2023 Feast of Tabernacles Highlights – King of All the Earth
By: Laurina Driesse, with Contributions from Tricia Neighbors and Lois Herrington
Day 1 – Opening Night at Ein Gev, Sea of Galilee
The Feast opened on September 29 at Ein Gev—on the beautiful Sea of Galilee—with a spirit of excitement and expectation in the air. The main speaker was evangelist Manasa Kolivuso from Fiji, who helped lead a large group of pilgrims from the Pacific Island nations on a historic charter flight—the first time Fiji Airways had landed in Israel. The Lord had inspired Pastor Manasa and ICEJ Fiji National Director Pastor Mikaele Mudreilagi to charter the flight, and several groups from other Oceania nations joined in to make it happen.
Pastor Manasa brought an inspiring message from Psalms 22 through 24. In Psalm 22, we see suffering, sorrow, and brokenness; in Psalm 23 we see the Great Shepherd leading, guiding, guarding, and offering His peace and rest; in Psalm 24 we see Him as the King of Glory and experience His power and victory! Referencing Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s and all the fullness, the world and those who dwell therein,” Pastor Manasa reminded Feast pilgrims that we are “owners of nothing but stewards of everything. The earth is God’s by ownership and is ours by stewardship. God owns it all and deserves our praise and worship!”
Day 2 – Ein Gev Celebration, Sea of Galilee
The second evening of our Feast celebration also took place at Ein Gev in the sweet presence of the Lord. Dr. Enoch Abeboye from Nigeria ministered from Mark 5:1–20, showing how powerful the King of kings is. Mark tells the story of a demon-possessed man from Gadaren, but in the end, this madman became an evangelist for the kingdom of God. Pastor Enoch encouraged the pilgrims by saying: “There is hope for you, and I want you to rejoice because it means no matter how low you are, your tomorrow will be alright.” He also reminded pilgrims that there are many kingdoms in the earth, each one having its own king, but there is only one person who is the King of kings! He shared how even in the animal kingdom, the lion is king, but the King of all kings also controls the lions and shuts their mouths, as in the story of Daniel in the lion’s den.
Day 3 – Roll Call of the Nations, Jerusalem
From the Galilee Feast pilgrims ascended to Jerusalem for an amazing five days of celebrations! The opening night at the Jerusalem Pais Arena saw nearly 80 nations appear before the Lord in Zion. Delegates from each nation waved their country’s flag on stage in the colorful “Roll Call of the Nations”—a highlight for many Feast-goers. This year’s Roll Call included flag-bearers from Egypt, Turkey, Algeria, and Mongolia, as well as two pilgrims who appeared together from North and South Korea.
Often, flag-bearers dress in their national attire; this year was no exception! Several shared their joy and pride in representing their country at the Feast. “I’m carrying the flag of my nation, and my desire is that God will move in the Philippines, and we will catch a new anointing in a new season,” said Rose Riviera. Swiss believer Sabine Bartschi-Santmann said, “I am representing Switzerland as an intercessor for our nation to the God of Israel. We bless Israel, console Israel, and love the people of Israel.”
Feast participants also were welcomed in video greetings by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog, who said: “It gives me great pleasure to send greetings to the entire Christian world and to the thousands of pilgrims who, in these very moments, are celebrating the festival of Sukkot with us here in the holy city. You are gathered here, dear friends, for this sacred pilgrimage from all corners of the earth, welcomed by the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem … for ‘my dwelling place shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations.’”
ICEJ President Dr. Juergen Buehler brought an anointed message on the King of Glory from Psalm 47. He reminded pilgrims that God is present wherever they gather, but there is something special about worshipping in Jerusalem. “The Feast of Tabernacles is also a feast of prayer,” said Dr. Buehler. “God is calling you here in Jerusalem to a fresh and new lifestyle of prayer.”
Day 4, Feast Youth Day
The next day started with impactful morning seminars and thought-provoking messages on Israel and the New Testament, as well as the prophetic challenges of Artificial Intelligence and Transgenderism.
The evening featured a joy-filled celebration with messianic youth from across Israel raising one voice to offer songs of praise and worship in the fresh Hebraic style now coming from the Land of Israel. Dr. Billy Wilson, president of Oral Roberts University, shared on the “Power of One” and the value of every person’s life to God: “The Shepherd is looking for one. No matter how broken, how crushed, He will change their life, and through them, change the world,” said Dr. Wilson. “What is the potential in your life that needs to be unlocked? … Every single person on planet Earth is important to Christ.”
