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Russian-Turkish Deal for Syria Announced

The Kremlin issued a statement Tuesday following a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan, saying the two had struck a deal that would see the Syrian Kurdish factions withdrawing their forces from the Turkish border region and redeploying further south under the supervision of Russian and Assad regime troops. The statement added a warning to the Kurdish factions that they had been abandoned by the US, broadly hinting to other US allies in the region that this was unlikely to an isolated case.

"The United States has been the Kurds' closest ally in recent years. (But) in the end, it abandoned the Kurds and, in essence, betrayed them," Kremlin spokesman Dimitri Peskov told reporters. "Now they (the Americans) prefer to leave the Kurds at the border (with Turkey) and almost force them to fight the Turks."

Here are two recent podcasts giving some analysis of this situation





On Wednesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Baghdad for meetings with officials of the Baghdad regime which were likely to include discussions of the US troops who are leaving Syria for Iraq. The regime has made clear to Washington that they must not stay in Iraq, even to fight the Islamic State terror militia, as the Pentagon initially announced they would be doing. The meeting also comes amidst large-scale street protests in Iraqi cities against what protesters have said are unacceptable rates of unemployment, poor government services to the citizenry and widespread public corruption.

In related news, large crowds continued to gather in the streets of Lebanese cities on Tuesday and Wednesday despite public appeals for calm by the Iranian-backed Shi’ite terror militia Hezbollah, the most powerful faction in the country. Reports had begun to surface on Monday of clashes between supporters of Hezbollah and the Amal Shi’ite group on one side and protesters on the other, with the Lebanese National Army attempting to get between the two sides to prevent clashes from getting out of control. Leaders of the LNA have also publicly stated that they will not confront the protesters on behalf of the government.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah leaders have darkly hinted that they are prepared to send their fighters to violently disperse the protesters if things get to a certain undefined point, leading to fears of a new civil war in Lebanon which could be even more devastating than the last one which raged from 1975-1990.

Here is a video about Israeli communities close to the border with Lebanon

Soaking Rain Marks Early Beginning of Winter

Israelis were awakened early Wednesday morning to the sounds of thunder and rain as an early winter storm washed the country and began the process of re-filling lakes, streams, rivers and subterranean aquifers after the heat of summer. "We're at the beginning of fall, therefore temperatures are still nice and warm during the day," Meteo-Tech forecaster Tzachi Waksman told Ynet. "The rainfall might resume over the weekend and maybe even get colder in the days that follow."

Poll Shows Public Shift Against Netanyahu
Amidst speculation that Israel might be headed to yet another Knesset election early next year, a poll was released Tuesday evening showing that a slight majority of voters is ready for Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to replace Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister. Netanayhu appeared unfazed by the poll, celebrating his 70th birthday on Tuesday with the help of some of his comrades from his days of commanding the IDF General Staff Reconnaissance Unit at the Crusader fortress at Kochav Hayarden National Park in northern Israel.

"Fifty years ago, in the southern approaches to Afula, I received these boys. They have not changed much, I must say,” the prime minister said.  “I would like to say that I had the privilege of having such soldiers,” Netanyahu said. “I have had the privilege that we have kept this bond, a very special and very strong bond. I can only wish that we will meet here in another 50 years."

Israel Blesses the World
A delegation of Israeli health care specialists recently visited the Russian Republic of Bashkortostan to assist the regional government there in improving health services. The specialists from the Israeli health system representatives and Maccabi Health Services are scheduled to make more such trips in the future and be ready for regular consultations as the project, which has been given a $100 million budget, moves forward.

Here is a video about other ways Israel is blessing the world



Iranian Judo Federation Banned from Competition
The International Judo Federation (IJF) issued a statement Tuesday indefinitely extending a ban on Iranian athletes from competition over the policy of the clerical regime in Teheran of refusing to engage Israeli athletes. Iranian Judoku Saeid Mollaei walked away from his team during the world championships in Tokyo last month in protest against being ordered to intentionally lose a semi-final match rather than risk being pitted against an Israeli athlete in the next round, leading to an investigation into Iran’s policies.

