of people coming to worship Yeshua and presenting themselves before Him to hear His will, individuals cry out, “Give me my moment”. So much of what is passed off as worship is so human centric; rather than lifting up His praise for the purpose of hearing from Him and how we can serve Him.
In my opinion, the same false spirit of worship, which was prevalent in ancient Israel, is functioning mightily among many of Yeshua’s followers. I see a great similarity between the message of the prophet Jeremiah to Judah, and the message of Shimon (Simon Peter),
“Knowing this first, that scoffers will come in the Last Days, with scoffing, going forth according to their own desires,” 2 Peter 3:3
The context for Shimon’s statement is an admonition to remember what G-d did during the flood and how all but eight people were destroyed. It is this message that Peter likens to the Coming of Yeshua, when the heavens will pass away with a great noise and things will melt with an intense and powerful heat. This is not only a punishment of the spiritual world which opposes Yeshua, but also upon the earth and its deeds, which will be burnt up (see 2 Peter 3:10). Shimon wants the reader to understand that in the future, G-d will punish sin with His wrath. In light of this fact, he calls upon people to repent and live in a manner which reflects the purposes of G-d.
My hope is that in some way, this article might impact your life and cause you to realize that Yeshua is NOT interested in your plans for your life! So many of the books and series of popular Bible teachers have focused recently on dreams. Their implication is that G-d wants to fulfill your dreams. There is a subtle affirming that your dreams are from G-d. The VAST majority of the time this is not the case. Just because you are a believer, it does not mean that your thoughts are G-d’s thoughts. We need to place high regard on Paul’s words that the believer is called to take every thought captive to the obedience of Messiah! This is not something that happens automatically for the believer, but requires much prayer and time in the Scriptures.
The people of Judah did not want to hear the warning of Jeremiah; in fact, the majority of the spiritual leaders and prophets called Jeremiah a false teacher. They rejected his words and chose to embrace the “positive” and “gracious” message that G-d would not punish His people or His Holy City. There was a perversion of G-d’s grace and I believe a similar perversion of G-d’s grace is taking place today.
I believe that G-d’s grace through Messiah Yeshua is all sufficient and only by means of this grace is one saved. Not by works, not by obedience, but only by His blood shed upon the Cross. This precious grace is a free gift, made available to humanity only through Yeshua. Some of the outcomes of this grace are self-denial, a passion for G-d’s will and a commitment to live differently from those that belong to the world. True faith in G-d established by Yeshua is not just an alternative means of achieving the same goals you had prior to coming to faith. When one carefully examines the Prophets, he finds that Israel fell into idolatry and turned away from the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob because Israel wanted to be like the other nations and achieve the same goals which the Gentiles wanted.
As we observe these three weeks, let us seek HaShem’s call upon our lives. Also, let us surrender to the Holy Spirit and live in a way so that He will build us up as a living Temple and not move as He did in the days of Jeremiah, to bring destruction on His Holy City and send His people into exile.