Good News of Leviticus 23 – Trumpets

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.


About Lance Ponder

Christian author of "Ask James one"; public speaker; husband and father. Available to speak on Creation and the Gospel.
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4 Responses to Good News of Leviticus 23 – Trumpets

  1. Todd Beal says:

    | 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. |

    The Rapture Christ does not come to earth during the rapture. He is in the “air” when he raises up the dead to meet him first, then secondly, he raptures up the living to meet both him and the previously raised up dead (all the while, remaining in the “air”). This is one single event that happens in one block of time. I Thessalonians 4:16-17 [16] “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. [17] 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.”

    Timing of the Rapture (Pre, Mid, or Post Tribulation?) Hebrews 9:26b-28 [26b] “But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. [27] And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, [28] so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear [not physically come to earth] a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” Christ deals with sin both during the tribulation and with his physical Second Coming (Zechariah 14). This necessarily puts the rapture before the tribulation judgments.

    The Second Coming Christ does not set foot on earth during the rapture, but remains in the “air” as he gathers the believers unto himself. The rapture occurs before the tribulation destruction. The Second Coming is Christ’s physical return to earth at the end of the tribulation. He comes to earth the second time to both deal with sin and to set up his new millennial kingdom.

    Zechariah 14:2-4 [2] “For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. [3] Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. [4] On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward.” Zechariah 14:5c “Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.” This entire passage of Zechariah refers to the end of the tribulation. In the post-Millennium battle, in contrast to the tribulation-end battle, Christ destroys the invading peoples before they have a chance to fight, not a single Jew or any other of the redeemed will see death (see Revelation 20:7-10).

    The Bible also provides additional scenarios to show who must, and who will not, go through the tribulation. See the following.

    God’s Methods for protecting his own from mass destruction: Israel (God’s chosen people) versus non-Jew Believers God uses two methods to protect righteous people from God-sized mass destruction: (1) he removes them from the destruction (out and above) (2) he shields them from the destruction as they go through it. Two events in the Bible mention the “out and above” method: Noah’s flood, and the Rapture. Two events in the Bible mention the “shielding” method: the Jewish Passover in Egypt (Exodus 12:21-23), and the sealing of the 144,000 Jews during the tribulation (Revelation 7:1-4).

    “Out and above” protection Noah and his family were non-Jew believers. God protected them from destruction by lifting them out of and above the flood. In the meantime, God protected them inside the ark.

    I Thessalonians 4:16-17 says that those who are caught up in the rapture will meet Christ in the “air”. These people will be both Jew and non-Jew alike but they will be Christians and therefore treated as Christian, not as God’s chosen people of Israel. God will lift them out of and above the earth before the tribulation destruction begins (see Hebrews 9:26b-28 and I Thessalonians 4:16-17). In the meantime, just as God protected Noah inside the ark, Christ will protect us in himself during the tribulation destruction.

    “Shielding” protection God uses this method only for Israel. God shields the Jews from the destruction but nonetheless they must go through it. In Exodus 12:21-23 God tells how he shielded the people of Israel from the destroyer: [22b] “None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. [23] For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you.” Notice God did not take the people of Israel out of the destruction. He instead shielded them from the destruction that was happening around them.

    God will once again shield the people of Israel from destruction during the tribulation. Revelation 7:1-4 [1] [1] “After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. [2] Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, [3] saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” [4] And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel”). Notice God does not say he will take the people of Israel out of the destruction. He instead will shield them from the destruction as it happens around them.

    Just as God used the lamb’s blood on the doorpost to shield the people of Israel from the destroyer, God will also shield the people of Israel during the tribulation destruction by putting his seal on their foreheads.

    The question remains: what happens after the tribulation?

    Who Survives the Tribulation Three groups survive the tribulation: the 144,000 sealed Jews, 12,000 from each tribe (Revelation 7:1-4); individuals who repent during the tribulation; and those who do not take the Mark of the Beast or worship him. Revelation 20:4-5 [4] “Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed (see Luke 22:24-30 and Isaiah 1:26). Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. [5] The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection.”

