On Friday October 2nd 2020, at a time when foreign embassies have begun to return to Jerusalem and Israel is normalizing relations with former enemies, the annual ICEJ Feast of Tabernacles brought thousands of Christians to Jerusalem again.
But for the first time, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the global celebration will be virtual. The global online feast celebration includes live worship led by Israeli and international worship leaders, over 80 seminar teachings by Israeli and international speakers and virtual tours of Israel. The Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, is the third great annual pilgrimage festival when Jewish people gather in Jerusalem. This gathering is to remember God’s provision in the wilderness and also to look ahead to a promised Messianic age when all nations will flow to Jerusalem to worship the Messiah King.
Brief History of ICEJ
Forty years ago, as all 13 foreign embassies in Jerusalem were being closed in international protest over a law declaring the city the united capital of Israel, a group of Christians responded to the Jewish nation’s hurt by establishing the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) and bringing 1,000 Christians from around the world to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in the holy city. In the following decades the annual ICEJ feast has brought more than 100,000 Christians to Jerusalem, becoming the biggest annual tourism event in Israel. Historically Sukkot has always been a joyous feast to which all people were invited and to Christians it is a reminder of God’s provision of His Son Jesus as our Saviour and Lord and points to His Second Coming. Malcolm Hedding took over the leadership of the ICEJ in 1999 until 2010, when current director Jeurgen Beuhler took over. Commenting on the history of the ICEJ, Myburgh said: “South Africans have truly been blessed to have played a key role in the ICEJ from its inception and continue to strongly support the ICEJ through the local branch.”
She said she had spoken to Johan Luckhoff, a SA Dutch Reformed Church minister who from an early age had felt a strong calling for Israel. He felt that the Lord had led him to be based in Jerusalem in the late 1970s from where he travelled to many nations, speaking to them about the place and calling of Israel among the nations. Luckhoff was part of the initial group who were led to establish the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem in 1980 in Jerusalem and was its first director, supported by a very passionate Jan Willem van der Hoven, as the international director, she said. At the 2006 Feast of Tabernacles, the ICEJ announced it had reached the 100,000 milestone in helping Jews to return home. The ICEJ invested over $40m (R662.29m) to achieve this milestone.
The Goal of ICEJ
The main goals of ICEJ have always been to speak comfort to Israel. Inspired by Isaiah 40:1, by serving as a conduit through which believers around the world can show their love and support to Israel; and to stand as a prophetic voice concerning God’s plan to fulfil His covenants to Israel which is to restore them to their land and to a right relationship with Him.
In addition to their humanitarian support of the Jewish people, some 20% of ICEJ funds are targeted to assist the needs of the Arab, Druze and Bedouin minorities who make up a corresponding proportion of Israel’s population.
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