The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 52: The Annual Feasts
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Surmounting the hills in view of the Holy City, they looked
with reverent awe upon the throngs of worshipers wending their
way to the temple. They saw the smoke of the incense ascending,
and as they heard the trumpets of the Levites heralding the
sacred service, they caught the inspiration of the hour, and
"Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised|
In the city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness.
Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth,
Is Mount Zion, on the sides of the north,
The city of the great King."
Psalm 48:1, 2.
"Peace be within thy walls,
And prosperity within thy palaces."
"Open to me the gates of righteousness:
I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord."
"I will pay my vows unto the Lord
Now in the presence of all His people,
In the courts of the Lord's house,
In the midst of thee, O Jerusalem,
Praise ye the Lord."
|Psalm 122:7; 118:19; 116:18, 19.|
All the houses in Jerusalem were thrown open to the pilgrims,
and rooms were furnished free; but this was not sufficient
for the vast assembly, and tents were pitched in every available
space in the city and upon the surrounding hills.
On the fourteenth day of the month, at even, the Passover
was celebrated, its solemn, impressive ceremonies commemorating
the deliverance from bondage in Egypt, and pointing forward to
the sacrifice that should deliver from the bondage of sin. When the
Saviour yielded up His life on Calvary, the significance of the
Passover ceased, and the ordinance of the Lord's Supper was
instituted as a memorial of the same event of which the Passover
had been a type.
The Passover was followed by the seven day's feast of unleavened
bread. The first and the seventh day were days of holy
convocation, when no servile work was to be performed. On the
second day of the feast, the first fruits of the year's harvest were
presented before God. Barley was the earliest grain in Palestine,
and at the opening of the feast it was beginning to ripen. A sheaf
of this grain was waved by the priest before the altar of God, as
an acknowledgment that all was His. Not until this ceremony
had been performed was the harvest to be gathered. [p. 540]
Fifty days from the offering of first fruits, came the Pentecost,
called also the feast of harvest and the feast of weeks. As an
expression of gratitude for the grain prepared as food, two loaves
baked with leaven were presented before God. The Pentecost
occupied but one day, which was devoted to religious service.
In the seventh month came the Feast of Tabernacles, or of
ingathering. This feast acknowledged God's bounty in the products
of the orchard, the olive grove, and the vineyard. It was the
crowning festal gathering of the year. The land had yielded
its increase, the harvests had been gathered into the granaries,
the fruits, the oil, and the wine had been stored, the first fruits
had been reserved, and now the people came with their tributes
of thanksgiving to God, who had thus richly blessed them.
This feast was to be pre-eminently an occasion of rejoicing.
It occurred just after the great Day of Atonement,when the assurance
had been given that their iniquity should be remembered
no more. At peace with God, they now came before Him to
acknowledge His goodness and to praise Him for His mercy. The
labors of the harvest being ended, and the toils of the new year
not yet begun, the people were free from care, and could give
themselves up to the sacred, joyous influences of the hour.
Though only the fathers and sons were commanded to appear
at the feasts, yet, so far as possible, all the household were to
attend them, and to their hospitality the servants, the Levites, the
stranger, and the poor were made welcome.
Like the Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles was commemorative.
In memory of their pilgrim life in the wilderness the
people were not to leave their houses and dwell in booths, or
arbors, formed from the green branches "of goodly trees, branches
of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the
brook." Leviticus 23:40, 42, 43.
The first day was a holy convocation, and to the seven days
of the feast an eighth day was added, which was observed in like
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