“I call on the LORD in my distress, and he answers me.” Psalm 121:1
The Biblical calendar has moved into the Fourth Month, Tammuz. Like the other months, it acquired a Babylonian name during the Exile in that country. It is the beginning of summer and grapes are beginning to ripen along with other summer fruits. Tammuz incudes both distressing and uplifting Biblical events.
The 17th day of Tammuz is considered the day when Moses descended from the mountain with the tablets of stone which God Himself had engraved and at the appalling sight of the people worshipping the golden calf, he smashed them symbolizing the broken covenant.
Over 8 centuries later, a dreadful situation is recorded in 2 Kings 25:3 and is confirmed by Jeremiah 52:6 that, “By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine had become so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land.” This was due to the siege and subsequent capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians
It was on the 17th of the Fourth Month again that in 70AD the walls of Jerusalem were breached, this time following a siege by the Roman Army. Three weeks later, like the First Temple, the Second is destroyed.
The 17th day of Tammuz therefore ushers in a three-week period when the many past tragedies are remembered, as well as the rebellious behaviour of the people including the sin of the Golden Calf resulting in God’s judgements. It is a period of mourning but also one of coming before the LORD with prayers and repentance for his mercy and forgiveness.
Also, according to Jewish tradition, the 3rd day of this Fourth Month is when the sun stood still for a day to allow Joshua and his armies to win a battle against the Amorites as recorded in Joshua 10. Verse 14 wonderfully confirms how God listens to the prayers of men and makes a powerful declaration, “for the LORD fights for Israel.”
The good news from this sombre month is that the LORD is always ready to hear prayer and restore those who turn back to Him.
ICEJ Australia National Director