What Does God Say 'Mine' About?
God’s faithfulness is shown even in judgment.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.
On Saturday evening, religious Jews will observe a holiday called "Tisha b'Av" (The ninth day of their month called Av.) It's a day of repentance and mourning for their people and has been for over 2500 years. (See Zechariah 7:3)
What can followers of Jesus learn from this ancient observance? If we keep in mind that God does not change (Hebrews 13:8, Malachi 3:6) and that the Old Testament is "for our instruction" (1 Corinthians 10:11), there's a lot we can learn. After all, Jesus opened his ministry by saying "repent." (Matthew 4:17)
What happened on the 9th of Av?
Although the observance is primarily about the destruction of the Jewish Temple, the many disastrous things that have happened to Israel on or near this date do seem to indicate that the Lord is making a point. To name a few:
- According to Jewish tradition, this is the date the ten unfaithful spies convinced the Israelites not to enter the Promised Land. (Numbers 13-14)
- Both the first (587 B.C.) and second (70 A.D.) Temples were destroyed on this date.
- On the 9th of Av, 1941, the final order was given to begin the Jewish Holocaust.
Why did God withdraw His protection?
As their wilderness wandering ended and they were about to enter the Promised Land, God made some amazing promises to the people. You may have heard about some of them:
- God will set you high above other nations…
- You will be blessed as you come in and as you go out…
- Your enemies will come out before you one way and flee seven ways…
- You will abound in prosperity…
- The Lord will open His treasury to you… (See Deuteronomy 26:1-14)
We don't talk about the more lengthy list of curses in the rest of the chapter, even though history records that these predictions, sadly, came to pass! A condition went with each set of promises. God's people were not faithful to Him; but He was faithful to fulfill the curses He promised them, just as He had been faithful to bless them!
How can we learn from this?
It was really all about believing God. In order for us to observe a season of repentance, we need to get His perspective. How was God personally wronged in the Covenant He gave His people? God told them:
- The firstborn are Mine. (Numbers 3:13) That's why it was so offensive when they did not dedicate (Exodus 4:24-26; Joshua 4:5-7) and train their children (Deuteronomy 6:7) to observe God's Law. It's also why God said this about their horrific child-sacrifice to Canaanite idols: "…you slaughtered my children…" (Ezekiel 16:21)
- The land is Mine. (Leviticus 25:23) This is why God told them to let the land rest every seventh year. (Leviticus 25:1-5) Because they didn't trust Him, their captivity's length became the land's rest. (Leviticus 26:34; 2 Chronicles 36:21)
- Vengeance is Mine. (Deuteronomy 32:35; Leviticus 19:18) This is why the people's failure to expel the occupants of the land was such a bad thing. (Numbers 33:55-56) They were supposed to execute His judgment on them.
If we really want to observe a day of repentance in 2021, we should learn from what God did when His people failed to trust Him in all those things. He wanted to be their protection and vindication. He wanted to be their provision. He wanted to be their Father. ("Father," by the way, is the meaning of the word "Av.") If you have given your life to Jesus, God is now your Father, and He says to you, "You are mine!" (Leviticus 20:26; 1 John 3:1) In what way have you failed to "render unto God the things that are God's?" (Mark 12:17) Take a moment now to confess whatever your Father brings to your mind.
Pray this week:
Father, please help me to see your perspective. I want to trust you in all things.
Have you had a lapse in faith that you regret? Let a caring volunteer join you in prayer for restoration.