Christian Response to the Shofar’s Call
Arthur L. Finkle
The Shofar had several religious roles recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures, such as the transfer of the Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 6:15; 1 Chronicles 15:28); the announcement of the New Moon (Psalms 81:4); the beginning of the religious New Year (Numbers 29:1); the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 25:9); the procession preparatory to the Feast of Tabernacles (Mishnah, Hullin 1:7); the Havdalah ceremony marking the end of a festival (Mishnah, Hullin 1:7);and other uses mentioned in Hebrew Writings (Mishnah and Talmud) after the fall of the Temple in 70 Common Era (CE).
The Shofar is primarily associated with Rosh HaShanah. Indeed, Rosh HaShanah is called Yom T’ru’ah (the day of the Shofar blast). “And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have a holy convocation: ye shall do no manner of servile work; it is a day of blowing the horn unto you.” (Numbers 29:1) [ This is 1 Tishrei, which is Rosh HaShanah, the Hebrew New Year.] See also Leviticus 23:24). .
In the Mishnah (book of early Rabbinic laws derived from the Torah), a discussion in Tractate Rosh HaShanah centers around the centrality of the Shofar in the time before the destruction of the Second Temple (70 C.O. Those debating never experienced the ceremony itself but their grandfathers may have. Indeed, the Shofar was the center of the ceremony, with two silver trumpets playing a lesser role. On other solemn holidays, fasts, and New Moon celebrations, two silver trumpets were featured, with one Shofar playing a lesser role. The Shofar is also associated with the Jubilee Year in which, every fifty years, Jewish Law provided for the release of all slaves, land, and debts. The sound of the Shofar on Yom Kippur proclaimed the Jubilee Year that provided the actual release of fi¬nancial encumbrances.
The legislation concerning the year of Jubilee is found in Leviticus, xxv, 8-54, and xxvii, 16-24. It contains three main enactments:
• rest of the soil;
• reversion of landed property to its original owner, who had been driven by poverty to sell it; and
• the freeing or manumission of those Israelites who, through poverty or otherwise, had become the slaves of their brethren.
Ten days after Rosh HaShanah, at the Yom Kippur service it reads. “And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and there shall be unto thee the days of seven sabbaths of years, even forty and nine years.” See Leviticus 16:29, 23:27.
Further, the Scriptures herald: Then shalt thou make proclamation with the blast of the horn on the tenth day of the seventh month; in the day of atonement shall ye make proclamation with the horn throughout all your land. See Lev 25: 9
The new moon offering comes before the Rosh HaShanah offering, because that which is brought the most often has precedence (Yad, Temidim 9:2).
The Israelites and the subsequent Jews celebrated a lunar calendar intercalated so that the seasons are correct. New moons were extremely important. Accordingly, the Shofar was sounded upon the occurrence of the new moon. (Numbers 29:11; Rosh HaShanah 1:1). The Talmud tells us that this custom was discontinued when the Samaritans attempted to disrupt this system of sounding from mountain to mountain announcing the new moon.
Scripture further proclaims the sounding on the appearance of the new moon:
And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an ordinance forever throughout your generations.
Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God. See Numbers 10:10.
Finally we have the famous passage in PSALMS 81:3: “Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.”
Rediscovering Jewish Christian Heritage
God did not visit Abraham for religious purposes. Moses did not go up on the mountain to get religion, but to meet with and hear from God. Jesus did not come to earth to make us religious but to restore us to relationship with God. It’s all about relationship.
Indeed, Existentialism has captured Christian theology throughout the 20th mid-century. Following in the steps Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, Martin Heidegger made human existence his since the 1920s, and Karl Jaspers in the 1930s. Human relationships
Enhance humanity by interacting with one another in a spiritual way. The sparks of each soul contributes to a whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Jewish Biblical Roots
Others flock to their Jewish biblical roots because they want to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and the disciples. They celebrate the Jewish holidays that Jesus celebrated and tend to refer the Holy Temple celebrations that were extent in Jesus’ time. They tend to be highly structured that predominates in the American culture. They want a more authentic religion.
