This is the season of the Feasts in Israel, a time of celebration, a time of repentance, a time of seeking God afresh. A couple of blogs ago had some pictures from a celebration of the nations coming together in Jerusalem to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Immediately following that feast, is the “Feast of the Tabernacles”, celebrating harvest time and a time of provision that hearkens back to the children of Israel making their way out of Egypt and God providing water, manna, meat (quail), and general protection as they made their way to the promised land. They lived in tents, or tabernacles during those 40 years of travel, sukkah in Hebrew, and so the Feast of Tabernacles is called Succoth here.
We began the Feast of Tabernacles by spending a couple of days up north with our friends the Gerassy family. They had their Sukkah erected and colorfully decorated just outside their house. Succoth is a time to invite guests to share what God has given; not just family, or even just friends, but neighbors and strangers like the Nicklaus’s as well!
Dinner is a “light” and (supposedly) simple affair. Not really designed to be potluck, but in the Gerassy neighborhood, everyone brings a delicious dish! Here neighbor Toma mans the propane gas pizza oven, where everyone “does it their way” building their pizza, then handing it off to Toma to be baked.
The next day was road trip day with Smadi and Shay. Here we are at the ancient “Tel” or ruins of Yodfat. Yodfat was a sort of mini Masada. 2000 years ago, some of the Israelites made their last stand here against the Romans. After days of fighting, rather than surrender, they chose suicide. Lots were drawn, and one man was selected to end the lives of those still surviving. The plan was for him to end his own life last of all, but instead he gave himself up to the Romans, ingratiating himself to them, and becoming the historian of the Jewish nation. His name: Josephus Flavius.
Flowers were blooming all over the Tel of Yodfat! See the stems of the many flowers of this type that bloom in the fall rather than the spring. Shay is not going to be happy with me that I can’t remember the Hebrew name for this flower. Schliha, Shay. (Excuse me).
Did you know that there are two Bethlehem’s in Israel? The most well know to us is the Bethlehem just to the south of Jerusalem, but here we are in Bet-le-hem Galit, Bethlehem of Galilee, a beautiful former kibbutz full of artists and their wares. What a great day and a great holiday time we spent with our dear friends Itzhik and Smadi, Shay and Ram.
The next night found us down at the Dead Sea near En Gedi with 5000 others from around the world celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles ICEJ style. Our friend Ashley was one of the dancers you see above.
The International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem is an organization of Christian believers from around the world who pray and otherwise support Israel. ICEJ runs several “helps” ministries throughout the year, including housing and caring for 120 holocaust survivors here in Israel, soup kitchens for the poor, clothing distribution, etc. Their Feast of Tabernacles extravaganza brings people from all over the world together to worship, pray, and get educated about Israel. A pastor from Brazil spoke this night after the worship time.
I kept looking back at the hills silhouetted against the night sky behind us, wondering if the Israelites pitched their sukkahs on the ground we were standing on as they entered their promised land thousands of years ago. For me as for others, a time of repentance and of thanksgiving for all His many blessings.