God’s concern for the Gentiles is evident in the Talmudic writings regarding Sukkot. In Jewish sources, Israel’s role in world redemption was thought to be a major theme of the Feast of Tabernacles. The rabbis suggest that the seventy bullocks offered on the last day of the feast correspond to the seventy nations of the world and, therefore, on Sukkot, the nation of Israel offered sacrifices on behalf of the Gentiles.
This is reiterated in the Midrash:
“At the festival of Tabernacles we offer up seventy bullocks (as an atonement) for the seventy nations, and we pray that rain will come down for them” (Midrash Psalms 109:4).
Israel is viewed here as a nation of intercessors for the sins of the Gentiles. This universal theme is also recounted in the later and more mystical literature of the Kaballah, and the Zohar as well.
The traditional Bible reading on the second day of Sukkot is taken from the fourteenth chapter of the book of Zechariah. An additional portion read on Sukkot speaks about the war between Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38:13-39:16). This seems incongruous – what thematic relationship could this Scripture portion have with the Feast of Booths? While it may not be evident to the casual reader, the common thread uniting these two passages is God’s universal concern for the redemption of the nations.
In Zechariah 14, the judgment against rebellious nations is pictured as God withholding life-giving rains from those nations disobedient and who do not come to Jerusalem to worship the Messianic King and celebrate Tabernacles.
Curiously, the judgment in Ezekiel 38 upon hostile nations is also described as rain – as judgment rains “hailstones, fire and brimstone.”
The Lord declared, “I will magnify Myself, sanctify Myself, and make Myself known in the sight of many nations; and they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 38:23).
Whether in blessing or judgment, God intends to show the nations that He is the Lord.