In order to receive the 10 Commandments from the Lord, Moses ascended Mt. Sinai and stayed there for 40 days. Unfortunately, the Israelites became impatient and turned their backs on God. This affront to God occurred during the 4th month on the Hebrew calendar--Tammuz. Aaron the priest was asked to make an idol to "go before" the people (Exodus 32:1) He instructed them to remove their gold earrings and oversaw the forming of a golden calf which they worshiped.
The sin that was embraced set into motion the most difficult time period on the Jewish calendar where disasters befall the Jewish people year after year during this time frame. It is recorded that on the 17th of Tammuz Moses came down from Mt. Sinai after God told him what the people were doing. Despite all the miraculous encounters with the Lord, the people sinned against Him. Moses was able to convince God not to destroy His people before he came down from the Mountain. God dealt with the sin of the Israelites without completely destroying them. However, the damage was done. A downward spiral that started on the 17th of Tammuz ended with the 9th of Av. This date is infamous for the calamities that have occurred.
In some commentaries the Egyptians that accompanied the Israelites out of the land of bondage are blamed for their negative influence. It is suggested that they convinced the Israelites to take part in idol worship. To place blame on the Egyptians is a cop-out as the people of God are the ones who made the ultimate decision. The decision by the Israelites led to the anger of God and Moses toward these people and opened the door for continuing disasters.
During the same time frame in Tammuz as the building of the golden calf, the Israelites sent 12 spies into the Promised Land. Even though they saw that the land produced abundant fruit and grain, they allowed their fear of giants in the land to taint their report. Ignoring God's promise to give them the land of Canaan, all but Joshua and Caleb gave a bad report. (Numbers 13) We must understand the lessons of Tammuz to stop any cycles of destruction in our own lives.
The two sins committed by the Israelites were this: worshiping idols and giving a negative report. How many of us unwittingly do this? Our lifestyles do not make God the number one priority. Our mouths confess agreement with the kingdom of darkness, opening the door for the demonic to operate in our lives. The lessons of Tammuz are clear. We must love the Lord our God with all our hearts, and with all our souls and with all our strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5) And, we must declare the truth of God's Word.
Today we begin the month of Tammuz. Let us make a concerted effort to place God first and to speak in agreement with Him.
Joan E. Mathias