According to Jewish tradition, Tisha B’av, the saddest day of the Jewish calendar and a fast day commemorating the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, will be transformed into a joyous feast day in the Messianic era. Some rabbis argue that the day for this transformation has arrived, and the catalyst for this will be a powerful act of contrition by Christians being held in just a few days. The Nations’ Ninth of Av is a 27-hour prayer event that will include a walk around the walls of Jerusalem, a sunrise ascension to the Temple Mount accompanied by Rabbi Yehudah Glick, and praying in various locations in Jerusalem..
Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month Av, begins on Wednesday evening and ends on Thursday evening. Coming at the end of a three-week period of austerity, the day commemorating the destruction of both Jewish temples is observed as a day of fasting. The day is also identified with a long list of tragedies that befell the Jewish people, including the Biblical spies’ evil report about the land of Israel, the tragic Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans, and even the expulsion of Jews from England in 1290 and Spain in 1492.
This uniquely Christian initiative began six years ago as an attempt to address the long history of difficult relations between Jews and Christians.
“In modern history, the calamities on the Ninth of Av continued with events such as the expulsion of Jews from England and Spain in the Middle Ages, and the inauguration of the Treblinka death camp during the Holocaust,“ the website states. “On the Ninth of Av, as Christians, we repent of the atrocities committed in the name of Jesus, and of our rejection of God’s plan of redemption through His people Israel.”
“The relationship between Christians and Jews has been fraught with horrific acts committed in the name of Jesus. From the horribly antisemitic writings of church fathers like Luther to the Crusades, pogroms, and Holocaust, much damage has been done to our standing as a people called to love and support Israel. Our focus is not so much to pin guilt on any group of believers today as it is to look at the damage that has been done and seek to restore what is broken. We are looking to restore the relationship, starting with repentance and humility, acknowledging the past we have inherited, and beginning a process of healing, by supporting the Jewish People in their calling.”
“On the Ninth of Av, as Christians, we repent of the atrocities committed in the name of Jesus, and of our rejection of God’s plan of redemption through His people Israel.”
The mission statement on the website states that the event will focus on the need for repentance in regard to the Jewish People and also to bring about the prophetic joining of the nations to Israel in the last days:
The guiding principles include a recognition of the Jews as being the Chosen people of God, to whom the Word of God (Bible), the Promises, Covenants, and Land of Israel was given and through whom the Messiah was promised to the World (Romans 3:1-2, 9:1-5) and a rejection of replacement theology.
Steve Wearp, one of the organizers and the founder of Blessed Buy Israel, emphasized that the event was a uniquely Christian event that did not come to replace or mimic the Jewish Ninth of Av.
“I want my Christian brothers and sisters to realize a choice has to be made,” Wearp said. “You have to choose the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of the Nations. God is calling us out. Separate yourself, be a holy, indistinct people unto me and be part of the game.
“Once again, the old men and women and the children are in the streets of Jerusalem, sitting, playing, rejoicing in life,” Wearp said. “That is happening today. And what’s amazing is we suddenly see the nations taking notice. We’re seeing what God is doing after 2000 years. I think there’s a big wakeup call going out to the world.”
Wearp explained that while the role of the Jews in this process is clearly described in the Bible, the role of the nations is a bit more difficult to understand.
“Right after describing the fast days becoming days of feasting, Zechariah says that many strong nations will face Jerusalem and say, ‘let us go up to Jerusalem to beseech the Lord, our God. And shortly after that, the chapter ends by saying that ten from the nations were going to grab hold of the garment of a Jew and make a proclamation that God is with you. Can we go with you? And I’m paraphrasing that, but we believe that there’s nobody else that can do this. God can’t do this. The Jewish people can’t do this. As Christians, we are the only ones who can do this.”
Wearp described a powerful process of tshuva which is usually translated as ‘repentance’ but literally means ‘return.’
“I’m trying to get people to understand that tshuva is not just saying ‘I’m sorry’. It involves a change of direction. And while I think many Christians and churches and groups have recognized the sins of our fathers and said they were sorry, we haven’t actually changed direction. We need a paradigm shift. Many of the doctrines, the teachings, the philosophies, and the understanding of scripture that allowed the Holocaust to happen are still there.”
“So we are calling the Christian community to change directions. Look at where you’re going and really repent. Turn your face to Jerusalem. The Christian community needs to turn their faces to Jerusalem and when we do, everything else will fall into place”
Wearp described tshuvah as the precursor to the reconciliation between brothers like Joseph and his brothers.
“We need to get to a place where we recognize who we are and we are comfortable being who God created us to be,” he said. “Then we accept that mantle we run with it because God’s blessing is on all those that grab hold of him and seek him with all their heart. And this is what the Nation’s Ninth of Av is about; finding our place.”
“It’s about us saying ‘We’re here and we’re not trying to replace you. We want to be a complement. We want to be a strength to you’.”
“One of the goals of the event is to bring Christians to the understanding that the destruction of the Temples was not only a loss for the Jewish people but was a huge loss for the entire world, including the Christians,” Wearp told Israel365 News. “The Temple is to be a House of Prayer for all nations. I realized that Christians, as a part of the nations, had to take part in the rebuilding as it was the nations that tore the Temple down.”
“The rabbis say that the Temple was destroyed because of the baseless hatred that existed in Israel at the time. But there has been a baseless hatred that Christianity has had towards the Jewish people. My hope is to replace that with a baseless love that has no agenda, conditions, or strings attached.”
“We are just coming to bless Israel and hopefully to be blessed by God in return,” Wearp said. “We want to come alongside, to lift up the Jewish people to the place God gave them and see God’s house restored for all nations. We need to be part of this.”
The list of offenses by Christians was compiled by Ray Montgomery and Bob O’Dell, the founder of Root Source, and is available for download.
According to tradition, the Jewish Messiah will be born on the ninth of Av. The laws pertaining to fast days that were established after the destruction of Solomon’s Temple state that these days were celebrated as joyous holidays during the construction of the Second Temple and will be celebrated again in the Messianic era when the Third and final Temple will be built. Judaism emphasizes that within the sadness of Tisha B’Av are planted the seeds of joy that will appear in the Messianic era, as described by the Prophet Zechariah.
Thus said God of Hosts: The fast of the fourth month, the fast of the fifth month, the fast of the seventh month, and the fast of the tenth month shall become occasions for joy and gladness, happy festivals for the House of Yehuda; but you must love honesty and integrity. Zechariah 8:19
Rabbi Yoel Schwartz, who passed away last year, was one of the most respected Torah scholars of this generation, a prolific writer, winner of the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism, and a member of the nascent Sanhedrin. Rabbi Schwartz noted that one of the catalysts that may bring about this end-of-days change on the Ninth of Av might be the Christians fasting. He noted that we are clearly in the days before the Messiah, as described by Zechariah in that chapter.
Thus said God of Hosts: There shall yet be old men and women in the squares of Yerushalayim, each with staff in hand because of their great age. And the squares of the city shall be crowded with boys and girls playing in the squares. Zechariah 8:4-5
“If you don’t believe this prophecy can happen, has in fact already come about, I suggest you take a bus around Jerusalem,” Rabbi Schwartz said to Breaking Israel News in an interview two years ago. He said that it might now be forbidden for Jews to fast on the Ninth of Av. The rabbi cited the Talmud (Tractate Rosh Hashana 18b) “When the Jews are free and living in their land, it is forbidden to fast.”
More information about the event is available on the website and in conjunction with the Altar of Prayer. Christians are also requested to sign a petition acknowledging their desire to turn their hearts away from the history of hatred towards Israel in order to establish a relationship based on love.
A prayer guide is available for free download.