SNAPSHOT OF TAMMUZ
TRIBE: Reuben- the first-born son of Jacob and Leah. His name means, “behold a son!” When he came forth, Leah took the birth of Reuben as a sign of favor from the Lord and said, “The Lord has surely looked on my affliction. Now therefore, my husband will love me.” (Genesis 29:32)
OCCURANCE: Between the months of June and July
DURATION: 29 days
IMPORTANT DAYS: The 17th of Tammuz begins a three-week period—ending on the 9th of Av—which commemorates the destruction the Temple of
The name Tammuz is an Aramaic word meaning “heat,” since it is a hot summer month.
4th month: on the Jewish Civil Calendar.
ALPHABET: The Hebrew Letter Chet
Modern: The Modern Hebrew name for this letter is hhet meaning a string. A very similar Hebrew word is hhets, which means a wall and is most likely the original name for this letter. The numerical value of Chet is the number 8, which represents “new beginnings.”
Paleo: The pictograph for this Hebrew letter was turned vertically in the Paleo script. Instead of a fence, it resembled more of a ladder.
Pictograph: The ancient pictograph for this letter is a picture of a tent wall or a fence. The meanings of this letter are separation, enclose, and protect.
“Review your FILMSTRIP and escape the snare of the Golden Calf!”
If we look back at the history of Yahweh and Israel, we can see the filmstrip of Israel that led them into a trap of idolatry. After the Lord had moved with might and power on their behalf, rescuing them from Egypt, they had continuous revelation of God as their Jehovah Jireh. And yet, their insecurity led them to doubt God’s intentions to prosper them in the desert. While they were physically free from the tyranny of Egypt, their hearts and minds were bound in chains to the Egyptian gods they had grown up hearing about. One idol that had ensnared them was the Egyptian bull god Apis. This god has many names in several different cultures, but he later became known as the Canaanite god Baal. In Egypt, this was their fertility god. They would do rituals to appease this god so that they would be fruitful with children and crops. Behind the façade of Baal is a real fallen angel who longs to steal the worship that belongs to Yahweh. Even though we may not be drawn to “worship” a statue of this false god of Baal, there are rituals that we do subconsciously to strengthen the feeling of security outside of Yahweh in our lives.
At Pentecost, Israel was given God’s law (the Torah). Originally, God had invited all of Israel to join Him at the peak of the mountain. However, Israel was terrified and declined the invitation. They asked Moses to go up for them. So, Moses left to seek the Lord on the top of Mount Sinai for 40 days. You will see this number of days throughout the Bible (146 times), and is connected to the fulfillment of God’s promises, not all of them positive, however. The number 40 is often associated with the time of testing, trials, and judgment.
Examples of the number 40 used in scripture.
- God flooded the earth by having it rain for forty days and nights (Genesis 7:12).
- The first three human kings over the children of Israel, Saul, David and Solomon, each ruled for forty years.
- Goliath mocked and taunted Israel for 40 Days.
- Elijah went 40 days without food or water at Mount Horeb.
- The prophet Jonah powerfully warned ancient Nineveh, for forty days, that its destruction would come because of its many sins.
- The prophet Ezekiel laid on His right side for 40 days to symbolize Judah’s sins (Ezekiel 4:6).
- Jesus was tempted by the devil many times during the 40 complete days he fasted just before his ministry began.
- Jesus appeared to his disciples and others for 40 days after his resurrection from the dead.
- Jesus, just days before his crucifixion, prophesied the total destruction of Jerusalem (Matthew 24:1 – 2, Mark 13:1 – 2).
- Forty years after his crucifixion in 30 A.D., the mighty Roman Empire destroyed the city and burned its beloved temple to the ground.
Israel had been dependent on Moses to lead them out of the wilderness instead of being dependent on God, and so when he was gone, they were afraid and wanted reassurance of provision. They did not like trusting in an invisible God. Israel wanted something tangible to look to for protection, so Aaron built them a calf. This error is the same mistake that Adam and Eve made in the garden. Satan whispered in their ears, “God is withholding from you, let’s take things in our own hands and trust in ourselves to bring about provision.” And Satan is still whispering lies to people today, so we must be discerning of what we hear and what we listen to. Israel took their eyes off the promise and made an idol. Insecurity causes us to look for something to hold onto that isn’t God. Comfort is a deceiving emotion that can tempt us into choosing things that take us away from our relationship with God.
If Israel had reviewed their “filmstrip” with God, they could have avoided worshipping Baal. All Israel saw was the wilderness ahead of them and this represents having a lens of scarcity. This lens is formed by our perception, and so it is key for us to recall what is behind to be filled with faith instead of unbelief. God is a sustaining Spirit, and He had provided everything that Israel needed in the wilderness, but they allowed fear to manifest in their hearts which caused them to doubt God’s good intentions. For us too, we must look back at the individual events in our lives and begin to see how they link together, because God is working all things for our good. This is a month to discern God’s plan, and we do with by asking God what adjustments we need to make to move into the next phase of His blessing.
Identifying the Golden Calf
There is a Basilica in Italy where the ceiling is ornately decorated with golden tiles. Each tile is the same except for one, at the altar there is a tile with a golden calf! The worship of Mary (claiming she is a divine being and sinless) is the golden calf in the Catholic Church. Praying to a saint that has passed away is a form of idol worship. We do not seek guidance from the dead, that is necromancy and is detestable to God. Jesus is God, and He is not dead, but alive! As believers we must come to God through Jesus Christ alone, and not build a golden calf of saints and Mary.
