Shabbat Chol Ha’moed Sukkot

The reading for this week is Exodus 33:12 to 34:26. In our regular readings we are nearing the end of the Torah cycle for the year at the end of the book of Deuteronomy, but we pause for one Shabbat and read about the commandment to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles

and the Festival of Ingathering at the turn of the year” Exodus 34:22

The final Parsha of the reading cycle V’zot HaBarcha is read on Simchat Torah (rejoicing of the Law) which is from Monday evening 17th October till the evening of the following day. In Israel Shemini Atzeret (eighth day of solemn Assembly) and Simchat Torah are both celebrated on the same day from Sunday evening 16th to Monday evening which corresponds to 22nd Tishri.

The reading is a repeat of what has previously been studied in Parshat Ki-Tisa. Moses asks God to show him His glory. God hides Moses in the cleft of a rock and reveals his back but not His face.

This is shortly after the incident with the golden calf when Moses smashed the tablets of the Torah. He is now commanded to chisel out some new ones and go back up the mountain to meet the LORD who reveals His  thirteen attributes.

God tells Moses that He will perform great miracles and defeat strong enemies, but the Israelites were not to worship the idols of the people whom they were to displace.

God commands the observance of the shalosh Regalim (Three Pilgrimage festivals) of which Sukkot (that we are now nearing the end of) is the final one.

Haftarat Shabbat Chol Ha’Moed Sukkot  הפטרות שבת חול המועד סוכות

The Haftarah for this Shabbat is Ezekiel 38:18 – 39:16. It tells of the war against Israel from Gog the ruler of Meshek and Tubal. Gog will come from the far north and will invade the land of Israel. At the same time God will send a devastating earthquake on the land of Israel causing cliffs to crumble and wildlife to perish. However, after that God will send hail and burning Sulphur onto the army of Gog and they will start to fight and kill each other. It will take Israel seven months to bury the dead of Gog’s army and the weaponry left behind will provide fuel for Israel for seven years.

According to Jewish tradition this war will take place during the time of Sukkot.

Messianic Message

It is a great tragedy that for so long Judaism and Christianity have been considered diametrically opposed beliefs when in truth there is much mutual agreement between the two.

The passage from Ezekiel is identified by scholars from both parties as being a prelude to the coming of the Messiah. We can see today how much the world at large gets upset when Israel grows and develops, and that opposition will culminate in the army of Gog coming against Israel.

The Rabbi’s for whom the New Testament carries no authority whatsoever would agree that this war is linked to the final battle at Armageddon even though in the Tanach (Old Testament) the place is only referred to Megiddo.

Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon” Revelation 16:16

Jewish people refer to this time a Chevlei Mashiach or birth pangs of the Messiah. The pains and contractions get more frequent and more painful, but after the joy of the birth the pain that preceded it is totally forgotten.

Yeshua described troubled times ahead using the same language while talking about the end times

All these are the beginning of birth pains Matthew 24:8

The only real difference between the Jewish view and the Messianic one is that the traditional Jewish view is that the Scriptures discuss the coming of the Messiah whereas we would see it as the return of Messiah. Otherwise, there is quite a lot of common ground.

There are a number of different Messianic views on end time eschatology. Pre post and mid tribulation rapture or the return of Messiah with no rapture at all. We can speculate but Yeshua warns us to always be ready for no one knows the day or the hour.

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father Matthew 24:36

I would imagine that the majority of people who have ever lived met or will meet the LORD through death rather than rapture.

One question on many people’s minds is “will believers go through the Great Tribulation”. Maybe not but I would not make a solid doctrine out of it since if we are to go through it then many people will lose their faith having relied on being raptured out of it and therefore not prepared to endure going through it.

Yeshua did not say he would take us out of the world but would give the power to overcome it.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

This article originally appeared on the BMJA website, October 14, 2022, and reposted with permission.