It was on this day that Gedaliah ben Ahikam, governor of Judah after the destruction of the first Temple, was assassinated by other Jews at Mizpah (2 Kings 25:22-25). To commemorate this assassination and the dispersal of the Jewish remnant still left in the land of Judea, a fast day was initiated.
There is reason to suspect that this fast day was already being celebrated even before all the Jews had returned back to the land. Specifically, it seems possible that the prophet Daniel may have initiated his 21-day fast on this particular day culminating in an angelic visitation. It’s recorded in Daniel 10:4-6:
“Now on the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, that is, the Tigris, I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz! His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.”
The reason we say this fast may have begun on the third day of Tishri is because we know it went for 21 days meaning the angelic visitation would have occurred on 24 Tishri (first month on civil calendar). However, its not the dates associated with the fast that makes this of interest to us but the fact Daniel was seeking to better understand things that were going to happen in the future. To respond to that desire was, in fact, the reason for the heavenly visitation.
On that note, one of the more striking things about that visitation is the description of the man who spoke to Daniel. Frankly, this man bears a striking resemblance to who John saw in the book of Revelation.
“Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters” (Revelation 1:12-15).
Again, when comparing the two they sound very similar. This is exciting because the voice of the man who spoke to Daniel strengthened the prophet (Dan. 10:29). Also it is this same man who goes to war with the principalities that oppress the people of God. If this man is the One who appeared to John on Patmos – the first and last, the beginning and end – then it is He who declares this in Daniel 12:1-3.
“At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.”
If the one who speaks here is, in fact, the Son of Man, please pay close attention to what He says to those who are living in the end of days. He exhorts us to make sure that our names are inscribed in the book. One of the themes connected to Yom Teruah (Rosh Hashana) is being inscribed in the book. In fact, a common greeting at this time of year is, “May your name be inscribed.” The Man who spoke to Daniel centuries ago, exhorts us, today, to turn to righteousness and to shine like the stars of heaven. If we do so, He promises the gift of eternal life.
In these intermediate days between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), let us continue to turn our hearts and our focus to Him who is the first and last, the beginning and end that we may, one day, stand before Him blameless.