Friday, September 6, 2013

Our Horn of Salvation: Why Yom Teruah IS For Christ Followers


Michael and I have a running joke in the car about the horn. I hate confrontation, so I never use it. Michael, having lived in New York City for a number of years, happens to be best friends with the horn. “People need to know when they are doing something wrong,” he often exclaims when I give him my look of disapproval. I, on the other hand, opt for grace...unless there is imminent danger. It’s not out of impatience that I use the horn, it’s a warning that something is about to happen, attention needs to be paid and behavior probably needs to change before something disastrous happens.
And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you.
Numbers 29:1
You may have noticed on your calendars that this week marked Rosh Hashanah. While this is a well-known Jewish holiday marking the "head of the year," the Bible originally called this day Yom Teruah, which means literally, "a day for blowing trumpets." This Feast of Trumpets, in a sense, is God's ultimate car horn. 

The Annual Feasts/Moedim

The picture above depicts the seven annual feast days prescribed by God. Note: they are not traditions created by the Jews. As we have discussed in prior posts this year, the feast days are a prophetic picture of the redemptive work of the Lord throughout time. The spring festivals were fulfilled during the first appearance of Christ, our Messiah, and give us annual reminders that Christ died to atone for us (Passover), that He lived and died completely without sin (Unleavened Bread) and He rose on the third day, a sign of a great harvest of souls and of life eternal (First Fruits). The fourth feast reminds us of the giving of the Law, the fulfillment of God's promise to write His law on our hearts through the giving of the Holy Spirit (Shavuot/Pentecost). The fall festivals, however, have yet to be fulfilled and allow us to anticipate Christ's return (Yom Teruah/Day of Trumpets), the great day of judgment (Yom Kippur/The Day of Atonement) and the celebration of the ingathering and millennial reign when God will reside among His people once again (Sukkot/Tabernacles).
So if you're wondering why on earth it is necessary to know or observe these things, just think about it this way: we rehearse these things every year to remind ourselves and celebrate what Christ has done and to remind ourselves to continue to run the race with endurance, to anticipate the day the Lord will return to restore His people and His world. A great friend and Bible teacher of mine likens it to a wedding rehearsal. She always says, "We practice these things just like we practice for a wedding, so we know what to expect and where to stand when the big day comes." I have always loved that analogy.

Calling the Troops

The picture above shows a man blowing what is called a shofar, an ancient instrument made of a ram's horn.

If you want to hear what it sounds like, listen to this beautiful recording.

Did you hear its loud, rich and billowing sound? It is so soothing, yet it certainly is attention grabbing. Even in our culture, trumpets have been used to signal the time to awaken - just think of that timeless Bugle Call, played on military bases around the world. This is not specific to American culture. in the same way, the shofar was used by the military and had almost an entire language in the variety of blasts that were played to signal different activity - a meeting, an announcement, or a battle cry. When those men and women heard the shofar, they knew they needed to listen. It meant something important was about to happen, that they needed to pay attention.


Making the Connection

So what are we to get out of this blowing of the trumpets? If this is signaling something prophetic that is to come, what is it? Hopefully you have begun to look for relationships between stories in the Bible in your own personal study, so you might have already thought there might be some connection to the seven trumpets of the end times. And you would be right.
Let's look at a few places in the Bible where trumpets are discussed; this might help us to put the picture together, starting with the Old Testament passage of Joshua 6. Keep in mind the context here as you read: Israel has been redeemed from Egyptian slavery, has been in the wilderness for 40 years where they received the Law from God, and now, led by Joshua, they are going to cross over into their promised land in Canaan.
Read Joshua 6:1-21
Now if you're like me, you never noticed just how many times that word was in that passage before. But with it pointed out, you start to get the idea that the Lord is trying to make a point. The trumpets are the signal that comes before the massacre of the enemies of God and the entrance of God's people into their promised land. Notice that only Rahab, who had made a declaration of trust in God by lacing the red cord in her window and building an alliance with the people of God, was spared. (Also, this is just one of the many indications that gentiles were welcomed into the family of God before Christ's advent.)
This is a prophetic picture, friends! Israel's experience here serves as a shadow of things to come for the children of God at the end of time. Read John's account of those last days in Revelation 8-11 and I think you'll see what I mean. It is summarized below:
When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them...The seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound them...
Revelation 8:1-2, 6


