Certainly, the Book of Revelation is one of the more challenging to read and comprehend. To be sure, there's a lot of bone chilling descriptions of God's ultimate judgement on mankind. Amidst the horror, however, there are pictures of hope.
We believe one of the most powerful of these involves Yom Teruah, the Feast of Trumpets. Although widely known as Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, that’s not its scriptural name. In fact, all its biblical references use trumpets (or shofars), while none reference a new year.
While the Jewish religion has theories why Yom Teruah is really the New Year, we have a different view. The Book of Leviticus establishes the Feast in Chapter 23:23-25 with very little explanation other than it is to be, “a memorial of blowing of trumpets.” Our speculation is the ancient sages didn’t understand why the Lord would create a holy day just to blow the shofar, so they looked for another meaning.
Whether that’s the case or not, the shift of emphasis from trumpets to new year diminishes the prophetic truth. To be sure, blowing the shofar still has a major role in the traditional synagogue celebration. Typically, there will be a hundred blasts from multiple trumpeters at the main service. Yet the focus is overwhelmingly on the New Year.
Why would God institute a day just to blow the shofar? Only He knows for sure, but there is good evidence in the New Covenant of the aforementioned prophetic truth, the epitome of which is in Revelation 11:15.
The number seven is biblically seen as the number of completion. This gives additional significance to the 11:15 passage: “Then the seventh angel sounded (the seventh shofar): And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He shall reign forever and ever!’”
Compare this imagery with Joshua 6, where seven trumpets were sounded, and the huge walls of Jericho came down. The army of Israel then defeated the heathen city and claimed it for the righteousness of God.
Additional scripture references, including the Tanakh, give us an even clearer picture of the importance of Yom Teruah. Describing God’s defense of Israel, Zechariah 9:14 says, “Then the Lord will be seen over them, and His arrow will go forth like lightning. The Lord God will blow the trumpet, and go with whirlwinds from the south.”
Matthew 24:31 relates the words of Messiah describing His second coming, “And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
The Jewish Apostle Paul made two references to the power of the trumpet. In 1 Corinthians 15:52, “. . . at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” Then again in 1Thessalonians 4:16, “ For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.”
All these scriptures show us why God would set aside a Feast Day aimed at blowing the shofar. It points us to the return of Yeshua.
My childhood memories of Rosh Hashanah services at our synagogue are not so good. The ritual of the holiday seemed really long, basically lasting much of the day. The most interesting part of the ceremonies was the blowing of the shofar, but the best part was the Aaronic Benediction, which meant the service had ended.
The whole idea of the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah literally means Head of the Year), being in the fall never sat well with me anyway. I was quick to tell my Gentile friends I wasn’t in school because of it, but I didn’t really understand why January first was good enough for the rest of the world, and not for us. On top of that, we stayed up until midnight on December 31st to celebrate as well.
Since in my synagogue we didn’t really study the Tanakh (and when we did, I didn’t pay attention), I wasn’t aware of what God said about this holiday. I did know we Jewish people referred to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) as the High Holy Days. I also knew it was typical to get more somber at this time of the year.
What I didn’t know was the Torah was explicit in identifying the New Year as occurring in the spring, and not even ascribing it as a Feast Day. Referring to the time of the establishment of Passover, which is in the spring, Exodus 12:2 states, “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.”
I also didn’t know there was a great deal of disagreement among ancient Jewish religious leaders about changing the time of the New Year from the spring to the fall. Indeed, the scriptural basis for the celebration of Rosh Hashanah in Leviticus 23 doesn’t say a word about a new year. Actually it doesn’t say much at all about the Feast, other than to blow the shofar.
There are a number of complicated theories and explanations concerning the changing of the Jewish New Year from the spring to the fall. The one that seems to have the most support is the tradition that God created on that day. Some others involve the influences of the years the children of Israel spent in Babylonian captivity, or the relationship to the timing of their deliverance from the bondage and slavery in Egypt.
But any of these conclusions require substantial interpretations which are simply not biblical. And therein lies the real problem. The Jewish religion has turned away from the true significance of the Feast Day as the Lord established it.
Properly, it should be called Yom Teruah, the Feast of Trumpets. To be sure, as mentioned previously, the shofar will be sounded in synagogues all across the world on this day. Most will feature a hundred combined blasts. And while that will be an important part of the observance, it won’t be the main focus.
The message of the liturgy and the sermon will center on the new year, and being introspective about our standing with God for the next ten days in anticipation of the Day of Atonement. These ten days are called the Days of Awe, and while it’s a great concept, it is also not biblical.
The truth of Yom Teruah is borne out in the Scriptures which point to the last days and fulfillment in Messiah Yeshua!
Matthew 24:31 relates the words of Messiah describing His second coming, “And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Zechariah 9:14 says, “Then the Lord will be seen over them, and His arrow will go forth like lightning. The Lord God will blow the trumpet, and go with whirlwinds from the south.”
The Jewish Apostle Paul made two references to the importance of the trumpet. In 1 Corinthians 15:52, “. . . at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” Then again in1Thessalonians 4:16, “ For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Messiah will rise first.” Perhaps the most conclusive passage is in Revelation 11:15, “Then the seventh angel sounded (the seventh shofar): And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He shall reign forever and ever!’”
Changing the emphasis of Yom Teruah to Rosh Hashanah clearly changes God's intent for the Feast Day.
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