Note: The following blog post by Sue Wyatt originally appeared on The Lamb’s Servant, but this site is no longer available (12/9/2020).
There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. Psalm 46:4
Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Psalm 87:3
And YHVH said unto him [King Solomon], I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. 1 Kings 9:3
Mount Moriah, on which Temple Mount is seated, is a focal point of scripture because it is the focal point of Yah’s Future Kingdom. However, the entire Holy City of Jerusalem, the City of God, has been important in Yah’s dealings with man at least since Father Abraham was instructed to sacrifice his precious son, Isaac, on the spot that later became the Holy of Holies of the Temple. (The sages teach that Mount Moriah was the starting point of Creation itself!)
Judah has maintained a presence in the Holy City for all these centuries, particularly during the Pilgrimage Feasts (Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot), but now it seems that Ephraim’s presence in Jerusalem for the Pilgrimage Feasts is ALSO very much on the Father’s heart.
- Recently, more and more Ephraimites have told us something along the line of, “The Ruach (Holy Spirit) has really been impressing on me that I need to do my best to be in Jerusalem for the Pilgrimage Feasts.”
- Each time we’ve gone to Jerusalem over the last year (six occasions – WOW!!! Praise Yah!!), we’ve met Ephraimites who have told us, “This is my first time in the Land. Abba insisted that I be here for this Feast!”
- Then, just to top things off, Abba has also been putting the subject of Ephraim’s presence at the Feasts very much on the hearts of numerous people who already live in the Land. These folks have been praying ceaselessly over this matter, and speaking / writing / singing about it whenever the opportunity has arisen. One of them, worship leader James Block, has already published an article at this blog (An Open Letter to the Brethren), and the topic is the theme of some of his most anointed songs. Our dear Israeli brother Hanoch Young of Kol Yehuda has been traveling all over the States urging Ephraim to “Connect with Israel.” I could go on and on!
On the Other Hand
I was genuinely shocked to learn that there are some believers who object to observing the Pilgrimage Feasts in Jerusalem on moral and/or scriptural grounds. This is a topic that is even seriously debated in our little community here in Jordan.
The folks holding this position are people that I love, respect and admire, so I was anxious to know what their reasons were. The outcome was disappointing. I can find no validity to their arguments. It certainly seems to me to be inescapable Truth that Abba’s instructions – His eternal commands (Ps 119:160, Ps 111:7-8, Ps 119:89, etc.) – make it clear that there are three times a year when He expects His people to meet with Him (and with each other) in Jerusalem. Period.
It’s obvious that not every believer can be in Jerusalem for every Feast. Finances, health and many other factors disrupt our best-laid plans and our dearest desires. However, just as Brother Judah has cried for over 2000 years, “Next year, in Jerusalem!“, we too should be longing to be able to please YHVH by our obedient and joyful appearance in His Holy City at His appointed times.
Because every believer’s highest joy is to please YHVH by obeying Him, it should GRIEVE us when we are unable to obey His commands to appear at the Pilgrimage Feasts. In fact, the Word says that it will be those who GRIEVE over their inability to properly observe the Feasts who will be gathered!
I will gather you who mourn for the appointed festivals; you will be disgraced no more. Zeph 3:18 (NLT)
Does this mean that we should not observe the Pilgrimage Feasts AT ALL when we cannot be in Jerusalem? My personal jury is still ‘out’ on that question (Guest author, Bob Parham, gives his thoughts on this issue in his article entitled But What Shall We Do??), but I AM convinced that no matter what course I take, it should include sincere mourning and grief over the current situation that prevents full obedience.
In addition, I am convinced that my presence in Jerusalem at the appointed times whenever possible is one of the best ways available to me to demonstrate to Father my genuine desire to please and obey Him – and absolutely the best way available to me to express fraternity with His people.
