Speak On Jerusalem

The Fellowship  |  July 17, 2018

Jerusalem at dawn, redeemed by sunrise

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
double for all her sins.
— Isaiah 40:2

At sundown, July 21, Jews around the world will commemorate Tisha B’Av, a time of mourning that marks the many tragedies that befell the Jewish people throughout history on this particular date. Yet from this time of sorrow comes a ray of hope. This is one of 12 devotions exploring the depths of tragedy, and what we can do to transform darkness into light. To learn more about Tisha B’Av, download a copy of our free Bible Study.

Immediately after the darkest day, Tisha B’Av, on which we mourn the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and all other tragedies, we begin our journey toward the High Holy Days. To that end, in synagogue, for the next seven weeks our Torah readings are called “The Seven Weeks of Consolation,” and all contain messages of comfort and encouragement for the nation of Israel.

Our verse today begins, “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem . . .” However, the literal translation of the original Hebrew actually reads, “Speak on (the heart of) Jerusalem.”

Is this a grammatical mistake? In Hebrew, the words “to” and “on” are nearly identical, and indeed, most understand this verse as speaking to Jerusalem, not on Jerusalem. However, we can learn an extremely important and relevant lesson by taking the words at face value.

Perhaps the prophet is encouraging us to speak about Jerusalem, “on Jerusalem.” Let Jerusalem and Israel be the topic of conversation. Let us spread the truth about Israel as well as the needs of Israel. In this way, we comfort God’s people greatly.

I can’t tell you how many times I have spoken to individuals receiving aid from The Fellowship who have said these words to me, “Christians around the world know about us? They care about us? They are providing us with this support?”

So many Jews in Israel, and around the world for that matter, are shocked to know that they are the topic of conversation and concern for many Christians. Their initial surprise melts into comfort and gratitude. Especially in Israel, where much of the world attempts to isolate and vilify us, it is extremely comforting to this war-torn nation to know that there are those who care about us, who stand up for Israel, who provide lifesaving aid to Israel, and who speak the truth about Israel.

Sometimes I am left wondering which was the greater gift — the physical support provided by The Fellowship or the emotional gift that comes in the form of a virtual hug from a stranger across the globe?

Friends, I invite you to join us in fulfilling the words in today’s verse. Together, we can comfort God’s people. Let’s talk about the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Israel who need our help at this time. Let’s pray for the peace of Jerusalem and let’s speak up for Jerusalem, letting it be known that she is the eternal capital of the Jewish state.

Learn more about the darkest day on the Jewish calendar in this free issue of our Bible study series, Limmud (“study” in Hebrew), “Tisha B’Av: A Time to Weep.”