THE GOSPEL IN LEVITICUS: The Feast of Trumpets
THE FEAST OF TRUMPETS"The Lord told Moses to give these instructions to the Israelites: "On the appointed day in early autumn, you are to celebrate a day of complete rest. All your work must stop on that day. You will call the people to a sacred assembly—the Festival of Trumpets—with loud blasts from a trumpet. You must do no regular work on that day. Instead, you are to present offerings to the Lord by fire." Leviticus 23:23-25
Israel's civil year was ushered in with animating notes. Trumpets welcomed the earliest light. Throughout the day the same clear voice resounded. A day-long cry aroused all ranks.
The Lord ordained this rite. It is a mine, then, full of teaching wealth. We see at once, that these long echoes were designed to awaken each slumbering mind. Is there not need? How many perish, because thought sleeps! Life is dreamed through. It is a careless passage down a rapid stream. Eyes are fast closed. Realities are never seen. It is rich mercy, then, to break these bands. Therefore at solemn seasons—and when each month commenced—but mainly when the new-year dawned, God bids the Trumpets to send forth this clang.
Reader, the theme shakes drowsiness away. Let all that is within us now take heed. Observe, these Trumpets sound the knell of a departed year. They dig the grave of days and months forever fled. They warn, that time once present, is now gone. The question follows, What is its record? What is the witness, which its pen engraves? Who can reply, without the sigh of shame?
There is no talent so misused, as time. Its golden moments offer space to trade for heaven—to seek God's face—to glorify His name. But this is not their one employ. Man rather seeks his own—his ease—his pleasure, and his gain. The dying saint often weeps his opportunities unused. The lost are lost, because life's course was not improved. Who can look back without a penitential tear?
The Trumpets tell of a new period's birth. God in His mercy gives a respite. Sinner, another day now dawns. You live. You yet may turn in penitence to God. You yet may gain heaven's bliss. You yet may flee the coming wrath. Say, can you doubt, or hesitate, or pause? The opportunity is in your hands. But, while you read, it flees. Oh! grasp it, use it. Turn it to salvation. May it now hear your inward cry, 'Jesus have mercy. Wash me from my every sin. Convert me to Yourself. Receive me to Your arms of love. Pluck me, as a brand, from hell!' The Trumpets warn, 'lose not another day.'
Child of God, your life too is prolonged. It is your only time to show your gratitude, and to work for Christ. Vast is your debt. He gave Himself—His life—His blood, for you. Will you not give this day—each day to Him? Vast is your privilege. You may do more for Him on earth, than all the angels, who surround the throne. Let no more sands fall through unused. Discern their worth. The night draws near. Next new-year's Trumpet may find your ears locked in the grave. Be wise. Thus the shrill Trumpets teach—Time was; time is; Repent; Amend.
Next they bring Sinai's mount to view. They had grand part in earth's most dreadful scene. It was a fearful day, when God descended to renew His Law. The air was one appalling crash. "When the voice of the Trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by a voice." Ex. 19:19.
Reader, there is the deepest need, that man should often revisit Sinai. The Law is rarely read aright. Thick darkness hides its nature and its end. When truly seen, when truly heard, it cries, Behold the will of God—mark well, what all must be, who would see Him. Its terms are simple. Love—perfect love—in every movement of the soul, from earliest to latest breath. This do, and life is purchased; heaven is won. If you thus share His holiness, you may ascend His throne—the law presents no forbidding debt—the lips of Satan can prefer no hindering charge. But if you fail, then hope from self forever dies. The broken Law frowns terribly. It claims its payment. It utters its inexorable curse. Perfect obedience is its due. One breach makes it a foe forever.
Reader, heed then this Trumpet's voice. Obey and live. Transgress and die. You cannot stand the scrutiny. Your every moment is transgression. The curse cries loudly for your life. 'Bind him hand and foot—cast him into the quenchless lake,' is the Law's sure decree. See then the state of all, whose trust is in the Covenant of works. They lean upon a broken reed. They clasp a sinking plank. Their vessel leaks, and soon must sink. Their robe is nothing, but a filthy rag. Their best is sin. Their plea is false. Hence clear rejection stands before them. Their everlasting home must be outside. But outside heaven is within hell. Their never-ending cry must be, 'Undone—undone!' Thus the Law cries, 'Flee hence. No sinner finds a refuge here.' Happy they, who learn this lesson from the Trumpet's roar.
But there is sweeter music in this rite. The Trumpet is assuredly a Gospel-sign. The Prophets who saw most of Christ, thus sings, "The great Trumpet shall be blown." Is. 27:13. John witnesses, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a Trumpet."
Thus faith is led to keep a constant Trumpet-feast. The notes of grace always send melody from Zion's hill. They call attention to Salvation's scheme. The world indeed is lost through sin. Its inhabitants are a rebel-race. They follow only their own heart's desires. Vengeance might justly sweep all to the fathomless despair. But no. God sends His Son with healing on His wings. And now a tender voice, with Trumpet-clearness, cries, "a remedy is found! This is my beloved Son, hear Him."
Reader, come listen to these clarion notes.
