As the preceding chapters related to the solemn appointments of the LORD concerning places and persons; so in this, the same laws are carried on in relation to times and seasons for those services. The feasts of the LORD are here set down; the sabbath, the passover, the sheaf of first fruits, the feast of Pentecost, the feast of trumpets, the day of atonement, and the feast of tabernacles.
Let it be observed by the Reader, that all the sacred institutions of religion, derive their authority from the LORD. They are called his feasts, and consequently his appointment. What he sanctifieth and setteth apart must he holy. It were well if this was more carefully attended to, in respect to holy ordinances, first in reference to the LORD Romans 14:6. and secondly, in regard to ourselves; for the LORD hath promised in ordinances to bless his people. Exodus 20:24.
The first feast mentioned in its place, is that of the sabbath, which, as it is the most ancient, so is it the most universal. JESUS hath given his sanction to it throughout his blessed gospel; for he came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil. Reader, suffer me in this place to remark, concerning our Christian Sabbath, that I pray GOD you and I may find JESUS himself to be the very Sabbath of our souls, that we may rest in him from sin, and rest in him to GOD: that it may be a Sabbath in our houses, in our families, in our hearts: and that he that sanctifieth it to us, may sanctify our souls in the observance of it. See those sweet scriptures, Isaiah 58:13-14; Isa_28:12 compared with Matthew 11:28-29.
This is the second feast noticed in this chapter. Reader! search for JESUS as your passover, and remember what the apostle hath said on this subject, 1 Corinthians 5:7-8.
This is the third of those feasts. Reader! we must have a whole unleavened Saviour for salvation; anything of ours mingled with his pure and all-perfect sacrifice would pollute it. Blessed JESUS! be thou my all, my altar, my priest, my unleavened sacrifice, my GOD.
This is the fourth feast noticed in this chapter, the sheaf-offering of the first fruits. And a sweet type it was of the LORD JESUS, as the first fruits of them that slept. And it is worth the Reader's notice, that the LORD JESUS actually arose from the dead, according to the Jews own calculation, on the very day that those first fruits were appointed to be offered. But beside this view of our subject, as principally referring to the LORD JESUS, this solemnity was a delightful institution of honoring the LORD (as Solomon saith) with all our substance and the first fruits of all our increase. Proverbs 3:9. The waving the sheaf before the LORD by the priest, implied that all the people considered GOD as the rightful owner and giver of all their mercies; and as from him they received all, so to him they gave the glory. And that additional precept concerning it was truly significant; that they should eat neither bread nor parched corn, until that they had presented to the LORD this offering; for it taught most expressly, that all our enjoyments, even our most common concerns, ought to begin with GOD. Reader! may you and I gather this sweet lesson from it; to begin everything in JESUS and with JESUS. May every day be opened, and all the day carried on with him. In temporal as well as spiritual occupations may JESUS be uppermost. For depend upon it whatever is thus began in GOD, will end in GOD. That was a sweet resolution of the kind formed by David, in the view of another's portion contrasted with his own. Psalms 17:14-15.
This is the fifth of those feasts, the solemnity of Pentecost, or as it is elsewhere called the feast of harvest. Exodus 23:16. And what a pointed type was this of that glorious event in after ages, when the HOLY GHOST came down in so gracious a manner, that the harvest of souls to the LORD JESUS on that day was 3000? Here indeed was the first fruits of the SPIRIT most gloriously reaped. Ac 2.
Observe the gracious attention of GOD in the repetition of this precept. See Leviticus 19:9. But, Reader, is not this precept of a sweet spiritual import also? Doth it not say, that as gleanings of the harvest were to be left in the corners of the field for the poor and the stranger: so in every corner of the earth there are gleanings of grace for poor and miserable sinners? John 1:16.
This feast of trumpets is the sixth in number of the holy days appointed in this chapter. It should seem to have been at the time which the Jews called their new year. But the spiritual sense contained in it is very plain. It represents the gospel call, which the prophet Isaiah, in after ages, in allusion to the conversion of the nations, expressly marked by this name, the blowing of the great trumpet when they should come who were ready to perish. Isaiah 27:13. Reader! have you heard this joyful sound, and do you keep this spiritual feast? Mark what is said of it. Psalms 89:15.
Perhaps this day of sorrow cannot be strictly termed a feast day. But yet as being on the Sabbath, that sacred day lost not its name. Is not the LORD JESUS typically set forth here also, who in the days of his flesh offered up strong crying and tears. Hebrews 5:7-9. This was he, of whom Daniel spake, Daniel 9:24. And this was he, whom Paul describes, as having by himself purged our sins. Hebrews 1:3. Blessed LORD! as thou art exalted as a prince and a Saviour, to give to Israel repentance and remission of sins, give to me those ascension-gifts; that I may so look unto thee in every day's atonement of thy blood, as to mourn for thee. Zechariah 12:10.
This feast of tabernacles, which was one of the highest in point of enjoyment to Israel, very mercifully follows five days after the day of atonement. And is there not this gospel mercy typified in it, that the conviction of sin by the SPIRIT is sweetly followed by the conviction of the righteousness of CHRIST whereby the soul is made glad in righteousness, and peace, and, joy in the HOLY GHOST. This was the feast which our LORD attended, and in which he discoursed so sweetly, John 7:37. It is the same feast which the Jews now observe, when they leave their dwellings and live in their courts or outhouses, dressing them up with branches of trees, and boughs, and the like. And it was intended to remind Israel of their dwelling in tents in the wilderness. But the true Christian's view of this feast, beheld through a spiritual medium, leads him to see, that the feast of tabernacles is a lively type of JESUS tabernacling in our nature; and that so strong is his love towards us while in our wilderness state, that he not only set up a tabernacle service, but came himself and dwelt with us, and in our nature. Blessed JESUS! oh may I ever keep this spiritual feast with an eye to this unspeakable mercy; and do thou remember that sweet promise, which John the beloved apostle heard for the church's comfort, during her wilderness state; behold the tabernacle of GOD is with men; and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and GOD himself shall be with them and be their GOD. Revelation 21:3.
Moses here finisheth his commission, in relation to these feasts, somewhat like the apostle in after ages. 1 Corinthians 15:3.
READER! may it be your happiness and mine, while perusing this chapter, to experience the divine teachings of GOD the SPIRIT whose office it is to take of the things of JESUS to show unto us: and may we find cause to bless GOD for so many sweet memorials of the ever blessed JESUS. And, dearest LORD, I would say, both for myself and Reader, let us but find CHRIST in everyone of them, and discover his glorious person, and his finished righteousness, as the great end to which they all ministered, and we shall then have all that we can desire. It is JESUS that we want, both as our Sabbath, as our unleavened bread, as our first fruits, sheaf-offering, passover, pentecost mercy, trumpet season, expiation, and all-sufficient sacrifice! And while leaning on thee and thy fulness, like Israel of old, may we be ready to leave our dwellings and live in tabernacles, or without the camp, so that we do but live with thee. And dearest LORD, in all our rejoicings, and our feasts, be thou the sum and substance of all; and may we receive them, and enjoy them only so far as they include JESUS. For thus becoming pledges and tokens of thy love here, we shall then hope to rejoice in the complete ingathering of thy fruits which shall be hereafter.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Leviticus 23". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Easter