Leviticus 23:26-32, 37-43
Today let us consider two of the sacred seasons appointed by God, namely, the day of atonement and the feast of Tabernacles.
Sorrow for sin is a blessed thing. It cannot make an atonement, but it always goes with the reception of the atonement. If sin be sweet to us it will destroy us, but when we are afflicted in soul concerning it, the day of atonement has come.
Sin is not put away by works, for on the day of atonement, the sinner ceases to work with the idea of self-salvation.
No surer sign of destruction, than to have no soul affliction for sin. True sorrow for sin is deep. The Jews said that “a man had never seen sorrow who had not seen the sorrow of the day of atonement.”
This day of mourning led on to the gladsome feast of tabernacles. Sacred sorrow prepares the heart for holy joy. We must receive the atonement before we can enter into the joy of the Lord.
The Spirit of God lays great stress upon the joyful things, and recapitulates them carefully; the fruit of the Spirit is joy.
This was a very joyful season, so that the Jews said, “he who never saw the rejoicing of the feast of tabernacles, had never seen rejoicing in his life.”
Andrew Bonar says, “Imagine the scene thus presented to the view. It is an image of paradise restored—the New Earth in its luxuriance during the reign of righteousness and peace and joy. ‘Every goodly tree’ furnishes its boughs for the occasion. The palm is first mentioned because it was the tree which had oftenest sheltered them in the wilderness, as at Elim.” Thus reminded of what divine love had done for them, the people spent a happy season beneath the boughs, no doubt feeling and saying, “it is good to be here.”
Sunny memories were refreshed in men’s hearts by so delightful an observance, and the whole matter illustrated the lovingkindness of the Lord, who when his people have sorrowed for sin would have their sorrow turned into joy.
The hill of Sion yields
A thousand sacred sweets,
Before we reach the heavenly fields,
Or walk the golden streets.
Then let our songs abound,
And every tear be dry:
We’re marching thro’ Immanuel’s ground
To fairer worlds on high.