For the week of October 3, 2015 / 20 Tishri 5776
Torah: Shemot/Exodus 33:12 – 34:26; Bemidbar/Numbers 29:26-34
Haftarah: Ezekiel 38:18-39:16
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And my holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel, and I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel. (Ezekiel 39:7)
The special Haftarah selection (reading from the prophets) for the festival of Sukkot (English: Tabernacles or Booths) is especially fitting. You may be aware of the great interest in the rare coalescing of several celestial and religious events happening at this time. The first evening of Sukkot this year (evening of September 27) is being marked by a potentially remarkable full lunar eclipse, referred to as a blood moon due to its telltale reddish color. It’s remarkable due to the full moon being the largest of the year. Four to six times a year we get larger than normal full moons, called supermoons, due to the moon’s closer proximity to the earth, but this one is the closest of the last 12 months. That in itself isn’t remarkable as it is an annual occurrence, but that it is also a full lunar eclipse – the first supermoon full lunar eclipse in over thirty years – has the potential of making it a spectacular sight. What has caught the attention of some students of the Bible is that this Sukkot lunar eclipse is part of a tetrad, which is the technical term used when four lunar eclipses in a row are all blood moons. What makes it more interesting is that the other three fell on the last two occurrences of Pesach and last year’s Sukkot.
Some claim that tetrads, especially when they fall on Jewish festivals, coincide with extraordinary events that significantly affect the Jewish people. But what does this have to do with our Haftarah portion? There’s no reference here to anything to do with moons at all. Well, as it turns out this passage has often been interpreted as describing a catastrophic scene that marks the end of the world as we know it, the kind of thing that may coincide with our super blood moon. Here we read about Gog and Magog, who come against the Land of Israel, but unknowingly have been drawn on their destructive quest by God himself, who through several cataclysmic events utterly destroys them. The result is that both Israel and the nations know who God really is once and for all.
Will the events of Ezekiel’s prophesy begin to unfold in the next few days? Might the super blood moon be a sign that the end (or the beginning of the end) is upon us? That is extremely possible, and I’ll tell you why.
Judgement is coming. Maybe it’s already here. Maybe things are going to take a turn for the worse. Or maybe it will get better before it gets worse. Maybe your life is already as bad as it will get. Or maybe you had it too good for too long. I don’t know. But what I do know is that at some point you and I will have to give an account for our lives. Every deed, every thought exposed, scrutinized, and judged. Judged by the Almighty. The rightful King is coming. He was already established as such following his death and resurrection. Since then he has been extending his rule by his Spirit, through his people, calling everyone everywhere to get right with the God of Israel before it is too late. For many it is already too late. The dead care little about blood moons and prophetic predictions. Perhaps you care too much. Are you more interested in prophetic speculations then you are about getting ready to face your Maker?
If you are reading this, then it’s not too late. The first evening of Sukkot promises to be spectacular, depending on where you live and if the sky is clear. But think of how much more spectacular it will be if through the Messiah Yeshua, you got your life in order. Then again, perhaps, you’re doing okay. Really; I’m not making fun. You may truly be one of the humble ones with a heart open to the will of your heavenly Father. You’re ready for the end. You have nothing to be afraid of. Still, perhaps this is a good time to ask your King, “Is there anything I have left undone?” You never know, God may want to make you a greater sign than a super blood moon.
Might we be in unusual times? Of that I have no doubt. Are we on the brink of some catastrophic event? We might be. But does it really matter whether the end is nigh or only yours? Read the signs and get right with God before it’s too late.