Exodus 23:17
Three times a year all your males are to appear before the Lord GOD.
Sabbaths and FeastsJ. Orr Exodus 23:10-20
A Threefold Cord is not Quickly BrokenG.A. Goodhart Exodus 23:14-17

To forget is far easier than to remember. Festivals are like posts to which we can fasten the cords of memory, so that, securely fastened, we may not drift down the stream of Lethe. To forget facts is to ignore the duties to which facts prompt us. We must leave undone what we ought to do, unless we take measures to keep us in remembrance. The great fact which the Israelites needed to remember was the relation of dependence in which they stood to God. He had freed them from slavery, he had provided them with food, he had given them, besides, the means of enjoyment - wine and oil - above all that they could ask or think. By means of the three great annual festivals threefold security was given against forgetfulness of this fact. To keep the festivals was to realise the relation, and to strengthen it by practical acknowledgment. Consider -

I. THE FEAST OF FREEDOM. In this connection (ver. 15) the unleavened bread is the point emphasised - to be eaten for seven days, a full week, at the commencement of the sacred year. As a reminder it suggested -

1. Past slavery. The tyrannous oppression of Egypt; hopeless condition ere God looked upon them; life but a synonym for bare existence; even sustenance depending upon the caprice of others.

2. Past deliverance. The paschal night; unleavened bread the accompaniment of the first paschal feast; food a very secondary consideration when freedom was in question.

3. Present duties. God had delivered them from slavery that they might serve him as his free people; an inner slavery worse than the outer; a purification needed in the heart even more important than that in the home. The leaven of malice and wickedness must be sought out and put away; so long as they retained that, freedom was but a nominal privilege.

II. THE FEAST OF FIRST-FRUITS. Linked on to the second day of unleavened bread. God would have his children look forward; and so he makes the first blessing a seed in which are enwrapped others. Freed by God, the people could appropriate, as his children, the promise made to children (Genesis 1:29, as modified by the fall, Genesis 3:19). The gift of food was God's gift, but their cooperation was needed for its fruition; it was to be the fruit, not the creation of their labours. Familiarity breeds forgetfulness as often as it breeds contempt. A reminder needed that human labour can, at most, work up God's raw material. [The cerealia, or corn plants, well called "a standing miracle." Apparently a cultivated grass, yet no known grass can be improved into corn by cultivation. Corn can be degraded by artificial means into a worthless perennial; as it is, it is an annual, exhausting itself in seeding, needing man's labour to its perfection and preservation.] To get his food, man is constantly reminded that he must be a fellow-worker with God.

III. THE FEAST OF INGATHERING. As the year rolls on, it exhibits more and more of God's goodness and bounty. It calls for ever fresh acknowledgment of that love which gives "liberally and upbraideth not." Freedom a great gift, the capacity to work for one's own livelihood; so, too, food, the means through which that capacity may find exercise; further, God gives all the fruits of the earth in their season, so that man through his labour may find not merely health but happiness. Naturally this was the most joyful of all the festivals - the blossoms which glorified the stem springing from the root of freedom. To rejoice in the Lord is the final outcome of that faith which enables us to realise our sonship. Conclusion. - These festivals have more than an historical interest. They teach the same truths as of old, but for Christians their meaning is intensified. Unleavened bread is associated with Calvary, freedom from the tyranny of sin (1 Corinthians 5:7, 8). Linked to this is our first-fruits festival; Christ, the first-fruits (1 Corinthians 15:20), made our food through the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost. The feast of ingathering is not yet, but we may rejoice in it by anticipation (1 Peter 1:6). The final festival is described for us by St. John in the Revelation (Revelation 7:9-17). Blessed are they who, with robes washed white, shall share the joy of that feast of Ingathering. - G.

The feast of harvest.

1. It exhibits the wonderful power of God.

2. We have an establishment of the faithfulness and truth of God.

3. We have a manifestation of the goodness and bounty of God.

4. It displays the mercy and forbearance of God.

5. It shows us the connection between means and the end.

II. WHAT FEELINGS IT SHOULD PRODUCE. It should produce feelings —

1. Of deep humiliation.

2. Of heartfelt gratitude.

3. Our constant dependence upon God.

4. A constant desire to please Him.


1. To labour for the provision suited to our souls.

2. To do good in our respective spheres and stations in life.

3. Prepare for the final harvest.Application:

1. Let us gratefully enjoy the bounties of Providence. Many are abusing, many forgetting, etc.

2. Let us be especially anxious about the blessings of eternal life.

3. Let us always act in reference to the final harvest of the world.

(J. Burns, D. D.)