Toyota Partnering with Israeli Venture Capital Firm
In the latest defeat for efforts to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel, Toyota Tsusho Corporation, the trading arm of the Toyota Group, announced this week that it is entering into a partnership with Jerusalem-based venture capital crowdfunding platform OurCrowd. "The future belongs to the bold who are implementing game changing technologies," said Minoru Murata, executive vice president, regional CEO & CTO of Toyota Tsusho. “Our partnership with OurCrowd will bring us these key technologies and leaders to work together on the next generation of global challenges."

Today's video shows how Israelis live close to the Lebanese border

Netanyahu Returns Mandate to Form Government

Israel’s incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with President Reuven Rivlin on Monday evening shortly after the end of the Simhat Torah holiday, informing him that he was unable to form a governing coalition and formally returning the mandate he had received to do so nearly four weeks ago. On Tuesday morning, Rivlin announced that he was giving Blue and White leader Benny Gantz an opportunity to form a governing coalition and manoeuvring by the factions which made it into the 22nd Knesset began almost immediately thereafter.

"I hope and believe that we will be able to create a basic infrastructure that everyone can connect to," Gantz said on Tuesday morning. "If everyone will know to give up a little bit, everyone will have a lot more room together."

Lebanon Erupting in Popular Discontent
Hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Israel’s northern neighbour of Lebanon, angered by years of government corruption, incompetence and mismanagement which has in recent weeks seen an inadequate response to raging forest fires which have destroyed large swaths of forest as well as dozens of homes and businesses. Proposed tax increases on mobile messaging apps as well as other economic austerity measures were the final straw for many protesters whose demands now include the mass exodus of the entire hereditary political class in Lebanon and fresh elections.

Jordanian Official Warns Peace Treaty with Israel Endangered
Speaker of the Jordanian House of Representatives and president of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union, Atef Tarawneh addressed the 141st International Parliamentary Union Assembly in Belgrade on Monday, saying among other things that Israeli “violations” against Jerusalem are putting the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel at risk. “We in Jordan, who are signatory to a peace treaty with the Israeli occupation government, see today that this peace is under threat, in light of the blatant violation of its terms, especially with the issue of Jerusalem,” said Tarawneh.

Egypt and Ethiopia at Odds Over Nile
Talks over the construction of a massive dam by Ethiopia which Egypt says will cripple its economy broke down on Tuesday amidst statements by state-linked media outlets in both countries that they do not wish to go to war over the issue but they are ready to if need be. The $5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is nearly 70% completed and is set to greatly increase the supply of both water and electricity for Ethiopia’s 100 million+ people, but Egyptian officials openly describe the issue of their water supply as a “matter of life and death” for their equally large population.

The escalating crisis is taking place amidst simmering popular anger against the regime which rules in Cairo and a lingering military confrontation with the Islamic State terror militia in the Sinai.

Today’s video gives some insights on Chinese Strategy in the Middle East

Erdogan Threatens New Assault on Syrian Kurds

Turkish President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to resume a full-scale offensive against Kurdish-led forces in north-eastern Syria when a US-brokered ceasefire is scheduled to end, unless the US keeps promises he insisted had been made to him regarding the conflict. Meanwhile, pressure on Turkey to end its invasion of the Kurdish-dominated region has mounted from several quarters in recent days, including the US Congress as well as the Kremlin and even Iran. Troops loyal to the Assad regime, backed by Russian forces, have been deployed to towns within Turkey’s proposed “safe zone” along the border, presumably as a blocking force to physically stop Erdogan’s plans if necessary.

Meanwhile, opposition groups estimate that around 300,000 people have been displaced by the latest round of fighting in Syria while several hundred on all sides have been killed and wounded.

