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Christmas Message

ICEJ Season of Reconciliation
ICEJ Reports / Teaching
A Season of Reconciliation
By David Parsons, ICEJ Vice President & Senior Spokesman

As the Christmas season approaches every year, I often get inquiries from journalists about how celebrating this holiday in the Land where Jesus was born is different from back home. Of course, we miss our families dearly, but there is something special about being here in the Land of Israel as we mark the birth of Jesus. There is certainly less commercialism around Christmas here, and the story of the Nativity comes alive in very dramatic and personal ways.

This became especially so when I began venturing out years ago with family and friends on Christmas Eve to the hillsides overlooking Bethlehem, as we gathered around a bonfire to ring in the joyous Noel. Under a canopy of stars, the timeless carols never sounded so sweet, the hot chocolate never tasted so smooth, and our hearts always seemed to focus solely on the glorious gift of Christ from above.

But my very first Christmas in the Holy Land was not so enthralling. It was December 1995 and I had come to Jerusalem to help the Christian Embassy prepare for an upcoming Christian Zionist Congress. At that time, the Israeli government was implementing the second phase of the Oslo Accords. In the first stage, Gaza and Jericho had been handed over to the PLO as a test case of whether Oslo could bring peace to the Land. Now it was time to cede more of the main Palestinian cities in Judea/Samaria (the “West Bank”), and since Christmas was drawing near the spotlight was squarely on Bethlehem.

On the 22nd of December that year, the IDF vacated Bethlehem and Yasser Arafat flew in on a helicopter and landed late afternoon on top of the former British police station overlooking Manger Square. He then delivered a fiery anti-Israel speech and broadly smiled as the crowd below chanted “a million martyrs marching to Jerusalem.” This was the Palestinian rallying cry of those days, and every Israeli knew the word “martyr”, or shaheed in Arabic, referred to Muslims who die while waging holy war.

As the sun set, I went to a hillside and looked across Shepherd’s Field at the skyline of Bethlehem against the darkening sky. The circus had come to town, as a large, brightly-lit ferris wheel turned in the distance and fireworks burst overhead. Christmas in the birthplace of Jesus had been turned into a triumphant celebration of Palestinian nationalism.

From that moment, I could not escape the sense that Oslo was truly a false promise of peace. Phony! Contrived! And imposed from abroad. Which, sadly, proved to be the case.

In contrast, there seems to be a very different dynamic today with the Abraham Accords. This historic move towards reconciliation and peace between Israel and a new tier of Arab neighbors may have been sealed two years ago with the help of US President Donald Trump, but it began many years earlier in the quiet trade ties Jerusalem established with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. And it was further nurtured by Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington in 2015 when he defied an American president by standing before Congress to voice his opposition to the pending Iranian nuclear deal. Many Arab Gulf rulers felt he was speaking on their behalf as well, as they too were feeling abandoned amid the Obama administration’s continual courting of the ayatollahs in Tehran.

Now it is true that the Abraham Accords are being driven on both sides by strong economic interests and by the common threat posed by Iran. And there are reasons to be cautious with any man-made deals. But I also believe there is something truly genuine and positive at work in the hearts and mindsets of those embracing this normalization process.

Even the name of the Abraham Accords is a tacit acknowledgement that the Jewish and Arab peoples of this region have a common ancestry in the Patriarch Abraham. The Accords carry a message to the Jewish people that they are indigenous to this region and have come home to help build its future. This is music to the ears of so many Israelis today. It also is the realization of the quest of Chaim Weizmann, the successor to Theodor Herzl as leader of the early Zionist movement, who sought to forge an agreement with the Hashemite Arab rulers of his day along these very same lines.

As a result, Israelis are flocking to Dubai and Abu Dhabi to shop and dine, and they are being very warmly welcomed. Israeli tourism to Morocco is also sharply on the rise, and many Israelis were even flying the Moroccan flag over recent weeks in support of their soccer team’s surprising run in the World Cup. This is the sort of people-to-people contact and peace that many Israelis longed for over past decades with Egypt, and indeed even Jerusalem’s relations with Cairo are warming in the wake of the Abraham Accords.

I believe we are in a season when Israel’s many Christian friends can trust the genuine spirit of reconciliation inherent in the Abraham Accords. It was actually Evangelical leaders who helped birth the Accords with their visits to meet with regional Arab rulers, helping them to connect more closely to the Trump administration and to the thought of normalization with Israel. So, we should be praying and working ourselves to reconcile Jews and Israel with the Arabs and their respective nations. And we should be guarding against any effort by the US State Department or European Union to steer the Abraham Accords back towards the flawed two-state solution.

