Feast of Trumpets: “A day of complete rest for remembering”
This year the Feast of Trumpets (also called Rosh Hashanah) begins on the evening of September 25, 2014. We put aside our work and gather with other believers, share a meal, blow our shofar, present an offering and worship just as the Lord commanded us in Leviticus 23.
But Leviticus 23:24 also tells us this is to be “a day of complete rest for remembering.” Remembering what, it doesn’t say. In fact none of the references to the Feast of Trumpets tell us what we’re remembering.
To get some perspective, let’s go back in time about 3,500 years when the observance of this day was first commanded. Although the shofar may have been used previously, the first time the Bible mentions the sound of a shofar is in Exodus 19:16-19 when the Israelites were waiting at the foot of Mt. Sinai to meet God:
“On the morning of the third day, there was thunder, lightning and a thick cloud on the mountain. Then a shofar blast sounded so loudly that all the people in the camp trembled. Moshe brought the people out of the camp to meet God; they stood near the base of the mountain. Mount Sinai was enveloped in smoke, because Adonai descended onto it in fire — its smoke went up like the smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain shook violently. As the sound of the shofar grew louder and louder, Moshe spoke; and God answered him with a voice.”
In the next chapter, once God started speaking, the Israelites shrunk back in fear, telling Moses to just relay God’s message to them, so they wouldn’t die from the sound of His voice. They feared for their lives from what they had seen and heard.
Less than a year from that event, the command to observe the Feast of Trumpets is given. I would think just after God’s miraculous works at their exodus from Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea, the meeting with YHVH at Mt. Sinai had to be one of the Israelites’ most memorable events to this point. And the shofar was the sound that kicked it off.
No wonder there’s no explanation of what we’re to remember. If you were at the mountain on that day, the sound of the shofar would have a very distinct memory associated with it: God meeting and speaking with His people.
What’s more, God Himself sounded the shofar. The only other times the Bible references God sounding a shofar are in Zechariah 9 and 1 Thessalonians 4, and most Bible scholars believe these two refer to the same incident: Yeshua’s second coming.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a rousing cry, with a call from one of the ruling angels, and with God’s shofar; those who died united with the Messiah will be the first to rise; then we who are left still alive will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we will always be with the Lord.
Adonai will appear over them, and his arrow will flash like lightning. Adonai Elohim will blow the shofar and go out in the whirlwinds of the south. The Lord of hosts will defend them; they will devour and trample the sling-stones.
So, the first time God blew the shofar was when He was going to speak His commandments/His Word to His people. The second and only other time God blows the shofar is when Yeshua, God’s Word, comes to defend and gather His people. Obviously the commonality between them is when God meets His people in a supernatural and massive physical appearance.
This is what we are to remember: We look back in remembrance of how God appeared to the masses in Exodus, and we look forward with expectation at Yeshua appearing to the masses at the end of this age.
In fact, this is the case with all the seven Biblical Feasts. In each one we look back at an historical event, and look forward to its complete prophetic fulfillment. But in the case of this Feast, meeting with God takes preparation. The Israelites prepared for two days before gathering at Mt. Sinai. We, too, are in a time of preparation to meet Yeshua.
Looking at the Feast of Trumpets historically, prophetically and in our current stage in the progression, we can see a total of ten things that remind us to prepare ourselves for the ultimate fulfillment of this Feast (codified by the rabbinic sages of the medieval era).
Historically we remember:
- God speaking his commandments to the Israelites at Mt. Sinai
- The binding of Isaac – a shofar was generally made from a ram’s horn like the ram whose horns were tangled in the thicket and who became Isaac’s substitutionary sacrifice, just as Yeshua was for us
Today before Yeshua’s second coming, this Feast reminds us of:
- A call to repentance prior to His return (remember Yeshua’s gospel: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand”)
- Warning of impending judgment, preparing us for the Day of Atonement just ten days ahead
- Fear and reverence for God as we would have felt at the foot of Mt. Sinai
- The ingathering of Israel, which is going on now
- Yeshua’s return and the resurrection of the dead (as we saw in 1 Thess. 4)
- The coming of the Day of Atonement
- The future building of the temple
- The coronation of the King
If that’s not enough, we can also remember that part of God’s plan was fulfilled during Yeshua’s first coming on exactly the same dates as the Spring Feasts. I know I want to be watching and prepared during the Fall Feasts every year in case He continues rolling out his plan on those exact dates.
See a list of all the Biblical Feasts and their 2014 dates.