Sunday, September 1, 2013, Larry Wilson from our church, a fellow lover of all things Hebrew, gave me a Shofar, as seen in the above photo.
I'm not sure he was aware of the timeliness of his gift considering that it was Rosh Hashanah (Head of the Year), otherwise known as Yom Teruah (The day of the Shofar blast or "Feast of Trumpets")
Rosh Hashanah celebrates the belief that this is the day of the creation of the Earth. Therefore, "time" has been measured from this point on with the Jewish calendar. For instance, the year 2020 on the Gregorian calendar translates as 5780 on the Hebrew calendar.
This particular holiday's Biblical observance is recorded in Leviticus 23:23-25 and in Numbers 29:1-6 and was a memorial holiday.
The Voice of God
The first mention of a shofar blast is recorded in Exodus chapter nineteen and is so fascinatingly associated with God's voice. The incident took place in the third month after the children of Israel left Egypt and had reached Sinai. The Lord invited the people to hear Him speak and is about to give them the requirements of living in fellowship with Him. Up until this point, His communications with the people had been through Moses, and the following verse records their experience.
Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet (literal translation - The voice of a shofar) was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.
— Exodus 19:16
Then, in verse 19 of this same chapter amongst the smoke, fire, and quaking of the Lord's presence, the "Voice of the shofar" is further described.
And when the blast of the trumpet (literal translation—"The voice of the Shofar) sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice.
— Exodus 19:19
When viewed literally, it appears that this shofar sound is coming from the very Lord Himself. In Revelation, a similar connection is discovered.
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet.
— Revelation 1:10
This scene captures some essential purposes of the shofar, such as calling attention to a sovereign's arrival.
With trumpets and the sound of a horn (shofar); Shout joyfully before the Lord, the King.
— Psalm 98:6
The shofar was also used to gather the people for important announcements and the heralding of some appointed times, such as Jubilees and New Moons.
It was also a warning of an approaching enemy or an alarm call to repent before impending judgment. These final two were many times related to the scriptures. Many times, turning away from God left the Children of Israel uncovered by their covenant faithful God and, therefore, open and vulnerable to their enemies. God lovingly sent His prophets to warn the people to return before they experienced the ultimate consequence of living unfaithfully. The call's focus to repent as related to this instrument will be addressed shortly in this article.
Instrument of Worship and War
Both Joshua and Gideon used the shofar to defeat and conquer in war; perhaps it resembled God's voice so distinctly that it confused and routed their enemies.
This thought is fitting with the concept of praise being a weapon of sorts in spiritual matters.
Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength (translated "praise" in Matthew 21:16), Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.
Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet (shofar).
— Psalm 150:3
It is worth mention that as it refers to our enemies, The New Testament informs us that our enemies are not people.
. . . we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
— Ephesians 6:12
We also must consider the internal enemy of our flesh.
. . . the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another.
— Galatians 5:17
In either case, this penetrating sound representing the voice of God can give vision and consideration of God breaking through for us as we worship Him.
A Call to Repentance
The modern observance of the feast of trumpets by the Jewish people expresses the element of awakening, the call to examine oneself, and repentance, as was discussed briefly earlier in this article in agreement with the Biblical function of the Shofar.
Blow the trumpet (shofar) in Zion, And sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; For the day of the Lord is coming, For it is at hand.
— Joel 2:1
“Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet (shofar); Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins.
— Isaiah 58:1
Coupled with the New Testament call to repentance, this includes the idea of preparing the way for a sovereign, namely the Lord Jesus Christ.
John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’”
— Matthew 3:1-3
The Hebrew word pictograph of the word for Shofar is enlightening and confirms this particular of the Shofar.
The Hebrew root word for Shofar consists of four Hebrew letters "sheen," "vav," "pey," and "resh." The root of this word is simply minus the "vav" and is three letters "Sheen," "pey," and "resh." I will be drawing on the definitions of both the word and the root to define it and hopefully get a clearer understanding of its meaning and purpose.
"Sheen" is a picture of teeth and symbolizes breaking down and putting back together, which is what teeth mainly do relative to the digestive process. Concerning spiritual things, the idea of the Shofar's sound as a signal to repent is a similar concept. It's penetrating sound is intended to pierce through, to break up and shatter the sleepy, dreamy atmosphere of our self-perceived, deluded sense of comfort to the reality of where we are, what is going on, and in whose presence we reside.
. . . Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.
— Hosea 10:12
Zodhiates defines Shofar's root word as an incising or clear sound, as in something that cuts through and brings clarity. Gesenius Lexicon also describes the sound as sharp, as in something that pierces through.
We might be able to see from this illustration that the shofar blow, referring to repentance, begins with breaking but ends with being put back together. In fact, the Old Testament words for Shofar, repent, and restore all start with the letter "sheen."
Restore me, and I will return, For You are the Lord my God.
— Jeremiah 31:18
The next letter is the letter "vav" and is a picture of a nail and means to connect or join.
The next letter is "pey" and is a picture of a mouth. It symbolizes to open and make known. It can be significantly associated with speech and voice. We saw in Exodus nineteen how the Shofar was associated with God's voice as well as in the above verse quoting Isaiah about "the voice of one crying in the wilderness."
"Repent" is the first word of the Gospel. It is an announcement intended to break through the hardness of the human heart and awaken to its need for transformation. An "open" ear is what is required.
Interestingly, the Gospels record so many instances of Jesus healing blind and deaf people. It illustrates for us our biggest problems spiritually, and that is our closed eyes and ears.
"He who has ears to hear" is used six times in the Gospels. The first use is in Matthew chapter eleven, where Jesus is talking about John the Baptist and how prior generations who did not.
"exercise their capacity to hear but made excuses not hear John and Jesus."
— Liberty Bible Commentary
"He who has ears to hear" is used eight times in the book of Revelation concerning both rewards for overcoming and repentance in advising the seven churches, and the rest appear in The Parable of the Sower.
The Parable of the Sower references the reception of God's Word into the human heart and is depicted by various types of soil. The hearts that were unproductive were hearts that were not necessarily "open" to change. They were hard, filled with other things, not conducive to growing living things, and deeply distracted. Just after this parable is the parable of "revealed" light and wraps up with . . .
. . . therefore take heed how you hear.
The image of the shofar blast should image for us the distinct call to attention God deserves. It should be the sound that opens our ears and calls us away from every distraction so that His Word can be planted in our hearts and produce a harvest.
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
— James 1:21
The final letter of the word Shofar is a "resh" and is a picture of a person's head representing chief greatest and highest and has to do with the right priorities. It can also symbolize moving forward.
The call to repentance is about getting priorities straight.
. . . seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
— Matthew 6:33
The use of the word "backward' in the Bible most frequently refers to moving away from God and His goodness. Moving backward is strongly associated with disobedience.
. . . they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.
— Jeremiah 7:24
Moving forward is also indicative of victory, and the Shophar expresses this. A repentant surrendered life is assured victory in Christ as is described in the eight "ears to hear" verses in the book of Revelation. Both are calls to advance and signal victory.
If we combine these concepts, we might see that the Shofar is a tool that is associated with the voice of God that penetratingly calls us to repent via the opening of our ears that we may be restored and have victory in our lives. This call connects to the revelation that our lives are moving backward and away from Him when He is not our number one priority.
Sacrificial aspect of the Shofar
A final pictograph revelation is that the last two letters of the word "shofar" spell the word "par," a young and sacrificial animal, and reveals that repentance is only possible because the Lord Jesus was sacrificed for us. Not to mention the shofar itself symbolizes this sacrifice in that it came from a sacrificial animal.
The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.
— Acts 5:30-31
The final and relevant aspect of the Shofar blast concerns a future event foretold in the New Testament.
. . . the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.
— I Thessalonians 4:16
Paul's word was given to encourage and comfort the believers in Thessalonica as part of their instructions to please God by not living as the world does but to live devoted, loyal lives to Him. They were also to be an exhibit of loyalty to God by living in love with one another.
His final consolation was not to be discouraged by the death of fellow believers with the understanding that Christ will one day return, and the faithful will not only meet the Lord Himself but will be reunited with those who had passed on before them.
I can't think of a better note to end this message than to concur with this encouragement to occupy till He comes. (Luke 19:13)
Take heed (pay attention), watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.
— Mark 13:33
Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound ("teruah" - blowing of the trumpets).
— Psalm 89:15
© 2014 Tamarajo