“Don’t let yourselves be disturbed. Trust in God and trust in me. In my Father’s house are many places to live. If there weren’t, I would have told you; because I am going there to prepare a place for you. Since I am going and preparing a place for you, I will return to take you with me; so that where I am, you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had passed away, and the sea was no longer there. Also I saw the holy city, New Yerushalayim, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne say, “See! God’s Sh’khinah is with mankind, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and he himself, God-with-them, will be their God.” (Revelation 21:1-3)
“I will put my tabernacle among you, and I will not reject you, but I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.” (Leviticus 26:11-12)
In this post, we will take a look at the current and future fulfillment of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. This important feast is pregnant with meaning, specifically the divine plan of God to one day restore that which was impacted by sin, namely God tabernacling and dwelling with His people. Barney Kasdan wisely notes “All the Feasts of the Lord have their own particular lessons to teach. Yet, because of its latter day fulfillment, Sukkot seems to be the apex of all the other appointed times of God. The goal of God’s plan is ultimately the establishment of his kingdom on the earth.”
“Tell the people of Isra’el, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the feast of Sukkot for seven days to Adonai.” (Leviticus 23:34)
“You are to live in sukkot for seven days; every citizen of Isra’el is to live in a sukkah” (Leviticus 23:42)
“You are to keep the festival of Sukkot for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing-floor and winepress.” (Deuteronomy 16:13)
The seventh and final Feast of the Lord is Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. Wrapping up the fall feasts, this holy convocation is celebrated for a period of seven days lasting from Tishrei 15 to 21. Unlike the previous two feasts, that of Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) which formulate the days of awe, a time of repentance and self-reflection before God, Sukkot is a time of great celebration when families and communities come together to built sukkah.
In our previous post, we explored the background and celebration in ancient Israel of the Day of Atonement also known as Yom Kippur. In keeping with how we have addressed all of the other feast days thus far, in this post, we will examine the fulfillment and future fulfillment of this holy convocation. I will be using the Complete Jewish Bible translation in this post in order to demonstration how the terminology we discussed in the previous post, is found in the passages of Scripture that identify the fulfillment of this feast.
In Romans 5:8-9, the Apostle Paul writes “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” In this passage, we clearly see that Christ’s death was the atoning sacrifice for our sin. His shed blood did that which the blood of bulls and goats, to include the azazel, could never fully do.
The establishment of the Day of Atonement with the various sacrificial rituals, all pointed to one individual, Jesus the Messiah. The book of Hebrews spends a great deal of time outlining the fact that the sacrificial system was a temporary goal that was leading to a time when the Perfect Lamb of God would come to deal with the sin problem. No longer would there be a need to shed the blood of an animal or to send an animal into the wilderness. At the cross, the shed blood of the Lamb of God atoned for our sins before a holy God.
If we remember back to our last post, it was noted the Day of Atonement was a yearly convocation, one that was to be celebrated permanently. Let’s first look at why this had to be celebrated yearly with the requisite sacrifices and cleansing rituals. Once a year, the high priest presented himself to God on behalf of the people, following the sacrificial requirements in order to atone for his own sins, the sins of his family, and the sins of the people of Israel. There was a yearly requirement to perform this sacred duty because until the coming of the Messiah, the shedding of the blood of the perfect Lamb who was promised to come and deal with the sin problem had not yet taken place. Hebrews 5:1-5 states:
“For every cohen gadol taken from among men is appointed to act on people’s behalf with regard to things concerning God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and with those who go astray, since he too is subject to weakness. Also, because of this weakness, he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as those of the people. And no one takes this honor upon himself, rather, he is called by God, just as Aharon was. So neither did the Messiah glorify himself to become cohen gadol; rather, it was the One who said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.”
Let’s reintroduce ourselves to some terms as we examine this passage. The cohen gadol is the high priest. He was appointed to represent the people before God and to offer the required gifts and sacrifices in the temple. Notice that Hebrews 5 mentions the necessity for the high priest to offer sacrifices for his own sins due to his own weakness and proclivity to sin. The high priest was a godly man, but not a perfect man. The shedding of the blood of the animals was necessary because the Messiah, the perfect One, had not yet come to do what that system could not. Jesus willingly took it upon himself to be that perfect sacrifice. In doing so, he is not our great high priest in the order of Melchizedek as noted in Hebrews 5:6 which states “Also, as he says in another place, “You are a cohen forever, to be compared with Malki-Tzedek.” No longer was there a need for the Aaronic priesthood to offer the blood of animals. Our Great High Priest, Jesus the Messiah, came to be that representative before God on our behalf so that through Him we can access God.
