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The ICEJ’s Feast of Tabernacles has a New Home – The Jerusalem Pais Arena

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is pleased to announce that our annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration will have a new home this coming October 10-15, as we will be moving the week-long event to the brand new Jerusalem Pais Arena, near Malha mall.

For the past 33 years, the ICEJ has hosted its Feast gathering in the Jerusalem Convention Center, drawing thousands of Christians each year for a dynamic celebration of this biblical festival when the nations are welcomed in Jerusalem. This year, however, the ICEJ’s Feast will be held in the ultra-modern Pais Arena, which was inaugurated last week by Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat.

With 11,600 seats on eight levels, along with special seating galleries and executive boxes plus a massive center LED screen, Barkat described the Arena as “the most advanced, state-of-the-art venue of its kind in the Middle East.”

Mayor Barkat has been particularly encouraging about moving the Feast of Tabernacles to the new Arena, offering the Christian Embassy the privilege of hosting the first major international gathering in the new facility.

Coming on the heels of the recent Gaza conflict, the ICEJ’s Feast 2014 will also be a huge statement of solidarity with Israel by the thousands of Christians expected to show up for the festival.

“Our move to this new facility in Jerusalem is a very exciting development which will allow us to further grow the Feast of Tabernacles,” said Dr. Jürgen Bühler, ICEJ Executive Director. “We believe that in the years to come, this new hall will be filled every Sukkot with even more pro-Israel Christians from around the globe. So this is a thrilling moment for the city of Jerusalem and for our ministry.”

This year’s Feast schedule includes the traditional Israeli Guest Night, when the event is opened up to thousands of Israelis to enjoy a musical program geared for a Jewish audience. On Tuesday evening, 14 October, Israelis can enjoy their first experience in the new Arena along with their Christian friends from around the world, featuring special performances by Israeli and foreign artists.

For more information, contact:  David Parsons, ICEJ Media Director; Email: david.parsons@icej.org; Cell:  052 381 6214

Mandate

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ICEJ Mandate from Scripture

“Comfort ye, comfort ye My People” - The quote is taken from Isaiah 40:1-2. It is the “mandate from heaven” given to the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem three decades ago. It also includes an exhortation that appears to be a contradiction, at least if one applies it to the modern day context. This exhortation says:

“Speak comfort to Jerusalem and cry out to her, that her warfare has ended .....” Isaiah 40:2

For over thirty years the ICEJ has embarked upon a journey of giving comfort to Israel. This journey has involved deeds and compassion, and every town, village and city has been impacted, in some way, by our benevolence ministry that has helped the poor, healed the sick, housed the lonely, encouraged the children, and cared for the elderly.

Our Feast of Tabernacles celebration has impacted more than a hundred thousand Christians with the biblical perspective of recognizing the hand of God in Israel’s modern day restoration and the need to work with what God is doing, and bless it. As I have written before, we are thankful to God for His faithfulness. We have not done our work perfectly but we have done it sincerely. “The Day” at the judgment seat of Christ will determine its real value! Of this too we are most mindful and so should we all be!!

In what way then do we understand the command to tell Israel that her warfare is ended? It clearly has not! I believe we are to understand this in the following ways:

A Prophetic Call

The modern day restoration of the Jewish State has been characterized by war and conflict. However, the God who has brought His people back from the nations has done so with blessing and redemption in mind. It is the encouragement of and expectation of a glorious future that brings perseverance, hope and comfort to Israel.

The scriptures do foresee a time of unparalleled joy and peace being ushered in for Israel. The remarkable Messianic prophecies of Isaiah in chapters two, eleven, and sixty reveal this. “Israel’s warfare” is indeed about to come to an end and when it does, the whole earth will be amazed. Above all, God alone will get the glory for He will unravel a problem that has been far too great for the world to deal with. Not even the church has been able to sort this one out! Indeed much of the church today sees no biblical significance in Israel’s restoration. They believe it is merely a political accident orchestrated by the United Nations.

A Theological Statement

That is, much of Israel’s sufferings have been bound up with her calling. She, by the choice of God, became the vehicle of world redemption. The redemptive blessing of God has come to all the families of the earth through Israel.

This vehicle has been constantly challenged by the powers of darkness. For them the equation has been simple; destroy Israel and you effectively destroy the purpose of God for the world. Thankfully Isaiah declares that this “day” of warfare is coming to an end. On that “day” all the world will know that Israel existed for their blessing and not their cursing.

