Shabbat Chol Hamoed Sukkot
Ex.33:12–34:26; Ezek. 38:18–39:16; Rev. 21:1–22:21
“Behold, I make a covenant: before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord: for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.” (Ex.34:10)
In this special Sukkot reading, Moses asks that God’s presence would go with Israel and then requests to see His glory. God invites Moses to ascend Mount Sinai with two newly hewn stone tablets to re-carve the 10 Commandments. There, God reveals His glory to Moses and protects him from being destroyed. “There is a place near Me where you can stand on a rock. When My glory passes by, I will put you in an opening in the rock. I will cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove My hand. You will see My back. But My face must not be seen.” (Ex.33:21–23)
Moses experienced the power of God’s presence and now understood that His protective power was sufficient against any threat Israel might ever encounter. This has a bearing on the Haftarah reading from Ezek.38-39, describing the unfolding of end-time events with the Gog/Magog war,“This is what will happen in that day: When Gog attacks the land of Israel, My hot anger will be aroused.” (v.18) Gog is a chief prince living in the land of Magog (Ezek. 38:2) and Magog refers to Russia. Other names included are Gomer representing Germany: Iran (Persia), Cush refers to Sudan: Put refers to Libya and Togarmah to Turkey.
Ezekiel prophesies that these nations mentioned in Ezek.38 will unite and come upon Israel “like a cloud that covers the land” for the spoils of war or from an ancient hatred motivated by this anti-semitic demonic spirit against a land and people whose Homeland God restored in May 1948 for the Jewish people – Israel.
God is faithful to His promises and will never abandon His covenant people. Ezekiel graphically portrays, how He will utterly destroy the coalition forces of Gog so that all nations will know His power and holiness (Ezek.38:18–23).
In his vision, Ezekiel states that the forces who come against Israel in their day of defeat that their weaponry will provide fuel for Israel for 7 years (Ezek.39:9).
“They will not need to gather wood from the fields or cut it from the forests, because they will use the weapons for fuel. And they will plunder those who plundered them and loot those who looted them, declares the Sovereign LORD.” (Ezek. 39:10)
So many soldiers will die in this battle that we read it will take 7 months for Israel to bury them all and cleanse their land (Ezek.39:12).
According to the rabbis, this war will be waged in the month of Tishri, during the feast of Sukkot.
Ps.27, traditionally read daily from the beginning Elul until the last day of Sukkot, also presents a clear connection with God’s protection over Israel and those who trust in Him: “For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle [sukkah]; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.” (v.5)
Armageddon is mentioned only once in the NT in Rev.16:
“They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty…. Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.” (v’s.14, 16)
The word Armageddon is derived from Har’Magedon (meaning “mountain of Megiddo”), that is frequently mentioned in the Tanakh. The word Megiddo is derived from the Hebrew word gadad, meaning to penetrate or muster troops together.
In this end-time invasion, we once again see Israel’s enemies mounting a war against Jerusalem. This time, however, we see the spiritual forces behind the rebellion against God:
“They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon.” (Rev 9:11)
The Greek words Abaddon and Apollyon mean Destroyer.
And this time, God pours out on all rebels the full extent of His judgment, including everlasting torment for Satan, the beast and the false prophet.
“They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city He loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And Satan, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Rev. 20:9–10)
There are also several parallels between God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt and His future deliverance of Israel from Gog in the end times. In both, we see that God saves and rescues Israel with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm.
The phrase with a strong hand and an outstretched arm has special meaning in Jewish tradition. It represents God using His power on behalf of His people. The “arm of the Lord” also represents His salvation: “You brought your people Israel out of Egypt with signs and wonders, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror.” (Jer.32:21: Deut.4:34; 26:8; Ex. 6:6)
The Son of David, Yeshua, will come again, this time as our conquering Messiah to defeat the invading forces forever. All who have loved and served Yeshua will inherit an eternity in the New Jerusalem.