Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Joyous Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles)

I am posting an update from HaYovel, a ministry of believers in Yeshua that goes to Israel on a regular basis to help with the pruning, and then in the Fall, the harvest of some of the vineyards there.

Shalom, and Happy Feast of Tabernacles!  You may want to pour a cup of tea and settle in, or gather the family around for a read-aloud, because our Heavenly Father has been moving, and teaching us, and I'm excited to tell you all about it!

Right now, the Waller family and the HaYovel harvest team are IN God's chosen land, WITH His covenant people, AT one of His appointed times, and they are blessed to be witnesses to His glory, as they watch His faithful hand of blessing at work! Here's a picture of the current crowd as they are rejoicing before the Lord in keeping the Feast of Tabernacles ("Sukkot," in Hebrew):

crowded sukkah

"These are the feasts of YHWH, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons."  (Leviticus 23:4)

All throughout scripture, we find the theme of holiness. We often think of holiness as something "above" us, but what it really means is "set apart" for God's purpose. He has chosen a holy place - Israel; a holy people - the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and holy times - His appointed feasts, through which to reveal Himself to mankind. And as one of the harvesters said recently, "When something's holy, it's holy forever!"

We only have to look at the story of Isaac and Jacob in Genesis 27 to find a vivid example of the irrevocable nature of a blessing. When Isaac realized that Jacob had "stolen" his blessing, he "trembled very exceedingly" (v. 33), but even he who had pronounced the blessing could not change it or take it back! How much more will our faithful God, who promised and delivered the Messiah to the world keep His Word regarding His covenant people and the land he set apart for them as their inheritance "forever" (Genesis 13:15)? 

Immediately after Abraham was promised this land, he "came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto YHWH" (Genesis 13:18). Our harvesters have had the enormous privilege this week of Sukkot, of taking part in a festival in this same city of Hebron!

A few weeks ago, the group went on a tour of Hebron with a local guide, David Wilder. They were greatly impressed by the stories of the Jewish residents of the city, and by the evidence of the unmistakable hand of God guiding their lives, strengthening their resolve, and granting them grace to face much hardship, as they are surrounded by an enemy who regularly seeks their defeat and death. The atmosphere in Hebron was significantly lighter this week as around 30,000 Jewish Israelis flooded into the city to celebrate the Festival of Sukkot with music, dancing and camping!

The group highlight on the initial tour was standing in the very gates of ancient Hebron, mentioned in Genesis 23, where Abraham bargained for the cave at Machpelah, in which to bury Sarah. For some, even that was topped by the opportunity this week to spend the night near the cave itself, with a few of the men being invited to sleep in the sukkah built adjoining the cave, where lie the bones of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Leah themselves!! (that's worth a few more exclamation points, isn't it?) !!!!

Here's a picture of the campout under the stars in Hebron, where God poured out His perfect love that casts out all fear, and 100 volunteers enjoyed a peaceful night's rest:

Hebron campout

Oh, and if you are wondering about the harvest, it is proceeding along, amid the celebrations. The morning after the campout, the teams of vinedressers were expected at three separate vineyards to continue bringing in the grapes. The work is much faster these days, with so many hands available to help!

And speaking of hands to help, the dates have been set for the Spring pruning trip (which is much easier to predict than the harvest! ;-) If you are interested in getting in on the sort of excitement we've been describing, please make a note on your calendar that the pruning trip is scheduled for February 1 through March 15. You will want to start thinking about passports and tickets soon. (Unfortunately, ladies, this trip opportunity is just for the men, due to housing and other concerns, so you just get that much longer to save up your pennies for next year's harvest!)

I also want to let you know about an addition to the HaYovel Shop, at www.HaYovel.com. We have added a book you will all want to read, called "The Mountains of Israel," by Norma Parrish Archbold. It is a quick read, and does an excellent job of explaining the history and extreme importance of Judea and Samaria, in relation to the Bible and God's covenant with this Land. If you already have understanding in this area, let me recommend this book as a great resource for you to lend or pass on to someone who wants to know more. This information is vital to HaYovel's message and work, and we love it so much we are offering it for sale at a 20% discount off the cover price! It is only $8 for a copy, so please buy one if you can, and pass it around!

There's so much more to tell, I could go on and on - about the favor the teams have found in the eyes of the vineyard owners and their communities; about one owner who entertained the children with balloon animals, about making flutes in Shiloh, and worshiping at the Tabernacle site on Yom Kippur, the "Day of Atonement!"

I'll leave you for now with a final vision of a grateful recipient of help from HaYovel - Nir, the owner of the Har Bracha vineyard, saying "thank you!":

Nir saying "thanks!"

And thank YOU again for your prayers and support!

Be blessed in the Name of Yeshua,

Amy Mucklestone

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