From Eternity Past


Meaning of the Festivals

The Passover was followed by the seven days’ Feast of Unleavened Bread. On the second day of the feast, the firstfruits of the year's harvest were presented before God. A sheaf of grain was waved by the priest before the altar of God, an acknowledgment that all was His. Not until this ceremony had been performed was the harvest to be gathered. EP 388.3

Fifty days from the offering of firstfruits came Pentecost, the feast of harvest. As an expression of gratitude for grain, two loaves baked with leaven were presented before God. Pentecost occupied but one day. EP 388.4

In the seventh month came the Feast of Tabernacles, or ingathering. This feast acknowledged God's bounty in the products of orchard, olive grove, and vineyard. It was the crowning festival gathering of the year. The harvest had been gathered into the granaries, the fruits, oil, and wine had been stored, and now the people came with their tributes of thanksgiving to God. EP 388.5

This feast was an occasion of rejoicing. It occurred just after the great Day of Atonement, when assurance had been given that their iniquity should be remembered no more. At peace with God, the labors of the harvest ended and the toils of the new year not yet begun, the people could give themselves up to the sacred, joyous influences of the hour. So far as possible, all the household were to attend the feasts, and to their hospitality the servants, the Levites, the stranger, and the poor were made welcome. EP 388.6

Like the Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles was commemorative. In memory of their pilgrim life in the wilderness, the people were to leave their homes 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 willow of the brook.” Leviticus 23:40. EP 389.1

At these yearly assemblies the hearts of old and young would be encouraged in the service of God. Association of the people from different quarters of the land would strengthen the ties that bound them to God and to one another. As Israel celebrated the deliverance God had wrought for their fathers and His miraculous preservation of them during their journeyings from Egypt, so should we gratefully call to mind the ways He has devised for bringing us out from darkness into the precious light of His grace and truth. EP 389.2

With those who lived at a distance from the tabernacle, more than a month of every year must have been occupied in attendance upon the annual feasts. This example of devotion should emphasize the importance of religious worship, the necessity of subordinating our selfish, worldly interests to those that are spiritual and eternal. We sustain a loss when we neglect associating together to encourage one another in the service of God. We are all children of one Father, dependent upon one another for happiness. It is the proper cultivation of the social elements of our nature that brings us into sympathy with our brethren and affords us happiness. EP 389.3

The Feast of Tabernacles not only pointed back to the wilderness sojourn, but forward to the great day of final ingathering. The Lord shall send forth His reapers to gather the tares in bundles for the fire and to gather the wheat into His garner. At that time the wicked will be destroyed. They will become “as though they had not been.” Obadiah 16. And every voice in the whole universe will unite in joyful praise to God. EP 389.4

When the ransomed of the Lord shall have been safely gathered into the heavenly Canaan, forever delivered from the bondage of the curse, they will “rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” 1 Peter 1:8. Christ's great work of atonement will then have been completed and their sins forever blotted out. EP 390.1

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
And come to Zion with songs
And everlasting joy upon their heads: ...
And sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Isaiah 35:10
EP 390.2