Christians Celebrate in Jerusalem
Global Christians Celebrate the Great Feast in Jerusalem: Christian Political Action May Help Protect Israel from Increasing Iranian Threats
By Sarah Ann Haves
Despite instability in world financial markets, 8,000 Christian pilgrims from more than 100 nations came up to Jerusalem to participate in the International Christian Embassy’s Feast of Tabernacles celebration.
The gathering takes place every year during the Jewish Feast of Succot and is considered the largest event for Israeli tourism. This year, in record-breaking numbers, Christians pumped an estimated $20 million into the local economy.
During an interview with Malcolm Hedding, Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), I asked him to explain how Israel’s economy has remained more stable than others at this time. “The financial meltdown of the world has left Israel somewhat insulated. When you think of the challenges this country faces at every level, and even the political chaos of this country, you just wonder how the place works sometimes,” Hedding admitted. However, he added that Israel has ended up with a strong currency, an insulated economy, and a GNP that is somewhere in the region of 5%, which shows that “something is emerging out of Zion all the time that is phenomenal.”
An emphasized theme during the ICEJ Feast this year was Aliyah, referring to the need for world Jewry to consider immigration to Israel as their biblical mandate according to the scriptures. Noting this return of the Jews to Israel from the four corners of the earth, but the slowness of action from western nations, I asked Hedding what it will take for the Jews from America to come home. “The collapse of financial institutions,” he acknowledged.
The ICEJ is now turning its focus to the West, hoping to encourage more Aliyah. “This financial meltdown is making the Jews look at Israel because it is financially stable. They are saying, ‘Where should we invest our lives and our money and our time?’ Well, why don’t you come home?” Hedding declared. He believes that God is using this current financial crisis to draw Jewish Americans to settle in their spiritual homeland, Israel.
Dr. Dore Gold is Israel’s former Ambassador to the United Nations, and current President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA). At an ICEJ press conference during the Feast, I asked him about world economic instability and he responded that it has to do with macro global issues. “The fact that about $700 billion a year moved from the United States towards the oil producing countries that ultimately has to have a corrosive effect on western economies.” Gold feels the West needs to be less dependent on Middle Eastern oil. “Everyone talks about it, nobody does anything about it. It’s time that it finally happened, because every time you fill up the pump and you send money to the Persian Gulf, the money is either going to those who support Wahabbi terrorists or those who support the Iranian nuclear program, and it’s time to change that.”
A growing number of prominent Christian ministries, encouraged by the political actions of the JCPA and the ICEJ, are uniting together in a JewishChristian alliance to push for the indictment of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for incitement to commit genocide against Israel. In September, a global petition delivered by the ICEJ to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon demanded that Ahmadinejad be held accountable for his persistent threats to destroy Israel. Over 55,000 Christians from more than 120 countries signed the petition.
During the Feast of Tabernacles, Malcolm Hedding pointed to the role of Esther in the Bible. He explained how the current Iranian crisis relates to Esther helping her people in biblical times when Haman called for the destruction of the Jews of Shushan during the Jewish dispersion.
Acknowledging the similarity, Hedding said that now is a time to, “go before the powers and speak and stand up and get deliverance for Israel from this new tyrant who is in the East and is seeking to liquidate the Jewish people.”
Hebrew University Professor Moshe Sharon is an expert on Islamic ideology. He shared at one of the Feast seminars about the intentions of Ahmadinejad. “He is truthful. He speaks the truth openly, clearly, and in the ears of the westerners, and they are deaf. And, they don’t want to listen. The man is saying to you, I want to become an empire; my intention is to have an atomic power; and the first country I want to completely obliterate is the state of Israel; and I want to kill all the Jews.”
Ahmadinejad recently spoke before the UN General Assembly in New York condemning Israel, once again. The UN Security Council has continued to impose sanctions on the Iranian state, but Adhmadinejad’s regime has not stopped trying to enrich uranium towards creating nuclear weapons — a threat not only facing Israel but the international community.
So far, diplomatic efforts have failed to stop Iran and Israel is considering military action. Some Middle East analysts believe that military action would cause a severe response from Iran and create a worse scenario for the Jewish state. Others are still hoping for Iranian regime change before military action becomes the only option left.
Meanwhile, despite the current global financial upheaval, and the continued threat from Iran, the ICEJ did not have one cancellation to the Feast. “It’s the faithfulness of God,” said Hedding. “In spite of all the challenges, these people are powering into this event because they see the light that’s shining on Israel and they want to be part of it.” The ICEJ hopes Israel will become the destination for Christians who want to experience the truth of the scriptures and their faith in God.
This is the ICEJ’s 29th Feast which comes at a time when Gentiles and Messianic Jews in Israel are facing increased persecution for their beliefs. During the Feast, there was opposition by anti-missionaries to the participation of the ICEJ and other groups in the Jerusalem March. In the end, thousands of believers participated in the March as they do every year in Jerusalem.
Several of Israel’s politicians and dignitaries attended the ICEJ’s nightly celebrations at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center including Israel’s current Minister of Tourism, Ruhama Avraham; Knesset member, Rabbi Benny Elon; and diplomatic leader, Danny Ayalon.
The primary mandate of the ICEJ is to serve as a ministry of comfort to Israel and the Jewish people, worldwide. The organization has fought against growing global anti-Semitism, and continues to provide humanitarian aid to Israel, especially during crisis times.
“You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress. And, you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates. Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice.” Deuteronomy 16:13-16
Ms. Haves is a news analyst, reporting from Israel on political, diplomatic, military and spiritual issues affecting the nation.
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Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.