Answering the Objections
Since I believe strongly that my brothers and sisters in the Faith will miss out on many blessings if they are misled regarding Jerusalem’s place in Yah’s Heart and Plan, I wanted to write something in rebuttal of the various arguments against our presence in Jerusalem for the feasts. Thankfully it came to my attention that our dear friend, Bob Parham, has already written just such an article. It would be pretty silly for me to ‘re-invent the wheel,’ so I asked Bob if I could publish his article. To my delight, he agreed!
It is a tremendous pleasure and honor to be permitted to present Bob’s article here. Because it is a long article, we’ll break it up into portions so you will have lots to read for a few days! A link is provided to each article, so you can pick and choose the ones that interest you.
Even if the ‘Feasts in Jerusalem issue’ is a non-issue for you, you will still learn a LOT of great stuff from the intensive study that Bob and his wife, Valerie, have done on this topic! Don’t miss out!
First, meet Bob and Valerie Parham
Bob and Valerie have my deepest respect. They daily exhibit inexhaustible love for the body by serving in every conceivable way despite health issues, financial restraints and the inevitable criticism. Both of them are serious students of the Word, doing their studies in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, and not resting until they are confident that they have heard from the Ruach rather than from man or their own personal bias.
Bob and Val first heard the call to the Land about 16 years ago, and 11 years ago they gave up their old secure life to come here to Jordan (which is part of the land promised to Father Abraham’s descendants). Their first eight or so years were a very tough struggle – the agricultural project they thought would provide their income never got off the ground, leaving them stranded without a way to make a living. However, they were determined to be obedient and remain in The Land despite all obstacles. They survived by teaching English in the local schools for ‘a mere pittance.’ Abba honored their obedience by meeting every need.
Not only did He provide their needs in Aqaba, He also provided for them to make the (expensive) trip to Jerusalem three times each year for the Pilgrimage Feasts! They have faithfully observed each Pilgrimage Feast in the Holy City for almost eleven years now!
During those many visits to Jerusalem, Bob and Val have built relationships not only with many Hebrew Roots and Messianic believers, but also with many of the Jewish faithful. They testify that each time they share their beliefs with Jews, they get the same response: “You’re a follower of Y’shua, but you observe Torah??” (Yes.) “How many more are there like you?” (Thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, maybe more….). [Silence] “If they observe Torah, WHERE ARE THEY? Why aren’t they here for the Feasts?“
Bob and Val have been told,
“If 10,000 like you were to show up at the Western Wall for the Feasts, Israel would have to do something about you!”
The encouraging word is that the Jews WANT Ephraim to come home! They are anxiously waiting for Messiah, and they know that scripture says that Ephraim will come home FIRST. They’re excited to see Ephraim coming home!! When we march behind our Ephraimite Banner in the International Parade at Sukkot, the response is amazing! Israelis run out into the parade line to hug and kiss us and tell us, “We’re so glad you’re coming home!”
Healing the Breech Between Brothers
I believe that the presence of Y’shua’s Torah-observant talmidim (disciples) in Jerusalem during the Pilgrimage Feasts is the most powerful – and the most loving – way available to us for initiating a healing of the hurt, pain and fear that the church has caused brother Judah over the centuries. As Valerie points out, when Judah is standing at the Western Wall and looks over to see us worshiping by his side, it’s a pretty strong assurance that we do not wish him harm, but rather that we respect him and his faith.
I also respect those brothers and sisters who have stayed away from Jerusalem for what they believe are good reasons, but it seems a great pity to me that these brothers and sisters are missing out on an amazing opportunity not only to please YHVH by obedience, but also to be part of the reunification of the family of Jacob!
I hope this series will help those who are wrestling with this issue to resolve their concerns and be able to participate in the wonderful things going on in the spiritual dimension in Jerusalem during the Feasts! And I hope it will encourage those of you who are already longing to be in Jerusalem for the feasts – you are working miracles in the spiritual realm!
Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and Judah and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, inviting them to come to the temple of YHVH in Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to YHVH, the God of Israel. . . . “If you return to YHVH, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for YHVH your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” (2 Chron 30: 1, 9 NIV)
There are at least eleven reasons that people give as to why they don’t “want to”, “have to” or “shouldn’t” go to Jerusalem for the three Pilgrimage Feasts (Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot). These reasons might actually seem to make good sense when you first hear them. So let’s take a quick look at this list of “reasons for not going” that I have personally heard (and if you have heard of other reasons on this topic, please share them with me).
ELEVEN REASONS NOT TO GO TO JERUSALEM FOR THE PILGRIMAGE FEASTS
1. There is no Temple in Jerusalem.
2. Israel has no peace from her enemies.
3. The land is DEFILED!
4. The Synagogue of Satan: The people and/or government of Israel aren’t/isn’t of God. They belong to Satan, so we shouldn’t want to go there.
5. Yah’s Presence is no longer in Jerusalem.
6. Jerusalem is too far to go. Observe the feasts somewhere more practical.
7. If you keep the feasts outside Jerusalem, it shows Yah that you keep His commands, and He will bring you home.
8. We don’t have to keep those commands because we aren’t in the land.
9. John Chapter 4 indicates that Yeshua took away any commands concerning Jerusalem.
10. Paul didn’t go to Jerusalem for 14 years, so we don’t have to (or shouldn’t) go, either.
11. Paul sailed from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, which means that he wasn’t in Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. Therefore, he shows that we don’t need to be in Jerusalem for the feasts.
There may be more objections, so if you know of one, please comment below – we would appreciate the opportunity to study its merits. Thank you!
 The term “Ephraim“ refers to the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel who were dispersed into the nations. They are called by the name of “Ephraim” because their first king, Jeroboam, was of the tribe of Ephraim. They are mentioned many times in scripture as being very much on the Father’s heart. Many prophecies tell us that in the Last Days, Abba will gather both Judah and Ephraim from among the nations and will call them home and restore them to fellowship with one another. Everyone is aware of the regathering of Judah (the Jews), but we have also been seeing the almost unnoticed fulfillment of the prophecies about Ephraim since 1948, and especially since 1967, when Jerusalem was returned to Jewish hands. The pace is picking up as more and more of these “lost” brothers and sisters are discovering their identity and finding their way back to The Ancient Path. (Jer 18:15, Ps 119:35, etc.) Some are coming from clearly identifiable groups who have a long tradition of being Israelites. Others have no readily identifiable connection to Father Abraham, yet their hearts are filled with love for Torah and longing for the Land. We believe that both of these groups are being called by the Father, as promised in His Word. If you have been called by the Ruach to follow Torah, you might be a descendant of one of the ‘lost’ tribes, and you are definitely part of the Commonwealth of Israel. One of many passages that speak of this is found in Jeremiah:
Jeremiah 50:4-6 (KJV) – (4) In those days, and in that time, saith YHVH, the children of Israel [aka Ephraim] shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek YHVH their God. (5)
They shall ask the way to Zion [Jerusalem!] with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to YHVH in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten. (6) My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place.
 Some readers may be thinking, “Y’shua’s work on the cross eliminated any need for sacrifices, and the Pilgrimage Feasts are all about sacrifices. There is no further need to observe them!” Those of us who have thought this (I was one!) need to do some rethinking. Just a FEW of the things to be considered are:
Y’shua’s personal command is to “eat this bread and drink this cup in remembrance of Me.” He was very specifically referring to the Cup of Redemption and the matzah (unleavened bread) of the Passover Feast. We cannot eat and drink them in remembrance of Him if we are not observing Passover.
The prophets tell us that the feasts will still be observed during the Millennial Kingdom. (Ex: Zec 14:16-21, etc.)
Abba tells us that in the Millennial Kingdom, even the burnt offerings and sacrifices of faithful Gentiles will be accepted at His Altar. (Isa 56:6-7)
All of the feasts are pictures of Y’shua’s ministry: His life, death, resurrection, marriage to the Bride, and Kingship. Above all peoples, His disciples should be observing His feasts!