For the people of Israel, there were more sacred solemnities in the seventh month than in any other. This was the time between harvest and planting-season. The more leisure we have from the pressing occupations of this life, the more time we should spend in the immediate service of the Lord.
The blowing of the trumpets was appointed to be celebrated on the first day of the seventh month. The Lord directed the people concerning the sacrifices that they were to offer on that day. These included a young bullock, a ram, and seven lambs for burnt offerings; as well as a goat for a sin-offering. Once again (as in the sacrifices described in the last chapter), the burnt offerings were to be accompanied by their respective drink-offerings and grain-offerings of flour mixed with oil. Care was to be taken that these offerings for the Feast of Trumpets did not supersede the daily sacrifice and the “new moon” sacrifice. From this, we learn that we must not seek occasions to abate our zeal in God’s service, nor should we be glad for an excuse to omit a good duty; but rather, we ought to rejoice in an opportunity of accumulating and doing more than ordinary service in Christ’s cause. If we perform family worship, we must not think that this will excuse us from our private devotions; nor must we suppose that on the days we go to church, we need not worship God alone and with our families. We should always abound in the work of the Lord!
The tenth day of the seventh month was observed as the great Day of Atonement. This was the one day in the whole year when the high priest would enter the Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle and sprinkle the blood of atonement upon the mercy-seat of the Ark of the Covenant. But even on this holy day, when the great sin-offering was made to atone for the people’s sins, the daily sacrifice was not to be omitted. And on top of that, verses 7-11 contain instructions for even more offerings that were to be made on that day. The fact that the Lord gave directions for another sin-offering to be made on the very same day of the great annual sin-offering shows us that we have so many defects and faults – even in the exercises and expressions of our repentance – that we must have a sacrifice to expiate the guilt even of that part of our worship! This additional sin-offering that was necessary hinted at the imperfection of the Levitical sacrifices, and their insufficiency to take away sin. But what the law could not do because it was weak, Christ has already done!
Soon after the Day of Atonement followed the Feast of Tabernacles, in the people were to rejoice before the Lord! All the crops for the year would have been gathered in by this time; and the people would spend seven days “camping out” in temporary shelters made of tree branches (called “booths”), in remembrance of the Lord’s faithful care for them during the days of their wilderness-wanderings. But during the whole time that the people camped in these booths with rejoicing, they were also to offer sacrifices – reminding us that as long as we are here in a “tabernacle-state” on earth, it is both right and beneficial for us to constantly keep up communion with God.
The sacrifices for each of the seven days differed in nothing except the number of bullocks offered, but each day’s sacrifice was detailed individually. However, this was no vain repetition. The repetition of the same services – if performed with an upright heart, and with a continued fire of pious and devout affection – is no weariness to God; and therefore, we ought not to despise them and say, “What a weariness they are to us!” The number of bullocks (which were the most costly part of the sacrifice) decreased every day. On the first day of the Feast, they were to offer thirteen bullocks; on the second day, twelve; on the third day, eleven; and so on. Thus, on the seventh day, they offered seven bullocks; and on the eighth day – which was the great day of the Feast, and was celebrated with a solemn assembly – they were to offer only one bullock. Perhaps this decrease in the animals that were to be offered was to teach the people that the Levitical system would grow old and eventually vanish away; and that the multitude of their sacrifices would ultimately end in one Great Sacrifice – infinitely more worthy than all of them! The Apostle to the Hebrews seems to have had this idea in mind when he was comparing the Old Covenant (as he calls it) with the New, for he says that “that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away” (Heb. 8:13). It was on this “last day of the feast,” after all of these sacrifices had been completed, that our Lord Jesus stood and cried to those who still thirsted after righteousness, inviting them to come unto Him and drink! (John 7:37) He was sweetly speaking to any poor awakened soul who – under the Holy Spirit’s influence – felt the burden of sin and the insufficiency of all those Levitical ordinances for bringing true comfort to the soul. If any such person thirsts after a better righteousness to commend his soul to God, Jesus stands ready to receive them, and to satisfy the deepest desires of their heart!
Lord, we seek Your grace from above to learn the vast and infinite importance of the full, free, and rich salvation by Jesus; for You were pleased to usher it in through so many ages with such a wonderful profusion of sacrifices and offerings. O precious Lamb of God! By the one all-sufficient, all-effectual offering of Yourself, You have forever perfected us. May our hearts be more powerfully constrained to love You, as we study these sacrifices of the law! Shed abroad Your love within us, so that we may henceforth no longer live to ourselves. Cause us to live only for Your glory. Amen.
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