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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator

Numbers 29

 

 

Verses 1-6

Numbers 29:1-6

A day of blowing the trumpets.

The Feast of Trumpets

Some of the Rabbins fantastically suppose that it was instituted in remembrance of the offering up of Isaac, or of deliverance from being offered, which conceit is idle and nothing at all to the purpose. Others imagine that it was appointed upon occasion of the wars that the Israelites had with the Amalekites and other nations under the conduct of God, to put them in remembrance that the whole life of man is nothing else but a continual warfare (Job 7:1; 2 Timothy 2:1). Of this feast we read (Leviticus 23:24). This was accounted as a Sabbath, an holy convocation, wherein they must do no servile work. Therein the trumpets sounded aloud, and the sound thereof was heard far and near.

1. Let us come to the uses hereof in regard of ourselves, which served of purpose to stir up the people to return unto God praise and thanksgiving with joyfulness of heart for all His benefits, according to that in the Psalms (Psalms 81:1-3). So David, having experience of God’s good hand toward him in many preservations, composed Psalms 18:1-50, as a testimony of his thankfulness “for his deliverance from the hands of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.” So I should think that the cause of this feast was to be a feast of remembrance for His manifold mercies received in the wilderness, that thereby they might stir up themselves to be united in God. And the cause of the institution of this feast seemeth to be contrary to that which followeth, which is the feast of fasting. For as the Jews had a day to humble themselves by fasting, so they were also to have a day of rejoicing when they heard of those trumpets. And albeit we neither hear nor have these trumpets sounded in our ears to call us to the temple and place of His worship, yet ought we to praise His name cheerfully and readily with spiritual joy and gladness continually (Isaiah 35:2-3; Isaiah 35:10), with singing and thanksgiving (Isaiah 49:20-21); for it is certain the faithful only have true cause to rejoice (Psalms 32:11; Psalms 33:1); the ungodly have no cause at all (Isaiah 48:20-22); but rather to weep and lament (Luke 6:25).

2. This warneth us of the preaching of the gospel concerning Christ the Saviour of the world, the Conqueror of all our enemies and of them that hate us (Isaiah 57:1; Zechariah 9:1-17.). For this was a warlike instrument ( Joshua 6:1-27.). God hath caused the doctrine of salvation to be sounded out into the world so that all have heard the sound of it (Psalms 19:4; Romans 10:18). Such a trumpet was John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, who was sent “to prepare the way of the Lord” (Mark 1:1-2), and to call upon them to repent because the kingdom of God was at hand. And this commendeth to the ministers in the execution of their office, diligence, carefulness, continuance, cheerfulness, and zeal (1 Corinthians 9:17; 1 Peter 5:2).

3. As the ministers must be the Lord’s trumpets, so indeed ought every faithful soul to be a trumpet. For when this feast was yearly observed, such as heard the trumpets were warned by it all the year after to stir up and awaken themselves, remembering that God doth call them as with a loud voice daily, that they should yield up themselves souls and bodies unto Him to worship and serve Him as He requireth. When this feast was celebrated, all the males were not commanded to repair to Jerusalem, as they were at the three more solemn feasts (Exodus 23:17), to wit, if they were free men and in health, able to go to the place of His worship (Deuteronomy 12:6; Deuteronomy 16:2). And hence it is that the Jewish doctors, out of that law of all males appearing before the Lord three times in the year, do exempt eleven sorts; and therefore they say that women and servants are not bound, but all men are bound, except the deaf and the dumb, and the fool, and the little child, and the blind, and the lame, and the uncircumcised, and the old man, and the sick, and the tender or weak which are not able to go and travel upon their feet; nevertheless, though the people were far from Jerusalem when this feast was holden, and that they could not resort thither daily to do sacrifice in the temple, yet they were to consider in their absence that sacrifices were offered there even in their behalf, and God was worshipped there in the behalf and name of all the tribes. True it is this figure is utterly abolished by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, howbeit this remaineth that we ourselves should serve for trumpets. For as the temple being destroyed we must be spiritual temples unto God; so the trumpets being taken away, every one of us must be spiritual trumpets, that is, we should rouse up ourselves, because we are naturally so wedded to the world and unto the vanities here below that it seldom cometh into our minds to think of God, of the gospel, of the kingdom of heaven. Our ears are so possessed with the sound of earthly things, and our eyes so dazzled with the pleasures of the flesh, that we are as deaf and blind men, that can neither hear nor see what God saith unto us. He calleth unto us daily, and maketh the gospel sound aloud in the midst of us that we might have the inward remorse of a good conscience, to repent us of all our evil ways, yet we, notwithstanding this summoning of us, do remain dull and deaf, and dumb and blind. Wherefore we must not look till there be a solemn holy day to call us unto the Church, there to keep a feast of trumpets, but it must serve us all the days of our life as a spur to cause us to return to God. (W. Attersoll.)