"We need to stop the slaughter. We need to ensure that we don't enable ISIS (the Islamic State militant group)," Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen told a news conference on Monday. "I blame Turkey more than anyone. Turkey's invasion has put at risk the defeat of the caliphate," and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said.

Also on Monday, Iranian government officials denounced what they called the “unacceptable” notion that Turkey would set up permanent military presence in northeast Syria, and area they would like to use for their own plans of establishing a land corridor from Iranian territory to Lebanon, where their terror proxy Hezbollah is poised to seize power amidst massive social and political upheaval.

Meanwhile, analysts warned of the possibility of intensifying civil unrest in neighboring Iraq, which could have a further destabilizing influence on the entire region.

Here is a podcast giving some further insights into the situation in Iraq

Israelis Decry Yom Kippur Synagogue Attack in Germany

Israelis reacted with sadness and anger Wednesday evening as Yom Kippur ended and they checked the news to see reports of an attack on a synagogue in Halle, in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. The attacker, who killed two bystanders but failed to penetrate the synagogue, live-streamed his actions on an online video game platform after broadcasting a short statement in which he blamed Jews for many of the social, economic and political problems facing Germany. “We saw via the camera system at our synagogue that a heavily armed perpetrator with a steel helmet and a gun tried to shoot open our doors,” Max Privorozki, Halle’s Jewish community chairman told the Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper. “But our doors held. We barricaded the doors from inside and waited for the police.”

He added that at the time of the attack there were around 80 people inside the synagogue observing Yom Kippur.

“That on the Day of Atonement a synagogue was shot at hits us in the heart,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas wrote on Twitter. “We must all act against antisemitism in our country.”|

“I call on the leaders of Germany and the Free World to bring the full force of law against antisemitism and its results,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said. “We will continue to campaign for education and remembrance in the fight on antisemitism, which raises its head again and again in Europe and across the world, based on a the clear understanding that it is not a problem of the Jews alone, but threatens to destroy us all.”

"We stand in solidarity with the Jewish community in Germany and worldwide in the face of this depraved assault on a sacred place on this most sacred of days for our Jewish friends,” said ICEJ President Dr. Jürgen Bühler. “It is past time for European and other world leaders to truly confront the rising tide of antisemitism in our midst. We also offer our sincere condolences to the families of the victims in today’s violent hate crime.”

Here is a video in which IDF Soldiers sing Kol Nidre for Yom Kippur



BDS Movement Suffers Another Defeat
The movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel suffered another defeat this week when Israeli fashion designer, Hed Mayner, won the Karl Lagerfeld Prize from the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers, beating out over 1,700 competitors from 100 different countries. “I am so proud to be the first Israeli designer to ever enter this competition, let alone win this prize,” said Mayner. “I spend a lot of my time in Paris, but Israel is always part of who I am, there is a sense of freedom here that cannot be felt anywhere else in the world.”

Turkey Attacks Northeast Syria

Military forces around the Middle East were on high alert Thursday morning following a large-scale attack on northeastern Syria by Turkish forces. Iranian troops held unscheduled drills on their side of the Iran-Turkey border in an apparent warning to Ankara while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that current events indicated Israel must be prepared for the possibility of fighting another major war without the assistance of allies. Addressing a ceremony on Mount Herzl Thursday morning to honor the memory of Israeli soldiers who fell in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, he said “We do not aspire to be 'a nation that dwells alone,' but that is how we were forced to stand at the beginning of the Yom Kippur War. As in 1973, also we very much appreciate the United States' important support, which has greatly increased over the years, and also the United States' enormous economic pressure it is exerting on Iran.” But, he added, “we always remember and apply the basic principle that guides us: Israel will defend itself, by itself, against any threat.”

“Time after time Iran tries to attack us,” he said, “and therefore we must stand ready to protect ourselves against this danger.”