What we see here is the same thing we saw in Joshua: that the trumpets in the last days will signal judgement for the enemies of the Lord. It is no accident that there are seven trumpets in Joshua and seven trumpets in Revelation. We are supposed to make the connection that the wrath poured at the end times is much like the wrath that was poured out on Jericho. These Canaanites were not the enemies of the people of Israel; they were the enemies of God. But it's not only about the judgement. Notice that at the end of the trumpet blast, in both cases, God's people are brought to their promised land, ushered in by their leaders names"Yeshua." That's right, Joshua and Jesus actually have the same name in Hebrew, and it means salvation. Again, not a coincidence. The message here is by following Jesus that we have salvation and so have access to this promised land. In fact, the seven trumpets of Revelation mark the grand entrance of our Messiah, and the world transitioning into becoming His Kingdom, our promised land:

15Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying,
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” 16And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17saying, “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. 18“And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.”
19And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm.
Revelation 11

Just as the walls of Jericho fell, so will the  physical and spiritual barriers fall away from earth and God's heavenly realm on that day to come. We will see Him, in all His glory. His Kingdom, our promised land, will come.

Living with Expectancy

So Yom Teruah, the Day for Blowing Trumpets, is an annual reminder from the Lord that we, His Bride, must live in a state of expectancy for His return. We must be vigilant and take time to evaluate ourselves. Are we ready to take hold of our promised land? Are we living in such a way that we will not be ashamed when He reveals Himself? Or worse, are we living as enemies of God? This is a day to celebrate if you are in covenant with the Lord. But if you are not, or if you're not sure, or if you are not living a life that reflects that covenant, then this is your annual wake up call. The trumpet sounds as a reminder, a warning. One day it will not be an exercise - will we be ready?  

So yes, if you're wondering, we do sound our own trumpet at our house in honor of the day. Doing this was a real treat for my husband the first time we did it. We got out his beautiful horn, which he travelled around the world playing. He loves that there is a God-ordained time to make noise. We got it out as the sun came down, and he played it for us, he played for our home, and our hearts were filled with awe and peace. I just couldn’t help wondering if God was smiling down, pleased that we were acknowledging Him in our own little trumpet blowing. In my heart I thought, “God, I want you to know that we ARE choosing to live expectantly, and that we are living our lives, each day, in anticipation of your return.

Friends, if you have never done it before, take the opportunity between now and Yom Kippur (September 13th this year) to reflect on the past year and to think about how you measure up in the area of reflecting Christ. As believers in Messiah, we need not fear eternal condemnation. But we are told that we will all give an account of our deeds and our words (Matthew 12:36). Are you honoring His sacrifice through your life or have you forgotten your covenant? Now is the time to return, to 'shuvah,' as they say in Hebrew. Take the opportunity this year to reflect inwardly, to see just how far the grace of God can reach and has come to cover you. It fills me to the brim with gratitude that God’s sacrificial act reaches all the way to me, to my dark, shameful past, to my failures, to my selfish decisions. Just thinking about it makes me want to commit to purging them to commit to being as spotless as possible on the great day of His return. And I think that’s the point.


My prayer for us today:

Thank you, Lord, for your beautiful reminders. We are so forgetful, and we need these appointed times to keep us on Your path, to remind us of our salvation story and to remain aware that You're not finished yet. In this world where so much hurt and brokenness exists, where so many distractions pull us, we thank you for your Day of Blowing Trumpets, for the reminder of the restoration of your return, to focus us anew on You as our greatest priority. In the day of the blowing of your great trump, Lord, may we be prepared and alert for You. Thank you for reminders, for your abundant grace, and for a new year ahead to learn, to grow, and to become more intimate with You.


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