ACTS 2:2: Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
2:1-4 They [disciples] had prayed more together of late. Would we have the Spirit poured out upon us from on high, let us be all of one accord. And notwithstanding differences of sentiments and interests, as there were among those disciples, let us agree to love one another; for where brethren dwell together in unity, there the Lord commands his blessing. A rushing mighty wind came with great force. This was to signify the powerful influences and working of the Spirit of God upon the minds of men, and thereby upon the world. Thus the convictions of the Spirit make way for his comforts; and the rough blasts of that blessed wind, prepare the soul for its soft and gentle gales. There was an appearance of something like flaming fire, lighting on every one of them, according to John Baptist’s saying concerning Christ;
On Rosh HasShana, the shofar-like blast coming from the Throne of God, calling us to return to the simplicity of the faith as it was originally given to us. It is a call to pursue God out of love, not religion. The gospel of Jesus Christ is anything but religious. It is about relationship.
The gospels, the Psalms or the Prophets bespoke ordinary people living extraordinary lives. They were down-to-earth, hearty and knew how to touch God. They were able, through their daily connection to Him, to change the course of battles, rescue whole nations out of slavery, heal the sick, even raise the dead.
The Resurrection of the Dead even as we wait to hear the trumpet blast of the king, the great shofar of our returning Redeemer, we celebrate the appointed time of the Rosh Hashanah. The annual blast of the shofar during the Feast of Trumpets foreshadows that day when the heavens will be rent by the blast of Messiah’s trumpet. For disciples of the Messiah, Rosh Hashanah is a reminder of that appointed time yet to come when the Master “will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” (Matthew 24:31)
Responding to the Shofar’s Call reveals how this change took place. These Messianic Jewish Christians posit that the Jewish religion of closeness to and love God was hijacked by the Greek philosophers, who have an enormous persuasion on the Earth Church Fathers. Indeed, Ambrose, Chrysostom and Augustine. The philosophizing took the authentic nature of love out of the equation. Instead of relying on outdated, hellenize3d creeds, the Jews continue to question the ways of God and the ways to lead a better life.
What we are involved in is a culture war. The true biblical culture of the believer is Hebraic in nature. There is nothing wrong with demonstrating a biblical culture and yet being comfortable and natural in our own nation’s culture—as long as it is our biblical culture which dominates us and as long as the national cultural characteristics are not harmful to our faith and walk in the Lord.
True Hebraic culture is what Jesus demonstrated. Jesus was perfectly comfortable in His own skin as the holy Son of God and as a Hebrew who was practical and simple. He didn’t theorize and theologize. He didn’t seek after or exalt knowledge. He exalted those with a humble heart who lived out what they believed. He was capable of reaching out to and befriending those who were in a sinful state—a worldly culture— like the tax collectors and “sinners,” without ever becoming like them. http://www.who-is-god-really.org/shofar.html
Footsteps of Jesus and the Disciples
Others flock to their Jewish biblical roots because they want to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and the disciples. They celebrate THE Jewish holidays that Jesus celebrated and tend to refer the Holy Temple celebrations that existed in Jesus’ brief earthly time.
To a professional trumpet player, the ‘call of the shofar’ signifies:
• Truth (2 Chronicles 15 v.14)
• Repentance (Joel 2 vs. 1 + 15)
• Obedience (Jeremiah 6 v.17)
• A call to worship God (Isaiah 27 v.13, Revelation 1 v.10 )
• The Joy of Trumpets
|Ryan Malone, September 8, 2010, http://www.thetrumpet.com
The sound of the shofar could be joyful blasts heralding a king. In fact, five references of shofar in the Old Testament refer to coronations—namely those on the throne of David. The blast of the seventh trumpet angel heralds the coronation of Jesus Christ to return to the throne of David and assume rulership of all the kingdoms of the Earth! (Revelation 11:15; Isaiah 9:7). What joy that means for God’s people!
This angelic trumpet blast also indicates war. (Revelation 11:18). Jesus, Himself said that, at His Second Coming, “shall all the tribes of the earth mourn …. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet” (Matthew 24:30-31).
Also when the seventh trumpet sounds, pictured by the Feast of Trumpets, the dead in Christ will be resurrected! The sound of the trumpet will initiate the first resurrection. John 5:28 says “all that are in the graves shall hear his voice.” God’s voice is likened to a shofar blast in Exodus 19:16-19 (and in the New Testament: Revelation 1:10; 4:1). Even God’s prophets throughout history were symbolically to use their voices like trumpets (Isaiah 58:1). By lifting their voices like trumpets, God’s prophets were emulating God’s voice! Today, when we trumpet this warning that is a type of God speaking.
