Worship in Jerusalem Then
For 15 centuries the Israelite people exhibited a remarkable geographical cohesion. After their miraculous liberation from slavery and exodus from a country no longer hospitable to them, they settled in Canaan and stayed put. Each of the tribes was assigned a territory. The whole country was chosen by God partly for its compactness—it averaged only about 60 miles in width and about 100 miles from north to south.
That compactness made centralization possible. God wanted all family leaders to present themselves before the tabernacle (also called the tent of meeting) and later the temple not just once or twice, but “three times a year all the men are to appear before the Sovereign Lord” (Exodus 23:17). The feasts of Passover, Weeks, and Tabernacles had mandatory attendance.
Jesus himself observed all of the ceremonial regulations of the Old Covenant. Though they were northerners, living in Galilee, his parents took him to Jerusalem for his circumcision, naming, and presentation. They took him again at age 12 for his bar mitzvah. As an adult he presented himself at each of the three “pilgrim” festivals.
How ironic that as he came to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, he became the ultimate Passover Lamb.
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