A Compassionate Response

The Prophet Isaiah says, “Speak comfort to Jerusalem”. Another translation of the same verse says, “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem”. A people in peace, joy, victory and blessing do not need the words of comfort or tenderness. No, it is a people in perpetual trauma and conflict that need comfort and tenderness. Sadly church history has been anything but this! Their words have been harsh, bitter and reviling. Thankfully we at the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem heard an exhortation from heaven in 1980 that called upon us to “speak comfort to Jerusalem”.

As Israel moves steadily but surely to her God-given destiny, we are determined to “stay the course” with her. We will be guided by the words of Isaiah forty and the principles outlined above that flow from it. We are ever mindful that our journey has not been our story. In fact thousands of Christians from all over the world have made it their journey and story as well. We salute you for joining with us and thank you for standing with us in prayer and support. 

Dr. Juergen Buehler
Executive Director
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem

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Objectives

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  • To show concern for the Jewish people and the reborn state of Israel. "Comfort, comfort My people, says your God." (Isaiah 40:1)

  • To present to Christians a true understanding of what is taking place in the Land today so that world events may be interpreted in the light of God's Word. "You will arise and have mercy on Zion; For the time to favor her, Yes, the set time, has come. For Your servants take pleasure in her stones, And show favor to her dust. So the nations shall fear the name of the LORD, And all the kings of the earth Your glory. For the LORD shall build up Zion; He shall appear in His glory." (Psalm 102:13-16)

  • To be a centre where Christians can gain a biblical understanding of Israel, and learn to be rightly related to the nation. "That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation." (Ephesians 2:12-14)

  • To remind and encourage Christians worldwide to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, the land of Israel, and the Jewish people. "You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give Him no rest till He establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth." (Isaiah 62:6-7)

  • To stimulate Christian leaders, churches and organisations to become effective influences in their countries on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people. "Now the LORD had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, From your family And from your father's house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." (Genesis 12:1-3)

  • To be part of God's great purposes in bringing the Jews back to Israel. "See, I will beckon to the Gentiles, I will lift up my banner to the peoples; they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders." (Isaiah 49:22)

  • To begin or assist projects in Israel, for the well-being of all who live there. "Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." (Matthew 25:40)

  • To build bridges of reconciliation between Jew and Arab. "...Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance." (Isaiah 19:25)

Position Statements

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Christian Zionism

Today, Christian Zionism stirs up all sorts of reactions within the confessing church and sometimes is regarded as extreme or even heretical as a theological position. Those taking this view forget that some of the greatest leaders of the church through history held this position.  Indeed a good case can be made that the Apostolic Band did. (Acts1:6)The documents of the early church reveal that for much of the first three centuries of the fledgling church this was the predominant view.  The Puritans of the 17th century, who gave us democracy in its present form (Oliver Cromwell) and the now famous Authorized Version of the Bible in 1611, were Christian Zionist by belief. The greatest revival the world has ever seen was led by Christian Zionists. They would not have called themselves this as the term was not in use but their belief system would have branded them as Christian Zionists today. I am speaking about the Wesley brothers, Charles and John. The Pietists of Switzerland, Moravia, Germany and Sweden had amongst them leaders who held “restorationist views.” The Moravians, for instance, greatly influenced the Wesley brothers.

We can add to this list names of people like Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Bishop Ryle of Liverpool, Professor Jacob Janeway of the Scottish National Church and many more. In our times one of the world’s greatest expositors of the Bible, David Pawson, is a Christian Zionist and his book, “Unlocking the Bible”, is presently one of the world’s best selling Christian books. Derek Prince led hundreds of thousands of people all over the world to Christ and was also a dedicated Christian Zionist and then, one of the greatest evangelists of our times Reinhard Bonnke, who in Africa alone has brought 55 million people to Jesus, is a Christian Zionist! This is just the tip of the iceberg. Just two weeks ago we hosted the General Executive of the Assemblies of God of Southern Africa. These wonderful brothers in Jesus give oversight to some three thousand churches encompassing hundreds of thousands of believers in Jesus. They are a spiritual force to be reckoned with and yet they also see and acknowledge the hand of God in Israel’s modern day restoration as does Dr. Jack Hayford the revered leader of the Four Square Church of God in the USA.

