Mozel Tov! Celebrate your Freedom in Messiah!
Moses Nahmanides, a medieval rabbi made this observation about the Holy High Holidays: “Rosh Hashanah is considered to be the day of judgment with mercy and Yom Kippur is a day of mercy with judgment.” This adequately sums up the spiritual significance of the two Biblical feats.
The Feast of Trumpets was the beginning of a heavenly judgment that culminated on the Day of Atonement. On this day, the destiny of each Israelite is revealed. During this time, the Jewish people are expectant that God in His goodness will judge with His great mercy. This final atonement for all of men’s sins, Jew and Gentile came when Jesus the Messiah became the final blood sacrifice. He was worthy of this massive atonement for all of mankind because He was the spotless Lamb of God. The only one capable of carrying the weight of the sin of all humanity and the only one perfect enough to die for us all.
God commanded these days of reckoning introspection and repentance in the Old Testament:
“Speak unto the children of Israel saying, in the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement; it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord.” Leviticus 23:24, 27
Rosh Hashanah’s literal meaning is “Head of the Year”, as this signifies the Jewish New Year. It also marks the beginning of the ‘Ten Days of Repentance” These ten days are the preparation for God’s Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).
During the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement, people are encouraged to go deep within themselves and search for sins that are grieving God and hurting another. It is a time of serious introspection and intense moral scrutiny; not the usual jovial celebration associated with Jewish holidays. The blowing of the shofar signifies the beginning of the people preparing themselves to stand before the judgment of God. This judgment would be executed ten days later on the Day of Atonement.
Celebrating the beginning of a new year has a much deeper significance as believers are called to take an annual spiritual inventory of their secret sins and moral failures. During this time, there is a remembrance of not only the justice of God, but also a reminder to trust in His mercy and goodness.
It is interesting to note that the simple shofar is still used today, despite the fact that many other sophisticated horn substitutes that are available. This is done purposefully as a reminder that even the poorest of homes has the same moral obligation to God. No man can escape the judgment of Him, and therefore every man should be able to afford the means of this sober and important reminder. Shofars were inexpensive and commonly available to all during the Biblical ages.
The sounding of the horn had a two-fold significance: One, to remind the people of their need for repentance; Two, to call attention to the needs of God’s people. This was a cry of awakening of the soul from moral decay, a reminder to the people of their need of God. After true repentance, His people were expected to receive spiritual regeneration with Him as God grants His mercy upon the coming year. For every year that passes, man is expected to reach a higher pinnacle of servant-hood from a pure heart. This is because of his continual repentance and turning from sins. If a man truly turns from them, it will only lead him closer to the walk of God, as expressed in the personhood of His Son, Jesus the Messiah.
I personally like to think of it as a spiritual wake-up call. It is a reminder of our moral obligation to God’s laws. The Jewish people, as a nation of God’s people, made a covenant to follow in His ways. The definition of repentance is a complete sorrow for wrongs performed. This grieving of the heart is signified by a complete turn around of actions and attitude. True repentance is not only reflected in words of sorrow, but from an actual life change in the repentant one.
In the New Testament, the prophet John the Baptist warns: “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:2
Here are some verses that show the horn’s meaning and significance in the Jewish spiritual culture:
“Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain; let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand.” Joel 2:1
“The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of they day of the Lord: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness. A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities and against the high towers.” Zephaniah 1:14-6
During these ten days of introspection, in the heavenly realm, the records and books on the life of every person are opened to decide the destiny of every human. The divine sentence from God Himself is sealed on the Day of Yom Kippur. We are reminded of this heavenly realm as Daniel spoke about the vision God gave him: “I considered the horns, and behold there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots; and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things. I beheld till the throne were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow and the hair of his head like the pure wool; His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him; thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” Daniel 7:9-10
The Bible also speaks of the final judgment; to witch the Days of Atonement are shadowing the signs of it’s coming arrival. During this time, the righteous will be separated from those who have chosen to love unrighteousness.
Here is a prophecy and a glimpse of the Final Judgment reflected in the Old Testament: “Gather yourselves together, yeah, gather together, O nation not desired; before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you, before the day of the Lord’s anger come upon you. Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought His judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger.” Zephaniah 2:1-3
Here is a prophecy and a glimpse of the Final Judgment in the New Testament: “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Revelations 14:7-8
The final blast of the shofar is mentioned in this Old Testament prophecy speaking about Messiah’s great return:
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the out casts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem.” Isaiah 27:13
The New Testament also prophesies of the final blast of the shofar when Messiah Jesus returns:
“Behold, I shew 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 trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-58
“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:30-31
“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
During this somber time of year, it is wonderful to keep in mind how dependent we are on our merciful God. This special holiday beckons us to continually grow closer into the character of our Messiah, Jesus. As we expectantly wait for the sounding of the final shofar, I pray that when Messiah Jesus returns that God will bless you and your family. May your names be inscribed in the Book of Life by the blood of Jesus Christ, the perfect atoning Lamb of God.
Author: Julia Shalom Jordan