Lesson 1: Redeeming the Sin of the Spies
In a previous column, I told you about how my experience on the 9th of Av in 2013 led me to meet Gidon on the walls of Jerusalem, hear his idea for what is now Root Source, and help him get his idea up and running. Then last time in my article From Fast Day to Feast Day, I told you how I heard Pastor Trey Graham read those verses in Zechariah about the fast day of the 9th of Av, becoming a feast day in the future. He read:
“Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the fast of the fourth, and the fast of the fifth [the 9th of Av], and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth months will become joy, gladness, and cheerful feasts for the house of Judah; so love truth and peace.’” Zechariah 8:18-19 (NASB)
In that same article, Rabbi Tuly Weisz told us how Christian involvement in the 9th of Av might trigger the transition of the 9th of Av from fast day to feast day. He said:
“But, I believe that because these fast days in Jewish history were all brought about by the enemies of the Jewish people, in some way, shape or form, then what will trigger the fast day to become the feast day? It will happen when not only do the Jewish people repent on the 9th of Av, but when non-Jewish people repent as well.”
I will now finish the story of what happened on the 9th of Av, 2018 in my backyard.
When I heard Pastor Trey read that verse from Zechariah, my ears jumped at the phrase: “for the house of Judah”.
Now, let’s be clear. The Jews today refer to themselves as Israel! they don’t limit themselves to the term Judah, and neither am I desiring to limit them. But, the question arises: then why is God being so specific in this particular verse? Why is this promise of God of “fast day turning to feast day” not being given to all Israel, but specifically to the house of Judah?
Here is my proposed answer. My thought is that perhaps this wording is a message to us as Christians — we who see ourselves as being spiritually grafted into Israel — that because we, as Christians, perpetrated most of the evil against the Jews over the last 2,000 years, that perhaps it was upon our shoulders to take ahold of this day as Christians, and turn it into a annual day of fasting and remembrance!
In other words, perhaps in the days ahead when the 9th of Av becomes a day of feasting for Jews, we in the Christian world could still retain it as a day of remembrance and resolve never to turn against our Jewish brothers again! I recalled what Eliyahu Berkowitz had told me just three days earlier, “I think you might be creating a Christian 9th of Av.” Was Eliyahu right?
This insight alone would have been enough for me on the 9th of Av in 2018, but God had still more to show me! That happened because Pastor Trey did not stop reading at Zechariah 8:19, but kept reading to the end of the chapter! He read through to verse 23:
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘It will yet be that peoples will come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one will go to another, saying, “Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts; I will also go.” So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord.’ Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’” (NASB)
I see a three-stage process in those verses:
- In stage one, the peoples and inhabitants of many cities will feel a sense of urgency to entreat the favor of the Lord and to seek him. Individuals will make their own decisions to go or not go. It was a personal decision to GO DO something.
- In stage two, many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord. Groups of people now come to Jerusalem together to entreat the favor of the Lord.
- Finally in stage three, ten persons from the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew saying to that Jew: “Let us go with you, because God [Elohim] is with you.” This verse guides us that the joining of ten persons from the nations to one Jew happens in Jerusalem.
When I heard these words read in my backyard, my jaw dropped. I knew that verse well, but I had never once thought about the ten men grabbing onto a Jew in Jerusalem. After five years of having my heart turned towards the Orthodox Jews of Israel, it finally dawned on me that I had gone through this three-stage process personally. In stage one, I was undone on the 9th of Av in 2013. I felt a sense of urgency, but I had no answers.
In stage two, I made a decision to go to Jerusalem, without a clear idea of what that would “look like”. Without a clear plan, I pushed back against my fear of failure and went anyway in January 2014. Then in stage three, on that very trip, as part of a Christian prayer meeting in Jerusalem, I happened to meet Gidon Ariel on the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem where he shared his vision. The exact words the Holy Spirit spoke to me at that moment were: “That’s your man!”
And then, in stage three, in my own backyard, I saw that Zechariah 8:23 was telling me that it was NOT God’s plan that I should be the only Christian grabbing on to Gidon! There should be ten of us! I began to imagine how beautiful it would be if Christians worldwide were to come to Jerusalem, meet Jews in Jerusalem, and for the Holy Spirit say to them, just like He did to me: “That’s the Jew I want you to grab hold of, and to walk beside!” I was now in tears.
This “grabbing on” idea made perfect sense, because my own experience showed that only when we repent can we have the right heart attitude in our relationships with Jews. Until we repent, we Christians can easily feel superior to our Jewish brethren, and attempt to dominate or control.
But even that insight was not the climactic moment on my 9th of Av. The Lord still had one more surprise. He caused my mind to recall how Pastor Trey Graham had begun his 9th of Av sermon: Trey began his teaching with the incident of the twelve spies at Kadesh Barnea, and the ten spies who gave an evil report of the land.
Do you see where I am heading, dear reader? Stop reading and ponder what God was about to reveal!
I was undone once again on the 9th of Av. It was beyond all expectation!
We Christians, by repenting on the 9th of Av, by coming to Jerusalem, and by having ten of us grab onto the hem of the garment of a Jew, not only get to fulfill the biblical prophecy of Zechariah 8:18-23, by being spiritually grafted into Israel, but we are also redeeming the sin of the ten spies on the 9th of Av at Kadesh Barnea as well!
A Path Ahead. (Photo: public domain)
The story of Kadesh Barnea is a story of sin, of unbelief, of an evil report. It applies to all Christians. May we all step into God’s story, into history, and into the future, by taking the 9th of Av seriously, by finding it in our hearts to come to Jerusalem, and by being open to grab the hem of a certain Jew to whom the Spirit of God might lead.
This is the heart of the idea for what we are going to start calling The Nations’ Ninth of Av. We come to Jerusalem, not just for that one day, but for one week to allow Christians to meet Jews that they never knew, to see how God might move upon those Christians. Will some of them grab ahold of the hem of a Jew, and walk along beside them?
Please check out the Nations’ 9th of Av brand new website and sign up for updates at: 9-av.com
When ten grab on to a Jew, that makes eleven! I asked Gidon Ariel what he thinks about that? He told me:
“All eleven still need a leader. For Christians that leader will certainly be Yeshua. For us, I suppose it is Joshua. But in any case, we are going to have to walk together in a bit of a mystery, are we not?”
Gidon and I are both friends of this new project which is taking shape. It does not have exactly the same goals as Root Source, so it needs its own website and organization. But the Christians who are joining to lead it want to make sure everything is done in a way that complements the centuries of efforts by the Jews to make this day a day set apart for repentance. Take a look at the about page to see who is involved.
Please join us to walk in a bit of mystery.
Go to: 9-av.com and join the mailing list right now, to learn more.