Highlights of Feast 2022 – The Land of Promise
By: Laurina Driesse
We’ve recently concluded our first in-person Feast of Tabernacles celebration in three years, with an exciting eight-day journey through Israel under the biblical theme of The Land of Promise. This was our first-ever hybrid Feast, with in-person and online participation, and our first time hosting Feast events on the Sea of Galilee.
Over 2,000 Christians from 70 nations came up to Jerusalem for the Feast, marking the return of Christian tourism to Israel post-COVID. Several thousand more from at least another 30 nations joined us through our special streaming platform, many at church and home Feast watch parties around the globe.
The Feast began on Sunday, October 9, at the beautiful Capernaum National Park on the Sea of Galilee. We spent two nights there worshiping the Lord in this incredible setting and being encouraged from the Word of God by Apostle Rene Terra Nova from Brazil and Evangelist Manasa Kolivuso from Fiji.
We then ascended to Jerusalem for five days of Feast gatherings, including the colorful “Roll Call of the Nations” in the Jerusalem Pais Arena, the ever-popular Jerusalem March, and a Day of Prayer in the Pavilion. We then enjoyed a moving communion service in the Garden Tomb, where pastor Andrew Brunson shared about his suffering for over two years in a Turkish prison for the sake of the gospel.
The Feast concluded on Sunday, October 16, with a special Solidarity Rally in the Western Negev to show support for Israeli communities living under constant rocket threat along the Gaza border. We then observed a tree-planting ceremony with Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel (KKL/JNF) to reflect the ICEJ’s commitment to the security and regreening of the Western Negev region.
Each day of the Feast followed a special subtheme and featured local Israeli and international speakers and worship leaders. The wide array of musical artists made for a wonderful multicultural experience. Singers and musicians from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Fiji, Finland, Germany, Ivory Coast, Norway, and the United joined a worship symphony orchestra from Germany under the direction of conductor Friedemann Meussling. Trevor Sampson from South Africa and two Iranian-born singers also performed specially written songs in Persian and Hebrew.
Meantime, there was a powerful flow of the word of God during the preaching and seminar sessions, including messages from Dr. Jürgen Bühler, Lou Engle, Sergey Shidlovsky, Steve Mirpuri, Malcolm Hedding, Peter Tsukahira, David Parsons, Stephan Christianson, Calev Myers, Benjamin Berger, and many others.
At the Galilee opening, Malaysian pilgrim Huan shared: “We want to experience God during this Feast of Tabernacles because He promised to tabernacle with us. We have an appointment here with Him, so we came. It’s the convocation with God, like a rehearsal until He returns and tabernacles with us. I came with 16 of my friends from Singapore to the Feast.”
In Jerusalem, the opening night at the Pais Arena was a colorful display of national flags and costumes coming before the Lord as 86 nations were represented in person and online in the “Roll Call of the Nations.” MK Sharren Haskel, the co-chair of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, was on hand to welcome the return of Christian visitors to Israel and encourage us to stand with the people of Iran who are currently seeking basic freedoms.
On day four of the Feast celebration, Jerusalem’s Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum warmly greeted our Feast pilgrims and expressed her gratitude to everyone for coming back to Jerusalem after the difficult years of COVID.
“Don’t take anything for granted,” said Hassan-Nahoum. “Everything can be temporal. Your house is not necessarily your castle. Only God is your protector, and this is what we celebrate on Tabernacles. We are so honored that all of you are our shelter to the sometimes-horrible hatred we get from so many places around the world.”
The same evening, the ICEJ also presented its prestigious annual Nehemiah Award to the former Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa, the honorable Mogoeng Mogoeng. For more than a year now, C. J. Mogoeng has stood strong in his principled support for Israel on biblical grounds, even in the face of tremendous pressure and widespread vilification in South Africa and worldwide.
Day five of the Feast centered on the popular and festive Jerusalem March, as several thousand Feast pilgrims and other Christians paraded through the streets of the capital city with their national flags and traditional costumes to engage with Israelis and express their love for the Jewish state and people. Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion was so delighted to see Christian visitors in his city again that invited ICEJ President Dr. Jürgen Bühler to lead the Jerusalem March with him.
Mary, a marcher from England, spoke to a camera crew as she waved her country’s flag: “The Feast is just such an amazing experience,” she said. “I’ve come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of the Tabernacles with the ICEJ. I love Israel and the Jewish people.”
Continually throughout the Feast, a prayer sukkah was open online for pilgrims to join in prayer. A special Day of Global Prayer was also held at the Pavilion in Jerusalem, which saw the nations come together to pray for their respective regions and for Israel.
Another highlight for Feast pilgrims was the special communion service hosted in the Garden Tomb. This year, Pastor Andrew Brunson from the United States was the main speaker, while Arab Pastor Naim Khoury from Bethlehem and Jewish pastor Avraham Ben Hod from Israel shared communion with all. The theme of this day was The Fellowship of His suffering, and indeed Pastor Brunson spoke powerfully on how his relationship with the Lord grew during his more than two years of suffering in a Turkish prison on false charges of terrorism. “I discovered that there is an intimacy that only comes with testing, an intimacy that only comes with hardship and suffering,” Brunson said.
One couple at the Garden Tomb service shared how they first met in this very place three years ago at the Feast from their home countries of Sweden and Norway.
“Now we are a married couple, and today we celebrate our anniversary back here,” shared Lars and Randi, now living in Switzerland. “Meeting each other here has been a new beginning for each of us. We believe that God gave us a joint purpose and heart for Israel. We put our finances together to experience our personal anniversary here. Each visit in Israel has been an especially intense time with Ha Shem (“The Holy Name”) for guidance. Like Yeshua Himself wished even as a child to stay in the temple, in His presence, we feel the same and would stay if we could,” they said.
“It is absolutely awesome,” they added. “When you come to Israel, you always come with an expectation … [and] you are always really surprised what God gives you in His Spirit! … I hadn’t expected so many Jews would appreciate our support for them at the Jerusalem March. It was a real powerful demonstration of the love people from the nations have for Israel. Breathtaking!”
On the final day of the Feast, 700 of our pilgrims from 50 nations traveled south to show solidarity with the Gaza border communities. They received a warm welcome from Mayor Ofir Libshtein of the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council and heard first-hand accounts of what it is like for the resilient towns and villages living close to the Gaza border.
The ICEJ also presented a check to Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel (KKL/JNF) to plant trees that will both beautify the region after the devastating fires caused by incendiary balloons from Gaza and serve as protective line-of-sight barriers from Hamas rocket squads operating along the Gaza border. As the solidarity rally ended, 1,000 blue-and-white balloons were released as “prays for peace” in the Gaza border region.
Contact us for more information on the Feast Of Tabernacles Tour 2023.