The Lausanne Conference, recently held in Cape Town, released a pre-conference statement essentially stating that Christian Zionists have to be corrected. There was such an outcry from responsible theological quarters all over the world that they had to release another statement retracting their earlier position. What does this mean? Precisely this; That great church leaders hold, and have held, Christian Zionist views just as great church leaders have not held these views. This in turn means that we should be very careful how we handle this matter and it should never divide us or bring us to a place of hostility even if we are right! Paul warns that a faction in Corinth existed that claimed allegiance to Christ. (1Cor1:12) The problem is they were hostile and divisive!


Definition

Christian Zionism is the belief that the land of Canaan, for the purposes of world redemption, is the everlasting possession of the Jewish people. (Gen17:7-8)

This promise, given by God Himself, was ratified in the Abrahamic Covenant. There is absolutely no evidence in the Bible that this promise has at any point been annulled or reconstructed. Indeed scripture affirms that it cannot be. (Rom11:29; Gal3:17; Heb6:13-20) The Covenant was made in an unconditional manner and, if it had any conditions, they were that Abraham should pass the tests that were set before him in the “binding of Isaac”, which he did! (Gen22:15-19)

The power of the Abrahamic Covenant has been played out in history by the return of the Jewish people to Canaan and it is this Covenant alone that guarantees the existence of the Jewish people in Canaan as a nation. (Jeremiah31:35-37, Psalm 105:7-12) Throughout history people groups have disliked this idea and have resisted it to their own hurt and shame. Jesus said that this race/nation will not pass away before all things are fulfilled. (Luke21:32-33)

The Abrahamic Covenant is essentially a Covenant of salvation in that it constitutes God’s decision to save the world. (Gal3:8) Both Jesus and John the Baptist arrived because of its promises (Luke1:54-55, 68-73) and the once for all finished work of Jesus on the cross made possible its promises. (Gal3:8-8, 13-14, 18, 29) It is to be noted that the Abrahamic Covenant has been fulfilled many times in Israel’s history. It carries a twofold promise. That is, a promise in Jesus (the seed) (Gal3:15-18) who will make good its vision of salvation for all families of the earth (Gal3:8) and a promise of everlasting possession of the land of Canaan to the generations or the seeds of Israel. (Gen17:7-8) The first promise in Jesus has been partially fulfilled in His first coming but awaits completion in His second coming. (Luke1:31-33) The second promise has been fulfilled twice. That is, once in 537BC and again in 1948AD. (Isaiah11:11; Amos9:13-15)(Jer31:35-37)

So called “fulfillment Theology” (Super-sessionism/Replacement theology) that only concentrates on the first part of the Covenant that has to do with the first coming of Jesus and then “closes the door” on any further fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant is incorrect and enjoys no biblical evidence. To support this view it further deviates from scripture by suggesting the reconstruction or abolishment of the Abrahamic Covenant.


Considerations

The Jewish people, while mediating the Abrahamic Covenant to the world, are responsible to radiate the light that they mediate! Their disobedience does not cancel the Covenant but it does remove from them the privilege of enjoying its benefits. Thus rebellion does not take from them possession of the land but loss of domicile! The privilege of living on it! This is the warning of the Torah and the abiding lesson of the Major and Minor Prophets. This is why God always warns them but at the same time encourages them with restoration and blessing if they obey (Amos9:9-15)

It is thus not biblical to suggest in any way that the Abrahamic Covenant has been abolished or reconstructed and equally, it is not biblical to assert that the Jewish people can live on all the land promised to them without reference to their spiritual condition. It is at this point that many Christian Zionists fail and that many of those opposing Christian Zionism fail!

As a nation, Israel remains in rebellion against Jesus of Nazareth and this factor has more to do with her present struggle than we are prepared to admit! (Matt23:37-39)(Luke19:41-44) Jesus is a Jewish Messiah and the only way of salvation. (Acts4:11-12)

Israel’s “chosenness” is to be seen as in role and not as in racial superiority. God loves all people the same. (John 3:16) She nevertheless is the vehicle of world redemption and the custodian of that purpose and its conclusion. (Rom3:1-2; Rom 9:1-5; Rom15:27; John4:22) This is why she is to be blessed but not idealized and corrected but not demonized! Christians always lack balance and opt for one or the other extreme when it comes to Israel. God is watching. (Zechariah 2:8) It is to be noted that Israel’s peculiar role as the “messenger of world redemption” is the reason for anti-Semitism! In short the existence of Israel reveals and challenges the existence of the devil. (Revelation12:1-4) Hitler’s gas chambers and final solution demonstrate the extent of demonic hatred of the Jew! All peoples of the world are held accountable by God for collaborating with this wickedness.

