Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem by Francesco Hayez, 1867.
Zechariah 8:19 – Thus saith 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 joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.
The Fast of Tammuz, which we will celebrate this year on July 24, and the Fast of Ab on Aug. 14, mark off a season of mourning. The first fast reminded Jews of the day when the wall of Jerusalem was breached by the Babylonians in 587 B.C. (and later by the Romans in 70 A.D.). The second fast designated the complete destruction of the Temple and Israel carried off into captivity. The focus is on the idolatry that brought God’s judgment upon them, and a search to rid themselves of any idolatry within.
The medieval Jewish commentator Maimonides said that all these fasts would cease in the times of the Messiah. So Zechariah’s prophesy points to God’s final victory, which as believers we celebrate from our position as “seated with him in the heavenlies.”
The Passover that was celebrated by King Josiah was said to be like none since the days of Samuel the prophet. Why? Because after a copy of the Law was discovered, Josiah realized how far Israel had drifted from the truth. Josiah repented, and overturned all the idolatry that had permeated the nation. (This was also a foreshadowing of Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple) Once there were no “strange gods” among them, Israel could celebrate the feast properly, with hearts open before God.
Let’s have that kind of Passover this year!
II Chronicles 35:18 – “And there was no Passover like to that kept in Israel from the days of Samuel the prophet; neither did all the kings of Israel keep such a passover as Josiah kept, and the priests, and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel that were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”
(Image: King Josiah Destroying the Idols of Baal by Gustave Dore)
“I say to you, do not swear at all.” (Matthew 5:33-37).
The Bible is full of warnings about vows and expectations on ourselves or others. The reason? Instead of asking God to meet our needs, a vow (or a New Year’s resolution) puts us in the position of swearing before God that we’re going to accomplish something on our own.
Besides, it’s presumptuous. Consider James 4:13-15 – “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”
The Jewish ceremony of Kol Nidrei on Yom Kippur declared all our vows as annulled and “made void.” And for those who “place no confidence in man,” the Kol Nidrei should apply every day.
Thankfully, God provides another way: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Phil. 4:6).
Tom Brooks is just back from Afghanistan, and he’s been doing a ton of research on Passover and the history of the Haggadah, which is read during the feast. He’s pulled together some great background information we can use as we get ready for Passover, which this year for us will be Easter weekend, April 18-20.
The painting below depicts the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2).
This occurred on the Jewish Feast of Pentecost, celebrated on the fiftieth day after Passover. Between the two feasts, each Jew was to “count the omer” from the day when the “omer” of barley was offered as the First Fruit Offering in the Temple until the day of Pentecost. The Rabbis considered this count to mark the passage through 49 “gates of impurity” culminating in the giving of the Law to Israel on Mt. Sinai.
The First Fruit Offering took place as Jesus was being resurrected, thus tying the two events together spiritually. So we view the counting of the omer as reckoning Christ’s Resurrection in us each day.
Our community gathers throughout the week at different places on The Block, a neighborhood between downtown and the Lakewood area of Dallas, Texas, near the corner of Beacon and Columbia Ave. We'd love to have you join us!
If you can’t make it to The Block, you can listen to podcasts by our elder, Ole Anthony, from the daily Morning Bible Studies, available here. There are also some podcasts available of his Wednesday night Bible studies, available here. Join the conversation here.
Morning Bible Study is led by Ole Anthony, Mon.-Fri., 7:30 a.m. in The Lair at 5644 Columbia Ave. For information, contact Pete Evans, firstname.lastname@example.org or (214) 738-3349
Tuesdays at 7 p.m. - Bible study at Gary and Judy Buckner's home at 5632 Columbia Ave. Contact Gary Buckner, email@example.com or call (214) 682-8007.
Wednesdays at 7 p.m. - Bible Study taught by Ole Anthony at 5640 Columbia Ave., downstairs. Contact Pete Evans, firstname.lastname@example.org or call (214) 738-3349
Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. - Bible study at John and Joysanna Rutledge's home at 5640 Columbia Ave., upstairs. Contact John Rutledge email@example.com or call (214) 385-0230.
We have a great Saturday brunch from 9:30 - 11:30 a.m. in The Lair, our community restaurant located at 5644 Columbia Ave.
Note: No Sunday Morning meetings
Gary and Judy Buckner's Sunday meal at 4 p.m. in "The Lair," our community restaurant located at 5644 Columbia Ave. Then the Buckner Bible study meets at 5 p.m. next door at 5640 Columbia Ave., upstairs. Contact Gary Buckner, firstname.lastname@example.org or call (214) 682-8007.
The Rutledges' Sunday meal is at 5 p.m. in The Lair. (No Rutledge Bible study on Sundays). Contact John Rutledge, email@example.com or call (214) 385-0230.
All the groups gather to worship together on Sunday from 6 - 7 p.m. at 5640 Columbia, upstairs.