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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 1–7
Verses 1–7

Orders are here given for another solemnity upon the eighth day; for the newly-ordained priests were set to work immediately after the days of their consecration were finished, to let them know that they were not ordained to be idle: He that desires the office of a bishop desires a good work, which must be looked at with desire, more than the honour and benefit. The priests had not so much as one day’s respite from service allowed them, that they might divert themselves, and receive the compliments of their friends upon their elevation, but were busily employed the very next day; for their consecration was the filling of their hands. God’s spiritual priests have constant work cut out for them, which the duty of every day requires; and those that would give up their account with joy must redeem time; see Ezek. 43:26, 27. Now, 1. Moses raises their expectation of a glorious appearance of God to them this day (Lev. 9:4): “To day the Lord will appear to you that are the priests.” And when all the congregation are gathered together, and stand before the Lord, he tells them (Lev. 9:6), The glory of the Lord shall appear to you. Though they had reason enough to believe God’s acceptance of all that they had done according to his appointment, upon the general assurance we have that he is the rewarder of those that diligently seek him (even if he had not given them any sensible token of it), yet that if possible they and theirs might be effectually obliged to the service and worship of God, and might never turn aside to idols, the glory of God appeared to them, and visibly owned what they had done. We are not now to expect such appearances; we Christians walk more by faith, and less by sight, than they did. But we may be sure that God draws nigh to those who draw nigh to him, and that the offerings of faith are really acceptable to him, though, the sacrifices being spiritual, the tokens of the acceptance are, as it is fit they should be, spiritual likewise. To those who are duly consecrated to God he will undoubtedly manifest himself. 2. He puts both priests and people upon preparing to receive this favour which God designed them. Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel, are all summoned to attend, Lev. 9:1. Note, God will manifest himself in the solemn assemblies of his people and ministers; and those that would have the benefit and comfort of God’s appearances must in them give their attendance. (1.) Aaron is ordered to prepare his offerings: A young calf for a sin-offering, Lev. 9:2. The Jewish writers suggest that a calf was appointed for a sin-offering to remind him of his sin in making the golden calf, by which he had rendered himself for ever unworthy of the honour of the priesthood, and which he had reason to reflect upon with sorrow and shame in all the atonements he made. (2.) Aaron must direct the people to get theirs ready. Hitherto Moses had told the people what they must do; but now Aaron, as high priest over the house of God, must be their teacher, in things pertaining to God: Unto the children of Israel thou shalt speak, Lev. 9:3. Now that he was to speak from them to God in the sacrifices (the language of which he that appointed them very well understood) he must speak from God to them in the laws about the sacrifices. Thus Moses would engage the people’s respect and obedience to him, as one that was set over them in the Lord, to admonish them. (3.) Aaron must offer his own first, and then the people’s, Lev. 9:7. Aaron must now go to the altar, Moses having shown him the way to it; and there, [1.] He must make an atonement for himself; for the high priest, being compassed with infirmity, ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins (Heb. 5:2, 3), and for himself first; for how can we expect to be accepted in our prayers for others, if we ourselves be not reconciled to God? Nor is any service pleasing to God till the guilt of sin be removed by our interest in the great propitiation. Those that have the care of the souls of others are also hereby taught to look to their own in the first place; this charity must begin at home, though it must not end there. It is the charge to Timothy, to take care to save himself first, and then those that heard him, 1 Tim. 4:16. The high priest made atonement for himself, as one that was joined with sinners; but we have a high priest that was separated from sinners, and needed no atonement. When Messiah the prince was cut off as a sacrifice, it was not for himself; for he knew no sin. [2.] He must make an atonement for the people, by offering their sacrifices. Now that he was made a high priest he must lay to heart the concerns of the people, and this as their great concern, their reconciliation to God, and the putting away of sin which had separated between them and God. He must make atonement as the Lord commanded. See here the wonderful condescension of the mercy of God, that he not only allows an atonement to be made, but commands it; not only admits, but requires us to be reconciled to him. No room therefore is left to doubt but that the atonement which is commanded will be accepted.