Today is a solemn day in the Jewish calendar, a day of fasting and mourning, remembering the destruction of the Temple – it’s actually such a sad day traditionally, that in Israel we use it as a metaphor for sadness: if someone looks very sad we say they have a “Tisha b’Av face”. [note for my non-Jewish readers: this fast day is called Tisha b’Av, which literally means: the ninth of the month of Av. It’s just the date in the Hebrew calendar.] [extra pedantic note: this year the fast was postponed by a day because the 9th fell on the Sabbath. today isn’t the 9th, it’s the 10th.]
So am I fasting and mourning today? No, I’m not. You see, I know that there was a really good reason why God allowed the Temple to be destroyed and why he hasn’t got it to be rebuilt this time round. We don’t need that building any more! The Temple and the sacrificial system were a kind of preview, a temporary arrangement until we got The Real Thing – the Messiah, who is the true Great High Priest, who is also the once-and-for-all atoning sacrifice for all the sins of all who believe in him!
If you’re Jewish and familiar with the Tanach, this would be a good moment to open it to the end of chapter 9 in the book of Daniel and read what the angel Gabriel told Daniel – that the Messiah was to come and then be “cut off”, and then the city and the sanctuary would be destroyed. We were told beforehand that this would happen (and even when it would happen!) – and if our religious authorities at the time had recognised that the Messiah had arrived, they would have understood what was going on when the Temple was destroyed forty years after Jesus was crucified: cut off, killed, as the ultimate sacrificial lamb, atoning for the sins of all mankind, so there was no need for further sacrifices!
So I will not mourn on this day. I rejoice in the Messiah, who has “turned for me my mourning into dancing… and clothed me with gladness” – and has made the Temple and the sacrificial system totally unnecessary.
And I will sing and dance, as Zechariah tells me, because Messiah has come!