I’m writing this blog on Friday, July 27, on the Jewish holiday known as Tu B Av. This particular evening there will be a blood moon ( total lunar eclipse) over Jerusalem. Actually, back in January, there was a blood moon on the Jewish holiday known as Tu B Shevat. If you haven’t read about that one, here is the link.
There have been a large amount of celestial events these past few years, starting back in 2014 and 2015, when four blood moons occurred on the Lord’s feasts known as Passover and Tabernacles.
Some people say eclipses are common, and they don’t mean anything. What I say is that it all depends on where they fall on God’s calendar- the Hebrew calendar. There are certain times of the year that are sacred on God’s calendar, particularly the High Holy Days. When lunar and solar eclipses occur at these special times, we should pay attention. It is not something we use to predict or prophesy the future. Only God knows that. But, in the Bible it does say that God created the sun, moon and stars and they were created to help us remember his special appointed “seasons”. In this context seasons means “feasts”, or the Lord’s feasts. If he created the sun, moon and stars, he is certainly able to use them to get our attention. Sometimes, he is reminding us of repentance. This is especially true of solar eclipses. The solar eclipse that occurred only on U.S. soil last year on August 21, happened on the first day of Elul. This month on God’s calendar is a month of repentance, and leads to the High Holy Days. Repentance is the key theme during this special time on God’s calendar. It is very possible that the eclipse occurring on our land was a reminder to wake up and repent as a nation! In 2024 (seven years after this eclipse), there will be another eclipse on our soil.
So, what about this total lunar eclipse that’s happening on July 27, 2018 over Jerusalem? What does it mean? Well, to try to get an idea we need to see what Hebrew month we are in on God’s calendar. This particular eclipse is falling on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Av- also known as the 15th of Av. Av is the fifth month on the Hebrew calendar and usually falls in July or August on the Gregorian calendar. Av is known as the most tragic month on the Hebrew calendar. Why? Because both the First and Second temples were destroyed during the month of Av- on the 9th of Av to be more specific. The Babylonians destroyed the First Temple in 586 B.C. The Romans destroyed the Second Temple in 70 A.D. Other notable and tragic events occurred on the 9th of Av such as :
The Lord said the original generation of Israelites, who came out of Egyptian slavery, would die in the desert and not be able to enter the Promised Land. This is because they gave a bad report: see verses below from Numbers 13.
” Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, ‘We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.’ “But the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.’ And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, ‘The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anakcome from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.’”
Basically, that generation did not trust the Lord, so they could not enter in the land. Only their children would enter it. This happened on the 9th of Av, so we can see it is a tragic date.
Two other notable and tragic events that occurred on the 9th of Av are the English Inquisition in 1290, and the Spanish Inquisition of 1492. During both of these Inquisitions, thousands of Jewish people were killed, and expelled from their homes. It is believed Christopher Columbus could have been Jewish and he sailed for his first voyage the day after the 9th of Av. He hid his Jewishness, however, and did not sail on the 9th of Av out of respect for this tragic day of mourning. The day before he sailed, thousands of Jewish people were being thrown out of Spain by the decree of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. How could it be that both these inquisitions would take place on the same day that marked the destruction of both Jewish Temples?
Typically, for three weeks before the 9th of Av, Jewish people will mark what is called the Three Weeks of Sorrow. This three weeks begins after the 17th of Tammuz, and will continue up through the 9th of Av. This year, the 17th of Tammuz occurred on July 1 and the Weeks of Sorrow ran all the way to July 22. During this time, the book of Lamentations is recited and studied, and prayers are made regarding the restoration of the Temple. On the last day, which is the 9th of Av, most people will fast and mourn in remembrance of the destruction of the Temples and other sad moments in Jewish history. The mood on the 9th of Av is one of heavy sadness. In fact, no weddings are permitted during this time of mourning. A wedding is a joyous time and would not fit in with the mood of these days of somber remembrance.
Most recently, something interesting happened the day after the 9th of Av. On July
23, 2018 a very large boulder fell from the Western Wall and onto a prayer platform. Luckily no one was in the spot where it fell !!! The boulder weighed 220 pounds so it was not a small rock!!! The day before was Tisha B Av (The 9th of Av)- the day of fasting where the Jewish people mourn the destruction of their Temples! If the boulder had fallen the day before, many people could have been hurt because this is a very popular date to pray at the wall! Keep in mind the Western Wall is all that’s left of the Second Temple.
When I read about a boulder falling the day after Tisha B Av (the 9th of Av), it sent a chill up my spine. My first thought was about Jesus. We know he is going to return someday to pull out his Bride, and then he will come back to save Israel. Jesus is the living Temple. He is the cornerstone that was rejected by his own people. Though there are lots of Messianic Jews (those who know Jesus as Messiah), the majority of Jewish people in Israel and the world do not believe he is the Messiah. But, a time is coming when he will make himself known as “the one that has been pierced,” and he will come back as King. The Jewish people continue to mourn the loss of their Temples, not realizing the Temple has already come- Jesus. As the world continues to persecute Israel, it will become more and more necessary for her to understand who her true Savior is. That is why Jesus will return at the Second Coming.