Verses 1-40

Verses 12-40

Numbers 29:12-40

The fifteenth day of the seventh month.

The Feast of Tabernacles

It is called the Feast of Tabernacles because during the days of this feast they were to live in tents or tabernacles, it being a memorial of God’s preserving of them in the wilderness where was no house for them in which to rest. This was a most holy feast to remember them when they had no dwellings, and therefore Moses doth so largely dwell upon the solemnities of it ; then they were especially enjoined to read the Law at this feast, when all Israel was to appear before the Lord (Deuteronomy 31:10; 2 Chronicles 8:13; Ezra 3:4; Nehemiah 8:14-15; John 7:2). This feast is now abrogated, and belonged not to the Gentiles that were converted to the faith, after the passion and ascension of Christ (Colossians 2:17; Acts 15:10; Hebrews 10:1-39). Notwithstanding we must consider the inward signification of this ceremony, and see what uses remain thereof to ourselves. And therefore the prophet Zechariah (Zechariah 14:16), describing the calling of the Gentiles to the true God, and their gathering into the true Church, setteth it forth according to the manner of God’s service used in the law, that they should go up from year to year to worship the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles: alluding to the ceremony of the law, as our Saviour doth (Matthew 5:23-24), meaning that they should worship God according to His commandments, and not after their own fancies.

1. First, we learn hereby that it is a duty belonging to all to remember the days of their troubles and afflictions, from which God in great mercy hath delivered us. We ought also to consider what we have been in regard of temporal deliverances, and in regard of spiritual deliverances from the bondage of sin (Ephesians 2:1-4; Ephesians 2:11-13), for their deliverance from the slavery of Egypt did figure out our deliverance by Christ from the bondage of sin, Satan, and hell itself.

2. Secondly, observe from this feast that God evermore preserveth His Church, even when it is oppressed with greatest dangers and troubles, nay, then His power and mercy is made most manifest; His power shineth brightest in our weakness, and His mercy appeareth most of all in our misery.

3. Thirdly, though the Feast of Tabernacles be not any longer in use, that we should be bound to the keeping of it, yet the doctrine arising from it concerneth us as much as ever it did the Jews. Our keeping of this feast must not be for a week or twain, but all our life, so long as we live upon the earth. We must acknowledge that we are pilgrims in this world (Hebrews 11:16), and if we be not strangers in this present world we have no part in the kingdom of heaven. If, then, we will have God to accept us for His children, we must assure ourselves that this life is nothing to us but a way, or rather, indeed, a race, toward our heavenly country. It is not enough for us to go fair and softly, but we must always run apace, pressing forward with all our strength and force, holding on our way, and straining ourselves to attain to the end of our course.

4. Lastly, we are hereby put in mind of the shortness of this life; we are here for a season, and by and by gone. And albeit we make our houses never so strong, and build them up with brick and stone to continue, yet our bodies are all as tabernacles, always decaying. Let us therefore learn the doctrine of the apostle (2 Corinthians 5:1), If our outward man decay we have a building prepared for us in heaven. And we must say with Peter, “I must shortly put off this my tabernacle, as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me” (2 Peter 1:14). When this lodging of ours shall decay we shall dwell in an house incorruptible. Our bodies are but as arbours made of green leaves, which are of no continuance, one blast of wind is strong enough to blow them away (Isaiah 40:6). Every man hath some disease or other about him that will not suffer him to endure long. And if he had no disease or distemper, yet wait but a while, and age itself will be a disease, and as the messenger of death unto him, that even without sickness he slideth away, as the fruit of a tree, when it is ripe, falleth down of itself, though there be no hand to pluck it, or wind to shake it, or thief to steal it, or tempest to drive it. When we diligently consider this, then we have indeed learned to keep this Feast of the Tabernacles spiritually. To conclude, therefore, let every man beware that he seek not his own ease over much. This is one rule, that we do not pamper our own flesh in the lusts thereof (Romans 13:14). Secondly, such as are planted commodiously in this world must beware that they do not forget the world to come; and they that enjoy the earth at will must remember the kingdom of heaven, wherein they must only place the top of their happiness. If we seek heaven upon earth we shall never find it in the next life. Thirdly, let us use this world as though we used it not; rejoice as though we rejoice not, and weep as though we weep not, considering that the fashion of this world vanisheth away (1 Corinthians 7:30-31). (W. Attersoll.)
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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Numbers 29:4". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/numbers-29.html. 1905-1909. New York.

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