This year marks the 45th anniversary of the dramatic Yom Kippur. The Yom Kippur war is not only a powerful story from the pages of history, but I believe it also prophetically foreshadows an even greater war to come – while also pointing to the means of deliverance and victory.

Caught Napping

On October 5th, 1973 the Egyptian army on the West bank of the Suez Canal were drawn up in full battle array with bridging equipment and rubber boats for crossing the Canal. The Egyptian side of the Suez was bristling with 100’000 troops, 1350 tanks and 2000 artillery pieces and heavy mortars. Meanwhile the Israeli side of the border barely numbered 450 aging reserve troops, 44 artillery pieces and only 3 tanks!
The border with Syria was in an even worse situation with the Israeli troops and tanks outnumbered in even greater numbers. The thin line of Israeli tanks and troops on the Golan was all that separated the civilians of the Galilee region from the incoming armada of Syrian troops and tanks.
The surprise attack caught Israel napping. The seemingly all-knowing Israeli intelligence community had been completely blindsided by the attack. Israel’s frontline soldiers were therefore unprepared for the conflict at hand. As the war broke out, the hitherto mighty Israeli tanks were also caught by surprise. As they confidently rushed to aid the frontline troops they found themselves easy targets for new and powerful anti-tank weapons carried by Egyptian infantry. The seemingly all-powerful Israeli Air Force was also in a lot of trouble. State-of-the-art Soviet air defence systems were proving deadly against the Israeli Jets – causing the loss of roughly one-third of the Israeli Air Force in the fighting.
Within 24 hours, 100’000 Egyptian troops had crossed into the Sinai overwhelming the Israeli fortifications and dismembering the Israeli tank brigades. The Syrians meanwhile launched what was to become the largest tank battle in history since World War 2, pitching their 1300 tanks against Israel’s 177 inferior tanks.
The two-fold threat was so great that Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir prepared to commit suicide. Israel’s notorious ‘Samson plan’ was also tabled – picturing Israel in her dying hours launching nuclear weapons on her neighbours – like Samson who with his final act killed his bitter enemies.

Heroes on the Battle Front

Fortunately for Israel, her brave soldiers were able to hold the razor thin lines with Syria at a super-human effort. One example of such heroism is 21 year old lieutenant Zvika Goldberg. Replacing a wounded tank commander, he went straight into action taking out six tanks in quick succession. As darkness fell, Zvika lost radio contact with the only other Israeli tank in the area and was alone when he faced the approaching 452nd Syrian tank battalion. Zvika kept dodging the enemy while shooting and moving, causing the Syrian tanks to turn on their search lights in frustration – making it a lot easier for him to hit his targets! During that battle Zvika took out 10 Syrian tanks before forcing a Syrian withdrawal – as the Syrian tank commanders were convinced they had met a large Israeli force! During the night Zvika kept on fighting, switching tanks 6 times throughout the night as each of his tanks got damaged. His uniform caught on fire, but the injured hero kept fighting for 20 hours straight before heading back to base – where he literally collapsed, unable to fight any longer.
A similar fighting spirit was seen in Shmuel Ashkarov who destroyed 30 Syrian tanks with his own tank, until he was hit directly and hospitalised. Shmuel however refused to give up, and made an escape from the hospital – still in bandages and with damaged vocal chords. He reassembled a tank battalion and kept on fighting in the critical hours and days ahead.
After a desperate plea to US President Richard Nixon, the US finally agreed to a massive re-supply of Israeli arms. In the weeks ahead, the re-supplied Israelis finally gained the upper hand and ended up routing their enemies. Yet the Yom Kippur War remains one of the costliest battles in Israel’s history, with Israel suffering 2’300 deaths.

A Future Yom Kippur War?

Today, Israel’s army is ranked as one of the best in the world. Yet the message of the Yom Kippur War is that the IDF is not undefeatable, and that Israel must remain on guard. Peering into the End times, Ezekiel the prophet foresees the future Gog and Magog war as again catching Israel off guard. Ezekiel describes the Jews of that day as living unprotected and being overwhelmed by a massive incoming army flooding the mountains of Israel (Ezek 38:8-11).

Not only does the Yom Kippur war provide a prophetic glimpse of a future surprise invasion of Israel – I believe it also points to the remedy. Yom Kippur is after all the Day of Atonement – a solemn day of prayer and fasting for the entire nation of Israel. This will truly be the key to Israel’s survival in that very dark hour which is to come. Israel’s salvation in that day will not come from the might of the IDF. It will not come from her tanks, her air force or even her heroic soldiers. The answer will neither come via a re-supply of arms from the US or any other friendly power. It will come directly from the God of Israel Himself.
The day will come when all of Israel will cry out to God in repentance and desperation – after the pattern of Yom Kippur. And on that day, the Messiah Himself will come and will fight for His people (Zech 14:3) – delivering them from dire danger before taking His place on the throne of His father David in Jerusalem. That future war will not only end in victory for Israel, but will also restore the people of Israel fully to her God. What a day it will be!

Blum, Howard: The Eve of Destruction: The Untold Story of the Yom Kippur War, 2004
Zionism and Israel – Encyclopedic Dictionary: Yom Kippur War – , Accessed 25th of Sep 2018
Rabinovich, Abraham: The Yom Kippur War, 2004