Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Leviticus
Book: Leviticus
Chapter: 23

The feasts of the Lord, The Sabbath. (1-3) The Passover, The
Offering of First-fruits. (4-14) The Feast of Pentecost. (15-22)
The Feast of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement. (23-32) The Feast
of Tabernacles. (33-44)

1-3 In this Chapter we have the institution of holy times; many
of which have been mentioned before. Though the yearly feasts
were made more remarkable By general attendance at the
Sanctuary, yet these must not be observed more than the Sabbath.
On that Day they must withdraw from all business of the world.
It is a Sabbath of Rest, typifying spiritual Rest from Sin, and
Rest in God. God's sabbaths are to be religiously observed in
every private House, By every family apart, as Well as By
families together, in holy assemblies. The Sabbath of the Lord
in our Dwellings will be their beauty, strength, and safety; it
will sanctify, build up, and Glorify them.

4-14 The Feast of the Passover was to continue Seven days; not
idle days, spent in sport, as many that are called Christians
spend their holy-days. Offerings were made to the Lord at his
Altar; and the people were taught to employ their time in
Prayer, and praise, and godly meditation. The sheaf of
First-fruits was typical of the Lord Jesus, who is risen from
the dead as the First-fruits of them that slept. Our Lord Jesus
Rose from the dead On the very Day that the First-fruits were
offered. We are taught By this Law to honour the Lord with our
substance, and with the First-fruits of all our increase, Pr
3:9. They were not to eat of their new Corn, till God's part
was offered to him out of it; and we must always begin with God:
begin every Day with him, begin every meal with him, begin every
affair and business with him; seek first the Kingdom of God.

15-22 The Feast of Weeks was held in remembrance of the giving
of the Law, fifty days after the departure from Egypt; and
looked forward to the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, fifty days
after Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us. On that Day the
apostles presented the First-fruits of the Christian Church to
God. To the institution of the Feast of Pentecost, is added a
repetition of that Law, By which they were required to leave the
gleanings of their fields. Those who are truly sensible of the
Mercy they received from God, will show Mercy to the Poor
without grudging.

23-32 the blowing of Trumpets represented the preaching of the
Gospel, By which men are called to repent of Sin, and to accept
the Salvation of Christ, which was signified By the Day of
Atonement. Also it invited to rejoice in God, and become
strangers and pilgrims On Earth, which was denoted By the Feast
of Tabernacles, observed in the same Month. At the beginning of
the Year, they were called By this sound of trumpet to shake off
spiritual drowsiness, to search and try their ways, and to amend
them. The Day of Atonement was the ninth Day after this; thus
they were awakened to prepare for that Day, By sincere and
serious Repentance, that it might indeed be to them a Day of
Atonement. The humbling of our souls for Sin, and the making our
peace with God, is work that requires the whole Man, and the
closest application of mind. On that Day God spake peace to his
people, and to his saints; therefore they must lay aside all
their worldly business, that they might the more clearly hear
that voice of joy and gladness.

33-44 In the Feast of Tabernacles there was a remembrance of
their dwelling in tents, or booths, in the Wilderness, as Well
as their fathers dwelling in tents in Canaan; to remind them of
their origin and their deliverance. Christ's tabernacling On
Earth in human nature, might also be prefigured. And it
represents the believer's Life On Earth: a Stranger and pilgrim
here below, his home and Heart are above with his Saviour. They
would the more value the comforts and conveniences of their own
houses, when they had been Seven days dwelling in the booths. It
is good for those who have ease and plenty, sometimes to learn
what it is to endure hardness. The joy of Harvest ought to be
improved for the furtherance of our joy in God. The Earth is the
Lord's, and the fullness thereof; therefore whatever we have the
comfort of, he must have the Glory of, especially when any Mercy
is perfected. God appointed these feasts, "Beside the sabbaths
and your free-will offerings." Calls to extraordinary services
will not excuse from constant and stated ones.