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Feast of Tabernacles

Dancing on the Streets of Jerusalem

The time is winding down here in Jerusalem as today is the final day of the ICEJ Feast of Tabernacles celebration. The theme has been from Zechariah 12:10 “the spirit of grace and supplication.” In my life this has been the theme of the past year. God poured out His grace and listened to my supplications for healing and restoration.  Israel and the ICEJ Feast of Tabernacles seem to represent the glory of God and the power of His promises to me. A new joy has come over my lifes truly the greater cost?

Jeremy Carney

Yesterday evening I was blessed to be invited by our tour leader, Michael Hines, to accompany him to address another Israel tour group from Crosswalk Church located in Williamsburg, Virginia. Pastor Mark, his wife Pam, and the tour group were gracious hosts and welcomed Michael and me as if we were family. In evidence of just how small our world can be, I met two people who had lived in the same small town of Crossville, Tennessee where I was raised. This was a special reminder of how God directs our paths and connects His people in fellowship. Michael’s message was about the role of the Jewish people and the conflict that resonates in the nation. A conflict that is not political, but spiritual in nature -- Israel’s response to Jesus as Messiah. 


In my short time in Israel I have admired the scenery, the food, and the people, but something continually nagged at me from the first night I spent in Jerusalem on the eve of Yom Kippur. That night, after reflecting on my first two days in the country, it came to me.  What I saw was that the people seem to lack joy in their lives – that joy that comes from knowing the hope of having a Savior. Understandably the cultural, political, and spiritual conflicts weigh heavily on the Jewish people – but what I saw was something much deeper.  Israelis use the word “sabra” or prickly pear to describe themselves.  A “sabra” is tough and prickly on the outside, but sweet on the inside.   I was soon to see some of that sweetness.

  dancing on Ben Yehuda  

After Michael’s message, the group invited us to join them down at Ben Yehuda Street. Oh what a blessing this was!! The street is the heart of city life with lovely cafes and shops lining the district. The streets were bustling with Orthodox Jews enjoying music and dancing in celebration of the holiday of Succot. The people greeted us with shouts of “Chag Sameach” --Happy Holidays! Jewish men dressed in typical orthodox attire and sporting long beards were dancing in the street and they happily invited us Gentiles to join hands with them and participate. It was an experience of a lifetime and one I will never forget. I saw a joy in these men’s faces as we danced and celebrated. After dancing, it was brought to my attention that the song we were all dancing to was about “Mashiach”, or Messiah, in Hebrew.

   Dancing on Ben Yehuda_2

What about that? A song about Messiah brought joy to the faces and hearts of the Jewish people.  The irony was that they were dancing with men who know the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  It amazed me that that just the thought of Messiah brought such joy to them – the joy that I noticed they were lacking.
Through Christ we find joy and peace despite a world in conflict. I pray for the nation of Israel and the Jewish people to recognize Christ as Messiah and experience a new joy in their lives. As I can attest, peace and joy do exist in the presence of conflict and heartache, but the only way is through a deep, personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jeremy Carney is guest blogging for the ICEJ as a member of this year's tour to the Feast of Tabernacles.  Contact us about joining us for next year's Feast! »

Running on Empty

I'm reflecting back to day seven of the ICEJ Feast of Tabernacles tour where we visited religious and historical sites throughout Israel. In the morning we checked out of the hotel at Kibbutz Nof Ginosar and began our last day in the Galilee. On the agenda: baptisms in the Jordan River, touring Nazareth, ascending Mount Carmel, and visiting Megiddo before finishing the day in Jerusalem where we began to prepare our hearts for the opening of the Feast.

Jordan River

At this point in the tour the only things that kept me going physically were the Spirit of God and lots of coffee! I was averaging between five and six hours of sleep each night of the tour. It was crazy, I know, but I just wanted to soak up every opportunity here in Israel despite my feelings of exhaustion and weakness. Needless to say I was running on empty.

Har Meggido

There were many tour members running on empty; some physically, some emotionally, and some spiritually.  It is during these times that we need to be refueled and this is exactly the point at which God can grab hold of us and restore us. I find that there is a restorative power in this land.  I believe it is because our God came to earth and saved us here in this place. The Holy Spirit remains here and brings us healing and comfort.

  sunset from tour bus  

It was on this day, after a full year of running on empty, that I was baptized in the waters of the Jordan River. Yes! Those same waters that washed over our Lord Jesus Christ. I was blessed to share the moment with seven others who desired to pass from their former life into a new, a pure and spiritual life rooted in Christ.

   ICEJ Panel at Yardenit

Day 8 promised a visit to the Western Wall and a drive to Ein Gedi for the worship celebration in the desert which was to open the Feast. I was expecting an amazing spiritual energy from God to meet us there. I was hopeful that this outpouring would fill us all and set the tone for the entire Feast. I was not disappointed.  The opening of the Feast of Tabernacles both at Ein Gedi and at the Roll Call of the Nations in Jerusalem were beyond my wildest expectations.  I will share more soon.

Palm Tree Israel

Jeremy Carney is guest blogging for the ICEJ as a member of this year's tour to the Feast of Tabernacles.  Contact us about joining us for next year's Feast! »

“You will be comforted … in Jerusalem” (Isaiah 66:13)

Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:3-10

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount along the Sea of Galilee gives us a first glimpse of the message of righteousness and salvation that He uncompromisingly preached and instilled into His disciples. Today’s visit to the Mount of Beatitudes, where Christ proclaimed these proverbs was an opportunity to evaluate and refocus our hearts. Am I living the way that Christ has commanded? That is a question that I must ask myself every day.  Following Christ is hard work! It is much easier and fun to sin, but what is truly the greater cost?

Sea of Galilee

Yesterday on the bus ride many of the tour members told their testimonies and path to Israel. We all have come to the Holy Land for our own reasons, but the underlying reason is that God has called us here to a place that will build our faith even stronger. Verse 4 of the Beatitudes is especially relevant in my life currently. It touches on the theme of mourning and comfort which is ultimately how God directed me to this land. Isaiah 66:13 states “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; And you will be comforted in Jerusalem.” It was this verse that spoke to my heart at a time of deep sadness. In the time I have been in Israel I have felt a spiritual and physical renewal come upon me. He promised me comfort and I have found so much more. Faith changes our lives!

Sunrise over Galilee

The blessings of Israel are numerous. Driving throughout the Galilee one sees a land that is fertile and provides the people and the world with some of the best produce in the world. The Sea of Galilee itself provides a bounty of fish. And the hillsides are seem as if they are paintings, created with perfect brushstrokes, detailing cypress trees and splashes of color for the beautiful.


I could continue to come to this land just for the scenic views and the wonderful food throughout the country, but it is the opportunity to meet and touch God that will forever draw me back to Israel. I hope you would consider taking an opportunity to experience Israel and be in the land where our Savior came into this world for our salvation.

   ICEJ Feast of Tabernacles

Jeremy Carney is guest blogging for the ICEJ as a member of this year's tour to the Feast of Tabernacles.  Contact us about joining us for next year's Feast! »


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