The Feast of Tabernacles begins Thursday evening at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center with delegations from countries that include Australia, Brazil, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Great Britain, Russia, South Africa, Thailand and the United States. The event is the largest solidarity mission to Israel this year, injecting an estimated $15 to $18 million into the local economy.
Pilgrims will come to pray for peace in Jerusalem and to extend their blessings to Israel. They believe that commemorating the feast is a step towards the fulfilment of the prophecy of Zecharia, which anticipated that "the nations shall go [to Jerusalem] every year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Succot."
The first feast took place in September 1980 and was organized by mainly
local pro-Israel Christian leaders. Around 1,000 pilgrims from 40
nations attended and as a result, the Christian Embassy was established
to express year-round support with Israel. This was at a time when the
last remaining thirteen national embassies had just left Jerusalem for
This year, the celebration includes an interesting roster of speakers,
headed by Angus Buchan, a South African farmer-turned-evangelist, whose
tale is told in the book and movie, Faith Like Potatoes
Another fascinating speaker is Pastor Werner Oder, the son of an
Austrian Nazi war criminal, who is today a Christian minister in England
and an outspoken friend of Israel.
Israeli dignitaries expected to address the gathering in person include
Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon, Deputy Minister Gila Gamliel, MK
David Rotem, Chairman of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, and Mayor
of Jerusalem Nir Barkat. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Minister
of Tourism Stas Misezhnikov will greet the delegation by video.
Celebrations include a huge variety of activities, music, worship,
performances, outdoor events and seminars, all of which culminates in
the grand finale evening celebration and the Jerusalem March. “Most
pilgrims love being part of the march,” says David Parsons, Media
Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. “It allows
them to go into the streets of Jerusalem and express their love and
support directly to the Israeli people.” Also popular is the outdoor
event at Ein Gedi.
“The feast is very challenging for those of us who organize it each
year, as it is a huge undertaking to host so many people from so many
different countries,” says David. “But it is a very rewarding and
memorable time to see old friends each year and new faces as well, while
also experiencing the "joy" of Succot. This is truly a week where we
can sense the joy of God's presence like in the age to come”.
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