Meanwhile, reports indicated that Kurdish fighters had blunted the Turkish advance despite being highly outgunned and outnumbered. However, dozens of border villages are reportedly under heavy Turkish bombardment and many analysts predicted that they would soon be overwhelmed. "They will pay for this,” a Kurdish fighter told Reuters. “Ultimately we may lose (that) area, which seems like it will be the case, but that doesn't mean we will just give up and retreat."
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Elsewhere, Turkish Ambassador to the UN Feridun Sinirlioglu wrote a letter to the Security Council in which he declared that “As has been the case in its previous counter-terrorism operations, Turkey’s response will be proportionate, measured and responsible. The operation will only target terrorists and their hideouts, shelters, emplacements, weapons vehicles and equipment. All precautions are taken to avoid collateral damage to the civilian population."
 
Here is a podcast which gives some insight into the current situation in Syria and Turkey



In related news, reports surfaced throughout the week that Iran is mobilizing large numbers of paramilitary police to deploy into neighboring Iraq for the purpose of assisting the Baghdad regime to suppress an unprecedented wave of violent street protests. Although protests had largely diminished by Wednesday, the Iranian forces remained mobilized and some units were reportedly moving into position to cross the border should the clerical regime in Teheran order them to do so.

Here is a short podcast giving some more insight into this story



Over 100 people were killed in clashes between protesters and security forces in several Iraqi cities in recent days. The violence was publicly denounced by several world governments while rights groups lamented the fact that although a fragile calm has returned to Iraqi cities internet access has not and so the possibility exists that suppression tactics by Iraqi security forces and/or Iranian proxy militias might be continuing with little hope for holding those responsible accountable.

Israelis Prepare for Yom Kippur

A poll conducted in recent days by the Guttman Center at the Israel Democracy Institute think tank indicated that nearly two thirds of Israeli Jews are preparing to abstain from food (fast) on Yom Kippur, the Biblical festival which begins Tuesday evening at sunset and ends Wednesday evening at sunset. A smaller but still substantial percentage of Israeli Jews plan on attending prayer services in a synagogue on Yom Kippur, while millions of children plan on taking advantage of the traditional lack of cars on the roads during the holiday to ride their bikes and otherwise play in the streets.

Israel Closely Watching Events in Syria
In light of the announcement Monday evening by US President Donald Trump that he is pulling all remaining US military forces out of north-eastern Syria while warning Turkey that he is prepared to act against its economy if a threatened military invasion includes war crimes, Israeli officials hinted that they will seek closer cooperation with Russia. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on Monday about his recent phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying “We have great challenges around us, but we enjoy important cooperation and coordination with Russia, something that is critical for us, and which we will continue to deal with.”

Here are some media which give insights into the current situation in Syria and Turkey



Early Rain Brings Water to Central Israel

Residents of central Israel were astonished and delighted on Saturday afternoon to feel early rain showers, with some Jerusalem suburbs receiving as much as 3 millimeters of precipitation. Despite the rain though, forecasts called for rising temperatures throughout the week.

Iranian Threat Highlighted in Cabinet Meeting
In light of the recent missile and drone attack by Iran on Saudi Arabia’s oil production infrastructure, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put forward a proposal at Sunday’s cabinet meeting to build a large, interconnected air defense system to defend the Jewish State from similar attacks. “Today, we are facing a huge security challenge, which has grown with each passing week and has intensified over the last two months,” Netanyahu said. “Anyone with eyes in his head can see that Iran is getting stronger.”

However, in a sign that Iran’s position in the international arena may be weakening, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh announced over the weekend that the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has backed out of a $5 billion deal to help develop Iran's giant South Pars natural gas field in the Persian Gulf. The move followed similar action by European energy companies and is believed to be a reaction to US pressure, as well as worries over Iran’s increasing internal instability and clashes with its neighbors as well as Western powers and Israel.

