Zechariah 8:19 "Thus says the Lord of hosts: 'The fast of the fourth month, The fast of the fifth, The fast of the seventh, And the fast of the tenth, Shall be joy and gladness and cheerful feasts For the house of Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.'
On Saturday night, throughout Israel, on the 17th of Tammuz, Jewish people from around the world will fast and begin a three week period of mourning leading into Tish B'Av (9th of Av). On this day, according to Jewish tradition, Moses shattered the Ten Commandments after he returned from Mount Sinai to witness the children of Israel worshiping a golden calf. In coming devotionals, we will recount the numerous tragic events associated with the 9th of Av, and sorrowfully remembered by Jews each year, but today I want to focus on the events particularly connected to this unique day, Tammuz 17.
The Mishnah records the 17th of Tammuz as the day the priests of the First Temple era ceased their offering of the daily sacrifice, and the same day of the following year saw the walls of Jerusalem breached by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians following a long and terrible siege. Also recorded is King Manasseh's, (one of Israel's worst kings) placing an idol in the Temple on this date. During the Second Temple era, the Roman leader, Apostomos, publicly burned a Torah on this day. Later, the Roman leader Titus breached the walls of Jerusalem on this day in 70 AD.
Tammuz 17 also, interestingly, is quite significant in American history; as the day, July 4, 1776 (on the Gregorian calendar) saw the signing of the Declaration of Independence. When the Supreme Court changed the biblical definition of marriage in 2013 it fell on the 17th of Tammuz, (remember, the same day Moses saw the children of Israel in idolatry and destroyed the commandments of God!)
Now the Mishnah also states in Ta'anit 4:8 that the 17th of Tammuz will be transformed in the Messianic era, saying, on this day "there shall be joy to the House of Judah full of gladness and cheerful feasts.” This is almost certainly a reference to Zechariah 8:19: "This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.'”
How does mourning turn to joy? The prophet said, "...love truth and peace." Yeshua, the way, truth, and life is also the source of love and the Prince of Peace. Through Him, your sorrow and mourning will turn to everlasting joy!