We are in the month Av, a month when we should remember the way the Israelites, through their sin of unbelief, stopped the plan of God for their blessing. Av means Father, and it was Father God's intention to make Av a month to celebrate His goodness and generosity. This was the month that they were to take possession of the Promised Land--the land of milk and honey. However, Father required that they believe His promise to them. God's promise was given multiple times, starting with Abraham.
In Genesis 15:7 we read what God said to Abraham: "I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it." The following verses of Genesis 15 describe how God made a covenant with Abraham. In verse 18 He says, "To your descendants I give this land, from the river Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates." To Jacob, the Lord said, "I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." (Genesis 28:15) To Moses He said, "Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, 'I will give it to your descendants.' I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites." (Exodus 33:1-2) When Joshua began to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land, God said, "Go through the camp and tell the people, 'Get your supplies ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.'" (Joshua 1:11)
Not only did Father God make His intentions to give Israel the Promised Land clear to Abraham, but He confirmed it multiple times to Israel's leaders, reminding them of this truth. It was Moses who sent a representative from each tribe into the Promised Land to explore it. The 12 explorers returned after 40 days to report that the land flowed with milk and honey. Ten men described the large, fortified cities occupied by descendants of Anak. They talked about the great size of these people and said, "We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them." (Numbers 13:33)
All of Israel was presented with a dilemma. The fact was that there were giants in the land; the truth is that God promised, many times, to give them the land! The question is: "Who would they believe?” Sadly, they chose to rebel against the Lord. They denied the truth for a fact! For their sin of unbelief, God punished them. None of them would see the Promised Land except Joshua and Caleb. And, a cycle of destruction was put into place in the lives of the Jewish people that came during the month of Av year after year. A few of these events include the destruction of both temples and the expulsion of the Jews from England, Spain and Gaza on the 9th of Av. The destructive cycle continues today.
The lesson of Av has been made clear to us today. We can choose to believe the promises of God that are His truth for our lives or we can believe in facts. God's promises are "'Yes' in Christ. And so through Him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God." (2 Corinthians 1:20) Facts can change, but God's truth cannot change because it is forever "settled in heaven." (Psalm 119:89-KJ) In living life, we are presented with challenges that require us to decide if we will trust God and His promises. We must choose to believe the truth! God is so committed to the truth of His Word that He magnifies it above His name. (Psalm 138:2)
Joan E. Mathias