At least 5,000 Christians from 100 countries took part in the “March of Nations” at this year’s Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles, in Jerusalem. The parade, which had around 10,000 participants, was one of the main events of the feast, traditionally called “The Season of Our Joy.” Breaking Israel News (BIN) reports that the event was “the largest Christian gathering in Israel this year and the largest solidarity mission to Israel of 2019.”
“The whole world is learning that the Gentiles can come celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles with the people of Israel,” David Parsons said, according to the Jewish News Syndicate (JNS). Parsons is the media spokesperson for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), the organization that sponsored the feast. Said Parsons, “They want to come see the modern miracle of Israel which the Bible talked about.”
The Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem
The Feast of Tabernacles runs from October 13th through October 20th and contributes roughly $18 to $20 million to the economy. The first day of the feast featured a concert and outdoor meal at the Ein Gedi oasis, and the closing session was a prayer vigil at the Tower of David. Throughout the week, there were opportunities to hear speakers, take part in worship, and visit famous biblical sites. Thursday, the day of the parade, included children’s activities, fair stalls, song and dance performances, and an aerial acrobatics show.
The municipality of Jerusalem funded and organized the march, which traveled through the main streets and historic neighborhoods of the city. The parade had quite a bit of variety, including “collector cars, marching bands, flag-bearers, dance groups, IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers, street artists, inflatable characters, performers and sports teams.”
Marchers carried signs and wore buttons with phrases like, “We stand with Israel” and “We love you Israel.” Evangelical Christians from the Philippines participated in the march, and Cameroon, the Netherlands, Germany, Bulgaria, Albania, Australia, and Fiji were just some of the other countries represented.
Pastor M. Moran Rao, who is from India, said that he and his wife came to the feast “because we love Israel, we are friends of Israel, we stand with Israel, and we support Israel.” He believes the Bible teaches the importance of this support: “In the Bible, it says to pray for the peace of Israel, and if you bless Israel, you will be blessed.”
Something else notable about this year’s feast is it is the first time Evangelical Christians from an Arab country have participated in it. Sixteen Egyptians made the trip to Israel for the event, an effort that has its challenges since it requires caution on the part of the travelers.
One Egyptian Christian told The Jerusalem Post he believes that the pilgrimage of so many believers to Jerusalem is a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. He cited Isaiah 19:23, which mentions a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Zechariah 14:16-19, which includes the statement, “Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.”
What Is ICEJ?
In 1980, the Israeli government made Jerusalem the undivided capital of the State of Israel, provoking international protests and the closing of 13 foreign embassies in the city. Christians living in Israel at the time responded to the uproar by founding the ICEJ.
ICEJ has two primary goals: “First, to serve as a conduit of comfort and blessing through which believers in the nations could show their love and support to Israel. Second, the ICEJ stands as a prophetic voice to this generation concerning God’s unwavering plan to fulfill His covenant promises to the fathers of Israel.” The ICEJ also helps Jewish people scattered across the world to return to Israel. This is sometimes referred to as “making Aliyah.” Since its inception, the organization has helped more than 150,000 Jews make Aliyah, something the ICEJ celebrated at the feast this week.
The Feast of Tabernacles does have an impact on the Israeli people, as attested by Jerusalem’s deputy mayor, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum. Speaking at the feast, the deputy mayor recounted how, when she first took her 13-year-old daughter to an event at the festival, her daughter was surprised to see there were people in the world who actually liked Israel.
“My daughter thought that no one around the world liked us, until she came to one of these gatherings,” said the deputy mayor. “So, thank you for restoring her faith in humanity, and thank you for your love and friendship.”