Until that point in history, God’s voice will have been trumpeted through His work. But finally, on this day, God will speak—and, just as at Mt. Sinai, it will be an earthshaking event.
A Spiritual Weapon with Revival Power
Shofar is the Hebrew word for a trumpet made from a ram’s horn. Most places in the Old Testament where the English translation is trumpet, the Hebrew word is ‘Shofar’.
We believe that God has given us a revelation that we wish to share with the Body of Messiah. We believe this will add a new dimension to our prayer and spiritual warfare. The Lord has revealed the spiritual dynamic of the use of the Shofar or Ram’s Horn as used by the Israelites in the Old Testament times. We don’t fully under- stand the power of it, why or how it works – but it works !
The Lord led us to the story of Gideon (Judges 7). As is the pattern throughout the book of Judges, the Israelites again turned away from God after 40 years of peace brought by Deborah’s victory over Canaan and were allowed to be attacked by the neighboring Midianites and Amalekites. God chose Gideon, a young man from an otherwise unremarkable clan from the tribe of Manasseh, to free the people of Israel and to condemn their worship of idols. God sent a reluctant Gideon and 300 warriors to battle with a heavily armed enemy of thousands. However, He instructed Gideon to go out with a pitcher and torch in one hand, and a Shofar in the other hand. At the appointed time, the 300 blew their Shofars in unity, which firstly caused restlessness in the enemy’s camp, resulting in their total confusion; turning and killing each other with their swords. We also see in the story of Joshua that he too, won the war by blowing the Shofar. A similar episode occurred at Jericho. The Holy Spirit revealed that, blowing the Shofar brings about some cosmic effect.
In the Bible, the blowing of the Shofar was first heard when God called Moses to the summit of Mt. Sinai to receive the tablets of the Law. And, it will be sounded at the end of days to announce the Return of the Messiah and the Rapture of His Bride. ( 1 Thess 4:16 )
Biblical Blowing of the Shofar.
1 Thess 4:16 “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, with the Shofar of God and the dead in Christ shall rise.”
A Shofar will be blown before the dead rise:
1 Cor 15:52 “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last Shofar; for the Shofar will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”
1 Corinthians 15:52 states: “ . . . in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”
The Shofar (trumpet) is the sound of God’s voice.
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Revelation 1:10
John Was Heaven Sent by the sound of the Shofar.
After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. Revelation 4:1
Seven trumpets (Shofar) are sounded when God judges the earth during the tribulation.
And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound the shofar, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets. Revelation 8:1-10:7
Acts 2:2 states: “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. “ Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary comments:
2:1-4 We cannot forget how often, while their Master was with them there were strifes among the disciples which should be the greatest; but now all these strifes were at an end. They had prayed more together of late. Would we have the Spirit poured out upon us from on high, let us be all of one accord. And notwithstanding differences of sentiments and interests, as there were among those disciples, let us agree to love one another; for where brethren dwell together in unity, there the Lord commands his blessing. A rushing mighty wind came with great force. This was to signify the powerful influences and working of the Spirit of God upon the minds of men, and thereby upon the world. Thus the convictions of the Spirit make way for his comforts; and the rough blasts of that blessed wind, prepare the soul for its soft and gentle gales. There was an appearance of something like flaming fire, lighting on every one of them, according to John Baptist’s saying concerning Christ; He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. The Spirit, like fire, melts the heart, burns up the dross, and kindles pious and devout affections in the soul; in which, as in the fire on the altar, the spiritual sacrifices are offered up. They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, more than before. They were filled with the graces of the Spirit, and more than ever under his sanctifying influences; more weaned from this world, and better acquainted with the other. They were more filled with the comforts of the Spirit, rejoiced more than ever in the love of Christ and the hope of heaven: in it all their griefs and fears were swallowed up. They were filled with the gifts of the Holy Ghost; they had miraculous powers for the furtherance of the gospel. They spake, not from previous though or meditation, but as the Spirit gave them utterance.
We have taken a journey into Christian theology in which the shofar symbolizes the voice and power of God in His guidance to our present and future. By adhering to the Old Testament, we receive a different perspective of the New Testament, as it was intended.