Christian worshippers in Jerusalem. ‘Early Christian writers spoke of a Jewish Restoration to the Holy Land. After the Reformation this became a movement. In English-speaking countries the 19th and early 20th centuries saw many strong Christian Zionists.’.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) is hosting more than 5,000 pilgrims from 85 countries for its annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration, which coincides with the week-long Jewish festival of Sukkot.
“Feast attendance has been on the rise in recent years, which is a reflection of the dramatic growth of the Christian Zionist movement worldwide,” says ICEJ spokesman David Parsons. “Our Feast pilgrims are especially excited to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Israel’s rebirth as a nation, as well as the nations’ starting to return their embassies to Jerusalem.”
The highlight of the colorful festival is being marked this afternoon, when ICEJ national delegations waving their countries’ flags assemble at the northern end of Jerusalem’s Sacher Park and join dozens of groups from Israel in the traditional Jerusalem March. Then tonight, more than 1,000 Israelis are scheduled to join the pilgrims for a gala cultural and musical program at the Pais Arena featuring artists, choirs and performers from across the globe. According to the ICEJ, the program will comprise “a celebration of Israel’s 70th anniversary of modern statehood, as well as the moving of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem” on May 14, and a special tribute to Senator John Kyl, the initiator of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995.
After Sukkot, the pilgrims will pay a solidarity visit to Israel’s border with Gaza, where they will hold a ceremony with community leaders from the Eshkol Region. The ICEJ and its partner, Operation Lifeshield, are being honored for their assistance to Gaza periphery communities, including a donation of six new mobile bomb shelters, 15 all-terrain firefighting trailers and three special ATV security vehicles.
In his welcome to pilgrims, ICEJ President Jürgen Bühler says, “The Feast of Tabernacles is one of the great harvest feasts of Israel. It celebrates the largest and most precious harvest of the year: grapes, olives, dates, pomegranates and other sustaining fruits and produce. During this time, Israel gathers in Jerusalem to give thanks for another year of God’s faithfulness. Israel also remembers how the Lord provided for them in the wilderness. Their shoes never wore out and none was sick among them, because God in His goodness met all their needs!
“As a sign of thankfulness, Israel brought special sacrifices to Jerusalem to express their gratitude. This year again, we look forward to thousands of Christians coming to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles and also to leave something behind – a special offering from their nations to give thanks to the Lord for His goodness.”
We welcome the ICEJ pilgrims to the Holy Land. They are true friends of Israel who serve as ambassadors for Jerusalem – and for that we are truly grateful.
Israel is fortunate to have many Christian friends all over the world who provide key support for the Jewish state in their home countries. Christianity, in all its forms, remains the world’s biggest religion, with more than two billion followers, and Christian support for Israel is crucial.
Among the key organizations working to garner and bolster this support are: Christians United for Israel; The Friends of Zion (FOZ), which serves as a platform for fighting antisemitism and BDS internationally; the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, a multi-partisan caucus comprising 17 members of Knesset from seven different parties; the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, founded by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein; and Israel365, a media company established in 2011 and headed by Rabbi Naphtali “Tuly” Weiss, which promotes the Biblical significance and physical beauty of the Land of Israel.
“We see the support – by the Evangelical community especially – rising significantly, and that augurs well for the future,” says Parsons.
We salute the ICEJ and Christians for their unwavering support for Israel and the Jewish people. As God said to Moses, according to Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you.” May those who bless Israel be blessed.
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