There also is a remarkable spiritual dynamic at work today in the growing fellowship between Jewish and Arab believers in Yeshua. They are worshipping and praying together as never before in history. An ICEJ leadership delegation just had a wonderful encounter in Cyprus with some 70 Arab Christian leaders from around the region, and this again demonstrated to us that God is at work to reconcile all things in Messiah.

I believe this is a day for Christians who love and support Israel to be reconcilers, and not just partisans for one side of this conflict. We must continue to stand with Israel and defend her from her sworn enemies. But we also should be looking for opportunities to reconcile Jews and Arabs whenever possible.

In the Torah portion recently, we read in Genesis about the incredible moment of reconciliation between Jacob and Esau. Jacob was still afraid of his brother. He wrestled all night with an angelic being (Hosea 12:4). He divided his camp into thirds, with Rachel and Benjamin protected in the rear. And then Jacob saw Esau and his 400 men coming in the distance, and he anxiously bowed seven times to the ground. Yet then we read:

“But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.” (Genesis 33:4)

This is an incredible prophetic picture of what the Lord can and wants to do between brothers once separated by jealousy and hate. May we see it in our day, and may we be instruments of reconciliation to help make it happen, just as God reconciled us to Himself through the amazing gift of Jesus from above.

“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

Our goal is to stand with the Jewish people to support in friendship, equip and teach the worldwide church regarding God’s purposes with Israel and the nations of the Middle East, be an active voice of reconciliation between Jews, Christians, and Arabs, and support the churches and congregations in the Holy Land. You can contribute to this RECONCILIATION WORK below:

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Help the Poor and Needy

For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things. (Romans 15:26-27)

Help the poor families who need assistance in this challenging times. No contribution is too little. The Scripture teaches us to be intentional with our offering , to prepare before hand, to purpose in our hearts to give to those in need. God loves a cheerful giver.

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And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another, And from one Sabbath to another, All flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the Lord.

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Feast Of Tabernacles

IN THE WILDERNESS

The Feasts of Tabernacles was portrayed out by the nation of Holy Land in the wilderness when God told them to build sukkots to live in the wilderness. They had no permanent homes to live in simply because they were on a journey to the Promised Land known then as Canaan. So, the Israelites dwelt in tents and sukkahs throughout their wilderness journey. Even the Presence of God was present in their midst in the Tent of Meeting. The Lord tabernacled amongst His children.

You shall dwell in sukkot for seven days…in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I the Lord your God.

~Leviticus 23:42~

PRESENT TIMES​

At the present moment, the nation of Holy Land is in their Promised Land waiting for the coming of their Messiah. As they celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles year after year, they are reminded of the faithfulness of God for 40 years in the wilderness and are watching for the coming of the Messiah to rule and reign in Holy Land forever; to tabernacle with the LORD and the nations too will be part of it. Nations coming to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles too besides Holy Land? Bringing homage and worship to King Jesus? Yes! it is going to happen exactly as it is anticipated because it is written in the Holy Scriptures of the Bible in Ezekial14:16-18..

“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. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain. If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.”

BELIEVERS THROUGH FAITH​

What are we to do as those who believe through faith? Gentiles that have become the children of Abraham through faith in Jesus Christ. The Scripture says in Ephesian 4:4-5, “ There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” We are one new man, one new body of Christ, joint together by the broken body of Christ that made a way for reconciliation. Reconciliation with not only God but between brothers and brothers. A whole family once more. As believing Christians we too celebrate with great joy along our Jewish brothers and with even more joy because we have received the living waters of Jesus Christ in us, the hope of glory in us, as it is written in Colosians 1:27. We have received the Holy Spirit living in us! “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Feast Of Tabernacles 2023

28 Sept -11 Oct 2023

 The 2023 Feast of Tabernacles theme is The King of all the Earth. We want to welcome you to the Feast and will update the particulars for registration here in near future.

Watch The 2021 Highlights Below!

Feast Feature Song "Bitfilah Amen"

This song was sung by different branches of ICEJ around the world during the Feast of Tabernacles 2021. It is a song of love, hope and peace to all mankind.

AMEN
With a prayer – Amen
That rises up – Amen
All that breathes will praise God
Amen.

Give us a blessing of peace & guard our homes
Bring us closer to the dream within us
Let us see blessing in what we do
Open our hearts so we can always sing for you.

My God – Amen
My hopes – Amen
Wrap us with your love
Amen.

Give us life and guard us
Let our love be fulfilled,
Bless us and shine upon our faces
Open our hearts so we will always sing for you.

To the world – Amen
To everyone – Amen
Make the human spirit strong
Amen .

With prayer – Amen
To peace – Amen
All that breathes will praise God
Amen.

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Feast Of Tabernacles 2023

28 Sept -11 Oct 2023