    An additional bit of scripture sheds some more light on this. A great number of Egyptians (the tribulation converts and survivors) left with the Israelites (the sealed Jews of the tribulation) during the Exodus (post tribulation into the Millennium). Exodus 12:37-38 [37] “And the people of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. [38] A mixed multitude also went up with them, and very much livestock, both flocks and herds.” All throughout the Bible, God continually talks about Israel as his means to show the world who he is. For this very reason, a great number of Egyptians joined the people of Israel as they left Egypt. The similarities between the events of the Egyptian plagues and the Great Tribulation suggest there will be a tribulation remnant that follows the 144,000 sealed Jews into the Millennium. God always leaves a remnant – entropy. [I believe there is something to this “remnant that follows the Jews” reasoning but I have yet to nail it down. I still have some unresolved questions]

    Who repopulates the post-tribulation millennial earth, and who will be deceived post millennium Revelation 20:7-8 [7] “And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison [8] and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea.” Whom will Satan deceive at the end of the Millennium if only the redeemed survive the tribulation? The redeemed will not produce offspring in the Millennium. Jesus said in Matthew 22:30 “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” The believers cannot be deceived post-Millennium because we will be reigning with Christ. That leaves only unbelievers. Where do they come from if only believers survive the tribulation? The believers will immediately receive new supernatural bodies from Christ, and therefore will not produce offspring. According to Matthew 22:30 immortal bodies will not produce children. That leaves only the mortal bodies to repopulate the earth. Where do these mortal bodies come from? According to Matthew 22:30, they don’t come from the loins of believers. This suggests there will be a remnant of survivor unbelievers that did not receive the Mark of the Beast or worship him. This is the only group of individuals that could both produce offspring and be deceived post Millennium. This parallels the remnant of Egyptians who followed Israel out of Egypt during the Exodus, the very pagans who worshipped other gods. [I am a lot more certain about this “post-tribulation Millennium repopulation” section than I am the “remnant that follows the Jews section”, but once again I still have unresolved questions.]

    Lance, I know this is a lot to chew on. This breakdown is not borrowed or assimilated from some book, but is the result of three and a half years of independent personal study. Most of what I present here is nailed down in my mind, but I do know that in some areas I leave myself open to debate. I look forward to your thoughts.

    By the way, I began writing this comment at 5:44 PM 3/30/2011 and finished at 2:13 AM 3/31/2011, minus a half hour supper. I’m spent.

    • Lance Ponder says:

      Todd, dear brother, I appreciate your zeal. Thank you for all the energy you put into this. I am certain you are absolutely convinced of your conclusions and you are as sincere as the day is long. Still, the conclusions are subject to great debate by scholars far more learned than either of us. I’ve been working on eschatology for more than 3 years so far myself and I am far from reaching the kind of certainty you’ve reached and what I lean toward is markedly different from what you lean toward. To try and address it all in this comment section would not do the subject justice. Nor do I have the hours to spend tonight trying. That said, I’ll try to hit the high points just so we can be clear on where we part company in our thoughts…

      Rapture: A word coined (specifically in reference to that 1 Thess passage) in 1835 by an evangelist named Miller from New England. His position was similar to what you’ve stated. It is an incomplete eisegesis built on a misunderstanding of the Greek. I certainly believe the event described in 1 Thess 4:17 will take place, but when and how and to what purpose I see very differently from what you’ve stated.

      Rapture Timing: The conventional debate over when the rapture takes place assumes the rapture event is akin to what you’ve described. Since I don’t hold to that, I prefer to ponder when Jesus will return, not when the rapture takes place.

      Protection: Scripture certainly teaches that at the end God’s chosen elect will not suffer God’s wrath. Whether that’s by shielding, removal, or separation, I agree that God’s elect will be spared as Noah was spared and as Israel was spared from the final plagues of Egypt. In the latter we find much prophecy, but that’s another discussion.

      Regardless of where we may differ in our understanding of scripture, we agree that it is True. Jesus will return. There will be judgment. Eternal life awaits the faithful. What exactly each of those means and how they fit together is fodder for many more discussion, all of which I look forward to.

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