“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Mark Twain

From Mourning to Gladness

Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. Jeremiah 31:13 NIV

For the past several months, I've been sharing a bit of my Jewish heritage with you here on my blog. This post, along with being a devotional, is going to do just that. Another Jewish holiday is nearly upon us - though, I have to say it isn't exactly one to celebrate, per se.

Graphic via Christiansunite
At sunset tonight (see this post I wrote on the Hebrew calendar - it's quite different from ours) Jews will commemorate what some call the saddest day in Jewish history. Tisha b'Av is a fast day remembering, among other things, the destruction of both the First Temple (by the Babylonians in 586 BC as reported in 2 Kings 24-25) and the second Temple (by the Romans in 70 AD) - both of which happened on the same Hebrew calendar date - though, obviously, hundreds of years apart.

Just FYI - Tisha b'Av translates to "the ninth of Av"- which is one of the Hebrew months. There are a few Jewish holidays like that, including Tu B'Shevat, which I discussed in February.

On Tisha b'Av, which generally falls in July or August, observant Jews fast (food and drink - including water) from sunset to the following nightfall. Other restrictions on this day include washing, bathing, wearing leather shoes, marital relations, and work. The book of Lamentations is traditionally read on this day in the synagogue, and the ark (where the Torah is kept) is draped in black.

It is, in a word, a day of mourning. A day to lament the destruction of two building built especially for the God of the universe. The place where God's glory dwelt during Old Testament times. The location where Jesus Christ Himself went to worship, to study, to offer sacrifices.

But after Jesus died, was buried, and rose again, there was no more need for the Temple. His Glory no longer lived in the Holy of Holies - His children became the temple of His Spirit.

I sometimes wonder if God allowed that second temple's destruction so soon after Christ's ascension (less than the length of my lifetime thusfar!) to hammer that point home. He's already torn the curtain in two (Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45) - but still the priests performed the sacrifices. Still they looked for their Messiah.

But He had already come. And instead of mourning, they should dance (Jeremiah 31:13). They should be glad. Because though the Temple is gone, the Spirit is here - and once you've got Him, He'll never leave you. He trades your ashes for beauty, your mourning for joy, your despair for praise (Isaiah 61:3).

How has God turned your mourning to gladness?

If you're interested in more information about Tisha b'Av, click on the links within this post.
We're discussing this here, and at Living by Grace on Facebook. Won't you join us?

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