1. Of God's past dealings.

2. Of our dependence on God's care.

3. Of our present condition. Pilgrims. This earth is not our rest.





1. Pure,

2. Of the best.

(W. Burrows, B. A.)

This was their Pentecost; so called from a Greek word signifying "fifty" — because it occurred on the fiftieth day from the feast of unleavened bread. It was, properly, a harvest festival, in which the Jew offered thanksgiving unto God for the ripened fruits of the earth. To understand the peculiar interest the Jew took in this holiday, you must remember that the Israelites, after their establishment in Canaan, were almost entirely a nation of farmers. The peasant and the noble, in their respective spheres, were alike husbandmen. And the whole land of Israel was in the highest state of cultivation. Now, to such a people, inhabiting such a country, the feast of harvest was necessarily a grand festival.

1. We, too, want great national and religious holidays, to keep in mind great national providences.

2. We need them, moreover, as verily as the Jews, for their conservative political influence — to counteract the sectional and unsocial tendencies of our great tribal divisions. If we could come up nationally to such Pentecosts, then no living man would ever again dare breathe of discord and disunion — for chords, tender as our loves and stronger than our lives woven of religion and holy with old memories, as the memorial festivals uniting Judah and Ephraim, would bind us together and bind us to God!

3. Meanwhile we need such pentecostal holidays for those personal advantages which they brought to the Hebrews. They furnish that harmless relaxation so constitutionally necessary to our highest well-being. Real pleasure, as well physical as moral, is always the true law of life. True virtue is genial and joyous, walking earth in bright raiment, and with bounding footsteps. And the nervous, restless, unreposing, devouring intensity of purpose wherewith our men follow their business, is as disastrous to the nobler moral bloom and aroma of the heart, as a roaring hurricane to a garden of roses. Above all, our religious nature needs them. The true joy of the Lord is the Christian's strength. Cheerfulness is a very element of godliness.

4. This is our Pentecost — our feast of harvest. And even in its lowest aspect, as a grateful acknowledgment of God's goodness, in preserving for our use the kindly fruits of the earth, it is a fitting occasion of thankfulness. It is scarcely possible to over-estimate the importance of agriculture. It surpasses commerce and manufacture, as a cause is superior to its effects — as an inner life is of more moment than its various outward functions. Meanwhile, the reflex influences of industrial agriculture on our physical and social well-being are as well incalculable. After all, the finest products of our farm-lands are found in our farm-houses. Things better than corn and cabbages are grown on plough-ground — bone, muscle, sinew, nerve, brain, heart; these all thrive and strengthen by agriculture. The specimens of strong, hale, common-sense manhood seen at our annual fairs are a finer show than all the fat cattle and sheep, and noble horses, and the brave array of farm-fruits and implements. Agriculture purifies morals, chastens taste, deepens the religious element, develops the individual man.

5. Our thanksgiving is partly in view of the ripened fruits of the earth; but mainly in view of other and higher blessings. And in this regard as well, it is properly — a feast of harvest. In respect of all things — not merely the natural fruits of the earth, but all great human interests, political, intellectual, religious — we may be said to live in the world's great harvest time. We have reaped, and are reaping, the ripened and ripening fruits of all earth's past generations. Consider this a little.(1) First: This is true — politically. Philosophically considered, the grand end and aim of all civil progress is human freedom — the highest development and culture of the individual and free manhood. Monarchy the one-man-power, oligarchy the few-men-power, are but the successive stages of the growing life, up to the ripened product of the true democracy — the all-men power. To this end hath tendered all political progress; and beyond this there is no progress. This is the harvest of earth's long political husbandry, and we are reaping it.(2) Then passing from the political, the same thought is true in regard of the intellectual. It is a thought well worthy our pondering, on an occasion like this — that we live in the harvest-time of mind and thought! Carefully considered, the development of the "mental" follows the law of material development. "First, the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear." Genius is first poetical, then practical. First, the flaunting blossom; then the substantial fruit. From the beginning, man's law of intellectual progress has been from the abstract to the practical — from ideas to facts. The practical, being the fruit of the imaginative, as the ripened corn is the fruit of the plant's inner life. In past generations, intellect has been busy in a rudimental husbandry — felling the great forests; draining the low marshes; subduing the rugged soil; scattering the seed; and watching and waiting for the increase. The old philosophy; the old civilization; the old polities, civil and ecclesiastical; the old chivalry; the old poetry — these were the thought-germs, the thought-leaves, the thought-blossoms, which have ripened, and are ripening around us into God's glorious fruit! We live in earth's prodigal and luxuriant autumn — in times when marvellous things are the rule, and mean things the exception — in an economy of prodigies, each one a seeming miracle to men's earlier comprehension, and yet all, only the ripened development of their own thought-germs. And if the law of all husbandry be "to sow in tears and reap in joy," then our thanksgiving, that we live in these eventful times, should be unto God, this day, a great feast of harvest!(3) Passing this, we observe once more, and finally, That this same law of development we have been tracing through the political and intellectual, will be found to rule in the spiritual — and in this regard should we mainly rejoice that we live in life's harvest-time.

