Lev 23:23-25 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, and you shall present a food offering to the Lord.”
The common Hebrew name associated with this feast is Rosh HaShanah (head of the year). The Jewish New Year begins on this date (1 Tishri) even though it is counted as the start of the seventh month. Today many Jews celebrate this feast for two days, though biblically it was only given one day. The proper Hebrew name of the feast is Yom T’ruah, or Day of Trumpets. The food offering is important because this is a special time for unity and celebration of hope, but in the big scheme of things food takes a back seat to the blowing of the trumpets. The trumpet itself is made of ram’s horn and is called a shofar.
Why Blow Trumpets?
Eze 33:1-7 The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand. So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. (emphasis added) In a very practical sense trumpets were blown to sound a warning. Of course these shofar trumpets were blown for ceremonial reasons. They were also blown by Joshua to bring down the walls of Jerecho (Joshua 6). The prevailing purpose of a trumpet blast remains its effectiveness as a warning. This is one reason Jews often read this passage from Ezekiel on or before Yom T’ruah.
Trumpet Foreshadows Christ
Gen 22:13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. Gen 22 tells the story of Abraham’s call to sacrifice Isaac and the last minute substitution of a ram in Isaac’s place. The ram was caught by its horn. It was because of the horns Abraham was able to lay hold of it. This substitutionary sacrifice clearly represents Christ’s substitionary sacrifice on the behalf of all the children of Abraham, or at least for all those willing to accept the gift given by Jehovah Jireh (I AM the Provider – Gen 22:14).
Why This Date?
There are several plausible explanations, each being part of the whole answer. First, the head of a year is a new beginning. It is a time of celebration for nearly every culture on whatever day they use to mark the new year. Since it is the start of a new year it stands to reason it would mark the beginning of a new phase in the relationship between God and man. It is the start of a grouping of feasts often collectively called the High Holy Days. As such it also marks the start of process involving repentance (Trumpets), redemption (Atonement), and the new temple or dwelling place (Tabernacles or Booths). Many believe the significance of the date is tied to Christ’s return. There is a long period between the grouping of Spring feasts and the grouping of Fall feasts. Many believe this represents the “church age” from Pentecost to the second coming of Christ.
What is the Warning?
Ex 32:33 But the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book. Traditionally the month leading up (Elul) to this feast is a time to reflect. The next feast is the Feast of Atonement. Tradition also holds that the book of life is opened at the Trumpet and sealed shut at the Feast of Atonement. This period from 1 to 10 Tishri represents a clear warning call to repentance. If you don’t repent, there will be no atonement.
Prophetic Trumpet Blast
1 Thess 4:16-17 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. This passage is nearly always quoted with reference to an event generally called the rapture. Christian tradition holds that the shofar blown on 1 Tishri is prophetic of the rapture just as the spring feasts prophesy the death and resurrection of Christ along with the coming of the Holy Spirit.
My Humble Opinion
I personally am of the opinion this passage (1 Thess 4:13-18, complete context) is grossly misread by the general population. I do believe there will a single brilliant moment when we are changed and caught up with Jesus in the air. My problem is that people jump to conclusions about the timing. The trumpet is when the dead (in Christ) will rise. But trumpets were used many times for many reasons, and this particular feast’s trumpet is one that warns and calls people to repentance. It is the first great trumpet, not the last. Even if this was “the blast,” Paul says very clearly the dead rise first. Paul also says very clearly that the living go later. He doesn’t say how much later. It could be moments, or it could be years. Some believe the rapture happens, there’s a period of tribulation, then Jesus returns for the converts at the end. Perhaps, but the problem I have is that the living rise to meet Jesus in the air (just as he left in Acts 1). This obviously appears be an event to be witnessed on/from earth. Nowhere does scripture suggest three comings of Christ, so why imagine Christ comes for short visit to snag people and comes back later to rule? And if he comes back later (the third time) to rule, who is he ruling? The chaff will be burnt up even before the good crop is harvested (Mt 13:30, see context), so there won’t be anyone at all left. No, I don’t think the living will leave in the rapture before all of the events prophesied to happen here on earth (as we know it) happen. Rev 13:5-8 makes it clear there will be saints living during the period (42 months) when the first beast is on the scene and it sounds very much like the unbelievers are dead by the end and the believers are the ones still standing. There are far more questions about these things than I can attempt to answer in this post, so I will stop here. Suffice it to say, don’t just automatically accept what you find when you do a Google search on “feast of trumpets”.
Finally, the Trumpets signals the warning to start repenting in preparation for atonement and life in a new dwelling place. There are trumpet blasts specifically associated with these other events as well. Many assume the use of the name “Trumpets” means that this is only important time shofar is blown. Many are wrong.
Good News of the Feast of Trumpets
We don’t have to understand everything God says to accept it. We are called to take Him at His word, to trust Him, and to trust Jesus’ atoning sacrifice is sufficient to blot out our sins so that our names are not blotted from the Book of Life. We are called to look at ourselves, see ourselves for who and what we are, for our wretchedness, and we are called to repent. To repent means to change. When we turn over our lives in willing submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ the blessings are eternal. When we obey, through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, God will do great things through us. The greatest thing of all is to blow the trumpet for others, to be a witness to this hope and the substance of your faith. In so doing you will be carrying out God’s love, and love covers a multitude of sin. Go, blow your trumpet. The walls of Satan’s kingdom, like the walls of Jericho, cannot stand against it. Witness the glory of God’s power from outside those walls, not inside. Those inside were slain while those who stood up for God prevailed. The reward might not be obvious in the eyes of the world (like those inside Jericho who laughed at Joshua), but the promises for eternity are certain. Repent and be saved (Jer 31:34) so that your name will be found in the Book of Life (Rev 21:27) when the time comes.