THE MONTH TAMMUZ is the 4th month of the year on the Jewish calendar and it is a time of sorrow for the Jewish people because on two occasions, on exactly the same day of the 5th month, the 9th of Av, the Temple was burned at Jerusalem. In 586BC the Babylonians burned the Temple and in AD70 the Romans burned the Temple. Both events occurred on the same day on the Jewish calendar and both were a fulfilment of a prophecy by Moses just before Israel entered the Promised Land.
The Book of Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Bible and it records Moses’ final address to his people. God had told him that he would not enter the Land of Canaan and he reminded Israel before he died of all the way God had led them. He warned them not to forsake the Lord and he spelt out very clearly the conditions that Israel must fulfil if they were to be able to continue possessing the land. Failure to obey the Lord would bring great distress and they would be cast out of the land.
Moses stated prophetically that there would be two occasions when Israel would be carried away out of the land; the first would be when they had a king ruling them. That king was Zedekiah and after he was taken to Babylon the throne of David ceased until Messiah comes to reign (Ezek.21:27).
In fulfilment of Jeremiah’s prophecy the Jews returned in 536BC and Zerubbabel rebuilt the Temple which was completed in 516BC.
The second time the Jews would be taken captive was by a nation “from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flyeth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; a nation of fierce countenance,…he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down. And ye shall be left few in number…and ye shall be plucked off the land …and the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth to the other;…and thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; … in the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning …”
A clearer description could not be given of the Roman invasion and destruction of the nation of Israel that ended in the burning of the Temple on 9th day of Av which was the 5th month on the Jewish calendar AD70.
In fulfilment of Moses’ prophecy the Jews were scattered “from one end of the earth to the other” and they have remained there for 2,000 years. They have suffered persecution exactly as Moses foretold and still their lives are in doubt. In 2022 there were over 5,000 terrorist attacks recorded against Jews! Antisemitism is increasing again and this is driving Jews back to the land. All this is a fulfilment of prophecy for Ezekiel foretold a day when God will use the hatred of nations to drive the Jews back to the land:
“As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you: And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out” (Ezek.20:33-34).
There are some groups of Christians who actively support Israel and these believe the return of the Jews that is taking place today is an indication that the Jews are turning to the Lord again. Not only is this contrary to the propheies of Scripture but it is contrary to the truth of what is happening in Israel.
Since Israel became a nation the number of Jews in the land has grown from 630,000 in 1948 to 6.34 million in 2020 but there is little evidence that the nation is turning to God. Israel is sharply divided between atheistic, worldly-minded Jews and Orthodox/Conservative Jews who reject Jesus Christ as Israel’s rightful heir to the throne of David. Only a very small percentage will acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Saviour of the world.
Total world Jewish population in 2023 has been estimated at about 19 million so only about 35% of Jews are located in the Land that God gave to Abraham. For centuries the conservative Jews have been weeping each year because the Temple was destroyed. On one occasion Napoleon passed a syngogue where he heard the pathetic cries of Jews. He asked why they were crying and was told because they wished to be restored to the land and build again their Temple. Napoleon remarked that any people who were so passionate about their Temple would certainly one day have their Temple restored.
The Bible indicates that there will be a Jewish Temple built in the last days after the Rapture of the Christians and we know that the Jews are already preparing to rebuild that Temple.
However the Temple means nothing unless the Jews turn from their unbelief and place their trust in Jesus Christ. Moses told Israel:
“When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee” (Deut.4:30-31).
The present return of Israel to the land foretold in Ezekiel ch.36 is in unbelief just as Ezekiel indicated it would be. God said:
“Therefore say unto the house of Israel, thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went” (Ezek.36:22, 32).
The return of the Jews to the land that we have witnessed is not attended by the blessing of God. Terrorism is increasing; Iran, Gaza and Lebanon are threatening; and gay pride celebrations continue. Religious Jews bitterly oppose Christian missionaries. There is only one path back to God for Israel and it is by judgment:
“When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit
of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence” (Isa.4:4-5).
Israel is yet to experience a holocaust greater than anything they have endured in the past. Zechariah tells us (Zech.13:8) that two thirds of the nation will perish in the land and Jews across the world will be a prime target for Antichrist in the second half of the Tribulation. Isaiah wrote:
“Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isa.26:8-9).
There will be no great turning to God by Israel or the nations before the Rapture. “Let favor be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD” (Isa.26:10).
Jews can weep for the Temple each year but it is all worthless emotion without true repentance and faith in the Saviour whom they nailed to a cross and despised those who served Him. What the return of Israel in unbelief does indicate is that the time is drawing near when the Church will be removed and Israel will pass through “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer.30:7). Only then will a remnant be saved in time to welcome back the heir to the throne of David. They will “look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him as one that mourneth for his only son” (Zech.12:10).
“And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Isa.25:9).
The blessing of the Gentile nations awaits the repentance and restoration of Israel. The land that God gave to Abraham will finally be the possession of a redeemed and faithful nation that will be named “the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God” (isa.61:6).
Only then will Israel’s weeping cease. Only then will Israel find comfort as Isaiah wrote: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’s hand double for all her sins” (Isa.40:1-2).
Now is not the time to comfort Israel. Now is the time to warn of coming judgment. The dark stormclouds already can be seen arising over the land and our message to Israel is to “flee from the wrath to come”. There is a place of refuge in the One who was wounded for our trangressions and bruised for our iniquities (Isa.53:5)!