Response by Bob Parham
One of the first things people think about when considering a trip to Israel at any time of the year, let alone for the Feasts, is SAFETY and SECURITY. Let’s face it, Israel is under constant threat of attack and much too regularly suffers from bombings, stabbings, and every other kind of terrorist attack. Does Abba really expect His people to meet Him in such a dangerous place?
When Yah was giving the commands concerning the Pilgrimage Feasts, He promised that He would first give Israel PEACE and then pick the specific city, which turned out to be Jerusalem. For many, the fact that Israel certainly does not enjoy peace right now seems to be a strong indicator that this is not the scripturally ordained time for celebrating the Feasts in Jerusalem.
First, we need to know if Yah has ever given Israel “peace from their enemies”. Consider the following passages:
2 Samuel 7: 1, 11 – (1) And it came to pass, when the king [David] sat in his house, and the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies . . . (11) And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies.
1 Chronicles 22:9 – But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign.
So we can say, YES, Jerusalem was chosen as the place for Yah’s Name, and YES, David and Solomon did indeed have peace during their reigns. BUT, peace was lost again with the reign of Rehoboam, because he abandoned the Torah of YHWH. In fact, Rehoboam made war against his own brethren, the Israelites! (1 Kings 12:21) Thankfully, peace soon returned to Israel with King Asa.
2 Chronicles 14 – (2) Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. (3) He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. (4) He commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his laws and commands. (5) He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him. (6) He built up the fortified cities of Judah, since the land was at peace. No one was at war with him during those years, for the Lord gave him rest.
Well, not quite: even Asa faced unrest – And there was war between Asa [King of Judah] and Baasha king of Israel all their days. (1 Kings 15:16)
OK, so we know that Yah DID give Israel peace during the reigns of David and Solomon and for some of Asa’s reign. But there were intervening times of war, as the Hebrews turned from following Yah’s ways.
Therefore we would have to ask: Were the commands to go to Jerusalem for these feasts taken away when there was no peace, given back when there was peace and then taken away again when there was no peace again?
The underlying question is: Does Yah’s Torah only stand in effect if Israel is living righteously and/or at peace?
Next, let’s look at EZRA. There was certainly no peace for Israel in Ezra’s day, during the time of Judah’s return to the Land, which had been overrun by hostile, idolatrous nations and idol-worshiping Israelites. So, were the commands to go to Jerusalem set aside or ended because of that? What does Ezra, Chapter 3, tell us?
Ezra 3 – (1) When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, the people assembled together as one in Jerusalem. (2) Then Joshua son of Jozadak and his fellow priests and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his associates began to build the altar of the God of Israel to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, in accordance with what is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. (3) Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices. (4) Then in accordance with what is written, they celebrated the Festival of Tabernacles with the required number of burnt offerings prescribed for each day. (5) After that, they presented the regular burnt offerings, the New Moon sacrifices and the sacrifices for all the appointed sacred festivals of the Lord, as well as those brought as freewill offerings to the Lord. (6) On the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, though the foundation of the Lord’s temple had not yet been laid.
Pay close attention to verse three: “Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices.”
Even though the Israelites had lost their peace with their enemies, they were anxious to meet “as one man” in Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. The scriptures never rebuke them for returning to the defiled Land in those dangerous days – instead we are taught to admire and respect them for their dedication.
Their example shows me that Torah does not support the teaching that a politically hostile environment or even a spiritually hostile environment in the Land does away with the commands to go to Jerusalem for the Pilgrimage Feasts.
© Bob Parham, Sue Wyatt and The Lamb’s Servant Blog, 2016. Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Lamb’s Servant Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sue Wyatt and The Lamb’s Servant Blog, as well as to the original author (in this case Bob Parham) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.