Israel Hosts International Tackle Football Game
The movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel suffered another defeat on Sunday evening when Israel’s national tackle football team hosted their counterparts from Belgium in the first ever European League contest on Israeli soil, specifically at Jerusalem’s Kraft Family Sports Campus. The Israeli team came back from an early deficit to finish the first half up 17-14 but the game ended with Belgium on top 32-23. “This was a momentous event,” said American Football in Israel President Steve Leibowitz. “The result is somewhat disappointing because it was a very evenly matched game that could have gone either way. Still, we will take a lot of positives out of our first game on home soil.”

Israel Blesses the World
Dr. Yaron Carmi of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and his team recently published a study in the prestigious medical publication Journal of Clinical Investigation giving details of their research into expanded applications for the Israeli-developed CAR-T cancer treatment, which has already proven effective against leukaemia and which shows promise for treating other cancers. The treatments might soon make chemotherapy, which has many difficult side effects, unnecessary.
 
Report: PA Textbooks Encouraging Violence Against Israel
Reports have emerged in the Israeli media that the Palestinian Authority has revised the textbooks for schoolchildren by removing references to agreements made over the decades with Israel, other than the 1993 Oslo Accords. The new textbooks also omit documents such as a letter written by Yasser Arafat to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1993, which spoke about the value of peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians while some sections actually encourage violence.

IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Scheff said: "Another school year began with 1.3 million Palestinian school students being radicalized daily by the Palestinian Ministry of Education. It is difficult to understand how education for this hatred is funded by foreign donor countries without content oversight…just last month, the United Nations called on the Palestinian Authority to remove antisemitic content from textbooks."

Today's video gives some in-depth analysis of Israel's relationship with the US

Iraq Exploding in Protests Against US-backed Regime

Protests continued to rock Iraqi cities on Monday following a bloody weekend which saw reports of over 100 deaths and many more injuries amidst clashes between protesters and security forces intensified. The Iranian regime is, according to many reports, taking an active role in the violence by dispatching agents to murder protest leaders, sometimes in their own homes, while at the same time using regime-linked media outlets to encourage protesters to violently attack Western troops and interests in Iraq, including the US Embassy in Baghdad. Meanwhile, Iranian interference in Iraq has been one of the main points of outrage expressed by protesters along with deteriorating living conditions and government corruption.

"There is no work, you come to protest, they fire at you. Live gunfire," said one unnamed protester to Reuters."They are all Iranian-speaking in Farsi. You want to speak to them; they answer in Farsi. The Iraqis would not fire at you."

Here is a podcast giving some analysis of the situation



While the protests in Iraq have intensified, the drama next door in Syria has also deepened as Turkey has openly threatened to invade the Kurdish controlled northeast with the apparent blessing of the US.

Here is a video giving some analysis of the US position in Syria



Here is a video giving some more analysis of the situation in the Arab Middle East

Friday Feature - In the footsteps of Messiah – Why we celebrate the Feast

In the late 1970s, a gifted Canadian couple living in Jerusalem, Merv and Merla Watson, received from the Lord a vision to invite Christians from around the world to come join them in celebrating Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles. They were inspired by the promise in Zechariah 14:16 that one day the Gentiles will come up to Jerusalem to celebrate Sukkot alongside the Jewish people. In 1979, a few hundred Christians responded to the invitation. But the next year, more than 1,000 believers from some 32 nations arrived for this unique Christian gathering in Jerusalem.

It was during that Feast of Tabernacles celebration in 1980 when the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem was born. The following year, the Feast moved to the Jerusalem Convention Center and some 3,000 pilgrims showed up from all around the world. Since then, each and every year has witnessed a miracle as thousands of Christians ascend to Jerusalem from across the globe to mark this biblical holiday.

“It was always God who brought them here. It truly was a move of the Holy Spirit,” Merv Watson recalls of those early years.

And the Holy Spirit continues to bring them to this day, as we just saw when thousands of Christians from over 90 nations attended this year’s Feast in September.

