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Eclipse today on a Jewish festival

Jul 27, 2018

Tonight the lunar eclipse will occur over much of the world outside of North America. I have read that it will also be seen from Jerusalem.

Today is also a minor Jewish festival called Tru B’Av. It is a festival of love, roughly similar to Valentine’s Day in the West. A lot of Jews like to be married on this day.

Tu B’Av is the day “marking the beginning of the grape harvest. Yom Kippur marked the end of the grape harvest.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tu_B'Av

So the day is linked with the twelve spies in some way, who were sent into Canaan, apparently on Tu B’Av. Numbers 13:17-20 says,

17 When Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, he said to them, “Go up there into the Negev, then go up into the hill country, 18 and see what the land is like… 20 and how is the land, is it fat or lean? Are there trees in it or not? Make an effort then to get some of the fruit of the land.” Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes.

As you know, the twelve spies were gone 40 days and returned to give their report on the 10th day of the 7th month. This year (2018), Yom Kippur falls on September 19, which begins at sunset of September 18.

From July 27 to September 19 is 54 days, so either the Jewish calculations were not quite accurate, or the twelve spies did not leave immediately on the day that Moses gave them instructions, or they returned before Yom Kippur and gave their formal report later. Most likely, it took the spies a week to prepare for their long journey. The time of the first ripe grapes was not necessarily the first DAY of the grape harvest.

Regardless, if we are to view Tu B’Av as a prophetic marker, we should link it with Numbers 13:17-20, when Moses gave the 12 spies instructions to spy out the land of Canaan. The spies would have returned to give their report on Yom Kippur—which, at that time, was actually the 50th Jubilee from Adam. The fact that the majority gave an evil report and that the people believed their evil report was what turned the Jubilee into the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).

The Feast of Wood-Bearing

In Jewish tradition, Tu B’Av is also said to mark the appointed time that Nehemiah arranged for wood to be brought to the temple in the last verse of his book: Nehemiah 13:31,

31 and I arranged for the supply of wood at appointed times and for the first fruits. Remember me, O my God, for good.

So Josephus calls this day the Feast of Xylophory (“Wood-bearing”). Nehemiah also connects this day to “the first fruits,” so Jewish tradition also celebrates it as the day that the twelve spies were sent to Canaan. The Wikipedia link (above) says:

That same year [i.e., the 40th year of Israel’s wilderness wandering], the last of the generation of the sin of the spies, which had been forbidden to enter the Promised Land, found that they were not destined to die. For forty years, every Tisha B'av night, the Jews made graves for themselves in which they slept on Tisha B'Av; every year a proportion of them died. In the 40th year, the fifteen thousand who had remained from the first generation went to sleep in the graves and woke up the next day to their surprise. Thinking they made a mistake with the date, they did this until they reached Tu B'Av and saw a full moon. Only then did they know they were going to enter the Land of Israel with the new generation.

Hence, the Jews see this day as a day of rejoicing, for on that day they received confirmation that they were to enter the Promised Land. According to this tradition, the last 15,000 of the previous generation lived to enter the Promised Land along with Caleb and Joshua. Personally, I doubt that, because when that Israelite generation lacked faith to enter, Numbers 32:10-13 says,

10 So the Lord’s anger burned in that day, and He swore, saying, 11 None of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; for they did not follow me fully, 12 except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have followed the Lord fully. 13 So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until the entire generation of those who had done evil in the sight of the Lord was destroyed.

Deuteronomy 1:35 and 2:14 confirm this.

Nonetheless, it is likely that Tu B’Av was indeed the day that Nehemiah established for supplying the temple with wood each year, because he identified it with the time of first fruits. So today is a watch date, not only because of the lunar eclipse this year, but because the day is every year a celebration of the wood given to the temple to consume the sacrifices.

We might view the California fires in this light. Today’s news shows Redding, California being evacuated because of the Carr Fire that is threatening the city after crossing the Sacramento River last night. The fire is only six percent contained, and it is approaching Redding from the west side.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5998335/Thousands-flee-wall-flames-burns-homes-California.html

Pray for the people of Redding and surrounding areas. Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church is located in Redding.

The names might indicate something. Sacramento has to do with sacraments, or holy rituals that are done in a temple. Bethel means “house of God.” I wonder if, in some strange way, we are seeing a rather destructive sign of the wood being brought to the House of God for a sacrifice. No one wants to be part of that sacrifice, of course, and hopefully everyone will be New Covenant “living sacrifices,” rather than Old Covenant burnt offerings.

Nonetheless, the fact that the lunar eclipse (blood moon) is coming tonight, coinciding with this fire, this should be watched carefully as a possible sign of things to come. Obviously, the temple sacrifices were a good thing, signifying the burning up of the flesh as the All-Consuming Fire of God consumed the sin of the sin offering.

But there is also a sacrifice of divine judgment, which we see in Ezekiel 39:17,

17 And as for you, son of man, thus says the Lord God, “Speak to every kind of bird and to every beast of the field: ‘Assemble and come, gather from every side to My sacrifice which I am going to sacrifice for you, as a great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel, that you may eat flesh and drink blood’.”

This is a very destructive kind of sacrifice, because it comes upon ungodly people who have not availed themselves of the true Sacrifice of Christ. Ezekiel’s prophecy is repeated in Revelation 19:17, 18. It makes me wonder if this incident is actually a sign of such things to come.

If so, I can only say that we should be sure to be on the side of Christ as “living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1, 2), rather than being sacrificed in the sense of divine judgment. Because it also ties in with the mission of the twelve spies, we ought to be sure that our faith is valid, so that we do not end up like the Israelites who were unable to enter the Promised Land (Hebrews 3:18, 19).

Since this event is coinciding with the lunar eclipse—which will be visible in Jerusalem—it might be a sign for the Israeli state to consider. Also keep in mind that today marks a longer period of time ending on Yom Kippur, September 19.


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Blog Author: Dr. Stephen Jones