A significant event occurred during the fourth month on the Hebrew calendar that should be a warning for all of us. The event broke the first commandment given by God to the Israelites. "You shall have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:3) While Moses was on the top of Mount Sinai receiving God's commandments, God's people neglected to remember and review the miraculous events of the past 2-1/2 months. They closed their eyes to the truth and said to Aaron, the priest, "...Make us a god who shall go before us..." (Exodus 32:1 – The Hebrew Bible, 1945) They collected their gold earrings to use in the making of an idol cast into the shape of a calf. Then they told themselves a lie: "This is thy god, O Israel, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt." (Exodus 32:4 - The Hebrew Bible, 1945)
Does this behavior seem familiar? In my opinion, the Church has allowed our country's leadership to rewrite history. We have forgotten that our nation was founded upon a Judeo-Christian foundation. We now worship the idols of money, sex, self-indulgence, laziness, and materialism, to name a few. Our golden calves, so to speak, have taken over our lives, and we worship at our human-made altars.
We can learn much during this fourth month called Tammuz. The religious Jews of today are particularly mindful of the sins of their past and the repercussions that have ensued. They have designated the three weeks between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av (the fifth month) as a time to fast as they recall the tragedies that beset the Jews because of idolatry. These three weeks of sorrow are called "bein ha-Metzarim" or "between the straights." On the web site, "Hebrew4christians.com" there is an explanation of why the fourth month is called Tammuz. Apparently, this is the name of an idol that was worshiped in the Ancient Near East. They write, "Sages tell us it was deliberately chosen (the name Tammuz) to remind the Jews of the judgment that comes from idolatry. It eventually led to the destruction of the Temple."
Idolatry led to the destruction of the first and second temples on the same day (the ninth of Av) in different years. Here is a lesson for all of us. As we worship idols, we destroy our temples. "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person; for God's temple is sacred, and you together are that temple." (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
We should use this month of Tammuz to recall the goodness of God throughout the years. The antidote to idol worship is the worship of our One True God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us step away from the idols that ensnare us and join together in a chorus of blessing to honor our Lord.
Joan E. Mathias