The Feast of Trumpets

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Leviticus 23:23–25 ESV
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, and you shall present a food offering to the Lord.”
Throughout this entire year we will be taking some time out of our continuing sermon series, at the appropriate times of the year, to examine the Feasts of the LORD and how they are fulfilled by Jesus. The Feasts of the Lord, not the Feasts of the Jews, are helpful visual symbols of “the shadow of what was to come” (Col. 2:16-17). Lev 23:1-2
Leviticus 23:1–2 NRSV
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: These are the appointed festivals of the Lord that you shall proclaim as holy convocations, my appointed festivals.
Colossians 2:16–17 HCSB
Therefore, don’t let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of what was to come; the substance is the Messiah.
The Feasts of the Lord are visual aids pointing to Jesus, what He has done, what He will do, and learning to walk with Him everyday of our lives. Much like alphabet blocks represent the basics of a language, symbols of letters, to form words, in order to read, write, and speak; God used visual blocks/aids as object lessons to teach His followers spiritual truths that He wanted/wants us to understand and know about His will, His Kingdom, the times, Jesus, and Himself.
For 1500 years, the Hebrews learned about our One True God through the visual aids of the Feasts and Festivals. But the pictures were not the complete physical picture of God, just as alphabet blocks are not the complete entirety of a language. The Feasts and Festivals purpose pointed the people to the Messiah, Jesus. As the Aposle Paul says to us, the Feasts and Festivals of the LORD are written and recorded for our benefit (Romans 15:4).
Romans 15:4 HCSB
For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through the encouragement from the Scriptures.
Practicing the Feasts and Festivals do not save us, but they point to the One who can and does…Jesus. Their practice helps to focus our relationship on the Lord and remind us who He is, what He has done for us, and will do in the future. Right from the beginning of the Bible, God makes mention of the Feasts to come and their importance. Gen 1:14
Genesis 1:14 HCSB
Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night. They will serve as signs for festivals and for days and years.
The word ‘festivals’ or ‘seasons’ is the Hebrew word mo’ed (4150) meaning an appointment, specifically a festival. Specifically, a fixed, appointed time or season or place where God would meet with His people.
There are seven such appointed times that God’s people are to meet with Him: Passover (Pesach) which includes the Feast of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits. They teach us how to find God’s peace. The peace of God is only found in one person, and in one relationship, that is with Jesus Christ, our Passover Lamb.
The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost (Shavuot), is about the blessing of God’s power. The power of God is only received through a living relationship with Jesus, inwhich the blessing of the Holy Spirit is in and upon the follower of Jesus, to live in, and do the things of God in this world. Acts 2:41-47 shows us the blessing of the Holy Spirit and His power by obedience to God’s teaching, prayer, fellowship, and breaking of bread.
Acts 2:41–43 HCSB
So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers. Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles.
Both the Feasts of Passover and Pentecost are spring feasts that have been prophetically fulfilled by Jesus. The Feast of Tabernacles or Succot includes the Feast of Trumpets (RoshHaShanah and Yom Kippur), Atonement, and Tabernacles. Their purpose is to teach God’s followers how to enter His rest for them and their souls. We know that in Jesus we have rest for our souls, for He is the only way to eternal life, that is salvation.
John 14:6 HCSB
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
In the spring, we will see how Jesus fulfilled the three spring feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits at His first coming through his death, burial and resurrection. And then in the late spring we will look at the Feast of Weeks, or as we best know it, Pentecost. We will see how that feast was fulfilled by Jesus when He sent the Holy Spirit upon His followers and ushered in the church age.
For the next three weeks, beginning this morning, we’ll focus on the three fall feasts – The Feast of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. And again, as we would expect, we’ll see Jesus revealed in each of these three feasts. This is such an appropriate thing for us to be doing right now since the fulfillment of these feasts have to do with the second coming of Jesus and the last days we are seemingly in.
Before we look at the Feast of Trumpets in detail, let’s take a few moments to review and put the feast in its proper context.
There are a total of seven feasts that God gave to His people to observe. The feasts are broken down into three main seasons. The Spring feasts – Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits coincide with the barley harvest and were fulfilled by Jesus at His first coming. They were symbolic of how to have peace with God.
The Feast of Weeks coincided with the completion of the wheat harvest and, as was fulfilled by Jesus by the giving of the Holy Spirit which inaugurated the church age in which we now live. The Feast of Weeks was symbolic as to how to have the power of God.
