31 And to offer all burnt sacrifices unto Yahweh in the sabbaths, in the new moons, and on the set feasts, by number, according to the order commanded unto them, continually before Yahweh:

Three times in the year were they all to come together to an appointed place in the land -prepared to spend a week or fortnight together in a joyful manner. They were to cease all work, and to come provided with plenty to eat and drink, and to bring with them all belonging to them.

In Scotland they have "fast days," but these were to be feast days. In England, we have Easter and Whitsuntide holidays, in which people who can afford it scatter about in all directions to see friends, or get a little fresh air or change. But Israel's feasts were the munificent originals of these modern seasons. They were feasts in which the whole nation was called upon to take part by the plenty secured for all by the blessing of Abraham's God, and by the operation of the splendid land law He had given them, by which the wealth of the land was kept permanently divided among all.

They were feasts with an ennobling tendency. They were not mere secular holidays like Gentile holidays - not mere times of merriment. More gladsome than any Gentile holiday, they were times when God asked the nation to meet Him collectively, and to call to mind the great things He had done for them in the past, to remember His Law, and to rejoice with a grateful joy before Him in all the plenty He had bestowed upon them.

A well-dressed, well-provided, healthy, and prosperous multitude coming together under such auspices, in such a beautiful country, for such a length of time, once every three or four months (roughly speaking), presents such a picture of effective human life as has never been seen in any other country in the world. In Gentile lands the mass of the people are too poor to be cultivated, and times of holiday, when they come, are times of either simple inaction or degrading revelry. Their mirth lacks an ideal. In Israel, plenty was diffused; and the centre of their festivities was God and the memory of His deeds on their behalf.

It is true that it was only occasionally in Israel's history that this beautiful ideal was realized. Had they remained faithful to the Law, they must needs have realized the perfection of human life upon the earth as it now is; and never would have ensued that desolation of their country and dispersion of their race which we see at this day.

Seasons 2.39