Rosh Hashannah - Feast of Trumpets - Yom HaTruah
The ‘Day of the Blowing of the Trumpets’ is the fifth of the seven Biblical feasts commanded in Lev 23:24, and occurs in September or October. There is not a lot of information given in the Scriptures about this holiday. It was to be commemorated with a holiday (no work) and offerings given in the Temple (Num 29:1-6). The Levitical trumpets or shofars were to be sounded. In the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, the feasts of the seventh month were kept with readings from the books of the law and appropriate repentance and obedience following as the people took the words to heart (Ezra 3:6, Neh 8:2ff).
There were 2 types of trumpets used in the Scriptures: the silver trumpets (played only by the priests) and the shofar (ram’s horn). The ‘truah’ is one of the three sounds made on the trumpet. It is a short staccato sound. The shofar was used to announce the beginning of the Jubilee year (Lev.25:9), and the Day of Atonement (Lev 25:9), and is used today in the synagogues for the New Year. It was also used for a call to arms (Judges 3:27, 6:34), sounding an alarm (Jer 4:19-21, Ezek 33:3-6), frightening the enemy (Judges 7:8-22, Josh 6:6-20), proclaiming victory (1 Sam 13:3), or at the coronation of a king (1 Kg 1:34). It was also used at the giving of the law at Mt Sinai (Ex 19:13,16, 20:18).
The Feast of Trumpets is today usually referred to as Rosh HaShanah, or the Jewish New Year. It literally means ‘head of the year’ and is the start of the civil year, in contrast to the religious year that begins in March/April. It is the only festival held on the first of the month or new moon. All other dates for the year were set from this Feast. In Biblical times, it was announced by two witnesses (members of the Sanhedrin). When the people went into exile, fires were lit on mountaintops from Jerusalem to Babylon, which took some time, so it became customary to celebrate New Year for two days, which is still done today.
Rosh HaShanah is celebrated with apples dipped in honey, or honey cake, as a symbol of wishing one another a ‘sweet new year’. The prayers in the synagogue fall into three sections with the themes of Kingship, Memorials and the Ram’s horns. At the end of the prayers, the following Scripture is read:
“The Lord will appear over them, And His arrow will go forth like lightning; And the Lord God will blow the trumpet, And will march in the storm winds of the south” (Zech 9:14).
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament agree that the sound of the shofar is associated with the coming of the Messiah in glory and triumph, when the dead shall be raised and judgement will be carried out. The Shofar announces the Day of Judgement in Zeph 1:16, and Rev chapters 8 and 9. Jewish gravestones often depict a shofar because tradition says that the dead would be raised on Rosh HaShanah.
“Behold I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound and the dead shall be raised imperishable and we shall be changed” (I Cor 15:52). This is the rapture of the church.
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord” (I Thess 4:16,17).
Isaiah 27:13 predicts,
“It will come about in that day that a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were perishing in the land of Assyria and who were scattered in the land of Egypt will come and worship the Lord in the holy mountain at Jerusalem”.
Jesus tells us,
“But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken, and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And he will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other” (Matt 24:29-31).
On Mt Sinai, God blew the trumpet, descended in fire, smoke, thunder, lightning, cloud and earthquake, to gather the nation and reveal Himself and his Law in stone (Ex 19). When He again blows the trumpet, He will descend in the clouds with blazing light, earthquakes and a manifestation of His glory to gather His elect from the four corners of the earth.
Before the 7th and last trumpet is sounded in Rev 11:15-18, when the mystery of God (i.e. the Gentile church ref Eph 3:3-10) is complete (Rev 10:7), two witnesses appear in Jerusalem to give testimony and prophesy (Rev 11:1-13). They will announce the new year/era of Messiah’s immanent return to earth.
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He will reign for ever and ever” (Rev 11:15).
The sound of the trumpet was heard in David’s tabernacle before the building of the Temple. Today, once again the Shofar is being sounded by Christians all around the world. The rabbis suggested that this was ‘to confuse Satan’ (Rosh HaShanah 16a). It is a weapon of warfare. Satan is being given notice that his time is almost up. The Son of David is about to return for His church and judgement day is almost here. The new Temple (dwelling place of God) is soon to be built on earth.
Are you ready for His return?
He will come like a thief in the night, and we will not know the day nor the hour of his coming. However, we are to recognise the seasons. The fig tree (Israel) is again blossoming as a nation (Matt 24:32-44). The next event in God’s prophetic calendar is the rapture of the church. May you be sure to put your affairs in order and repent before God and other people, before the Day of the Lord comes upon the earth.
“May your name be written in the Book of Life”.