“For on this day, atonement will be made for you to purify you; you will be clean before Adonai from all your sins. It is a Shabbat of complete rest for you, and you are to deny yourselves. “This is a permanent regulation. (Leviticus 16:30-31)
“The tenth day of this seventh month is Yom-Kippur; you are to have a holy convocation, you are to deny yourselves, and you are to bring an offering made by fire to Adonai. You are not to do any kind of work on that day, because it is Yom-Kippur, to make atonement for you before Adonai your God…You are not to do any kind of work; it is a permanent regulation through all your generations, no matter where you live. 32 It will be for you a Shabbat of complete rest, and you are to deny yourselves; you are to rest on your Shabbat from evening the ninth day of the month until the following evening.” (Leviticus 23:27-28, 31-21)
“‘On the tenth day of this seventh month you are to have a holy convocation. You are to deny yourselves, and you are not to do any kind of work;” (Numbers 29:7)
We are now going to move on to a discussion of the second of the Fall Feasts of the Lord, the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. This particular day was one of the days of awe, a holy convocation just like the other Feasts, but considered to be “Israel’s most awesome holy day.” A day of such religious significance certainly deserves our attention and in this post, we will examine how the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur was observed as commanded by God.
Before we begin our examination of the Day of Atonement, it is worth mentioning this particular event, as is often the case with the Feast days, is known by a few other names throughout Scripture. Being able to recognize these other titles for this day is important, given the necessity to identify when this Feast is being referred to and why. Other than the title Yom Kippur, this Feast is known by at least 5 other titles. I will include Yom Kippur in the list in order to provide at a glance the entire range of names.
1. Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
2. Face to Face
3. The Day (or the Great Day
4. The Fast
5. The Great Shofar (Shofar HaGadol)
6. Neilah (the closing of the gates
As we walk through this Feast, we will discuss each of the above names to include noting the importance of each facet in the process, demonstrating why those names were used.
The Day of Atonement as commanded by God in Leviticus was a solemn day of the year. It was on this one day that the high priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies, essentially entering the presence of God, thus the use of the term “face to face.” Keep in mind that entering the Holy of Holies was no small matter. It required a great deal of preparation on the part of both the priesthood and most importantly, the high priest. For instance, “the high priest was required to wear holy garments woven from white linen instead of his normal colorful garments overlaid with the golden breastplate. His linen garments were worn only on that day and never again.”
Another interesting element of the pre-Yom Kippur preparations was that “Seven days before Yom Kippur the high priest moved from his home to his chamber in the Temple. During this week he alone conducted the service, offered the daily sacrifices, sprinkled the blood, burned the incense, and tended the lighting of the Menorah. He did this for seven successive days in order to become well versed in the details, so that he would make no mistake on Yom Kippur.” One can quickly see the high priest took this Feast day very seriously. It was a day of meeting God in order to perform a very important yearly event.
This yearly event that formed the crux of the Day of Atonement is noted in Leviticus 16:30, “For on this day, atonement will be made for you to purify you; you will be clean before Adonai from all your sins.” The high priest, as the spiritual representative of the people of Israel before God, made atonement for his own sins and the sins of the people on this particular day. Thus, there was an increase in the amount of sacrifices and cleansing rituals over that of the typical priestly work. Unlike the typical Jewish day, the services at the temple on Yom Kippur commenced the following morning. The high priest, instead of the typical washing of the feet, was required to totally immerse himself in a special golden bath behind a curtain held by the other priests to provide a bit of privacy. It was after this ritual washing, that the high priest donned the special linen garments. Interestingly, this washing and donning of the special linen garments was a ritual that took place five times during this special day, if anything, signifying the great care taken to remain ritually clean as the high priest carried out the duties of this special day.
Since the high priest was the one responsible for providing the atonement sacrifice for himself and the sins of the people, this involved its own ritual methodology. During the period of the second temple, the high priest’s confession before God involved a total of three separate confessions, each leading up to one another in a progression. The process of the giving of the confessions went like this:
“The first confession was on the account of his own sins and those of his household; the second, on the account of the priestly tribe of Levi; the third, on the account of the whole people. On this occasion only, in the entire year, the confession included the priest’s saying aloud the name of God embodied in the Hebrew letters YHVH (called the Tettragrammton)…In each confession, when the high priest reached the recitation of the name, the whole people would prostrate themselves and say aloud, “Baruch shem K’vod malchuto l’olam va’ed,” which means, “Blessed be the Name of the radiance of the Kingship, forever and beyond.” On the third recitation, the one for their own sins, they knew that the high priest had just before on this one occasion in all the year, entered the Holy of Holies, the inmost room of the temple where God’s presence was most fully felt. He entered it three times and only then came out to confess on behalf of all the people and put their sins upon the head of the goat for azazel.
