An apocalyptic image of destruction and redemption forms the theme of the synagogue readings from the Hebrew Prophets, prescribed for the first day of Sukkot and for the Sabbath that falls in its middle. First comes Zechariah’s terrifying description of messianic birth-pangs (14:1-21): “God’s awaited day is coming; your spoils will be divided in your midst. I shall gather all the nations against Jerusalem to wage war” so they will be defeated.
Then Zechariah affirms, “All who will be left from among the nations that come upon Jerusalem … will ascend [there] every year to prostrate themselves before the King, the Lord, Master of Legions, to celebrate the festival of Sukkot.”
The Sabbath reading from Ezekiel (38:18-39:16) is in a similar vein. Here the cryptically identified tyrant, Gog of Magog, advances to make war on Jerusalem but is turned back by God’s forces. Then “the nations shall know; I am YHVH- the holy One of Israel.”
The festival concludes with another esoteric liturgical reference to the Messianic Age. At the end of the week of Sukkot we leave the sukkah and ask God for a blessing: “as I have fulfilled [this commandment] to dwell in this sukkah, so may I merit in the coming year to dwell in the Sukkah of the skin of Leviathan.”
The allusion is to an image in the Talmud’s tractate Baba Batra (74b), offering in mystic allegory a description of the reward of the righteous in messianic times. When those whom God wishes to reward will dwell in a sukkah constructed from the skin of a giant sea creature Leviathan and feast on this creature’s flesh.
The yearly sequence–Rosh Hashanah, then Yom Kippur, then Sukkot–sets out, in miniature, a narrative of the history of mankind. It is a drama in three acts. First comes the Jewish New Year, commemorating the beginning of God’s creation of the world. (Past) In the middle is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which stresses the struggle of every person to overcome the thoughtlessness, selfishness and evil within.
This is the phase of history we live in now (Present). While humans travel down the corridor of time–the main object of our struggle must be to strengthen the good by overcoming evil.
At the conclusion comes the harvest festival Sukkot, with its references to the goal of human growth (Future redemption-harvest). Without Sukkot, we would have only the one-two sequence of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, suggesting that a struggle must go on forever, with no hope of an ultimate victory–a depressing prospect. But there is indeed hope.
Each Sukkot is a preview of what it will be like to grow into the culmination and conclusion of the historical process- the Messianic Age, lending the festival the atmosphere of joy for which it is well known.
For 27 centuries the message of Prophet Isaiah that in the future Messianic Age of worldwide peace would result in an idealistic visionary transformation of nature itself with even animal predators becoming vegetarians.
Isaiah 11:6-9 states: “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. 7 The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. 9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
But now Isaiah’s vision is needed to protect our planet from the terrible threats of nature’s human caused disasters as an International Energy Agency report recommends that developed countries become vegetarian as meat consumption needs to fall by 80% because sheep and cow farts are one of the biggest contributors to methane emissions, which are 80 times more deadly a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
The International Energy Agency reported that after falling dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic, carbon emissions have bounced back to reach new all-time highs. Sweeping changes will have to be made to the global financial-industrial system, which requires a complete overhaul, and huge changes of lifestyle are needed.
Isaiah (2:2-4) also envisioned that humans will live in peace during the Messianic Age. “In the end-times the mountain of God’s house will be established as the most important mountain. It will be regarded more highly than the other hills, and all the non-Jewish nations will stream there. 3 Many peoples will go and say, “Come, let’s go up to the mountain of God, to the house of the God of Jacob. He (God) will teach us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion (Zion appears 157 times in the Bible referring to “Mount Zion,” “the daughter of Zion,” “the Temple Mount” or just Zion) will broadcast Torah, the word of God from Yerushalayim. 4 He will judge between the nations and arbitrate for many peoples. Then they will hammer their swords into plow-blades and their spears into pruning-knives; nations will not raise swords at each other, and they will no longer learn warfare.”
Prophet Hosea 2:18 puts both of Isaiah’s visions together as one. “And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety.”
Many of the disasters of Gog and Magog have been occurring over the last few centuries. Their appearance is one of the signs of the end times. Gog and Magog are sometimes personified as individuals, sometimes identified as nations, or as terrible nature catastrophes.
All references in the Bible, Qur’an and Hadith clearly indicate that human caused Gog and Magog are very numerous in number, and nature caused catastrophes will come from the northern hemisphere, at the end of times, before the Days of Judgement:
The very worst period of human caused spread of Gog and Magog was the 30 years between the autumn of 1914 and the summer of 1945, when 150 million people were killed in World War I and World War II.
In addition, the nature caused spread of Gog and Magog according to Patterson and Pyle (1991) added between 24.7 and 39.3 million people world wide who died from the Spanish flu pandemic.
The end generation of Yajuj and Majuj may be coming soon, so it would be best if all monotheistic religions stoped being rivals, and became allies who know and respect each other: “O mankind, We created you from male and female, and made you peoples and tribes, that you may know (respect) one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted. (Quran 49:13)
The Qur’an refers to Prophet Abraham as a community or a nation: “Abraham was a nation/community [Ummah]; dutiful to God, a monotheist [hanif], not one of the polytheists.” (16:120) If Prophet Abraham is an Ummah then fighting between the descendants of Prophets Ishmael and Isaac is a civil war and should always be avoided.
If all Arabs and Jews can live up to the ideal that ‘the descendants of Abraham’s sons should never make war against each other’ is the will of God; we will help fulfill the 2700 year old vision of Prophet Isaiah: “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt, and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will join a three-party alliance with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing upon the heart. The LORD of Hosts will bless them saying, “Blessed be Egypt My people, Assyria My handiwork, and Israel My inheritance.”…(Isaiah 19:23-5)