The Feast of Tabernacles is more than just “another Christian conference”. I will never forget my first visit to Israel in 1991. Our tour guide told us, “You have to visit the Feast!” He took us to the evening celebration and I will always remember what I experienced. Thousands of Christians from around the world were worshipping God together with many Jews in the city of Jerusalem. I felt like we were in heaven. Tears were running down my face as I witnessed something which I knew was enormously important to God.

A prophet ahead of his time

If we go back some 2,500 years in Israel’s history, we find the Jewish people returning from captivity in Babylon to their ancient homeland. During this time of restoration, when Jerusalem and the Temple were being rebuilt, the prophet Zechariah saw the Feast of Tabernacles taking on a whole new dimension.

“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.” (Zechariah 14:16)

The Hebrew prophet foresaw Gentile nations streaming to Jerusalem to celebrate a Jewish festival, the Feast of Tabernacles.

This is even more remarkable considering that in Zechariah's day, the Feast of Tabernacles was not even being celebrated by the Israelites! It would be only 80 years later, under the leadership of Nehemiah, that Israel itself would once again begin to keep Sukkot. Nehemiah found in book of the law “that the people of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month” (Nehemiah 8:14). The Bible then reveals a startling fact: “Since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day the children of Israel had not done so.” (Nehemiah 8:17)

How amazing! All the centuries before Nehemiah, Israel had never fully celebrated Sukkot by dwelling in booths. This makes the vision of Zechariah even more powerful. During a time when Sukkot observance had fallen off, the prophet not only envisioned this Feast of ingathering fully restored to Israel, but he also saw it widely expanded by Gentile participation.  So Zechariah was well ahead of his time.

The wild and noble olive branch

Under Nehemiah and Ezra, Israel again began celebrating Sukkot as commanded. And yet, Nehemiah gives an unusual order: “Go out to the hills and bring branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees to make booths...” (Nehemiah 8:15, ESV)

Originally, the Lord instructed Israel to gather branches from the willow and palm and other leafy trees for use at Sukkot, with no mention of olive trees (Leviticus 23:39-44). Yet in Nehemiah 8, the Hebrew text mentions two kinds of olive trees: etz zeit and etz shemen. The English Standard Version and Revised Standard Version – in agreement with the Jewish Encyclopaedia – both use the phrase “the olive and the wild olive”. And according to the Apostle Paul, the “wild olive” in Romans 11 represents the Gentile part of the Church which has been grafted into the commonwealth of Israel.

So while in Nehemiah’s day, Gentiles were not yet involved in the Feast, they were symbolically represented by the “wild olive branches”, foreshadowing that coming day when both Jews and Gentiles would celebrate this feast together as one new man (Ephesians 2:11ff).

A prophetic sign to Israel

Our Senior Spokesperson David Parsons recently brought to our attention that at the end of Yom Kippur, just a few days before the Feast of Tabernacles, the Jewish people end their solemn synagogue services by reading the Book of Jonah. It is the story of a reluctant Hebrew prophet who had to declare God’s judgment over the main city of the Assyrian empire, which was known as a brutal, oppressive conqueror. Now after Jonah delivered his warning to Nineveh, the Bible records that he went out of the city “...and made a booth for himself there … till he should see what would become of the city” (Jonah 4:5). The Hebrew word used for ‘booth’ is sukkah or tabernacle.

So Jonah was sitting in a flimsy tabernacle, like all of Israel now does during Sukkot, and was watching what would happen to these Gentiles who deserved God’s judgment. But instead of God’s wrath, he saw a sinful city repent and find mercy with God.

I had to think about that story at this year’s Jerusalem March, as thousands of Christians were marching through the streets of Jerusalem, an event broadcast live all across Israel. The Israeli people were sitting in booths, and like Jonah they looked out over a parade of sinful Gentiles who have received mercy from the God of Israel. Indeed, it was a demonstration of God’s love for the nations.

