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The 9th of Av

We the Christians believe that the Messiah, heralded by the prophets, came about two thousand years ago as the Lord Jesus Christ. The majority of the Jews in Christ’s times did not recognize Him as the Messiah promised by God, and rejected Him. They wished the Messiah to be a mighty king and conqueror to gain glory and wealth for the Jewish people. Christ preached voluntary poverty, meekness and love for enemies, though, which was not acceptable for many of His contemporaries.

Centuries passed, but the religious attitudes of the Jewish people have not changed much and the Jews still do not recognize Christ. However, the Apostle Paul convincingly predicted that at the latter times, before the end of the world, masses of the Jews would turn to Christ. Timewise, this conversion, and the believing of many Jews that Christ is the Savior of the world, coincides with the cooling down of many traditionally Christian nations toward their centuries-established faith. Saint Paul’s prediction about the conversion of the Jewish people is found in Chapters 10 and 11 of his Epistle to the Romans. "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in (the Church). And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob" (11:25-26).

Over the last 30-40 years signs have been noticeable that the belief in Christ is revitalizing among the Jews. In several large US cities Jewish Christian mission centers appeared that preach the belief in the Lord Jesus Christ to blood brothers. It is very interesting and explanatory to familiarize with their religious brochures and books. It is obvious that their authors have very clear understanding of the Holy Scripture and the Old Testament Jewish religion. They expand explicitly and cogently on the prophets’ prophecies about the Messiah and His Kingdom of grace. Currently, throughout the world, there are nearly 200 Messianic Jewish congregations, i.e. Christian Jews that observe their national customs. In telephone books, their communities appear under the rubric — Jewish Messianic. The following are Jewish Christian Congregations that are in existence: Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations, the Fellowship of Jewish Congregations, International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues, Messianic Jewish Alliance of America, Jews for Jesus, The Chosen People, American Board of Mission to the Jews and others. In confessing to the cardinal Christian dogmas, members of these Congregations strive to preserve their national identity and continue to observe ancient Jewish holidays and customs, like Sabbath (Saturday), circumcision, Pascha (Passover) and others.

Supplementary data on the Messianic movement can be found in the books: "Return of the Remnant" by Dr. Michael Schiffman, Lederer Publication, Baltimore, Maryland, 1992 and "Messianic Jews," John Fieldsend, Marc Olive Press, Monarch Publications 1993. Some Messianic congregations are active in publishing journals and books, in which they convincingly prove — on the basis of the Old Testament prophesies — to their fellow Jews that the Lord Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah. This type of literature can be received, for example, from the publisher Jews for Jesus, 60 Haight St. San Francisco, CA 94102, tel. (415) 864-2600.

Apart from direct prophecies of the Messiah, written down in the books of the Old Testament, the Jewish history itself has one very persuasive fact in favor of recognition of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Messiah. This is the second destruction of the Old Testament Temple in Jerusalem on the 9th day of the month of Av.

It is worth reminding that dates of Jewish religious events are calculated in accordance with lunar calendar. The first month of the year for Jews is Nisan, corresponding to late March or early April. Av is the fifth month of the Jewish calendar, falling on July or early August in the solar calendar, adopted in the West. From one year to another, dates of the western calendar do not coincide with those of lunar calendar, but occur several weeks earlier or later. The resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ took place during the Jewish Pesah, or Passover (celebrated in mid-Nisan). This is why the Christian Easter is also calculated by lunar calendar and falls on different dates every year.

9 Av is the day of grief for the Jews, when they commemorate the first and the second destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. The destruction of the Temple caused great sorrow in the Jewish nation. Christians can build their churches anywhere as the need may be, but the Old Testament law allowed the Jews to have only one Temple at the place indicated by God in Jerusalem. The First Old Testament Temple was built by Solomon 950 before Christ. It was the most magnificent and decorated building of the time. It was a real masterpiece of architecture. Solomon’s Temple was brought to ruins by Nebuchadnezzar on the 9th of Av in 586 B.C. After their return from captivity in Babylon 70 years later, the Jews build a new Temple at the same place, though it was not as splendid and rich in decorations as Solomon’s. And this Second Temple, where the Lord Jesus Christ had prayed, was destroyed by Roman legions under the command of Titus in 70 A.D., and on the 9th of Av again! The Lord Jesus Christ predicted in detail the destruction of the Second Temple and the city of Jerusalem itself, saying, "they (destroyers) shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation" (Luke 19:44).