The final three feasts – the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles - occur in the Fall, and they will be fulfilled in full by Jesus at His second coming. These feasts are symbolic of how to have the rest of God.
What is really interesting is that there is a long time gap between the Feast of Weeks and the fall feasts. This corresponds directly to the fact that at the time the church age was ushered on the Day of Pentecost, there began an interlude in God’s dealings with Israel as a nation, a period known as the “Time of the Gentiles.” Paul referred to this interlude in Romans 11:25.
Romans 11:25 ESV
Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
As Paul explains more fully in that chapter, the purpose of this interlude was to make Israel jealous and lead to their ultimate salvation as they come to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. So, we shouldn’t be surprised that this interlude was hinted at right in the middle of God’s instructions for the feasts. We find the basic instructions for all the feasts in Leviticus 23. The instructions for the spring feasts and the Feast of Weeks ends in verse 21 and the instructions for the fall feasts begin in verse 23. And right between those instructions, we find this verse, which at first glance appears to be out of place:
Leviticus 23:22 ESV
“And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.”
Notice the word “sojourner” in that verse. That is a reference to the Gentiles, and we find that in between the Feast of Weeks and the three fall feasts, God had given instructions to provide for the Gentiles. We see this played out in the Book of Ruth, where Boaz, a Jew, provides for Ruth, a Gentile, by not reaping to the edge of his fields. Even today, the Jews still read the Book of Ruth in connection with the Feast of Weeks, although they obviously miss out on how it sets the stage for the church age in which God provides salvation for all, including the Gentiles.
The instructions for the observance of the Feast of Trumpets are found in both Leviticus and Numbers:
Leviticus 23:23–25 ESV
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, and you shall present a food offering to the Lord.”
More detailed instructions are found in Numbers:
Numbers 29:1–2 ESV
“On the first day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a day for you to blow the trumpets, and you shall offer a burnt offering, for a pleasing aroma to the Lord: one bull from the herd, one ram, seven male lambs a year old without blemish;
Numbers 29:3–4 ESV
also their grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, three tenths of an ephah for the bull, two tenths for the ram, and one tenth for each of the seven lambs;
Numbers 29:5–6 ESV
with one male goat for a sin offering, to make atonement for you; besides the burnt offering of the new moon, and its grain offering, and the regular burnt offering and its grain offering, and their drink offering, according to the rule for them, for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the Lord.
The Feast of Trumpets was to take place on the first day of the seventh month of the religious calendar, the month of Tishri. The Jews have both a religious and a civil calendar, and this is also the first day of the first month on their civil calendar. As a result, this feast is also known as the Jewish New Year, or by its Hebrew name, Rosh Hashanah, which means “head of the year”. This begins a ten-day period which ends on Yom Kippur and which is known as the “High Holy Days” or the “Days of Awe.”
In practice, the Feast of Trumpets is observed for two days, on the first and second days of the month of Tishri. Since the Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar, the first day of the month corresponds to the new moon. When the new moon was observed, the Sanhedrin sent out messenger to declare the beginning of the new month. But since messengers could not be dispatched on the holiday, nobody knew that the new moon had been observed until the following day. So traditionally, the observance took place over two days, and even though we can calculate the day of the new moon very accurately today, that tradition has been maintained. This year, the observance begins at sundown Monday night and will conclude at sundown Tuesday night.
Originally, the Feast of Trumpets was observed by making a set of special offerings of both grain and animals in addition to the normal daily sacrifices. Those sacrifices were accompanied by the blowing of the trumpets. Just as we have seen with the other holy days, this was also to be a day of rest and no work was to be done.
As we have also seen with many of the Jewish feasts, since the Temple is no longer in existence and therefore the prescribed sacrifices can no longer be made, the Jewish people have had to modify the observance of the feast.
Most of the day is spent in the synagogue, where religious poems are added to the regular service and prayers from a special prayer book developed for the feast are recited. The services focus heavily on the sovereignty of God. It is also traditional to eat apples dipped in honey as a symbol of the wish for a sweet new year.
The most important part of the observance is the blowing of the shofar, or the ram’s horn, which is associated with Abraham offering his son Isaac as a sacrifice on Mt. Moriah. Beginning on the first day of the sixth month, Elul, the shofar is blown each day, except on the Sabbath, and on the day before Rosh Hashanah. Then on the two days of Rosh Hashanah, exactly 100 notes of various types are sounded, ending with one long blast.
