Exodus 19:16 “Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.”
The sound of the Shofar is a sound that resonates with historical meaning. It’s sound first echoed on the mountain of Sinai when God’s power was manifest before the people, and the sound will resonate in the last days, announcing Jesus’ return.
I had to ask myself this question: Why is the Shofar so significant in the Kingdom of God?
Whenever I see something crop up over and over again in scripture, I’m learning to pause and reflect. This instrument, taken from a rams horn has held a position of prominence during significant moments in history. The sound of the Shofar has an old world call to it’s resonance that transports it’s listeners to a different time and place, a time of judges and kings, exodus and encounters.
1 Corinthians 15:52 “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed”
Why blow the horn? Why does God use the horn to announce His presence before the people?
A look at the history of the shofar may give some clues.
The Shout of God’s Victory
The shofar is often used as an instrument of spiritual warfare.
Numbers 10:9 “When you go to war in your land against the enemy who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the LORD your God, and you will be saved from your enemies.”
Matthew Henry concluded that the “trumpets typify the preached gospel. It sounds an alarm to sinners, calls them to repent, proclaims liberty to the captives and slaves of Satan, and collects the worshippers of God. It directs and encourages their heavenly journey; stirs them up to combat against the world and sin, encouraging them with the assurance of victory. It leads their attention to the sacrifice of Christ, and shows the Lord’s presence for their protection. It is also necessary that the gospel trumpet give a distinct sound, according to the persons addressed, or the end proposed; whether to convince, humble, console, exhort, reporove, or teach. The sounding of the trumpet of the gospel is God’s ordinance, and demands the attention for all to whom it is sent”
The Ram’s horn and the Akedah
Akedah means binding in Hebrew.
The shofar brings to mind the ram caught in the thicket by its horns. Abraham had taken his son Isaac up Mt. Moriah and was planning on sacrificing him to God as an act of obedience and faith in Genesis 22:13. By extension, the “Ram of God”—prepared from the “foundation of the world”—is a picture of the substitutionary sacrifice of God’s Son for the sins of the world…..which Jesus fulfilled perfectly on the cross at Calvary.
The first occurrence of the word ‘love’ in the Torah, (Gen. 22:2), refers to a father’s love for his “only” son who was offered as a sacrifice; a clear foreshadowing of the greater “Akedah message” in John 3:16.
For the believer—-the blast of the Shofar represents the shout of God’s victory over the power of sin and death.
When the Torah was first given to Israel during Shavuot (Pentecost), Exodus 19:11-19 “And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice.”——this shofar blast is sometimes called the “first trump” of God.
The shofar is also mentioned in connection with both Rosh hashanah (Lev. 23:24, Num. 29:1), and the Yom Kippur Jubilee.
Leviticus 25:8-9 “And you shall count off seven Sabbaths of years—seven times seven years—so that the seven Sabbaths of years amount to forty-nine years. Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land.”
In later Jewish history, since the shofar was sounded throughout the preceding month of Elul, the blowing of the shofar on the first of Tishri (Rosh Hashanah) was sometimes called “the last trump“. The shofar blast on Yom Kippur was called the “great trump“, since at that time judgement was sealed.
The sound of the shofar was used to sound alarms, convene assemblies, announce the new moon and the Jubilee year, to herald messages, and to coronate kings. During the war of Jericho in (Joshua 6:4-20), the shofar was used to bring down the walls and give the first victory in the promised land. It was very common when Israel engaged the enemy in battle for the priests and Levites to first prepare the way by sounding the shofar.
Call to Worship
The shofar was used during worship at the Tabernacle and Temple. It was sounded when the Ark of the Covenant was returned to the camp (1 Sam. 4:5, 2 Sam 6:15) and was regularly used as an instrument of praise in the Temple, (2 Chron. 15:14, Psalm 47:6, 89:16, 150:5). Blowing the shofar declares that the Lord God is the King of the Universe.
Psalm 98:6 "With trumpets and the sound of a horn; Shout joyfully before the LORD, the King."
At the end of the age, the shofar will be sounded to signal the church’s glorious redemption during the Day of the Lord.
Joel 2:1-2 “Blow 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 is coming,
For it is at hand:
A day of darkness and gloominess,
A day of clouds and thick darkness,
Like the morning clouds spread over the mountains.
A people come, great and strong,
The like of whom has never been;
Nor will there ever be any such after them,
Even for many successive generations.”
Yeshua-Hamashiach (Jesus), spoke of the shofar blast from the angels who would “gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31).
Jesus Himself will blow the shofar, as our Great High Priest one day.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 “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: “
At the announcement at the end of the age: The “Great shofar” blast will be a call for the dead to be raised and death to be swallowed up forevermore.
1 Corinthians 15:51-53 “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. “
The End of the Age
Revelation 11:15 “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”
The Midrash was an ancient commentary on part of the Hebrew scriptures, attached to the biblical text. It stated that the word “Shofar” comes from the root that means to “amend” or “reform”.
If we don’t amend our deeds now, the Lord will amend our reality in the day of judgement. The sound of the shofar horn has indicated many qualities but the overriding theme is a call to Holiness.
We are called to be a people set apart for God’s own glory, in worship, in victory, and in sanctification and honor.
**Listen for the sound of the trumpet, it will be the last sound before your redemption.