The result of this triple entry into the Holy of Holies, this tripe recitation of God’s most holy name, and this triple prostration by the entire people, was an utterly awesome sense of God’s presence making atonement for His people, cleansing them from their sins, permitting them to begin the year afresh, renewing their lives. So total was this sense of transformation that, after it, the mood of the people shifted from solemn awe to joyful celebration. The young, unmarried men and women went to dance in the fields and to choose spouses for themselves. Yom Kippur and the fifteenth of Av were the only days in the year when this kind of mass public espousal would take place.” We will return to a few elements of this process a bit later.
Another important element of Yom Kippur was the fasting leading up to the actual Day of Atonement. The idea of fasting for Yom Kippur stems from the command given by God in Leviticus 23:27 with the notation to deny themselves. The Hebrew word oni which is often translated as humble, deny, or afflict literally means to fast. Barney Kasdan notes this idea also comes from Isaiah 58:5 where “this word is used specifically for going without food.” Prior to this time of fasting, there was the observance of a holiday meal with white cloths and the best dishes being used as a remembrance of this high holy day and the white symbolizing the cleansing from sin that would take place on the Day of Atonement. Once the fast began, it took place from the point of sundown on the 9th of Tishri until sundown the following day. This fast involved total abstinence from any food or water.
In our previous post on the Feast of Trumpets, we discussed the various reasons the Shofar was blown. One of the reasons was the call to the people to gather and remember. Specifically, we noted the Shofar’s mighty blast is a reminder for humility and the power and awesomeness of God. The necessity for humility has already been noted in relation to the fast that preceded Yom Kippur. The blowing of the Shofar on Yom Kippur was known as the Great Trump or the Great Shofar, signifying that call to humility before the power and awesomeness of God on this most solemn of days.
Yom Kippur was also known as Neilah or “The Closing of the Gates of Heaven.” This title was derived from the final or closing element of the Yom Kippur service. It was believed “the gates of Heaven are open during the days of repentance to receive our prayers for forgiveness and that they close after the neilah service…When the final blast of the Shofar (the Shofar HaGodal, the Great Trumpet) is heard at the end of the neilah service, those who have observed the day with sincerity should feel that they have been inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.” The neilah and Yom Kippur concluded with the people reciting the Shema, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.”
One final element I would like to discuss is the azazel or the scapegoat. Leviticus 16:21-22 states:
“Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.”
The azazel was “The high point and most unusual element of the Yom Kippur sacrificial ritual.” The word azazel is not used in the Old Testament other than in Leviticus 16:21-22 and thus its meaning is somewhat shrouded in a bit of mystery. Some Old Testament scholars, such as Keil and Delitzsch averred the azazel represented “the head of the evil spirits” or “the father of all sin.” In other words, the scapegoat or the azazel literally would take back the sins of the people to Satan as it was let go into the wilderness. Others have noted the root of the world azazel “contains the idea of removal. The name azazel and the action of sending away the goat was designed to teach the Israelites that their sins, once removed, would also be forgotten. The Septuagint, Vulgate, and a number of other ancient translations understood azazel to literally mean “the goat that departs.” The word is viewed as a combination of ‘ez, meaning goat, and azal, to turn off or away.” Regardless of the true meaning of the word azazel, both the sacrificial goat and the goat that was sent into the wilderness formed an important part of the Yom Kippur ceremony. The sacrifice of the one goat signified the shedding of blood for sin. The sending away of the other goat likely meant the removal of sin or the sending away of the sins of the people back to the place where sin derived.
Hayyim Schauss provides some additional background on the azazel and the process of the goat going into the wilderness. He notes:
“The goat is led to a specified spot about ten miles beyond the city, where a precipitous cliff overhangs a ravine. Prior to Yom Kippur, ten booths were erected as stations along the way. Food and drink is available in each booth for the escorter of the scapegoat, for he may break his fast if the journey weakens him. But he never does break his fast. A group of Jews escort him from the Temple to the first booth, and in each booth there is somebody to meet him and escort him to the next booth. He is not escorted, however, all the way to the cliff, his escort stopping and watching from afar.”
When man and goat come to the cliff, the red sash is removed from the goat’s horns and divided in two. One part is attached to the cliff and the other half tied to the horns or the goat, which is then pushed over the cliff, life passing out of him as he falls into the ravine.
The news that the scapegoat is in the wilderness is quickly brought to the High Priest. Meanwhile he has sacrificed the young bull and the second goat on the altar; he now begins the reading of the Torah.”
The observance of the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur was a very solemn occasion, most notably due to the realization this was a time of retrospection and forgiveness of sins by God for His people. In our next post, we will look at the fulfillment of this high holy day.
 Marvin Rosenthal, The Feasts of the Lord (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997), 119.
 “Yom Kippur: The Day of Atonement,” Feasts of the Lord, September 15, 2013, accessed September 15, 2013,http://www.feastsofthelord.com/ss/live/index.php?action=getpage&sid=204&pid=2192.
