LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION COLUMN FOR
September 21, 2013 by William H. Scarle, Jr.
By the time you are reading this column the Feast of Tabernacles will be in its third day. It began Wednesday evening and lasts through next Thursday, the last or eighth day being an added celebration in order to rejoice in the Torah. It is the final feast of the year and originally celebrated the forty years of Israel in the wilderness and their final entrance into the Chosen Land.
Many meanings have attached themselves to Sukkot (Tabernacles in Hebrew). It is the beginning of the rainy season in Israel, so that even in Jesus time the festival was an occasion to pray to YAHWAH, the God of Israel, for a season of plentiful rain. Jesus took advantage of this in his preaching which is recorded in John 7.
The feast also recalls the end of Israel’s journey to the Chosen Land which suggests the final victory of Israel at the coming of the Messiah. So the Prophet Zachariah proclaims, “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 od Hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles (14:16).”
Tabernacles is a wonderful time to be in Israel. I only regret I have been there in the High Holy Days only once. The booths are visible all over Jerusalem, perched on balconies and on the roof tops. Families are hospitable and invite others to join them as they eat one meal a day in the roughly created outdoor enclosure. It celebrates the end of the summer and for farmers the beginning of the season to cultivate the soil.
It is also a time of one of the most spectacular tourist events of the year. Since 1980 the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem has sponsored a weeklong conference of praise, worship and education at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem with separate events taking place around the country. Christians from over 100 nations, well over 5000 in number, converge on Jerusalem to honor Jesus, support Israel, and generally celebrate in anticipation of the fulfillment of the prophecy of Zachariah.
Teachers, Scholars and public figures from all over the earth present seminars during the conference on a broad range of topics focusing on the prophetic perspective of Israel, the Church and eschatology.
Much of the conference is streamed live over the internet and is available to anyone who logs in. You can get the information by searching The International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem website.
The evening programs during the conference are largely devoted to what is called “Davidic Worship.” Some of the finest musicians and dancers from both the Christian community and the Jewish community from around the world are featured.
Needless to say these Feast of Tabernacles pilgrims are not the least bit fearful of being harmed. Major processions are staged through the streets of Jerusalem which is one of the safest cities in the world. You may want to join the celebration on your computer. With all the bad news coming from the Middle East, this will be a refreshing change.
(Bill Scarle can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org). END-whs