Day 5, Israeli Guest Night
The morning seminars began with local Messianic pastor Benjamin Berger, who spoke on “The Throne of David in Jerusalem.” Other speakers included Rania Sayegh, an Israeli Arab Christian prayer leader from Nazareth; Julia Popova from Moscow, who spoke on the move of God in Russia; and Sergey Shidlovskiy, who shared on prayer as the key to revival.
The evening centered around our traditional Israeli Guest Night. With this year being the 50th anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, pilgrims heard from the legendary hero of that battle, IDF Brigadier General (Ret.) Avigdor Kahalani. He was an Israeli tank commander during the costly battle for the Golan and received the Medal of Valor, Israel’s highest military distinction. Kahalani reminded everyone that Jews have had little choice but to fight for their survival from generation to generation.
Another moving highlight was hearing Eva Erben’s story. Eva was a Holocaust Survivor deported to several concentration camps during the Second World War. She later endured the death march from Auschwitz and became the sole survivor of her family. She shared her incredible story of survival, hope, and forgiveness. When asked her secret to keeping so young at heart, her immediate response was, “Love! Love is a very splendid thing, and you should fall in love with somebody because nobody is perfect, and you will never get a person who is exactly your taste!”
Day 6 Garden Tomb and Jerusalem March
The sixth day of the Feast began with a special communion service in the peaceful setting of the Garden Tomb, just outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls. There is always something special about this gathering around the Lord’s table with believers from all over the world. Presiding over the communion elements were local Jewish pastor Sasson Pochtar and Israeli Arab Pastor Saleem Shalash. Rev. Malcolm Hedding delivered the main message and reminded all: “If we want to experience His mercy, grace, and reconciling love, we have to come to the cross.”
“It’s special to be in Jerusalem and know our Lord and Savior is no longer in the grave. Our Savior lives and gives us hope!” responded Tiara from the Cook Islands. In the afternoon, our Feast delegates made their way to the assembly point for the popular Jerusalem March through the streets of the capital. There was an incredible atmosphere of joy as Christians from some 90 nations expressed their love and support for the people of Israel and were warmly received by a massive crowd of Israeli parade watchers.
Day 7 – Negev Solidarity Gathering and Healing Service
Then on day 7, over 600 Feast pilgrims traveled from Jerusalem down to the Gaza border area for a special solidarity gathering with Israeli communities in the Western Negev region. Among the speakers at this event were the late mayor Ofir Libstein and IDF (Res.) Brig. Gen. Amir Avivi. “How important it is to keep Israel safe and fight for its security for generations to come, because there will always be enemies who want to destroy this jewel called the Land of Israel,” said Gen. Avivi. Little did we know then that just two days later, thousands of Hamas terrorists from Gaza would invade this same area, commit mass murder against innocent Israeli civilians, and take upwards of 240 hostages captive to Gaza.
Next, a special ICEJ leadership delegation attended a tree-planting and dedication ceremony for our new “Christian Embassy Nature Park” located near the ANZAC Monument in the Be’eri Forest, just meters away from the Gaza security fence Hamas terrorists breached on October 7.
After returning to Jerusalem, our Feast pilgrims attended a special healing service led by ICEJ Philippines National Director Pastor Stephen Mirpuri, who shared several personal testimonies about the many dramatic healings he has seen and experienced throughout his life, including the miracle birth of his first child. After the message, there was a powerful time of prayer for healing.
Day 8 – Prayer Vigil
During the Feast, virtual pilgrims had the opportunity to unite with other believers in the online Prayer Sukkah to offer prayers for Israel, their respective countries, their families, and their communities.
Pilgrims who were physically present enjoyed a special dedicated Day of Prayer on the eighth day in the Jerusalem Pavilion. John from Poland said this day was a highlight—especially to hear the prayers from so many countries. “It has been worthwhile to hear the nations praying for their own nation. It’s been touching, especially listening to the prayers for North Korea, for instance, where believers are having such a difficult time, and praying for a reunion with South Korea. We were thinking of only coming for our own nation, but it’s been worth it to listen to the other nations.”
The Feast of Tabernacles 2023 ended that evening with an amazing worship concert led by local singer/songwriter Shiloh Ben-Hod and his band SOLU-Israel.