Much of Israel’s suffering is sourced at a demonic root because of this role. That is, the powers of darkness are convinced that they can frustrate the purpose of God for world redemption by liquidating the nation of Israel. However, it is also true, as we have noted, that her rebellion against God has also been at the root of her troubles and still is!


Restoration

Israel’s modern day restoration is because of the Abrahamic Covenant. The God of the Bible keeps His promises! (Hebrews 6:13-20) This current return, however, is different in that it is in unbelief; a fact that scripture acknowledges. A process of conflict and struggle in the land, according to scripture, will remove unbelief from Israel. (Hosea5:15) (Ezek 36:24-28)(Rom11:25-26) It is also worth noting that, all passages in the Bible dealing with eschatological themes place Israel back in the land at the consummation of the age. (Zechariah 12-14; Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21) They even suggest that a Jewish Temple will be rebuilt on the Temple site! In other words, no matter how you cut it, history ends with the Jewish people back in the land of Canaan and indeed in Jerusalem. (Luke 21:24) In other words history ends with the Jews back in Canaan and in Jerusalem and the question we each one have to ask ourselves is, “Is this a coincidence and, if so, why would the God of the Bible defend a coincidence?” (Zechariah12:7-10)

It is also true that these eschatological passages place Israel’s final restoration in a context of great upheaval and indeed global conflict. She will not be “left off the hook” meaning that the God of the Bible is putting her, those engaged with her, the nations and the Church to the test! (Rev3:10) It is here that issues of justice and righteousness come in. We of all people must care for all people while not denying the purpose of God in the Abrahamic Covenant.

Paul demonstrates, time and time again, that our theology must have a practical outworking. Even this meeting has to be challenged by this notion. Discussing theology is good but if it is an “end in itself” it becomes sterile and sinful. Some people think that championing their theological cause in a theological lecture room is serving God’s purpose. This is a delusion! What are we doing for the poor, the brokenhearted, the voiceless and the weak of this world? (Gal2:7-10) What have you done? I learned this lesson well in the Apartheid era in South Africa in the 1980s.

You may well differ with my Christian Zionist theology but the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has mobilized millions of Shekels to help Jews, Arabs, Palestinians, Druze, Christians and Africans in Israel. So, by all means defend your theological position but if this defense does not invest resources in the poor I doubt your commitment! (James2:5; 14-20)

On the point of restoration, it is to be noted that Israel’s regathering has always resulted in the mediation to the world of an additional redemptive Covenant. Israel has not returned to Canaan in our time because of the demands of the prophetic scriptures. Prophesy always confirms the purpose of God. That is, it validates the “timing of a covenant.” Thus, it is my belief that the prophetic validation surrounding this present restoration of Israel heralds the soon arrival of the fullness of the Davidic Covenant. (Zechariah 14:16-21; Isaiah11:4-9; Rev12:5; Rev22:16)

I conclude with this exciting thought.

Malcolm Hedding
ICEJ Executive Director Emeritus


Notes:

Galatians 3 does not in any way reconstruct or annul the Abrahamic Covenant. Paul’s point is that the beginning of world redemption initiated by the Abrahamic Covenant established salvation by faith alone and not by the works of the law that came 400 years later as a “school teacher” to show us our sin and lead us to Christ. (3:24) The goal of the Abrahamic Covenant was always the coming of the “seed” Jesus for only He could do what it promised and what we could not do for ourselves. If this be not true the whole initiative is pointless. This does not remove from the Jewish people the promises made to them and neither does Paul suggest this. Actually he affirms these promises in Rom9-11.

Christian Zionists who are not anchored theologically tend to “rubber stamp” all that Israel does; they drift toward dual covenant teaching, become “judaizers” and lack compassion for the Arab peoples of the region.

Christian Super-sessionists who are not anchored theologically tend to drift toward anti-Semitism, are disconnected from the purpose of God in Israel’s restoration, embrace deviant methods of biblical exposition and can end up supporting sinister agendas for the destruction of Israel. For instance Naim Ateek in his book, “Justice and only Justice”, writes about, what he calls, a “new hermeneutic” on page 81 and states, “When confronted with a difficult passage in the Bible one needs to ask such simple questions as: Is the way I am hearing this the way I have come to Know God in Christ? Does this fit the picture I have of God that Jesus has revealed to me? If it does, then that passage is valid and authoritative. If not, then I cannot accept its validity or authority.”

Both “fault-lines” end up in liberation theology!

 

Visit our Christian Zionism 101 section for more resources


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