“Put the trumpet [Shofar] to your lips! Like an eagle the enemy comes against the house of the Lord!” (Hos. 8:1)
“When the sound of the trumpet [Shofar] grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him with thunder. The Lord came down…” (Ex. 19:19-20)
Beginning with the revelation the Passover of the Jews was an archetype of current Covid-19 sequestering, for both the kingdom of man and the kingdom of heaven on earth [see part I of this series on this page], my heart and passions have been inextricably drawn to Israel and God’s first covenant people. While my heart always did leap in my chest over the plight of the Jews, during our sequestering it veritably cried out! What God is about to do will be done more with Israel in mind than us Gentiles. We are, indeed, the branch grafted in and they are the root (Rom. 11). And let us remember God did not bring about salvation because either Gentile or Jew were worthy, but for His own sake! He will save His remnant from the Jews because He said He would, and repeatedly said His covenant with them was “an everlasting one.”
One thing about Israel that now fascinates me is an instrument used by God that brings a sense of awe and revelation as I employ it at the beginning of my daily meditations. It brings focus, reverence, and power to those times like nothing else I have experienced. God used it to call to His original people, and I believe it is calling to all His people today. I speak of the blowing of Ram’s Horn, or Shofar, which began by the symbol of the Ram caught in the thicket God gave to Abraham to sacrifice instead of Isaac. What is the significance of the Shofar to the Jews, and why do I believe C-19 represents the blowing of the Shofar over the world by our God ready to set in to motion the judgments of the end days? In this article we’ll focus on how it was employed among God’s first covenant people.
What is the Shofar’s historical significance to the Jews, and how does that establish a foundation for what I believe are our present-day callings?
- How it is employed during Jewish holidays:
- The month of Elul: a time of repentance leading up to the high holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Inasmuch as Rosh Hashanah represents the beginning of the Jewish year [typically late September/early October], that would mean the month of Elul would be at the end of the Jewish year. The word “Elul” means to search one’s soul. The time is also used to repent and ask for and grant forgiveness. David wrote, in my favorite Psalm, the perfect definition of the intent of Elul when he said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me, and know my anxious thoughts, and see if there be any hurtful way in me and lead me in the everlasting way” (Ps. 139). During this month, the Shofar is blown each and every morning [except one morning for Shabbat]. This is intended to awaken the spirits of men and inspire them to the soul searching that will culminate in atonement during the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. So, we see here the Jewish year culminates in 29 days of the Shofar being blown daily.
- Rosh Hashanah: The beginning of Jewish year [the Jewish New Year], literally means “the day of shouting or blasting.” It is the first of “the Days of Awe.” This day also begins with the blast of the Shofar, continuing the practice of the past month of Elul.
- Yom Kippur: The Day of Atonement, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, a day of repentance and seeking atonement before God. It is observed with a 25-hour period of fasting, prayer, and gathering one week after Rosh Hashanah. The Shofar is blown to end this day. So, we see the blowing of the Shofar bookends the High Holy Days of Awe, beginning Rosh Hashanah and ending Yom Kippur.
- The year of Jubilee: The Shofar is blown to signify this special year that comes along once every 7 years on the Jewish calendar. It signifies a time set forth in the OT when all slaves were to be set free from their masters and given the choice to remain or move on. Again, it signifies release, atonement, and forgiveness.
To summarize, we see the blowing of the Shofar both begins and ends the Jewish year, the celebrations in which it is employed representing the most holy of them all. Between them, they represent a wake-up call to the Lord’s presence, soul searching, conviction of sin, repentance, the need for atonement and forgiveness, and the ushering in of new life and a new start in the form of the celebration of the new year and the Jubilee.
How is “the trumpet” of God used in Scripture?
- Ushering in God’s presence: In Exodus 19-20, God appeared to Moses on Mt. Sania with the sound of the shofar.
- The beginning of battle and confusing the enemy: In Joshua 6, the walls of Jericho fell down flat when the Shofar was blown, in Judges 7, Gideon defeats thousands of Midianites with 300 men at the sound of the shofars blowing, in Jeremiah 6 the blowing of the Shofar is called “the alarm of war,” and in Zechariah 9 God Himself blows the Shofar to herald His entering the battle on behalf of His people.
- Warnings: In Ezekiel 33 God instructs the watchmen on the walls of Israel to sound a warning to the people of a “sword coming upon the land” with the Shofar. It is used in a like manner in Hosea 5 and 8. The Watchman’s job is to hear the warnings from God and pass it on via the Shofar.
- Celebration and worship: In 2nd Samuel 6, David celebrates the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Israel with the blowing of the Shofar during his famous dance in his loincloth. The Shofar was also used in 1st Kings 1 to herald the installation of Solomon as king.
- New Testament: While the word, “trumpet” in the NT does not translate to Shofar as it does in the OT, it would only be logical to assume given all we know of its use there, that the famous trumpet sounding at the rapture in 1st Corinthians 15 and 1st Thessalonians 4, along with its mention twice in Revelations, would also be the Shofar.
Lastly, the different sounds of the Shofar and what they mean:
- The Tekiah [an unbroken single sound] and Tekiah Gedolah [a much longer unbroken single blast]: the Gedolah establishes God’s presence, sovereignty and purpose over His creation. It is a clarion call to repentance, and to order His people to attention. The Tekiah short blast calls a man to the words of Psalm 139 above: to search his heart, acknowledge sin, and be desired to be “transformed by the renewing of his mind” to bring himself in to “the good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12).
- The Teruah [a broken, staccato sound featuring 9 quick, short blasts]: represents godly sorrow that, when realized, releases us into our assignments. It also means to break with speed, indicating God breaking into our lives and us breaking out of what holds us. We typically relate repentance and godly sorrow to sadness, and in part it is, but listen to what Paul says of it as well in 2nd Corinthians 7, “For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong!” According to Paul, godly sorrow brings about Him breaking in, and us passionately breaking out of sin that binds to release us into our destiny!
- The Shevarim [a wave-like sound of 3 medium blasts]: calls men to stand up for God. Jesus called us to “Be perfect as His heavenly Father is perfect,” and James told us where that road to perfection lays: enduring and persisting through trial and temptation. Jesus told us in John 15 we were to “abide in Him and He in us.” Abiding is the most complete form of love, in that it combines love with waiting upon, tarrying with, and enduring with another. The Shevarim calls us to stand with God and endure through the battle.
In every instance where the Shofar is employed in Scripture there exists a sense of intensity, of awe, and of reverence. In a word, there is a holy fear of our Almighty God! The Shofar is never blown in the scriptures for superficial or trite reasons, for it ushers in the very presence of God, calls us to a warning, to battle, to soul searching, to repentance, forgiveness and atonement, and breaks the chains that bind so we can be released in to our destiny!
Do you hear it, my brothers and sisters? Through this unprecedented time when God has caused the earth to literally stand still, sit in silence and the stillness of your soul and listen, and I believe you will hear the sound of the Shofar blast! In the next part of this series we will discuss what that has represented to me in these unprecedented times, and perhaps what it might look like to you as well. Until then, Shalom!