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The Feast of Trumpets, the Ram’s Horns and Messiah

There is a gap between the spring feasts and the autumn feasts which commence with the Feast of Trumpets celebrated at Rosh Hashana, the New Year. The first day of the seventh month designated the beginning of the civil year.[i] All of the feasts are in their respective ways fulfilled in Messiah. The spring feasts speak of the first coming of Messiah regarding the death and resurrection of Yeshua who is our firstfruits (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). God’s timing is perfect and the counting of the Omer continued until Shavuot (Leviticus 23:16). According to God’s timeline and prophetic calendar we are awaiting His awesome and glorious return at the Feast of Trumpets.

Jesus promised His disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit who arrived at Pentecost (Shavuot). The Holy Spirit would teach them all things and bring to remembrance the things He taught and would guide them and lead them into all truth (John 14:26; 16:13). The Holy Spirit convicts people of their sin and breathes new life into a believer (John 20:22) and the autumn feasts look forward to His second coming.

Leviticus 23:23-25 gives instruction concerning the feast of trumpets.

‘Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 24 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. 25 You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.’ ”

The Israelites used trumpets and more specifically the ram’s horn for various means, including prior to the destruction of Jericho, (Joshua 6) announcing an alarm (Joel 2:1), for the Jubilee year and the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 25:9) and accompanying the voice of God (Exodus 19:19). Nevertheless, we want to explore the significance of the blowing of the trumpets in relation to the Feast of Trumpets.

Jewish tradition and commentary

The rabbis taught that God judged the world at New Year and so the first of Tishri commenced the Days of Awe leading up to the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and following the verdict on Yom Kippur the worthy were written into the Book of Life and the unworthy were blotted out.[ii]This was a time of self- examination and seeking the Lord, something that we would all benefit from doing at New Year and of course at any time.

Trumpets were used at the giving of the law both for the people to come near the mountain and when the blast of the trumpet sounded longer and longer,  Moses spoke and God answered him audibly (Exodus 19:13,19). Yom Hadin was a day of judgement and Yom Hateruyah a day of blowing the shofar which foreshadow the end of days and final judgement when we shall all appear before the Lord.[iii]It was a time of preparation. Are you prepared to meet the Lord?

In the interval between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, people pray and do good deeds though no assurance of forgiveness is assured.[iv]According to the Talmud there is a Book of Life, a Book of Death and also a book for borderline cases.[v] How can you know if your sins are forgiven? How can you be certain that your name is written in the book of life?

The Ram’s horns

Rashi makes the connection between the blowing of the ram’s horn (shofar) on the feasts of trumpets and the provision of a ram in place of Isaac at Mount Moriah, whose horn was caught in a thicket. Notice also that originally the feast of trumpets included an offering made by fire (Leviticus 23:25).

‘(On this Rosh Hashanah day,) a remembrance (before God of the Jewish people is evoked through the sounds of the shofar. And in order to enhance this remembrance, our Rabbis instituted the recitation) of Scriptural verses dealing with remembrance and Scriptural verses dealing with the blowing of the shofar (R.H. 32), through which the remembrance of the binding of Isaac is recalled for them, (whereby Isaac was willing to be sacrificed as a burnt- offering according to God’s words (See Genesis 22:1-19), and) in whose stead a ram was offered up (whereby the shofar alludes to that ram’s horns, by which it was caught in a tree, thus making its appearance as Isaac’s replacement (see Gen.22:13)-(Sifthei Chachamim, Gur Aryeh; R.H. 16a).’[vi]

The shofar is blown, there is a  call to repentance and the rabbis teach that God opens three books. How can anyone be certain that their sins are forgiven and that their name is written in the book of life? We are again reminded by the blowing of the shofar and the giving of the law that the Lord spoke through Moses, “And the Lord said unto Moses, whosoever has sinned against Me, him I will blot our of my book (Exodus 32:33).”

All the feasts speak of Messiah and  Genesis 22 also foreshadows Messiah. At Mount Moriah, Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son Isaac though God wanted Abraham’s willing obedience, not that sacrifice in itself. Hence God provided a ram caught in a thicket by its horns which was sacrificed in place of Isaac. We read in the Brit Hadasha (New Testament) how Abraham believed God could have risen Isaac from the dead since he recognised God’s promises and that He is faithful to keep his covenant promises.

‘By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense (Hebrews 11:17-19).’

In Isaiah 53:6 we read ‘All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.’

Who has the Lord laid the iniquity of all of us on, to provide atonement for our sins? Who is the One who Isaac was a picture and foreshadowing of? Who was sacrificed at Pesach and rose from the dead on Firstfruits?

John the Baptist saw Yeshua (Jesus) and announced, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)!”

Probably the most well- known verse in the Brit Hadasha (New Testament) is, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life John 3:16).” If you repent of your sins and trust in Yeshua and His finished work and follow Him, you can have assurance and your name will be written in the book of life.

Will you be ready when the trumpet sounds?

The shofar announces that Jesus will soon return. We can be certain of that because Yeshua fulfilled the prophecies and the spring feasts perfectly at His first coming. He died and rose again. We know like Abraham, that God is faithful to keep His promises because He is a faithful covenant keeping God.

Are you ready for when the trumpet sounds and Jesus returns? Though the exact timing and order when Jesus returns is not fully known to us, we know that He is coming and that we should be ready. Here are a few verses to consider that merit careful personal study. Make no mistake; it is more imperative that we respond and trust in the Lord rather than spend inordinate efforts and valuable time trying to timetable every detail concerning the sequence of events. The bottom line is are you saved? These verses are a sober warning for those not believing in Him, though of  great comfort and assurance for those who are trusting in Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Before then, we would be wise to be ready for when the trumpet sounds and when He comes.

 ‘Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Matthew 24:30-31).’

‘For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God (1 Thessalonians 4:16)…

‘Behold, I tell you a [m]mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).’

[i] P. Grieve Leviticus Ritchie Old Testament Commentaries What the Bible teaches (John Ritchie Ltd; 2012, Kilmarnock), p257

[ii] Bryan W Sheldon The Messiah and the feasts of Israel (Gospel Folio Press; 2007, Port Colbourne), p139

[iii] Sheldon, p139

[iv] Peter Sammons Israel’s Holy Moedim and their prophetic significance today (Glory to Glory Publications; 2017, Cambridge), 104

[v] Sheldon, 140

[vi] The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary