It is a curious position we find ourselves in this Shabbat[i]. Here we are in the midst of one of the most joyous celebratory times upon our festival calendar, remembering the care that ADONAI bestowed upon Bnei Israel during their wandering in the Wilderness and the Haftarah defines the devastating war with Gog and Magog that will herald the Final Redemption. Not only that, but the Haftarah that we entered Sukkot with was the depiction of a war in Zechariah 14, which some identify as the same war as described in Ezekiel 38-39.
As significant as the “war” scenarios are, they are not the highlight of each passage. In Ezekiel we read that the reason ADONAI will bring about the victory is:
So I will make My holy Name known among My people Israel. I will not let My holy Name be profaned anymore. The nations will know that I am ADONAI, the Holy One in Israel. (Ezekiel 39:7)[ii]
It is not specifically for Israel’s sake that the war is ended or even that final redemption is accomplished. ADONAI states that it is for the “sake of His hole Name” which will no longer be profaned among the rest of the earth.
The reading from Zechariah affirms this stating not only that the holiness of His Name will be preserved, but His Kingdom as well.
ADONAI will then be King over all the earth. In that day ADONAI will be Echad and His name Echad. (Zechariah 14:9)
Interestingly this verse is the end of the Aleinu prayer that ends the three prayer services each day. The Aleinu first establishes Israel’s position before her God as His covenant people then goes on to proclaim the hope that one day all of creation will bow down and pay homage to the King of Kings. Shaul echoed Zechariah 14:9 when he wrote to the believers a Philippi:
For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Yeshua every knee should bow, in heaven and on the earth and under the earth, and every tongue profess that Yeshua the Messiah is Lord—to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)
The oneness and sovereignty of Yeshua with His Father is established in this doxology as is the hope and desire of the Godhead that all of creation would accept the divine rule and sovereignty of the LORD.
Zechariah then ties Sukkot into the scenario be proclaiming that after the war has been decisively settled by ADONAI:
Then all the survivors from all the nations that attacked Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, ADONAI-Tzva’ot, and to celebrate Sukkot. Furthermore, if any of the nations on earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, ADONAI-Tzva’ot, they will have no rain. If the Egyptians do not go up and celebrate, they will have no rain. Instead, there will be the plague that ADONAI will inflict on the nations that do not go up to celebrate Sukkot. (Zechariah 14:16-18)
The celebration of ADONAI’s care and provision is not just for Israel but one day will be for all creation. The LORD’s care was never for Israel alone. Israel’s calling was to be first holy unto the LORD and second, in that relationship a light to the nations drawing all men back to their Creator and Father. Shaul describes the current state of the world:
For the creation eagerly awaits the revelation of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly but because of the One who subjected it—in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from bondage to decay into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:19-21)
Just as there is a Sabbath rest await those who look to the LORD (Hebrews 4:11) so is there an awaiting by all creation to enter into the Father’s rest – as well as His care and provision as exemplified by Sukkot.
There is one last note from the Ezekiel passage. Chabad’s Haftorah in a Nutshell closes with the comment:
The haftorah concludes by saying that the weaponry of the defeated armies of Gog will provide fuel for fire for seven years! The Jews “shall carry no wood from the fields nor cut down any from the forests, for they shall make fires from the weapons.”[iii] (See Ezekiel 39:9-10)
This is just one more example of the care and provision of the LORD for His people. War is devastating and often cripples economic infrastructures. However for seven years Israel will not have to depend on her forests for fuel. In Ezekiel’s day, that would have been a phenomenal provision. How that will work out after the future conflict we cannot imagine, but we can trust that ADONAI-Tzva’ot will provide whatever is needed to maintain His people and cleanse the land.
[i] Readings for this Shabbat – Torah: Exodus 33:12 – 34:26; Maftir: Numbers 29:17-22; Haftarah: Ezekiel 38:18 – 39:16; Apostolic Writings: Romans 8:18-39
[ii] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the Tree of Life Version of the Bible, Snellville, GA: MJFB, 2014.