Your sins need pardon. It is all prepared. His blood has mighty virtue to wash all away. Its worth is boundless, for it flows from a God-man. If all the sins, which ever were, or can be, centered on your soul, they vanish in this stream. No case exceeds its power. No vileness is too vile. No blackness is too black. Whoever will, let him wash, and he is whiter than the whitest snow. Sweet are these Trumpet-tidings.
You tremble at hell-pains. You hear of fire ever-burning—darkness ever dark—the worm, which never dies—the misery, which finds no ease. These are sin's wages. But Christ saves from all. His suffering death extracts the sting. The Jailer cannot touch—the dungeon cannot hold—the chains cannot detain. This is a precious note. It calls from agony's extremest pang.
You hear the Law's terrific threat. Its thunder peals above your head. But there is shelter in Christ's wounded side. They, who are nestled in that safe retreat, smile at its wrath. The curse exhausted is a blunted shaft. The edge is gone. It can inflict no wound. This sound is precious to a sin-crushed worm.
You hear of heaven, and its pure delights. It is the home of God. None are admitted, who have not suitable robes. You pant for the pure rest. But you possess no passport of your own. You have no clothing for the royal court. But look to Jesus. His hands have wrought a wedding-dress. He stretches out a righteousness divine. God's eye desires no more. Its beauty far outshines the sun. Its purity makes angels dark. Reader, believe, and it is yours. Sweet is this Gospel-note.
You look within. Your heart is vile. Who can turn back the current of these rushing lusts? Can there be power to cause old things to pass away, and all things to be new? Look up to Christ. He is an ocean full of sanctifying grace. He speaks the word—the mighty Spirit comes—iniquity recedes—pure holiness takes root—the newborn soul receives a newborn life. This is a happy Gospel-note.
But fears live long. There is no saint, who mourns not daily falls. The wounded conscience takes alarm, lest Christ provoked, should turn away. It would be so, If He were man. But He is God. Christ is not Christ, unless He be unchangeably the same. His word, also, is gone forth. "My sheep shall never perish." Thus faith has an imperishable strength. While it endures, the soul can never die, and it endures because its Giver is, "I am." "Because I live, you shall live also." This Trumpet has a cheering note.
But trials thicken—temptations threaten—and affliction's tide runs strong. Death, also, draws near, and shows a chilling form. But still take comfort. He, who is with you, has an arm of power—a heart of tenderness—and a voice of love. In deepest billows, He will hold you up. And the last wave will waft you safe to Canaan's shore. Thick blows may batter, but will not beat down. The last blow breaks the gates of flesh, and sets your happy spirit free. Christ is this sure and present help. Be thankful for this Trumpet-note.
Reader, there is no need in life—in death—in present or in future days—for which Christ is not all-sufficient support. Behold Him. He is life for the dead—sight for the blind—feet for the lame—strength for the weak—joy for the sad—cleansing for the filthy—freedom for the bound—clothing for the naked—purity for the unclean—redemption for the captive—a God without to save—a God within to cheer—a God above to bless—a God, who came in flesh to die—a God, who reigns in power to help—a God who comes in glory to receive.
Bring me your misery, and I will show you its relief in Christ. He loves, as God. He aids, as God. He saves, as God. God is not full, if there can be deficiency in Christ. But God is full, and all His fullness is in Christ for His beloved flock. Reader, this is a glorious Gospel-note.
Say, can you slight this Trumpet-call? Hark! yet again it calls you to the cross. Past disregard has not closed mercy's gate. Yet you may enter in. All joy and peace may yet be yours. The plank across the fearful gulf is not removed. Hope is not dead, while yet you hear the Gospel-cry.
But linger not. Another Trumpet is about to sound. The great white throne will soon be set. "The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel and with the Trumpet of God." 1 Thess. 4:16. The Trumpet will sound—the graves will open—all the dead will rise—among them you must take your place.
Oh! realize this solemn scene. The world would try to ignore the dread account. But it comes—it quickly comes—and you must bear your part. Is your plea ready? Can you appeal to Christ, that you are His? Can you establish evidence of a saving interest in all His work? Faith can. It humbly reasons with the Judge, 'I may not die, for You have died for me. My condemnation is long past, it fell at Calvary on You.' This plea is sure. I ask again, Is this plea yours? The Gospel-trumpet still offers it. The Judgment-trumpet will soon demand it.
These notes were sounded by the priests. Such was the office of the Tabernacle servants. You Ministers of Christ, this work has now fallen on you. The charge is solemn. If notes are muffled, ruin follows. Flocks may rush hellward, following pulpit voice. Your teaching should be clear, as liquid words from Jesus's lips. The faithful herald has no 'yes and no'. His teaching is no shifting line. He shows not Christ today, and hides Him on the morrow. He builds not with one hand, and with the other pulls all down. He frames not a joint covenant of grace and works. He tells of no conditions, but man's need—no plea for welcome, but a ruined state. Only one refuge is proclaimed. Only one name is magnified. There is but one foundation laid. None but Jesus. "Christ is all." They, who thus preach, call to the Trumpet-feast.
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