There are several other traditions associated with Rosh Hashanah that are important in helping us understand the prophetic significance of the Feast of Trumpets. In addition to be identified as Rosh Hashanah, the head of the year, this feast is also known by several other names:
• Yom Teruah – the Day of the Awakening Blast
• Yom HaZikkaron – the Day of Remembrance
• Yom Hakeseh – the Hidden Day
• Yom HaDin – the Day of Judgment
Although we don’t have time to examine all of these in any detail at all this morning, let me focus for a moment on the “Day of Judgment.” According to the Talmud, three books of account are opened on Rosh Hashanah and the fate of each person for the next year is sealed. The names of the righteous are immediately recorded in the book of life, those of the wicked are blotted out of the book of life and they are appointed for death and then there are those in between, who are allowed a respite of ten days until Yom Kippur to repent and become righteous.
Jesus literally fulfilled the spring feasts at His first coming. And then, seven weeks later, He inaugurated the church age on the Day of Pentecost as He empowered His followers with the Holy Spirit. So, it only seems logical, that Jesus is going to literally fulfill the three fall feasts as well.
There are so many things about the Feast of Trumpets that have prophetic significance for us. So, about all I can hope to do this morning is to whet your appetite and hopefully encourage you to study these things in more detail on your own. I’m going to briefly take a look at a couple of issues and then spend most of our time focusing on what is clearly the most significant aspect of the feast for us.
Let’s begin with the concept of the “Hidden Day.” As we’ve seen, the Feast of Trumpets was held on the first day of the month of Tishri, a day which in earlier times had to be determined based on the observance of the new moon. Because of clouds which would obscure the moon, it was often difficult to determine exactly when the new moon occurred. And since the exact time of the new moon varied at various different locations, the Jews would say that no one could determine the day or the hour that the new year began. Keep that thought in mind.
We’ve also seen that Rosh Hashanah is known as the “Day of Judgment”, where the people were judged for their deeds. Keep that thought in mind as well.
The most significant aspect of the Feast of Trumpets, as indicated even by the name of the feast, is the blowing of the trumpet, which as we have seen, refers to the Shofar, or Ram’s Horn. Remember that the trumpet is blown for the entire month of Elul except for the day before Rosh Hashanah and then it is blown again for exactly 100 notes on each day of Rosh Hashanah, ending with one loud blast. We see this same pattern repeated in the Book of Revelation:
Revelation 8:1 HCSB
When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
Revelation 8:2 HCSB
Then I saw the seven angels who stand in the presence of God; seven trumpets were given to them.
We obviously can’t look at this passage in detail this morning, but it seems that there is a correlation between the day before Rosh Hashanah when the trumpet is not blown and the silence that occurs in heaven for half an hour. That is immediately followed by God giving seven trumpets to the angels who then proceed to blow them. There seems to be a clear connection between this passage and the Feast of Trumpets.
However, that is not the only place in the New Testament where we find a correlation between the observance of the Feast of Weeks and events related to the second coming of Jesus. In fact, there are several significant passages that describe the second coming of Jesus where a trumpet blast plays a significant role in those events:
1 Corinthians 15:51 ESV
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
1 Corinthians 15:52 ESV
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.
In that passage, God reveals that the return of Jesus will be associated with the “last trumpet”. So exactly what is that referring to? We’ll let the Scriptures themselves reveal that to us:
1 Thessalonians 4:16 ESV
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.
1 Thessalonians 4:17 ESV
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.
Paul is clearly describing here the very same event we just read about in 1 Corinthians. And here he describes the “last trumpet” as the “trumpet of God”. But the timing of that last trumpet is still not clear. But fortunately, we have the words of Jesus Himself to answer that question:
Matthew 24:29 ESV
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
Matthew 24:30 ESV
Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, 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.
Matthew 24:31 ESV
And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
We see here that the return of Jesus will be accompanied by a single loud trumpet blast, which is exactly what occurs at the end of each day of the observance of Rosh Hashanah.
One phrase in this passage draws our attention, it is the phrase “Immediately after the tribulation of those days…” The words of Jesus confirm a picture in the study of the last days - God’s people are not immune to tribulation. The trumpet call which signals the return of Jesus comes after the tribulation of those days.
At His first coming Jesus literally fulfilled each of the spring feasts through the significant events in His life, death and resurrection that occurred exactly on the days and at the times that corresponded to those feasts. So, we can have confidence that the events of his second coming will also correspond directly to the fall feasts. There seems little doubt that Jesus’ return, announced by a loud trumpet call, will be connected with the Feast of Trumpets.
As we’ve seen, that would certainly not violate this warning from Jesus: Matthew 24:36
Matthew 24:36 ESV
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.
In fact, it is even possible that the words Jesus used here were a reference to the “Hidden Day”, which Jesus’ Jewish followers would have understood as being a description of the Feast of Trumpets. And even if Jesus does return on Rosh Hashanah, we certainly can’t, as some have attempted to do, predict the year of His return or even on which day of the feast that he might come again to this earth.
And when He does return, whenever that might be, Jesus will come as Judge, not as Savior. For those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and have already had their names inscribed in the Book of Life, Jesus will only judge our deeds, not us as individuals, and that judgment will only be for the purpose of giving us rewards based on our fruitful deeds. But for those who have not committed their lives to Jesus, their fate will be sealed, and they will be appointed to what the Book of Revelation describes as the “second death” or the “lake of fire”.
Isn’t this exciting? But if all we do is leave here today with a little more information, then we really haven’t accomplished much of lasting worth. So how should we live then in light of what we’ve learned today?
1. We need to constantly be preparing our hearts for Jesus’ return
Remember that earlier we described how the Jews would blow the Shofar throughout the month of Elul in preparation for Rosh Hashanah. This time is also set aside for the people to evaluate their lives and to repent in preparation for the judgment that would occur on Rosh Hashanah. In fact, the name of the month is the Aramaic word for “search” and the month is to be a time of searching out God as well as searching their own hearts in order to repent of any sin in their lives.
For those of us who are followers of Jesus, this picture should remind us that we are constantly to be searching out God in our lives and searching our own hearts so that God might reveal sin and that we can repent.
Much of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians dealt with the return of Jesus. We’ve already read one passage from chapter 4 that connected the return of Jesus to the trumpet of God. But Paul made it very clear in that letter that the purpose of his writing was not just for information, but rather for instructing the people about how they should live in expectation of Jesus’ return. Among those instructions we find these words:
1 Thessalonians 5:4 ESV
But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.
1 Thessalonians 5:5–6 ESV
For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.
1 Thessalonians 5:7–8 ESV
For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.
Paul’s admonition to remain sober in these verses is a call to be constantly preparing their hearts for the second coming of Jesus. It is a call to be vigilant and to make sure that we don’t become complacent and thus become surprised and unprepared for Jesus’ return.
Over the last year in Leduc there have been a number of break-ins, vandalism and theft. What should one do in response? The idea of a neighborhood watch program has been floated by the police. A neighborhood watch program involves everyone in a neighborhood is to keep watch and be vigilant for those things that might seem out of place or indicate that something bad is going on.
As followers of Jesus, we need to develop a “spiritual watch” program. We need to be on the alert and be vigilant and search for those things in our lives that are out of place or that might indicate there is something wrong that we might need to deal with. That’s the only way we’ll be prepared for the return of Jesus, no matter when that might occur.
2. We are to encourage each other and build each other up
One of the most important aspects of all the Jewish feasts is that they are to be celebrated and observed in community with others. Although certain aspects of the feasts, like evaluating one’s own life, are personal, the feasts themselves are all community events.
This points out the importance of being an integral part of the body of Christ. There is just no Biblical support at all for the idea of a “Lone Ranger” Christian. And as the time of Jesus’ return comes nearer and nearer, we are going to need each other more than ever.
Again, in his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul, in the midst of his description of the second coming of Jesus, points out the importance of encouraging and building each other up. In fact, the entire section where he addresses how to live in light of the coming return of Jesus, begins and ends with similar admonitions:
1 Thessalonians 4:18 ESV
Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
The writer of Hebrews confirms the importance of encouraging and building each other up as the second coming of Jesus approaches:
Hebrews 10:24–25 ESV
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Again, the neighborhood watch program is a great illustration of this principle. The program is only effective when everyone in the neighborhood works together and looks out not only for their own personal concerns, but also for those of others in the neighborhood. Unless we all work together, we really won’t do much good at all.
I don’t know exactly what the future is going to bring. I can’t tell you exactly when Jesus is going to return. But based on what we can observe and what we can know from the Bible, we should expect that things are going to get more difficult for the followers of Jesus, not easier. And when that occurs, we are going to need each other more than ever. And we can’t wait until those difficult days come to begin to encourage and build each other up. It may very well be too late then. Let’s start right now.
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