The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 52: The Annual Feasts
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There were three annual assemblies of all Israel for worship
at the sanctuary. Exodus 23:14-16. Shiloh was for a time the
place of these gatherings; but Jerusalem afterward became the
center of the nation's worship, and here the tribes convened for
the solemn feasts.
The people were surrounded by fierce, warlike tribes, that
were eager to seize upon their lands; yet three times every year
all the able-bodied men and all the people who could make the
journey were directed to leave their homes and repair to the
place of assembly, near the center of the land. What was to hinder
their enemies from sweeping down upon those unprotected
households, to lay them waste with fire and sword? What was to
prevent an invasion of the land, that would bring Israel into
captivity to some foreign foe? God had promised to be the protector
of His people. "The angel of Jehovah encampeth round
about them that fear Him, and delivereth them." Psalm 34:7.
While the Israelites went up to worship, divine power would
place a restraint upon their enemies. God's promise was, "I will
cast out the nations before thee, and enlarge thy borders: neither
shall any man desire thy land, when thou shalt go up to
appear before the Lord thy God thrice in the year." Exodus
The first of these festivals, the Passover, the feast of unleavened
bread, occurred in Abib, the first month of the Jewish year,
corresponding to the last of March and the beginning of April.
The cold of winter was past, the latter rain had ended, and all
nature rejoiced in the freshness and beauty of the springtime.
The grass was green on the hills and valleys, and wild flowers
everywhere brightened the fields. The moon, now approaching
the full, made the evenings delightful. It was the season so beautifully
pictured by the sacred singer: [p. 538]
"The winter is past,
The rain is over and gone;|
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of the singing of birds is come,
And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;
The fig tree ripeneth her green figs,
And the vines are in blossom,
They give forth their fragrance."
|Song of Solomon 2:11-13, R.V.|
Throughout the land bands of pilgrims were making their
way toward Jerusalem. The shepherds from their flocks, the
herdsmen from the mountains, fishers from the Sea of Galilee,
the husbandmen from their fields, and sons of the prophets from
the sacred schools—all turned their steps toward the place where
God's presence was revealed. They journeyed by short stages, for
many went on foot. The caravans were constantly receiving accessions,
and often became very large before reaching the Holy
Nature's gladness awakened joy in the hearts of Israel and
gratitude to the Giver of all good. The grand Hebrew psalms
were chanted, exalting the glory and majesty of Jehovah. At the
sound of the signal trumpet, with the music of cymbals, the
chorus of thanksgiving arose, swelled by hundreds of voices:
"I was glad when they said unto me,|
Let us go unto the house of the Lord.
Our feet are standing
Within thy gates, O Jerusalem. . . .
Whither the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord, . . .
To give thanks unto the name of Jehovah. . . .
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
They shall prosper that love thee."
|Psalm 122:1-6, R.V.|
As they saw around them the hills where the heathen had
been wont to kindle their altar fires, the children of Israel sang:
"Shall I lift up mine eyes to the hills?|
Whence should my help come?
My help cometh from Jehovah,
Which made heaven and earth."
Psalm 121:1, 2 (margin).
"They that trust in the Lord
Are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abideth forever.
As the mountains are round about Jerusalem,
So the Lord is round about His people,
From this time forth and forevermore."
|Psalm 125:1, 2, R.V. [p. 539]|
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