Jesus himself said that Jonah’s story would be a sign for Israel (Luke 11:29-32). Of course, he was alluding to his death and resurrection three days later. But he also referred to the people of Nineveh and the Queen of Sheba, all Gentiles, who would one day testify to Israel.

Every year, as Israelis watch thousands of redeemed Gentiles marching through Jerusalem, it is a testimony that the God of Israel is also God over the nations, and has shown mercy to repentant Gentiles who otherwise deserved His judgment.

The four winds

In Leviticus 23:40, God commands Israel: “And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.”

As Sukkot approaches, every observant Jew purchases these "four species" at local markets. In every synagogue during this holiday, they are waved in all four directions. The four species represent, according to Jewish tradition, all the different types of people on the earth - the good, the bad and everyone in between. The four directions encompass the whole earth - north, south, east and west.

The prophet Ezekiel gives a most powerful prophecy of Israel's restoration in chapter 37. After first seeing her physical restoration to the land, he is instructed to carry out a very unusual prophetic act, which leads to Israel's spiritual restoration. God asks him in to, "Prophesy unto the wind... Thus says the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live." (Ezekiel 37:9 KJV)

This is a rather unusual prophecy, as it makes the Spirit of God seem divided in the four corners of the world. Yet as I thought about this, I felt God speaking to me: “Jürgen, you have seen the Spirit of God in the four corners of the world.”

And yes, I indeed have seen the Spirit of God moving powerfully in the West, at great revival meetings on the Amazon River and in mega-church meetings in Texas. I have experienced the Spirit of God in the South, as thousands of believers gathered in Port Harcourt on the Niger River Delta to worship God. I have seen Him moving in the North, in the lively churches of Finland as far north as Lapland. And I have witnessed it in the east, in the underground churches of China.

So I understood that, indeed, the Spirit of God is drawing thousands and thousands of people up to Jerusalem every single year. God is drawing them to come to fill this city with the presence of His Spirit. In a way, all these pilgrims from around the world are heaven's response to the Jews in their booths waving the four species in all four directions at Sukkot. Today, the Gentiles are coming and I believe it is just the beginning of a far greater number in the years ahead. God’s Spirit is drawing Gentiles to Jerusalem for Sukkot to fill this city with His presence.

Conclusion

The presence of believers from around the world in Jerusalem at Sukkot is a great prophetic sign of the times in which we live. It is a powerful foreshadowing of even more glorious days ahead.

When Merv and Merla Watson were planning that first Feast of Tabernacles celebration in Jerusalem in 1979, they felt uncertain about exactly how Gentiles should celebrate this biblical feast. So they asked the advice of a senior rabbi in Israel. After receiving his well-meaning guidance, they were about to leave when the rabbi called them back.

“Mr and Mrs Watson", he said. "That you, as Gentiles, came here to ask me how to celebrate Sukkot is quite unusual. Our prophets declare that in the Messianic times, all Gentiles will come to Jerusalem to celebrate this feast with us. When you asked me today how to celebrate Sukkot, I am hearing the footsteps of Messiah, that he is coming.”

And this is what the Feast of Tabernacles is all about. The ICEJ has been privileged to organise this incredibly unique event for 40 years now. And it is indeed not just another Christian conference, but a prophetic declaration to Israel and the Church that Messiah is coming soon. In the end, it is all about Jesus. It is not about us, nor even about Israel, but about the returning King.

If you are still able, please join us for this year's Feast here in Jerusalem. Or also consider coming next year, from October 2-7, when we will be celebrating 40 years of the work and ministry of the ICEJ. If you are a pastor or ministry leader, consider bringing a group from your church. Contact our Feast Registration office at: feastreg@icej.org  

Republished and updated from the ICEJ’s Word From Jerusalem magazine (November 2013)

You can subscribe to WFJ HERE

 

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