Sadly, the Western Wall (the wall the boulder fell from) is the only part of the Temple the Jewish people have access to. Even though Israel reclaimed the rest of Jerusalem on 6-7-67, they do not have control over the Temple Mount. They are denied access to the site of where King David bought the threshing floor to build the Temple. They cannot access the Temple Mount. They only have this one wall left for prayer and worship. This Western Wall is a remnant of one of the walls that supported the Second Temple complex. It is all they have left of the Temple destroyed by the Romans. Jesus himself predicted the destruction of the Second Temple when he said, “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” Matthew 24:2
(Don’t worry, I’m getting to the eclipse! I want you to have the background so you can put the clues together! Keep in mind that the eclipse happens during the month of Av, so it is important to understand what happened in Av, both past and present)
Something else happened the day after Tisha B Av this year. For this first time, Israel used its missile interceptor system known as David’s Sling. It was used to intercept ballistic missiles launched from Syria. This new missile system began development in 2009 and has the capability to intercept enemy planes, drones, tactical ballistic missiles, medium to long range rockets and cruise missiles. This system was designed to replace the MIM 104 Patriot system currently in use. The system is called David’s Sling, in reference to the story of David and Goliath. David took down a giant with just a sling and a stone.
According to biblical prophecy, Israel, tiny as she is, will have the world against her. She will be surrounded by enemies much larger than herself. It reminds me of the movie Lord of the Rings, when Helms Deep is surrounded and outnumbered by the dark, sinister Orcs. But, ultimately the evil Orcs do not prevail because Gandalf and his armies rush in to save the day. The same will be true of Israel in the last days. It is only Jesus who will save her from the enemies that surround her. The Goliaths of this world will have one goal- to wipe her off the earth. But, the rock that will save her is the one and only CORNERSTONE- Jesus!
Still something else of significance happened recently during the month of Av. On July 24th (the 12th of Av), Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet that breached its air space. The Syrian jet passed into the Golan Heights, which is part of Israel’s territory. As the war in Syria rages on, Israel has to be on constant guard. Israel and Syria share a border and Islamic militants have plenty of “stones” to throw at Israel. Their ultimate goal is conquest and annihilation. Luckily, Israel has the power of God behind her so that goal will not come to fruition. Our prayers for Israel are important to God so we should always be praying for the peace of Jerusalem- that peace is Jesus.
I hope you have realized that the month of Av is tied to several things: The destruction of the Temples, the persecution of the Jewish people and the attack and defense of Israel.
So what about this eclipse? By the time you will read this, it will have already happened, but here are the awesome details. First of all, this one is special because it is the longest eclipse of this century! The moon passed almost directly through the center of the earth’s shadow. Because of this, the moon spent spent the longest time of the 21st century in eclipse. This particular eclipse is known as a micro moon because the moon is at its greatest distance from Earth. Because it’s at this great distance, it spent a lot of time in the shadow of Earth. The total phase of this eclipse lasted 1 hour and 43 minutes. So, this gave spectators plenty of time to view it! Israel got a good long look at this one! The next time there will be a total lunar eclipse (blood moon) this long will be in 2123 ! I’d say that’s worth noting!!!
As I said at the beginning of this blog, the eclipse occured over Jerusalem on a holiday known as Tu B Av, which occurs on the 15th of Av. This would be six days after the 9th of Av. But what is Tu B Av? Tu B Av is both an ancient and modern holiday. It has been celebrated in different ways, depending on the time period. It is known as a day of joy because it comes after the three week period of mourning that occurs before the 9th of Av. According to Jewish tradition, it signifies the day that the “sin of the spies” was forgiven. It was at this time the generation who left Egypt had finally died off (remember, they were the ones who gave the bad report about the Promised Land).
Tu B Av occurs on a full moon and it has been noted in the Mishna that “There were no better days for the people of Israel than the 15th of Av (Tu B Av), and Yom Kippur. It is on this holiday that the “daughters of Jerusalem” shall go out in the vineyards (fields) and dance. It was a day for unmarried women to wear white and let the unmarried men know they were available. That is why this holiday is often likened to Valentine’s Day. The holiday was instituted during the Second Temple period to mark the beginning of the grape harvest, which would end on Yom Kippur (Israel’s National Day of Repentance).
Women who were ready to be Brides danced in the vineyards with joy. That is why Tu B Av is such a popular day for marriages. Keep in mind that in the three weeks preceding Tu B Av, weddings are not permitted. But, on Tu B Av they are back on the table and in full swing. The mourning is over and now it is time for joy.
