This year as friends prepare to celebrate Rosh Hashanah—which is called the Feast of Trumpets in the English Bible—I couldn’t help but be impressed by the blowing of the shofar every day during the Hebrew month of Elul that precedes the holiday.
The daily blowing of the shofar climaxes on the new moon that begins the Feast of Trumpets and the month of Tishrei. The Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah) is the beginning of the Jewish civil New Year and in that context is called Rosh Hashanah.
God gave Moses the directive for the holy day while the nation of Israel was camped at Mount Sinai. Compare two translations of the passage.
LEVITICUS 23:23-25 (NKJV)
“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘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. You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord’”.
LEVITICUS 23:23-25 (CJB)
“Adonai said to Moshe, ‘Tell the people of Isra’el, In the seventh month, the first of the month is to be for you a day of complete rest for remembering, a holy convocation announced with blasts on the shofar. Do not do any kind of ordinary work, and bring an offering made by fire to Adonai.’”
Yom Teruah, the Hebrew transliteration of the phrase, day of trumpets, more accurately describes the holiday. The shofar used for Yom Teruah comes from the horn of the ram. Rabbinic tradition requires a minimum of one hundred shofar blasts on both days of the celebration. Unlike the blowing of noisemakers during New Year’s Eve parties on the Gregorian calendar, there are prophetic implications associated with sounding the shofar.
Today, the following portion from the Psalms is read before the shofar is blown on Yom Teruah:
“Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!
They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance.
In Your name they rejoice all day long,
And in Your righteousness they are exalted.
For You are the glory of their strength,
And in Your favor our horn is exalted.
For our shield belongs to the Lord,
And our king to the Holy One of Israel” (Ps. 89:15-18).
The word translated “joyful sound” is actually the Hebrew word teruah or trumpet. Rendered “joyful shout” in the Tanakh, a side note in the Hebrew Study Bible describes the word as a “blast of the ram’s horn.” (1) The word “know” is yawdah in Hebrew and conveys the idea of understanding or comprehension. The psalmist states the blessed people are those who grasp the prophetic implications of the shofar blast!
The Shofar and Israel
According to rabbinic tradition, blowing the shofar on Yom Teruah symbolizes the final regathering of Israel. The Hebrew Scriptures indicate that, “a great trumpet shall be blown,” to call the scattered descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob back to their ancestral homeland (Isa. 27:13). Many believe the final regathering will coincide with a future celebration of Yom Teruah.
The 89th Psalm confirms the Davidic Covenant in the context of a plea for God to restore the nation of Israel. The remainder of the psalm affirms the following:
- God’s covenant with David will endure (vv. 3-4, 20-23).
- God’s promises to Israel will be literally fulfilled (vv. 24-29).
- The Messianic Kingdom will be established on the earth as God promised (vv. 34-37).
The promises God made to King David will culminate in the coming of Messiah to inaugurate the Messianic Kingdom. The blast of the shofar—the joyful sound—captures the hope of the Messianic Kingdom!
The Shofar and Christians
Christians should also be listening for the sound of a trumpet that signals the moment when all Church Age saints are caught up literally and bodily to meet the Lord in the air (1 Th. 4:13-18).
Bible scholars and Messianic teachers suggest this event could happen during a celebration of Yom Teruah. There are several reasons why.
- The Roman government’s crucifixion of Jesus the Christ occurred on Pesach (Passover). He rose victorious from the grave on the Feast of Bikkurim (First Fruits). Pesach and Bikkurim are the first two spring feasts. The Church Age began on the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost), which is the last of the three in the cycle of spring feasts (Acts 2).
- Yom Teruah/Feast of Trumpets follows Shavuot and begins the cycle of fall feasts. Since each of the spring feasts align with the fulfillment of God’s redemptive program, the same can be expected for the fall feasts. It is reasonable to believe that the Rapture of the church initiated with, “a shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God,” is the next event on the prophetic calendar (1 Th. 4:16-17 cf. 1 Cor. 15:51-58; Heb. 10:35-38; Jas. 5:7-8; 1 Pet.4:7-8).
- If the Rapture marks the end of the Church Age, the final seven years of God’s 490-year program to inaugurate the Messianic Kingdom—as revealed to the prophet Daniel—will resume (Dan. 9:24-27).
People often ask:
Could Yom Teruah be the day that Christians will hear the trumpet sound and be caught up to meet the Lord in the air?
Is that the day God’s program for Israel will be resumed in preparation for establishment of the Messianic Kingdom?
Will that event occur this year?
Only time will tell.
For all who revere and believe the Bible the blasts of the shofar on Yom Teruah 5780 are a prophetic reminder that God’s promises will be fulfilled. And, that makes the Yom Teruah shofar a truly joyful sound!
2) Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, The Jewish Study Bible, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 1392.
1) The Joyful Sound. (Used for illustrative purposes) (Photo and detail credit: foreground image courtesy, Lin Applegate. Background image, Pixabay/[Public domain]/Digital composition, MKM Portfolios)
Copyright © 2018 Charles E. McCracken, commentary only. Repost/Reprint with permission. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.