THOUSANDS OF CHRISTIANS CELEBRATE BIBLICAL FEAST IN JERUSALEM
At a time of rising anti-Semitism, some 6000 Christians are in Jerusalem to celebrate the biblical Feast of Tabernacles and stand with Israel. They came from the ends of the earth for the six-day celebration, sponsored by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), answering an ancient invitation. “It’s the invitation of Zechariah the prophet, in chapter 14, verse 16 of the Book of Zechariah, he envisions a time when all the nations will come up, celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, worship the Lord here, and we’re like forerunners. It’s a dress rehearsal,” ICEJ Vice President David Parsons told CBN News. The Christian celebration coincides with the biblical feast of Sukkot, described in the book of Leviticus. “We are expecting one of our biggest crowds ever at this year’s Feast,” said ICEJ President Dr. Jurgen Buhler.
“Christians are being drawn here from all over the world by the dynamic worship experience that surrounds this unique biblical festival,” he said. This is the 38th annual Feast celebration. It’s the largest mission to Israel this year and it’s expected to have an $18-$20 million economic impact on Israel. But according to Buhler, this year also holds an “added attraction of celebrating the fifty-year Jubilee of a reunited Jerusalem.” “This means we are truly in for a banner Feast,” Buhler said in a statement. Israel is marking the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War, this year. That’s when it reunited Jerusalem under Jewish sovereignty for the first time in thousands of years. The ICEJ has a special connection to Jerusalem. It was founded in 1980 after 13 national embassies left Jerusalem for Tel Aviv in protest of the Knesset’s “Jerusalem Law,” which enshrined a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
In response to the embassies’ exodus, more than 1,000 Christians from 40 nations attended the ICEJ Feast in Jerusalem as an act of comfort and solidarity with the 3000-year-old Jewish claim to the city. “Given that the issue of Jerusalem has once again come to the fore, this year’s Feast is also dedicated to reaffirming Christian support for a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty,” a statement from ICEJ said. More than half of those celebrating are first-timers. “We’re part of a 26-strong Cook Island delegation and we’re here to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles and we’re about to be registered as a nation with ICEJ for the first time ever, so it’s wonderful to be here just with the nations in the presence of God and worshipping together,” Paul Lynch said. “Our government is making a pledge to support Israel,” he said.
“Early on this year God asked me to come to represent the nation of Samoa,” said Cruise Westerland. “So I brought a team of 20 people. So we’re here happily from the ends of the earth, just two hours flight from Fiji.” We asked some pilgrims why they stand so strong with Israel. “Because the Bible says so,” said Westerland. “It’s the biggest proof that God is alive,” a young man named Bjorgfinnur from the Faroe Islands said. “You have the Jews coming back. You have the land flourishing.” “I think Israel is such an important country in the view of the Bible. So I think every single Christian on the planet should support Israel,” said Veronica, a young woman from Finland said. “Israel has given to many nations. It’s been a blessing to a lot of nations all over the world and it’s time to pay back,” Dr. Rotimi Olokodana from Nigeria said.
RECORD NUMBER OF JEWS VISIT TEMPLE MOUNT UNDER THREAT OF MORE VIOLENCE
A new report reveals more Jewish Israelis visited the Temple Mount last month than any other month since Israel recaptured Jerusalem during the 1967 war. Approximately 3,200 Jewish visitors went to the holy site. This is largely because thousands of Jews prayed there during the Jewish Holy Day of Tisha Be’av. According to Yeraeh, an organization which promotes Jewish visitation and calls for the rebuilding of the Temple, the recent spike in visitors sends a strong message about who the Temple Mount really belongs to. “We’re showing that this place doesn’t belong to Islam but to the Jews,”Elishamah Sandman, a spokesperson for Yeraeh, told the Jerusalem Post. “Wanting to go up to the Temple Mount is part of preparing for building the Temple.”
“We’re not embarrassed to say this.” He also said that from a national perspective, visiting the site was a strong statement proving that Israel controls the Mount and has sovereignty over it. This spike in Jewish Temple Mount visitors came despite escalating tensions and violence after three Israeli Arabs killed two Israeli policemen in a terror attack. Israel had launched extra security measures at the Temple Mount to prevent more terrorism. Those measures were relaxed after violent protests. Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, condemned the Jews for entering the Temple Mount last month and called them extremists. “The number of extremists who stormed Al-Aqsa today stands at a record number, greater than any other since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967,” Safadi told representatives from 57 countries in Istanbul.
He warned, “Many more dangerous crises will erupt as a result of continued Israeli violations if Israel does not uproot the sources of the tension, if the occupation doesn’t end, if East Jerusalem is not independent and not the capital of the sovereign Palestinian State along the 1967 lines.”
On behalf of all Americans, I want to wish Jewish families many blessings in the New Year. The High Holy Days are a time of both reflection on the past year and hope for renewal in the year to come. Jewish communities across the country, and around the world, enter into a time of prayer, repentance, and rededication to the sacred values and traditions that guide the incredible character, and spirit, of the Jewish people. We reaffirm the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel, and we ask God to deliver justice, dignity, and peace on Earth. Melania and I wish everyone a sweet, healthy, and peaceful year, which we hope will bring many blessings to all. Thank you, God Bless you, and God Bless America.