6. In respects, then, like these, political, intellectual, religious, we live in times of unexampled blessedness. We have come up to Zion from hills purple with vintage, and valleys golden with corn, in the rapturous harvest-home of the mortal! And it becomes us to keep festival before God as the old Jew kept his Pentecost. As men, as patriots, as philanthropists, as Christians, our cup of joy mantles brightly. What more could God have done for us that He hath not done? What people can be happy before God, if we are not happy? Living here, in this nineteenth century, free men — free Christians — we seem to stand on the very mount of God, flung up in the waste of ages, for the enthronement of His great man-child! We look backward, and lo! all the past has been working together for our national and individual beatitude. Patriarchs, prophets, bards, sages, mighty men, conquerors, have all been our servants. Generation after generation, that have lived and died — great empires, that have risen and flourished, and trod imperial paths, and passed away for ever — seem to rise from their old death-dust, and march in vision before us, laying down all their accumulated thoughts, and arts, and honours — all the trophies of their mighty triumphs, in homage, at our feet! We look forward, and the eye is dazzled with the vision of the glory about to be accorded to God's kingly creature, man! when standing upon this redeemed world, he shall assert his birthright — a child of God here! an heir of God for ever! Verily, we have cause for thanksgiving. "The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad." Let us give, then, free course to our grateful emotions! Thankful for the present, trustful for the future, let us rejoice before God "with the joy of harvest."

(C. Wadsworth.)

Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Hivite, Hivites, Jebusites, Moses, Perizzites
Euphrates River, Mount Sinai, Red Sea, Sea of the Philistines
Appear, Face, Items, Males, Presence, Sovereign
1. Of slander, false witness, and partiality
4. Of charitableness
6. Of justice in judgment
8. Of taking bribes
9. Of oppressing a stranger
10. Of the year of rest
12. Of the Sabbath
13. Of idolatry
14. Of the three feasts
18. Of the blood and the fat of the sacrifice
20. An angel is promised, with a blessing, if they obey him

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Exodus 23:17

     1255   face of God
     1652   numbers, 3-5
     5442   pilgrimage

Exodus 23:14-19

     7355   feasts and festivals, nature of

The Feast of Ingathering in the End of the Year
'And the feast of harvest, the first-fruits of thy labours, which them hast sown In thy field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field.' --EXODUS xxiii. 16. The Israelites seem to have had a double beginning of the year--one in spring, one at the close of harvest; or it may only be that here the year is regarded from the natural point of view--a farmer's year. This feast was at the gathering in of the fruits, which was
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Wesley Clothes French Prisoners
Monday, October 1 (Bristol).--All my leisure time, during my stay at Bristol, I employed in finishing the fourth volume of "Discourses"; probably the last which I shall publish. Monday, 15--l walked up to Knowle, a mile from Bristol, to see the French prisoners. About eleven hundred of them, we are informed, were confined in that little place, without anything to lie on but a little dirty straw, or anything to cover them but a few foul thin rags, either by day or night, so that they died like rotten
John Wesley—The Journal of John Wesley

