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From Eternity Past

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    Chapter 52—Annual Feasts of Rejoicing

    This chapter is based on Leviticus 23.

    The people of Israel were surrounded by fierce, warlike tribes, eager to seize upon their lands; yet three times every year 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 on those unprotected households to lay them waste with fire and sword? What was to prevent an invasion that would bring Israel into captivity?EP 386.1

    God had promised to be the protector of His people. “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 34:24.EP 386.2

    The first of these festivals, the Passover, 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 springtime. The grass was green on the hills and valleys, and wild flowers everywhere brightened the fields. The moon, now approaching full, made the evening delightful.EP 386.3

    Throughout the land, bands of pilgrims were making their way toward Jerusalem. The shepherds, the herdsmen, fishers from the Sea of Galilee, 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. Many went on foot. The caravans often became very large before reaching the Holy City.EP 386.4

    Nature's gladness awakened joy in the hearts of Israel. 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:EP 387.1

    I was glad when they said unto me,
    Let us go unto the house of the Lord.
    Psalm 122:1
    EP 387.2

    As they saw around them hills where the heathen had been wont to kindle their altar fires, the children of Israel sang:EP 387.3

    I will lift up mine eyes unto the mountains:
    From whence shall my help come?
    My help cometh from Jehovah,
    Who made heaven and earth.
    Psalm 121:1, 2
    EP 387.4

    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. As they heard the trumpets of the Levites heralding the sacred service, they caught the inspiration of the hour, and sang:EP 387.5

    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
    EP 387.6

    Open to me the gates of righteousness:
    I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord.
    Psalm 118:19
    EP 387.7

    All the houses in Jerusalem were thrown open to the pilgrims, and rooms were furnished free. But this was not sufficient, and tents were pitched in every available space in the city and upon the surrounding hills.EP 388.1

    On the fourteenth day of the month, at even, the Passover was celebrated, its solemn, impressive ceremonies commemorating 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.EP 388.2

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