Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gilad Returns Home... and Christians Celebrate at the Jerusalem March

An unusually emotional and joyful day in Jerusalem and Israel:  Throughout the morning, Israelis watched with trepidation the unfolding of events surrounding Gilad Shalit’s release after 1941 days - nearly 5 ½ years of captivity.  The price paid for his freedom: 1027 Palestinian prisoners, many of whom ruthless terrorists with blood on their hands.

The Israeli public is divided about the deal.  While everyone is happy to see Gilad come home, many think that the price paid was too high, and that the release of the 1027 terrorists will only endanger more Israeli lives and increase the motivation of Islamic terrorist organizations to kidnap more soldiers or citizens.  The pain was especially felt by the families and friends of those whose loved ones were murdered by the criminals who are now again on the loose.

But the fears and concerns were for the most part set aside today in Jerusalem.  The joy of seeing Gilad come home, the emotion of watching him be embraced first by Prime Minister Netanyahu, and then by his parents, was felt by all.

It seemed like the perfect timing that Gilad’s release coincided with the Jerusalem march.  Thousands of Christians from around the world, many dressed in their traditional clothes, joyfully processed down the streets of Jerusalem, passing out flags and candy to locals, singing songs, and displaying banners with Bible verses or words of love and solidarity with Israel.

No matter the nationality and colors, the message from all visitors was one of solidarity, support, and love.  The red-and-white Canadians carried a banner with the words in Hebrew “Canada loves and supports Israel.”  The Scots processed playing the bagpipes in their trademark kilts.  A group of Americans displayed a flag with the words “welcome home Gilad,” while a Dutch delegation carried a large banner that said “Keep Jerusalem United.”  Even faraway Asian countries such as China, Thailand, and Malaysia were well represented.

And the Israeli reaction?  A lot of smiles and gratitude… and a bit of skepticism.  One orthodox family told me that they come every year.

Why do you think so many Christians come here to Jerusalem, I asked?

“I don’t know,” the mother answered, “maybe to identify with us.”

But what do you think is their motivation? Faith?

“I don’t think so,” she said. “I’m a bit skeptical about the motivation of some… like the Germans for example.”

Another young orthodox man was more optimistic: “It’s really fun to see this that they support us.”  And why do you think they are doing this here in Israel? “I think they see it as a religious vocation… it’s because of the Bible, you know, we are the ‘chosen people.’”

Another man knew exactly why all the Christians are here: “It's very moving. It’s the fulfillment of the biblical prophecies that talk about the return of the people of Israel to the land of Israel.  And the prophet Zechariah says that all the gentiles will come here for Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles).  Zechariah said this 2,500 years ago, and here you go… it’s now coming to pass!”

And so a double reason for rejoicing today in Jerusalem: Gilad Shalit’s return to his parents, family, and people… and all the nations of the world celebrating together with them.

And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. (Zec 14:16)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Christian Celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem

By Nicole Jansezian

Article courtesy of Travelujah

As Jews in Israel take their meals in sukkahs, temporary structures that have been erected all around the country during the Feast of Tabernacles this week, many Christians continue their own celebration of the biblical holiday with the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

After a rousing message at Ein Gedi, a resort on the Dead Sea, Friday night and a restful Sabbath on Saturday, the Feast meetings returned to Jerusalem on Saturday evening and continue this week with events in additions to meetings.

Werner Oder, the son of a ranking and convicted Nazi official in Austria, who is now an Israel supporter spoke at the Feast recounting the testimony of his conversion from anti-Semitism to faith in God and love for the Jews and support for Israel.

The Feast this year includes a tour to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and a trip to Haifa to visit the home for Holocaust survivors that the ICEJ supports.

On Monday, the ICEJ is sponsoring bus tours designed to acquaint Feast pilgrims with various locations and situations around the country. One of the tours, which will be led by ICEJ spokesman David Parsons, is the flash points of Jerusalem including neighborhoods such as Ramat Shlmo, Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan to Gilo and Har Homa.

“We are trying to make them familiar with the issues surrounding some of these flash points they hear about in the media all the time,” Parsons said. “When (world leaders says that) new homes in Gilo constitute a settlement, that is ridiculous.”

The ICEJ Feast of Tabernacles Celebration
Another tour will travel along the lines of the 1967 borders, frequently mentioned by Palestinians as their desired lines for a state. The travelers will visit a community from where you can look right into Tel Aviv, thereby showing the strategic location of Jewish communities in the West Bank to Israel's defense should there be rocket attacks from there as there are from Gaza.

A third tour will take pilgrims to the Gaza border area, specifically the city of Sderot, which has takent he brunt of rocket attacks in the last decade. Feast participants will have the opportunity to deliver more bomb shelters donated by the ICEJ.

On Tuesday, a minimum of 2,500 Feast pilgrims will join in the Jerusalem march with colorful flags and outfits representing their countries. The ICEJ always comprises the largest delegation in the march.

While most of the Feast pilgrims are from Brazil, more worshippers from Asian nations have come to the Feast this year including a delegation of 150 from China, Taiwan, Japan and Thailand. The Christian pilgrims hail from more than 80 countries.

The theme of the Feast this year is “Israel – A light to the nations.” Parsons explained that this phrase, mentioned twice in Isaiah, has a specific application to the person of the Messiah and a broader application to Israel's spiritual character not just its leadership in scientific and economic fields.

“Israel may be a high-tech country, but the context of the promise was about its redemptive purposes and not just technological advances,” he said.

Parsons said that the global constituency of Israel-supporting Christians is starting to show and many are having an influence on their nations' voting patterns. The theme is a timely one as Israel grapples with anti-Semitism and anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations.

“This year’s gathering is again underlining our message that Israel is not isolated, but has millions of Christian advocates and admirers worldwide… and we all look forward to celebrating the joyous festival of Sukkot with our Jewish friends,” ICEJ Executive Director Juergen Buehler said at the opening of the ICEJ celebrations on Thursday night.

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Photos courtesy of the ICEJ

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Israel: Land of Living Prophecy

Can ancient prophecies about Israel be true? Is the Bible true or relevant today?

Watch this remarkable video showing how biblical prophecies made thousands of years ago are fulfilled before our eyes in the modern miracle of Israel.