This worshiping of the golden calf is not secluded to the Catholic Church. Some Protestants have turned their pastors into their golden calf, just like the Israelites had depended on Moses instead of God. We are responsible for our individual relationship with God, which means that we have constant access to Him and His Kingdom. We do not need a pastor or a leader in the church to go to God on our behalf. Our total dependence must be on God and not any human.
A golden calf is anything that you look to instead of looking to Yahweh. This could be a person, money, your talents and abilities, good luck charms, etc. Idolatry brings desolation (Daniel 11:1). It is a source of utter disgust to God, and it brings people only emptiness/barrenness; a curse (Deut. 27:15), and it causes God’s presence to leave (Ezek. 8:6). This month, ask the Lord if there is a golden calf in your life. A couple of years ago, I heard a story of a lady who had a dream about a golden chain being wrapped around her the calf of her leg. When she inquired of the Lord, He told her the interpretation– a golden calf was in her life! She immediately renounced the idol and repented for building a golden calf in her life. The Lord will show you what you need to know to establish your trust in Him.
The Tribe of Reuben
Reuben was the first-born son of Jacob and Leah, so he was born to a position of privilege. Jacob said this of Reuben in Genesis 49:3, “You are my first born, My might, and the beginning of my strength and vigor, the excellency of my dignity, and the excellency of power.” Reuben was destined to receive a double portion of the father’s estate, because this was customary in the culture of that day. Unfortunately, Reuben lightly esteemed his birthright (much like his uncle Esau). He acted so disgracefully that he forfeited his birthright. He did not live like a first-born son for he committed adultery with Jacob’s concubine Bilhah (Genesis 35:22). Reuben’s downfall was his reckless behavior that dishonored his own father. As a result of his egregious behavior, Reuben’s inheritance was given to his brothers. Joseph was given a double portion, leadership was given to Judah, and the priesthood was given to Levi. We have seen dishonor for fathers throughout the scriptures. From Ham dishonoring his father Noah, to Absalom dishonoring his father David, this misconduct leads to desolation and a curse. Learn from Reuben and choose to honor both your Heavenly Father and your earthly father. Honoring someone does not mean that you are putting a stamp of approval on their sins, but it is the will of God for all to honor their parents. This commandment to honor parents is the only commandment with a blessing attached (Deuteronomy 5:16).
Years down the line, the tribe of Reuben continued to reject their inheritance. As Israel was about to enter into the Promise land– the tribe of Reuben chose not to cross over. They stayed on the east side of the Jordan, which was outside of the promised land. They made a choice not to move towards their inheritance. The consequences of these actions caused them to be constantly attacked by their pagan neighbors, drawn into idolatry, and they also were the first tribe to be taken into captivity by Babylon. So, the questions is, what made Reuben settle for land outside of God’s promise? The short answer is this: the tribe of Reuben took their eyes off of the prize. Clearly, wrong vision can cost you your inheritance. This tribe reasoned based on their natural vision, forsaking the vision God had for them. The land of Gilead was lush and fertile; they saw that and thought, why should we go any further? This is similar to why Lot chose to live in the land of Sodom, which had devastating effects on his family for generations. They saw something that looked pleasing to the eyes (like the fruit of the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden), and they were willing to stop short of what God had promised to them to have the fulfillment of that pleasure. What they saw was beautiful and bountiful; however, what they saw was not the blessing that God had for them. This is the outcome of allowing carnality to have authority in our hearts, and it can influence people around us but also the generations to come. Reuben wore the lens of the flesh, forsaking the fullness of God’s promise. Today, we too must make a choice about the lens we will put on every day. Will we wear the lens of carnality, choosing what feels good and comfortable in the moment? Or will we put on the lens of the Spirit?
Learn from Reuben’s Mistakes
God has promises for us that He desires us to step into. But to make this shift will require us to be willing to lay aside all of our natural reasoning and step into faith. There is an element of trust that must develop in our relationship with God to go into new places we have never gone before. God is calling us into unknown territory! Will you take it? Or will you cling onto what you know?
Now is the time to review the promises of God. Ask Holy Spirit to highlight in His Word the promises that you need to cross the Jordan into your inheritance. Don’t settle for anything less! This is a time of transitioning. God is calling sons and daughters to pursue the move of His Spirit as we wait in expectation for the revival of the Church. In a time of transitioning and not everyone will be willing to move forward with you (like Lot). Like Abraham, you must be willing to leave behind the familiar to cling to God’s promises even if it’s unfamiliar territory for you. Do not settle for a golden calf who ultimately cannot be your comfort our security!
It is time to practice the gift of the Spirit, self-control. This will correct our walk and cause us to follow the direction God is leading us. We also need vision; we need to know the goal so that we can position ourselves to train for the long race ahead. Sprinting early on will not bring endurance, which is what we need to make it to the finish line. Like Paul says to the Corinthians, you must run [your own race] in such a way that you may seize the prize and make it yours! Every athlete who [goes into training and] competes in the games is disciplined and exercises self-control in all things (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). So, ask God for a new level of discipline this month! And when He provides the opportunity to practice, do not miss it! Take Him up on everything He throws at you so that you can become a mature minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Ask Holy Spirit to keep you pressing on toward the prize, which will help you to avoid the snare of the golden calf.
I am actively pressing on to take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own.
I am choosing to forget what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
for I am pressing on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
I am refusing to gratify the flesh, and I am instead championing the Spirit of God within me.
I am wearing the full armor of God, taking an offensive stance against the enemy in my territory.
I am confident that God will finish what He started in me!
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I can’t wait for you to jump in with me!
Pierce, Chuck D., et al. A Time to Advance: Understanding the Significance of the Hebrew Tribes and Months. Glory of Zion International, Inc., 2011.
I highly recommend A Time to Advance if you want to learn more about this subject.