As we continue our series on Feasts of the Bible, my friend AdeleAlys joins us to talk about the Feast of Trumpets for this week’s Word Nerd Wednesday.
FEAST OF TRUMPETS
“If Rosh Hashanah is such a ‘High Holy Day’, then why isn’t it mentioned in the Bible?”
This was early in my marriage and I was midway thru my first set of “conversion-to-Judaism “classes with the local Rabbi. I had already determined not to step away from my Christian faith (even to make peace with my Jewish in-laws), but I wasn’t prepared to make that announcement just yet. So, I was trying to redirect the Rabbi’s focus. It was a legitimate question but it hung in the area awkwardly.
Torah is replete with such references, he assured me, but they are under a different name. Numbers 29:1 speaks of Yom Teruah–a Day of sacred assembly and celebration punctuated by loud shouts. In Leviticus 23:23-25, it is known as Zikron Teruah–a Day devoted to remembering the Blowing of the Shofar. It became known as Rosh Hashanah during the Babylonian exile. The renaming was a concession to that culture (the Babylonian had a New Year) – in much the same way that the minor holiday of Chanukah gained importance in the modern world because of its proximity to Christmas.
WHY the Feast of Trumpets?
This Feast of Trumpets (which falls in September or October) is less about marking the physical beginning of a new year and more about creating space and time to make that transition spiritually. It commemorates the “Birthday of the World,” in Genesis 2:7 when God “formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living soul.” Small wonder hearing the shofar (a wind instrument crafted from a rams horn) is the central experience of the day. As God’s people, the Jews are reminded of the gift of life that God has given them and urged to reflect on whether they have used that gift- for good or ill- in the past year. What kind of sound have they made in the universe? Will God deem them worthy of another year to try to do better?
According to the Talmud, God pulls out three separate books on Yom Teruah. In one – He writes the names of the righteous and seals them for a good new year. In another- He writes the names of the wicked and then blots out those names- because their just punishment- which is death- is not far away.
Each of these books is relatively small but the third book is enormous and heavy. It contains the names of the intermediate class- those neither good enough to be immediately saved nor bad enough to be summarily condemned. God is pondering what to do with them. Hearing the sound of the rams horn, God remembers Abraham whose faith was so great that he bound his son Isaac to the altar and trusted in the substitute that God would provide. And the God gets up from the throne of judgement and moves to the throne of compassion and mercy.
The HOW of Feast of Trumpets
Although simple by design, the Shofar is incredibly difficult to play. Still- in the right hands of can produce four different sounds :
1) TE’KI’AH- a long blast with one or two notes.
Like the trumpet fanfare for the coronation of a King, this is the sound first heard on Sinai when God came down to give His people the Law.
2)SH’VA’RIM- 3 medium blasts, two tones each.
Broken Notes repeated over and over. This is the sound of the warnings of the prophets and the wailing that emanates from a penitent heart.
3)TE’RU’AH – 9 short staccato blasts.
This is the sound an army makes when they prepare to do battle or when they return home victorious.
Judges 7:19 -25
4)TE’KI’AH GE’DO’LAH : a single blast held as long as possible.
Designed to usher in the year of Jubilee when debts are cancelled and slaves went free-one day this note will sound and the Messiah will come down from heaven again and establish His kingdom on earth.
“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall 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 shall be changed.”
1 Corinthians 15:51–52
“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. “
1 Thessalonians 4:16–17, ESV
If the trumpets sounded today, what would God discover in your heart? What kind of sound have you made in the universe?Do you know the significance of the 4 sounds of the shofar? #shofar #feastoftrumpets #wordnerdwednesday Click To Tweet
The daughter of a Lutheran minister and a Catholic college professor, Adele-Alys faith life has always been a patchwork. Married to a Jewish man for 38 years, she delved deeply into his faith. It sharpened my picture of Jesus and popped my spiritual ears in ways I could not imagine.” You can connect Adele-Alys via Twitter (@morgantonrose), Pinterest, and her blog (adelealysblog.wordpress.com).