The Day of Shofar Blasts
By Sam Nadler
“Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to the Lord.’” -Leviticus 23:24-25
Growing up in Middle Village, Queens, NY, I can still remember hearing the High Holy Days shofar (ram’s horn) that called us to assemble for worship. After coming to faith in Messiah Yeshua, I was intrigued to see the significant role that the trumpets or shofarot played in the Scriptures. In fact, what is traditionally called Rosh HaShanah, or the Jewish New Year (beginning the evening of October 2nd this year), is known in the Scriptures as Yom HaTeruah, which literally means “the Day of the (Shofar) Blast” or the Feast of Trumpets.
Because so little is said about this feast in the Hebrew Scriptures, there has always been a sense of mystery surrounding the day. To gain more insight, the rabbis have looked to Israel’s spiritual experiences of the past. Jewish tradition teaches that the blowing of trumpets on this feast day is a reminder of the ram’s horns that Joshua and the Israelites used at Jericho, and also of the ram that Abraham sacrificed in place of his son Isaac (Joshua 6; Genesis 22). Others refer to Exodus 19:16, where trumpets announced God’s descent on Mt. Sinai to give the Torah to Moses.
In Scripture, trumpets were sounded for many occasions and purposes: as a call to assembly, a command for Israel to move out, a call to war, a preparation for an announcement, a warning of judgment to come, or a call to celebration and worship. Yet God’s Word reveals even more about the prophetic meaning of this Feast of Trumpets. As I’ve studied His Word, I have seen that this feast does not merely point us to the past, but also to the future. Isaiah tells us of a time when Israel will be gathered back to their Land at the sound of a “great trumpet” (Isaiah 27:13). We also read in the New Covenant of a trumpet which will herald another great event: the day when the Lord will gather the Body of Messiah to Himself, a mystery we know as the “Rapture.”
Resurrection is a concept that is taught throughout the Scriptures (See Job 19:26, Daniel 12:2), but there are two New Covenant portions that describe this future resurrection of believers in Yeshua:
“Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” – 1 Corinthians 15:51-52
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Messiah will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
The Rapture is presented as imminent, but because no one knows the exact time of this future blowing of the trumpet, the Feast of Trumpets should motivate us to readiness and service, as we are “…looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Messiah Yeshua” (Titus 2:13). If you have never repented of your sins and trusted in Messiah’s sacrifice for you, don’t wait another day! Each of us who trust in Yeshua can have complete confidence that whether we are still alive or not when He returns, we will be raised to live forever with our Lord (John 3:16). The Messiah who was resurrected is the same Messiah who is returning. Remembering our “blessed hope,” we are motivated to live a godly life before the Lord.
The day is coming when man must reckon with His Maker. In God’s great love and patience He bears long with us, “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9). God does, however, allow circumstances to get to a point in our lives where we have nowhere else to turn but to Him. This will be Israel’s situation in the time yet to come (Joel 2:1-2, 12-15).
As believers in Messiah, we want Israel to return, not only to the Land, but also to the Lord. May we reach out to people today, and seek to lead them to Messiah while there is time to turn to Him now, before the day of wrath appears. Let us re-evaluate our lives, priorities, and schedules as we care for those who do not yet know the Lord. Share the Good News of Messiah with Jew and Gentile alike, waiting expectantly for the Feast of Trumpets, and our Messiah’s glorious return!
Thank you also for praying for our High Holy Day outreaches (Rosh HaShanah / Day of Trumpets; Yom Kippur; and Sukkot). During these times of reflection in the Jewish community, please consider how you might be reaching out with the grace and love of the Jewish Messiah.