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Weekly D'rash and Parsha Sukkot Shabbat Chol HaMoed

This Shabbat is unique because it takes place during Sukkot. The special Torah portion comes from Exodus 33–34, reminding us of the tremendous mercy of God in forgiving Israel for their grievous sin of the Golden Calf. We have come through the period of repentance and reconciliation, and on Sukkot we are thankful for a renewed and restored relationship with God. The Haftarah portion for this day might surprise us. It comes from Ezekiel 38-39 which describes the final battle prior to the Messianic Age. As Messiah followers we would say that it is the final battle before Yeshua returns. It was chosen because we read in Zechariah 14 that there will a terrible battle in which the Messianic King will be victorious and the nations will come to Jerusalem to celebrate Sukkot. This Haftarah portion from Ezekiel describes this battle and the victory of God over those who come against Jerusalem. Both Zechariah 14 and our Haftarah portion describe the forces of nature being used by God. This Haftarah portion reminds us that Sukkot has an end time meaning. We are reminded that there will be a day when the Messianic King will reign in this world and there will be complete shalom in the world. However, prior to that time there will be a cleansing judgment that will prepare the way for his arrival. It is clear from many passages of Scripture that there will be darkness and judgment before Yeshua returns. It can be referred to as “the time of Jacob's Trouble” or “the birth pangs of the Messiah”. Yeshua describes this time in Matthew 24, and Paul writes to Timothy about it 2 Timothy chapter 3. These passages help us to realize that when situations in this world deteriorate and we feel like things are falling apart, we must not become discouraged. Rather, we must realize that God is at work and our response should always be to run to God in order to find our shalom in him. On Sukkot, we remember that God had the people dwell in ‘booths’ while they journeyed in the wilderness. At the end of the wilderness wanderings, they entered the promised land. Let us remember that there will be a day when this wilderness will end and King Messiah will sit on his throne! Let us not be complainers like our ancestors, but rather let us keep our eye on the prize. Moreover, may it always be our ambition to be pleasing to him. “One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple. For in the day of trouble, He will conceal me in His sukkah; In the secret place of His tent, He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock. And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, and I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD”. (Psalm 27:4–6) Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Howard

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