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The Feast:

Walking in Faith With God for 39 years

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20 Nov 2017 (All day)
The Feast:

Early Beginnings

In the late 1970s, a tiny band of Christians living in Israel sensed the call of God to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, and stand in solidarity with the Jewish people in anticipation of the Lord’s return. Jan Willem and Widad van der Hoeven, from the Netherlands, and Merv and Merla Watson from Canada, formed the nucleus of the first celebration in 1979 at Christ Church Jerusalem with others in Jerusalem.

Feast Firsts
The year 1980 saw a larger celebration with a giant sukkah at the Anglican International School with 1,300 people from 22 nations attending. We were invited to join the Jerusalem March for the first time, and this was the last year the military marched in one direction with Christian pilgrims and Israeli civilians marching in the opposite direction on Jaffa Road. Israelis lined the streets and some cried out, “Baruch ha'ba b'Shem Adonai," – Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord.

Stretching the Limits
The third year of the Feast, in 1981, was a huge step in faith for the Feast. ICEJ leadership and Feast sponsors in that first year of ICEJ operation were: Johann Luckhoff, Executive Director; Jan Willem van der Hoeven, Spokesman; myself, Timothy King, Financial Director; Merv and Merla Watson, Feast and traveling Spokespersons. Jay and Meridel Rawlings, Feast traveling spokespersons. Everyone was promoting the Feast and ICEJ abroad, and when they returned, I said, “We need to be united on this because as of September 1 we only have 160 Feast registrations. My name is on those contracts. Do we continue to prepare for 3,000 or not?” There was a lot at stake, Qumran Desert Celebration meals, the convention centre costs, Worship Team expenses etc.

We all got down on our knees and prayed together. Clearly God answered and confirmed
the go ahead, IN FAITH, for 3,000 people. And as an encouragement for our faith, He did bring 3,000 people, all at the last minute. Every seat in the convention centre was filled.

Prime Minister Menachem Begin greeted us in the auditorium as well as Mayor Teddy Kolleck and Maurice Jaffee, President of the Great Synagogue and his family. In response to the Prime Minister’s speech, the words, “Israel you are not alone!” were spoken.

Present Day – An Enduring Legacy of Blessing
Israel was and continues to be a very expensive place to produce a Feast celebration of this magnitude. It is only through the grace of God and the generosity of believers that makes it possible every year. However, the Feast of Tabernacles remains Israel’s largest tourist event on an annual basis and brings some US $20,000,000 each year in tourist revenue to the Israelis. It is also the longest running annual International Christian event in the world.

The Feast is now celebrated in over 600 locations worldwide, and hundreds of thousands tune into the Jerusalem celebration each year online. In addition to the ICEJ event, the Feast is now celebrated in multiple locations by several other organizations throughout Jerusalem each year. The Ein Gedi Desert Celebration attracts not only Feast Pilgrims but other tourists as well, and has become a large and festive event. 

Moving Forward in Humility
In 2012 Juergen Bühler took over the leadership of the Feast and ICEJ, which during this period faced the big decision of moving the Feast, after 34 years at the convention centre, to the newer and bigger venue of the Pais Arena in 2015.

The Feast goes on, and it is sobering to remember that it is not ours.
May we remain sensitive to worshiping the Lord in spirit and in truth in the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, as we prepare the way for His return.

 

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