Tu B Av is a holiday about love and who has more love for his people than God? It is on this day of love that Jerusalem is experiencing a total lunar eclipse- a blood moon. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son (Jesus), that whosoever believe in him, shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16. What greater love is there than when Jesus gave his own life for his people- the Jews and the Gentiles. He became the sacrifice of the Temple on that cross. He was sacrificed as the perfect lamb of the Temple. The 9th of Av is a day when the Jewish people mourn the destruction of the Temple, but on Tu B Av we are reminded that it was the LOVE- the BLOOD of Jesus that became the Temple sacrifice. This BLOOD moon occurring on Tu B Av may just be a reminder to the people of Israel that Jesus has not forgotten her. God’s love cannot be moved or shaken. So too, the Bride of Christ (those who love Christ) shall dance in the vineyards, awaiting their King and Groom, who will be returning at the rapture. But, Jesus will also return at the Second Coming to save Israel, and redeem the land forever.
It is no coincidence that this blood moon occurs over Jerusalem not long after the 70th anniversary of Israel becoming a nation. Also, the U.S. just moved its embassy to Jerusalem, which was a historic move. Interestingly enough, in the Bible, the number 70 is significant in that it marks the amount of years the nation of Israel went into exile during the Babylonian captivity (after the First Temple was destroyed). The Second Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D.
In addition the “seventy weeks” mentioned in Daniel 9 are worthy of noting. This prophecy is about the Jewish people and opens up in verse 24 with, “Seventy weeks have been declared for your people and your holy city…..” This is describing the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem. The last part of the prophecy focuses on the last week, which is stated in the verse as follows: “He will confirm a covenant with many for one seven. In the middle of the seven he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the Temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” This refers to the Antichrist, who will make a false covenant with the nation of Israel during the Tribulation. One seven refers to seven years. In the middle of the seven years (after 3 1/2 years) the Anti-Christ will break the covenant. He will then set himself up as a God in the Temple. It could be that the Anti Christ has already allowed the Jewish people to rebuild the Temple during the time of the false peace treaty, but now he orders that they worship him in the Temple. He will turn on the Jewish people and demand they worship him as a God. That’s when everything will turn from bad to unbearable- also known as The Great Tribulation.
But ultimately, God will have his way and Jesus will return and save a remnant of the Jewish people. He will redeem their love and forgive their trespasses. He returns with the Bride of Christ. This is when true love will finally reign in the land.
Many biblical scholars believe the generation that saw Israel “reborn” is the generation that will still be here when Christ returns. That generation will still be living when Christ returns. The generation that would have seen the rebirth of Israel would be those alive during 1948 because that is the year Israel became a nation again. So, how old are those who were alive during the “rebirth” of Israel. Well, it depends on how old you were when it happened in 1948- if you were a baby you would now be 70 of course. If you were ten, you’d be 80, if you were 20, you’d be 90. You get the point- that generation has gotten up in years! So, if we are talking about this generation seeing the return of Christ, then we are looking at his return not too far into the future. This passage could also be referring to the generation that saw all of Jerusalem unified. In that case, the year would be 1967 and it’s been 50 years since this occurred. A generation in the Bible can refer to 120 years, 100 years, 70 years or 50 years. If we were to just look at when land was put aside to create the modern state of Israel we can easily go back 100 years to the Balfour Declaration, which occurred in 1917. So it seems this “generation” is pretty close no matter how you look at it. Scholars argue about what “generation” refers to, but many agree Christ’s Return is on the horizon.
I certainly don’t predict any dates for Christ’s return. But, I don’t think we are left here on Earth with no signs of his imminent return. I don’t know the day or hour, but my advice would be to get yourself ready. Some people will say, “Things are the same as they’ve always been. There’s nothing different. Everyone has always been saying Christ will return in their lifetime.” To that I say, “Look at the time clock.” Israel is the time clock. You have to understand how things are progressing over there to have an idea. Also, you have to understand and take note of the biblical calendar- God’s Hebrew
If you want to understand how things work in the spiritual realm, it is inherent that you understand where things fall on God’s calendar. I actually have a Hebrew calendar so I can keep track of biblical holidays. Most people are only familiar with Christmas and Easter, but actually these are not on the biblical calendar. Easter is the pagan name- Passover is what is written in the Bible and it falls on a date that is usually different from what we label as “Easter.” Christmas is not noted in the Bible, but is something invented by man to celebrate Christ’s birth. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating on these dates, but just know that they are not on the biblical calendar. I would be more interested in seeing what happens historically during Passover than on Easter. Passover falls on Nisan 15 every year on the Hebrew calendar. On the Gregorian calendar that means it falls in March or April every year. In addition, there are lots of biblical holidays Christians aren’t even aware of, but they are crucial to understanding God’s timing and biblical prophecy (examples are: Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles, Hanukkah- known as the Feast of Dedication in the Bible, and Shavuot.)
You aren’t saved by following the Hebrew calendar. The only thing that saves us is the blood of Jesus. That was our ultimate “Valentine”. But, the calendar gives us a glimpse into our Groom’s heart, his plans to redeem his ancient people, and his plans to redeem the world. As the world becomes darker I take comfort in knowing Jesus continues sending us messages of hope. And yes, I believe the Lord can use his creation (like eclipses) to do that. I do believe he is coming soon. I would keep looking up and staying aware. Keep your oil lamps burning, for he will come like a thief, but only to those who are asleep.
Photo credit for header image: Nicole Hackart