The Consecration of Joy
'And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 34. Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the Lord. 35. On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. 36. Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord; on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Wonderful.
Isaiah ix:6. HIS name shall be called "Wonderful" (Isaiah ix:6). And long before Isaiah had uttered this divine prediction the angel of the Lord had announced his name to be Wonderful. As such He appeared to Manoah. And Manoah said unto the angel of Jehovah, What is thy name, that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honor. And the angel of Jehovah said unto Him "why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is Wonderful" (margin, Judges xiii:17-18). This angel of Jehovah, the Person who
Arno Gaebelein—The Lord of Glory

The Lord's Prayer.
(Jerusalem. Thursday Night.) ^D John XVII. ^d 1 These things spake Jesus; and lifting up his eyes to heaven [the action marked the turning of his thoughts from the disciples to the Father], he said, Father, the hour is come [see pp. 116, 440]; glorify thy Son, that the son may glorify thee: 2 even as thou gavest him authority over all flesh, that to all whom thou hast given him, he should give eternal life. [The Son here prays for his glorification, viz.: resurrection, ascension, coronation, etc.,
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Parable of the Good Samaritan.
(Probably Judæa.) ^C Luke X. 25-37. ^c 25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and made trial of him, saying, Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? [For the term lawyer see pp. 313, 314, The lawyer wished to make trial of the skill of Jesus in solving the intricate and difficult question as to how to obtain salvation. Jesus was probably teaching in some house or courtyard, and his habit of giving local color to his parables suggests that he was probably in or near Bethany, through
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Appendix viii. Rabbinic Traditions About Elijah, the Forerunner of the Messiah
To complete the evidence, presented in the text, as to the essential difference between the teaching of the ancient Synagogue about the Forerunner of the Messiah' and the history and mission of John the Baptist, as described in the New Testaments, we subjoin a full, though condensed, account of the earlier Rabbinic traditions about Elijah. Opinions differ as to the descent and birthplace of Elijah. According to some, he was from the land of Gilead (Bemid. R. 14), and of the tribe of Gad (Tanch. on
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The Second Series of Parables - the Two Parables of Him who is Neighbour to Us: the First, Concerning the Love That, Unasked, Gives in Our
THE period between Christ's return from the Feast of the Dedication' and His last entry into Jerusalem, may be arranged into two parts, divided by the brief visit to Bethany for the purpose of raising Lazarus from the dead. Even if it were possible, with any certainty, chronologically to arrange the events of each of these periods, the variety and briefness of what is recorded would prevent our closely following them in this narrative. Accordingly, we prefer grouping them together as the Parables
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

Love in the Old Covenant.
"A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another."-- John xiii. 34. In connection with the Holy Spirit's work of shedding abroad the love of God in our hearts, the question arises: What is the meaning of Christ's word, "A new commandment I give unto you"? How can He designate this natural injunction, "To love one another," a new commandment? This offers no difficulty to those who entertain the erroneous view that during His ministry on earth Christ established a new and higher religion,
Abraham Kuyper—The Work of the Holy Spirit

Palestine Eighteen Centuries Ago
Eighteen and a half centuries ago, and the land which now lies desolate--its bare, grey hills looking into ill-tilled or neglected valleys, its timber cut down, its olive- and vine-clad terraces crumbled into dust, its villages stricken with poverty and squalor, its thoroughfares insecure and deserted, its native population well-nigh gone, and with them its industry, wealth, and strength--presented a scene of beauty, richness, and busy life almost unsurpassed in the then known world. The Rabbis never
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life

Exhortations to those who are Called
IF, after searching you find that you are effectually called, I have three exhortations to you. 1. Admire and adore God's free grace in calling you -- that God should pass over so many, that He should pass by the wise and noble, and that the lot of free grace should fall upon you! That He should take you out of a state of vassalage, from grinding the devil's mill, and should set you above the princes of the earth, and call you to inherit the throne of glory! Fall upon your knees, break forth into
Thomas Watson—A Divine Cordial

The Blessing of Jacob Upon Judah. (Gen. Xlix. 8-10. )
Ver. 8. "Judah, thou, thy brethren shall praise thee; thy hand shall be on the neck of thine enemies; before thee shall bow down the sons of thy father. Ver. 9. A lion's whelp is Judah; from the prey, my son, thou goest up; he stoopeth down, he coucheth as a lion, and as a full-grown lion, who shall rouse him up? Ver. 10. The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come, and unto Him the people shall adhere." Thus does dying Jacob, in announcing
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