Historians noted the fatal coincidence of dates of ruination of the two Temples in Jerusalem. The Jews hold strict fasts on 9 Av to commemorate those very tragic events.

The Jerusalem Temple had both religious and national significance for the Jews. The Temple was the core of life for the nation. The most important national holidays were celebrated here. The Temple gathered Jewish tribes into one people and was the place for Jehovah to abide with the elected nation. The Jews hoped that the Messiah would enthrone and proclaim himself in the Jerusalem Temple. And now, there is no Temple any more! Synagogues are not temples but prayer houses, which cannot be used for full-scale worship, prescribed in the Mosaic law. The destruction of the Temple meant for the orthodox Jews that God was wrathful with His people, rejected their sacrifice and offerings.

So why were the First and the Second Temples ruined on one and the same date? Could it be a coincidence? The Jews believe that God guides the life of His elected nation, and cannot agree that it was a mere accident in this important case. The dates of destruction of the two Temples coincided due to the sameness, or homogeneity of the intrinsic causes of destruction, i.e. the sins of the Jewish people, which incurred both destructions, were equally big.

Let us try and understand the essence of these sins.

Before the destruction of the First Temple by Nebuchadnezzar, the Old Testament prophets had been warning their nation for over one hundred years that, unless they stop worshipping idols, the Lord would send a destroyer who would ruin their towns and the Temple, slay some people and lead the rest as captives to Babylon. The Jews did not trust these prophecies; they continued idol worship, and it happened to them according to the prophecies.

What was the sin of the Jews before the destruction of the Second Temple? It was not the sin of idolatry. By then, the Jews not only despised pagan idols, but they were also very devout and followed every prescription of their ritual law. However, the Temple and the very city of Jerusalem were destroyed, the casualties of that war and events that followed turned up hundredfold more tragic than what the Jews suffered from Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion. For comparison, the Babylonian captivity lasted just for 70 years, while the dispersal of the Jews after Titus — about 2000. In fact, it was only after World War II that the Jews could re-establish their state. Tens of thousands of Jews died under Nebuchadnezzar, and millions under Titus and in the following years.

Why was the sin of the Jews in the time of Titus worse than idolatry of their ancestors? The answer to this question can be found in the Book of Deuteronomy, where Moses put down the following words of Jehowah regarding the coming of the Messiah: "I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee (Moses), and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him" (Deut. 18:18-19). The new and heavier sin of the Jewish people was the denial of the God-sent Messiah! The Jews not merely denied their Savior, they abused and crucified Him. Whatever modern theologians say to relieve the culpability of the Jews for the Crucifixion of Christ, the facts are obvious. Pontius Pilate and Roman soldiers complied with the will of the Jewish High Priests, elders and the crowd of public. After the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead, the culprits of His Crucifixion did not repent of their crime. Only a small share of the Jewish people believed in Christ, while most of the Jews remained deaf for the Good News, and some of them persecuted and brutally murdered the Apostles and Christians. This sin of resistance to God caused the cup of the longsuffering of God to be overfilled, and the Temple was destroyed.

By the coincidence of the dates of the first and second destructions God indicated that the second destruction occurred not due to the current political conditions and bad luck in the war with the Romans, but was a punishment for the awful sin of the Jewish people — the killing of Jesus Christ, and disbelief in Him afterwards. This punishment was inflicted for the shouting of the Jewish mob: "His blood be on us, and on our children" (Matthew 27:25). The challenge to God was thrown down.

We are not bringing up these circumstances in order to blame the Jewish people, but to help the Jews understand the spiritual essence of what happened to them. The Russian nation also sinned against God terribly by the bloodshed of the revolution, ruination of temples, blasphemies, sacrilege, slaying of clergy. Like the Jews in the times of Nebuchadnezzar, we have been suffering in exile for more then 70 years.

The Babylonian captivity ended when the Jews understood their sin, repented and turned to God with their hearts. We should hope that today, if the Jews understand their fathers’ sin of denying the Messiah and believe in Him as their Savior, then God would clean off their sin and give them His benevolence again. We believe that this joyful event, predicted by the Saint Apostle Paul, will happen one day, and we would wish to see it with our own eyes!

Missionary Leaflet # E
Copyright © 2000
466 Foothill Blvd, Box 397, La Canada, Ca 91011
Editor: Bishop Alexander (Mileant)

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