Earlier this week I came across a teaching that is the capstone my spirit has been waiting for to bring closure to this series on Desert Days. Instinctively, I’ve known for several weeks that the shift was coming but recognized that waiting for God’s timing was key.
On the Jewish calendar there is a specific date in a specific month that God relentlessly brings around each year and presents an open door to pass through to great blessing. That date is the 9th of Av, which shifts on the Jewish calendar between dates in July and August.
What I discovered a few nights ago set off fireworks in me! The 9th of Av happens to be the anniversary of the day the twelve spies returned from their 40-day excursion through the land of Canaan – the Promised Land. It was the day God intended for the children of Israel to go in and possess the land.
If you’ve followed the Desert Days postings, you’ll remember that God never intended us to remain in the desert for forty years – or for the rest of our lives. He was and is a Giver God, lavishly unselfish and eager to share His inheritance with His children. But there is a border through which we must cross in believing faith in order to obtain the promises God has made to us.
This year the 9th of Av begins at sundown on Monday, August 8 to nightfall on Tuesday, August 9. It is a 25-hour period that is a spiritual “open window” of time to press in and through the open border God has placed in front of us, without turning back in unbelief and refusal to take God at His promised word.
As the Israelites stood at the edge of the Promised Land, only two returning spies, Caleb and Joshua, said “We can take it!” The other ten said “No, the enemy is too strong for us and we are like grasshoppers in their sight!” How we have shaken our heads over that passage of scripture with often nary a thought of just how much resemblance we bear to the children of Israel.
For them, this specific instance on the 9th of Av was the opportunity God provided for His chosen people, where He opened the door of their future, but they refused to go through. They listened to the voice of unbelief and it set the course of the Jews’ history. A curse of loss has remained on this specific date and even the entire month of Av to this present day.*
Then and now, the 9th of Av was never meant by God to be a time of sorrow, mourning and fasting. God’s covenant heart is that the month of Av be a time His children enter into a place of abundance and blessing that He himself has planned ahead for and granted as inheritance. Our part, as it was for the Israelites, is simply to believe Him.
The Israelites had been led out of Egypt, through the parted Red Sea, and God had revealed His glory to them. Yet when it came down to twelve spies bringing back a report after forty days within the land of Canaan, on the 9th of Av the people listened to the voice of unbelief. Even after seeing and experiencing God in majestic action, they did not believe He could grant them what their hearts desired! Sadly, we can be just as foolish and disbelieving when it comes to hopes, dreams and desires in our own lives.
The writer of Hebrews brings it close to home for us:
Heb 4:2 (AMP) For indeed we have had the glad tidings [Gospel of God] proclaimed to us just as truly as they [the Israelites of old did when the good news of deliverance from bondage came to them]; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because it was not mixed with faith (with the leaning of the entire personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness) by those who heard it; neither were they united in faith with the ones [Joshua and Caleb] who heard (did believe).
For us believers, the book of Hebrews, particularly chapters 3 and 4, spells out a strong warning against unbelief. How much more timely is the arrival of the 9th of Av for where we find ourselves today when shown against the backdrop of these passages in Hebrews? Our world economy is as tenuous as a house of cards; the biblical values we embrace are being challenged and threatened at every turn; good health can no longer just be assumed; families and relationships are strained to the breaking point.
Thus, we have arrived in our journey at a critical point of decision over this next week, just as the children of Israel did at the border of Canaan. Our deliverance from bondage and our generations are at stake. There are giants in the land, but God has already made a way for us to conquer them. Victory is found in humbling ourselves before Him. “The Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow for sin and are humbly and thoroughly penitent.” Psalm 34:18 (AMP)
What are the giants for one person may and will often be different for another. For each one, it is a very individual place of being tested and tried by God (Psalm 66:10-12). This is one time when the enemy is not the culprit. He may have been there all along influencing and hindering, but on the 9th of Av, God himself administers the test of this open door which, if passed through, opens up into great blessing.
Next week we’ll consider in detail this open door and what it requires to pass through. These next few days, particularly, I pray Holy Spirit will meet you in preparation of that place in your heart that is standing at the border between unbelief and abundant fulfillment.
Waiting on dusty tiptoes to obtain the Promise,
*For more information on the 9th and month of Av, you may refer to Wikipedia online – “the 9th of Av”