GRATITUDE has set in motion many observances reaching far beyond the design or the comprehension of the original participants. National holidays commemorating great liberating events, if righteously celebrated, tend to push human thought higher in the scale of freedom, and so prepare for the steady increase of liberty. To glance back to the era that gave birth to momentous forward movements is always enlightening, for such a review results in a clearer understanding of the present.

Thankfulness for deliverance from Egyptian bondage led the children of Israel, more than three thousand years ago, to set aside as an annual holiday a certain day after the Passover, to be known as the "feast of weeks." This became one of the three great yearly festivals of the Israelites. Its distinctive observance was celebrated with thank offerings of two leavened loaves from the first fruits of the wheat harvest. Because the day was one of much rejoicing, the fatherless and the widows were welcomed, and all social barriers were removed to permit servants and strangers to share with the freeborn Israelites. With each recurring celebration, the people were reminded of the law as given to Moses, and also of God's promise, "I will cast out the nations before thee, and enlarge thy borders."

As the centuries passed, the "feast of weeks," as well as other festivals, had a profound influence upon the people, uniting their interests, restoring kindly relations among alienated tribes, and preserving a love of their common nationality. Certain historians state that the permanent dispersion of the ten tribes could never have been accomplished had not Jeroboam forbidden the annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem, instituting instead the festivals in Bethel and in Dan.

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Arguments of Spirit
March 10, 1923

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