JERUSALEM, Israel – Thousands of Christians from around the world are in Jerusalem to participate in the annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration, sponsored by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ).
The Christian celebration coincides with the biblical feast of Sukkot, described in the book of Leviticus and based on a passage from Zechariah 14:16 that says all the nations will one day go up to Jerusalem to worship the Lord during the Feast of Tabernacles.
"We are expecting one of our biggest crowds ever at this year's Feast," said ICEJ President Dr. Jürgen Bühler.
"Thousands of Christians are once again being drawn here from all over the world by the dynamic worship experience that surrounds this unique biblical festival," he said.
This is the 38th annual ICEJ Feast celebration. Some 6,000 Christians from nearly 100 nations are expected to attend. It's the largest solidarity mission to Israel this year and it's expected to have an $18-$20 million economic impact on Israel.
But according to Bühler, this year also holds an "added attraction of celebrating the fifty-year Jubilee of a reunited Jerusalem."
"This means we are truly in for a banner Feast," Bühler said in a statement.
Israel is marking the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War, this year. That's when it reunited Jerusalem under Jewish sovereignty for the first time in thousands of years.
The ICEJ has a special connection to Jerusalem. It was founded in 1980 after 13 national embassies left Jerusalem for Tel Aviv in protest of the Knesset's "Jerusalem Law," which enshrined a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
In response to the embassies' exodus, more than 1,000 Christians from 40 nations attended the ICEJ Feast in Jerusalem as an act of comfort and solidarity with the 3000-year-old Jewish claim to the city.
"Given that the issue of Jerusalem has once again come to the fore, this year's Feast is also dedicated to reaffirming Christian support for a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty," a statement from ICEJ said.