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Sunday September 1st 2013, Larry Wilson from our church, a fellow lover of all things Hebrew gave me a Shofar as seen in the photo.
I'm not sure he was aware of the timeliness of his gift in that Rosh Hashanah (Head of the Year) otherwise known as Yom Teruah (The day of the Shofar blast - "Feast of Trumpets") began the evening of September 4 2013 and set forth the High Holy days of the Jewish calendar.
Rosh Hashanah is celebrated in the belief that this is the day that the Earth was created and time on the Jewish civil calendar is measured by this. According to the Jewish calendar as of Sept 4 the year turned from 5773 to 5774.
The Biblical observance of this particular holiday is recorded in Leviticus 23:23-25 and in Numbers 29:1-6 and was a memorial holiday.
The Voice of God
The very first mention of a shofar blast is recorded in Exodus chapter 19 and is so fascinatingly associated with God's voice. The incident takes 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 this was 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 found...
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 of the important purposes of the shofar that can be found in scripture such as a call to attention either in preparation for a sovereigns arrival.
With trumpets and the sound of a horn (shofar); Shout joyfully before the Lord, the King ~ Psalm 98:6
The shofar was used also as a call to gather for important announcements, as well as the heralding of beginning of some appointed times such as Jubilee's 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 in the scriptures. Turning away from God many times left the Children of Israel uncovered by the their covenant faithful God and therefore open and vulnerable to their enemies to which God lovingly sent His prophets to warn the people to return before they experienced the ultimate consequence of living unfaithfully. The focus of the call 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 in defeating and conquering in war perhaps it resembled God's voice so distinctly that it confused and routed their enemies.
Which 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 In reference to our enemies. The New Testament concept of enemies are not people. The Old Testament gives physical image to the spiritual understanding of the New.
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, express 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 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 of 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 as well.
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 it's meaning and purpose.
Sheen is a picture of teeth and symbolizes breaking down and putting back together, which is what teeth essentially do in relationship to the digestive process. In relationship to spiritual things the idea of the sound of the shofar as a signal to repent is a similar concept. Its penetrating sound is intended to pierce through, to break up and shatter our sleepy dreamy atmosphere of our self perceived, deluded sense of comfort to the reality of where we really are,what is really 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 the root word of Shofar 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 image that shofar blow, in reference to repentance, begins with breaking but ends with the purpose of being put back together in fact the Old Testament words for shofar, repent, and restore all begin 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 simply means to connect or join to.
The next letter is pey and is a picture of a mouth and symbolizes to open and make known. It can be significantly associated obviously with speech and voice. We saw in Exodus 19 how the Shofar was associated with God's voice as well as in the above verse of John quoting Isaiah about the voice of one crying in the wilderness.
Repent being the first word of the Gospel is the announcement intended to breakthrough the hardness of the human heart and awaken to its need of transformation. An "open" ear is what is required.
It is interesting that the Gospels record so many instances of Jesus healing blind and deaf people. I think it images for us our biggest problems spiritually and that is our closed, eyes, and ears.
"He who has ears to hear" is used 6 times in the gospels, the first is in Matthew chapter 11 where Jesus is talking about John the baptist and how prior generations who did not...
"exercise its capacity to hear but made excuses not hear John and Jesus" ~ Liberty Bible Commentary
"He who has ears to hear" is used 8 times in the book of Revelation in reference to both rewards for overcoming and repentance advised to the 7 churches and the rest are used in the parable of the sower.
The parable of the sower references the reception of Gods Word into the human heart and is imaged 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 is a resh and is a picture of a person's head representing chief greatest, and highest and has to do with 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
...and about moving forward. A word study on backward in the Bible reveals that it most always refers to moving away from God and goodness and 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, which the shophar also is used to express. A repentant surrendered life is assured victory in Christ as is described in the 8 "ear to hear" verses in Revelation. Both calls to advance and signals of victory are included in the use of the shofar
If we combine these concepts we might see that the Shofar is a tool that images the call 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 and is connected to the revelation that our lives are moving backwards and away from Him when He is not our first priority.
Sacrificial aspect of the Shofar
A final pictograph revelation is that the final two letters of the word "shofar" spell the word "par" which is a young and sacrificial animal and reveals that repentance is only possible because of the Lord Jesus who sacrificed Himself for us. Not to mention that the shofar itself symbols 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 of 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
This word was given by Paul 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 the Him as well as well as exhibit that loyalty by living in love towards one another.
His final consolation was to not 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, keeping in mind they were a church under persecution.
I can't think of a better note to end this message then 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
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