“And it will come to pass on that day that there will be great consternation, sent by the Lord upon them; each one shall seize the hand of the other, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of the other.” (Zechariah 14:13)
Just as the Bible includes two scenarios for the War of Gog and Magog, so too do today’s rabbis have different approaches to events that mark the End of Days.
Two main Biblical prophets – Zechariah and Ezekiel – foretold messages about the War of Gog and Magog, a key event that sets the stage for the imminent arrival of the Messiah.
The prophet Zechariah lived after the destruction of the First Holy Temple in Jerusalem and his prophecy about the War of Gog and Magog is the darker of the two. According to Zechariah, the Jewish people will be the focus of Gog and Magog, with the battle being waged in Jerusalem.
“I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem for war. The city will be captured. The houses will be destroyed and the women violated. Half the city will go out into exile and the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city.” (Zechariah 14:2)
Zechariah’s approach is similar to the ominous messages from Rabbi Amram Vaknin, an Israeli mystic whose most recent transmission from the Next World relayed that “there will be an escalation in the attacks on Jews in Israel and that the attacks are going to start coming from groups of Muslims, not just single terrorists.”
Zechariah’s foreboding prophecy is also similar to messages from Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi, a popular Orthodox rabbi whose weekly lectures are posted to YouTube. In his most recent lecture, The Streets Are Full Of Israeli Blood, Mizrachi echoes Zechariah’s prophetic style when he said, “HaKadosh Baruch Hu (the Holy One, Blessed be He) is sick and tired of us. That’s why he sent us these wild animals everywhere.” He also quotes verses from Leviticus chapter 26 that describe the punishments God will inflict on the Jewish people if His laws are not kept. Mizrachi tells his audience that these punishments “are happening in front of our eyes.”
In contrast to Zechariah, the prophecy of Ezekiel, who lived before the destruction of the First Holy Temple in Jerusalem, has a more positive approach.
“And you will ascend upon My people Israel like a cloud to cover the earth; at the end of days it will be, and I shall bring you upon My land in order that the nations recognize Me when I am sanctified through you before their eyes, O Gog.” (Ezekiel 38:16)
In his book The Ishmaelite Exile, which is all about the times we are currently in, Rabbi Yechiel Weitzman writes, “According to the prophecy of Yechezkel (Ezekiel), the Jewish nation will not be involved at all in the war of Gog, for it will take place only in the mountains of the north.”
Ezekiel’s approach is similar to that of Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi, a rabbi from Southern Israel who is known for his prophetic messages, and Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, better known as the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who both try to strengthen and comfort the Jewish people.
Rabbi Ben Artzi writes a popular weekly column describing world events using a spiritual perspective. In his most recent column, which has been translated into English, Ben Artzi wrote, “People of Israel, do not worry. God is blessing all of Israel with good and is opening the gates for them. There is a cloud of fire protecting the borders of Israel.”
Though he passed away in 1994, Rabbi Schneerson continues to be a powerful and universally respected leader of the worldwide Chabad Lubavitch movement. In 1990, the Rebbe spoke to his disciples about a terrorist threat from the PLO to bomb Jews around the world.
In his talk, the Rebbe called on his followers to increase “Torah study with great depth and diligence. This will uproot all negativity, and even more so, it will transform the darkness into light and foolishness into wisdom.” He further called for people to increase the amount of charity they gave and “also to recite at least three additional Psalms,” including Chapter 150 which contains the verse “Let all souls praise God.”
In this way, during a time of threat, the Rebbe encouraged his followers to acquire additional spiritual merits and strengthened them to have total trust and faith in God. He did not seek to scare them.
Writing about whether Biblical prophecy is more or a prediction or a warning, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom said, “Precisely because Judaism believes in free will, the human future can never be unfailingly predicted. People are capable of change. God forgives. As we say in our prayers on the High Holy Days: ‘Prayer, penitence and charity avert the evil decree.’ There is no decree that cannot be revoked. A prophet does not foretell. He warns. A prophet does not speak to predict future catastrophe but rather to avert it. If a prediction comes true it has succeeded. If a prophecy comes true it has failed.”
Rabbinic scholar, author and teacher Rabbi Pinchas Winston offers advice on the proper way to orient one’s heart and soul toward Redemption in the face of such contrasting perspectives.
“There are the prophecies, some upbeat, many dismal. There is Jewish history, an ongoing testimony to just how bad it can become for the Jewish people, in the Diaspora and in Israel,” he told Breaking Israel News. “There is now the reality on the ground, becoming increasingly frightening by the day. Finally, there is the individual, wondering what to expect next and how to deal with it. There are also many good people left who share a common desire for peace.”
“We have to work together and look out for each other. We are a people that has, on many occasions, beaten the odds, and we can and must do so again,” Winston explained. “Despair never helps, but being positive and [working on] self-improvement does. The enemy wishes to turn this into a war in their favor. We need to turn into an opportunity in our favor.
“God wants to help. First we have to recognize that we need His help and ask for it.”