When we look into a mirror we are able to see what we normally cannot see which is a good look at ourselves. If you have ever had your spouse or a friend tell you that you have something stuck in your teeth when you smile, it illustrates why having a mirror can be valuable. We desire people to value us, and a mirror enables us to check ourselves and see us the way others see us.
One of the reasons we observe traditions in Israel is that it reminds us to ‘reflect’ and look back at what happened in the past. As with Passover, observing these festivals are opportunities to reflect and remember the joyful occasions of God’s deliverance. However, there are also times of remembrance of God’s correction in our lives. The 9th day of Av in the Jewish calendar is one of these observances where the Jewish people remember the tragedies of history and take time to reflect.
The 9th of Av is associated with multiple tragedies in Jewish history, the most important being the destruction of both the 1st and 2nd Temples in Jerusalem. In reflection on these tragedies, there is a value in knowing what led up to such severe acts of national judgement and destruction. When we apply this concept to our personal lives, it may be unpleasant to reflect back on these times because it forces us to revisit the places of our failures. But the value in times of reflection is not for the purpose of condemnation, but education. Remembering helps reinforce the lessons that were learned through the pain, and keeps us from repeating those failures.
The Bible teaches that we are to:
“Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:22-25, NASU)
The value of what we hear and learn through God’s word is only as good as we are willing to walk it out. Like the story of creation in Genesis, God’s word brings order out of chaos, and our lives will gradually have a decline in chaos as we align ourselves with the statues of His word.