In the Temple at the Feast of Tabernacles.
(October, a.d. 29.) ^D John VII. 11-52. ^d 11 The Jews therefore sought him at the feast, and said, Where is he? [It was now eighteen months since Jesus had visited Jerusalem, at which time he had healed the impotent man at Bethesda. His fame and prolonged obscurity made his enemies anxious for him to again expose himself in their midst. John here used the word "Jews" as a designation for the Jerusalemites, who, as enemies of Christ, were to be distinguished from the multitudes who were in doubt
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Concerning Justification.
Concerning Justification. As many as resist not this light, but receive the same, it becomes in them an holy, pure, and spiritual birth, bringing forth holiness, righteousness, purity, and all those other blessed fruits which are acceptable to God: by which holy birth, to wit, Jesus Christ formed within us, and working his works in us, as we are sanctified, so are we justified in the sight of God, according to the apostle's words; But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in
Robert Barclay—Theses Theologicae and An Apology for the True Christian Divinity

Scriptures Showing the Sin and Danger of Joining with Wicked and Ungodly Men.
Scriptures Showing The Sin And Danger Of Joining With Wicked And Ungodly Men. When the Lord is punishing such a people against whom he hath a controversy, and a notable controversy, every one that is found shall be thrust through: and every one joined with them shall fall, Isa. xiii. 15. They partake in their judgment, not only because in a common calamity all shares, (as in Ezek. xxi. 3.) but chiefly because joined with and partakers with these whom God is pursuing; even as the strangers that join
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

Gen. xxxi. 11
Of no less importance and significance is the passage Gen. xxxi. 11 seq. According to ver. 11, the Angel of God, [Hebrew: mlaK halhiM] appears toJacob in a dream. In ver. 13, the same person calls himself the God of Bethel, with reference to the event recorded in chap. xxviii. 11-22. It cannot be supposed that in chap xxviii. the mediation of a common angel took place, who, however, had not been expressly mentioned; for Jehovah is there contrasted with the angels. In ver. 12, we read: "And behold
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

How to Make Use of Christ as the Truth, when Error Prevaileth, and the Spirit of Error Carrieth Many Away.
There is a time when the spirit of error is going abroad, and truth is questioned, and many are led away with delusions. For Satan can change himself into an angel of light, and make many great and fairlike pretensions to holiness, and under that pretext usher in untruths, and gain the consent of many unto them; so that in such a time of temptation many are stolen off their feet, and made to depart from the right ways of God, and to embrace error and delusions instead of truth. Now the question is,
John Brown (of Wamphray)—Christ The Way, The Truth, and The Life

A Discourse of Mercifulness
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Matthew 5:7 These verses, like the stairs of Solomon's temple, cause our ascent to the holy of holies. We are now mounting up a step higher. Blessed are the merciful . . '. There was never more need to preach of mercifulness than in these unmerciful times wherein we live. It is reported in the life of Chrysostom that he preached much on this subject of mercifulness, and for his much pressing Christians to mercy, he was called of many, the alms-preacher,
Thomas Watson—The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12

The Development of the Earlier Old Testament Laws
[Sidenote: First the principle, and then the detailed laws] If the canon of the New Testament had remained open as long as did that of the Old, there is little doubt that it also would have contained many laws, legal precedents, and ecclesiastical histories. From the writings of the Church Fathers and the records of the Catholic Church it is possible to conjecture what these in general would have been. The early history of Christianity illustrates the universal fact that the broad principles are
Charles Foster Kent—The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament

The Best Things Work for Good to the Godly
WE shall consider, first, what things work for good to the godly; and here we shall show that both the best things and the worst things work for their good. We begin with the best things. 1. God's attributes work for good to the godly. (1). God's power works for good. It is a glorious power (Col. i. 11), and it is engaged for the good of the elect. God's power works for good, in supporting us in trouble. "Underneath are the everlasting arms" (Deut. xxxiii. 27). What upheld Daniel in the lion's den?
Thomas Watson—A Divine Cordial

The book of Exodus--so named in the Greek version from the march of Israel out of Egypt--opens upon a scene of oppression very different from the prosperity and triumph in which Genesis had closed. Israel is being cruelly crushed by the new dynasty which has arisen in Egypt (i.) and the story of the book is the story of her redemption. Ultimately it is Israel's God that is her redeemer, but He operates largely by human means; and the first step is the preparation of a deliverer, Moses, whose parentage,
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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