In a clear fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah, over 5,000 Christians from more than 90 nations came to Jerusalem to celebrate the holiday of Sukkot, which began Sunday evening October 16.
In what has become an annual pilgrimage, thousands came to participate in the 37th annual Feast of Tabernacles conference and celebration, hosted by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ). The week-long festival, held from October 16-21, is an unmitigated outpouring of Christian support for Israel.
This year, in light of the UNESCO vote last week that granted Islam exclusive religious claim to Jerusalem, the conference takes on an even more urgent note.
The conference coincides with the week-long holiday of Sukkot, which, in Jewish tradition, has significance for all the nations of the world. During the holiday, a total of 70 bull sacrifices were brought to the Temple. In the Talmud, it is taught that Rabbi Eliezer said, “Why are 70 offerings brought on Sukkot? For the [merit of the] 70 nations of the world.” Sukkot is unique among all the Jewish holidays for this international element.
This year’s conference will feature several dozen pro-Israel Christian parliamentarians and government officials from more than twenty countries. Many of these visiting officials are affiliated with the Israel Allies Foundation, while several African nations are sending government delegations to represent their countries at this year’s Feast. The ICEJ also will host the largest ever groups of pilgrims from Chinese- and Spanish-speaking countries, continuing the trend in recent years of increasing attendance from Latin America and Asia.
The theme of the conference is “All the Families”, referring to the family of nations that trace their lineage back to Biblical Abraham.
And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing. Genesis 12:2
The conference opened with a reading of Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones by the ICEJ national directors.
The hand of Hashem was upon me and Hashem carried me out in a spirit and set me down in the midst of the valley and it was full of bones. Ezekiel 37:1
The timely significance of the conference was emphasized when Apostle Rene Terra Nova from Brazil told of an amazing answer to prayer in his country. He proudly announced that as a result of their prayers, the Brazilian government retracted their vote of approval cast last week at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on a resolution saying that the Temple Mount in Jerusalem had no connection to Judaism.
The first night of the conference was celebrated Sunday evening at Ein Gedi, a natural spring on the shores of the Dead Sea. With song and dance, several thousand Christian pilgrims displayed their love and support for the Holy Land.
A prayer session was held on the second day at the Garden Tomb, a rock-cut tomb considered by some Christians to be the site of the burial and resurrection of Jesus.
The conference will culminate in the spectacular Parade of Nations, in which thousands of pilgrims, many dressed in their nation’s traditional garb, will parade through Jerusalem.
The conference also gives practical support to Israel. It is Israel’s largest annual
tourist event and the largest solidarity mission to Israel this year, injecting an estimated $16 million into Israel’s economy.
The ICEJ was founded during the first Christian celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles in October 1980, in response to the last thirteen national embassies leaving Jerusalem under threat of an Arab oil boycott. Today, the Christian Embassy is considered the world’s largest pro-Israel Christian organization, with established branches in over 85 nations and a reach into more than 160 nations worldwide.