 Rosenthal, 120.
 Hayyim Schauss, The Jewish Festivals: From Their Beginnings to Our Own Day (Cincinnati: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1938), 126.
 Rosenthal, 122.
 “Yom Kippur.”
 Barney Kasdan, God’s Appointed Times (Baltimore: Leder Publications, 1993), 79.
 “Yom Kippur.”
 Mitch Glaser, The Fall Feasts of Israel (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1987), 88.
 C. F. Keil and H. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament: Pentateuch (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996), 590.
 Glaser, 89.
 Schauss, 139.
“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.” (Joel 2:1)
“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. Then we who are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (I Thess. 4:16-18)
As with the other Feasts of the Lord we have covered thus far, in this post, we will examine the possible ways in which Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets) will be fulfilled. Unlike the other feasts we have discussed, the fall feasts have yet to be fulfilled in the biblical timeline. Given the variety of viewpoints on matters of eschatology, we will be spending less time examining those respective approaches to end times events and more time connecting what the blowing of the Shofar represents in Scripture and in ancient near eastern (ANE) practice to determine as best we can how Yom Teruah will be fulfilled.
The 8th century Jewish scholar Ma’se Daniel once wrote:
“Messiah ben David (son of David), Elijah and Zerubabbel, peace be upon him, will ascend the Mount of Olives. And Messiah will command Elijah to blow the Shofar. The light of the six days of Creation will return and be seen, the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun, and God will send full healing to all the sick of Israel. The second blast which Elijah will blow will make the dead rise. They will rise from the dust and each man will recognize his fellow man, and so will husband and wife, father and son, brother and brother. All will come to the Messiah from the four corners of the earth, from east and from west, from north and from south. The Children of Israel will fly on the wings of eagles and come to the Messiah…”
As we can see, the expectation surrounding the sounding of the Shofar has been connected for some time in both biblical and Jewish thought with the return of the Messiah for His people. This Messianic expectation can be observed throughout Yom Teruah. As we noted in the previous post, Yom Teruah was the beginning of the Jewish spiritual year as well as the beginning of the Jewish New Year as well. Something that is very interesting in this regard is presented by Barney Kasdan who provides the following observation:
“All the details of Rosh HaShanah (Jewish New Year) become more interesting as we consider the New Testament and the life of Yeshua. The bulk of biblical evidence has led me to agree with those who say the Messiah’s birth took place in the late fall, not the winter. If this is true, we can approximate the time when Yeshua started his public ministry. As Luke notes in his Gospel (3:23), Yeshua was “about thirty years old” thus placing his baptism and first preaching in the fall of that year.
Consider the parallel themes to Rosh HaShanah. Would it be surprising that Yeshua took a special immersion/mikveh in the fall of the year (Matthew 3:13-17)? Is there an relationship to the forty day period of testing by the adversary (Matthew 4:1-11)? And what was the message Yeshua immediately started proclaiming after the forty days? “Turn from your sins to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near!”
What better time could there have been for the Messiah to start his earthly ministry than the time of the spiritual new year? The historical evidence seems to indicate the month of Elul served as the perfect time of preparation for the greatest spiritual message ever to come to Israel: return to God, Messiah has come!” 
Passages such as Psalm 89:15 which states “Blessed [are] the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance” take on a whole new perspective when the coming of the Messiah to be the propitiation for our sins took place during this festival period. Just as the blowing of the Shofar represented a time of awakening, when Jesus declared to the people of Israel, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”, this was a declaration to awaken from their spiritual slumber and to awaken them to the fact the promised Messiah had come. The Apostle Paul, in I Corinthians 15:46 states “However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.” This spiritual awakening began to take place in earnest with the coming of the Messiah.
Another interesting element of this fall feast and its future prophetic fulfillment is the time of year it takes place. Marvin Rosenthal comments “The Feast of Trumpets is Israel’s dark day. It occurs at the New Moon when the primary light of the heavens is darkened. Israel’s prophets repeatedly warned of a coming dark day of judgment. They knew it as “the Day of the Lord,” that terrible period of time at the end of this age when the Lord would pour out His fiery judgment…But even as the darkening of the moon in the night heavens announced the Feast of Trumpets, so, too, the heavens will be divinely darkened in a future day as the Day of the Lord commences.” We can see that before the judgment of the Lord, a trumpet will sound. So what will the blowing of that trumpet before the judgment of the Lord, that terrible Day of the Lord signify?
Rosenthal notes there are only two occasions in Scripture where God is said to be the one who blows the Shofar. One was at Mt. Sinai when God provided Israel with the Torah, His word, and the other will be at the time when the Word, the Messiah will return. There is an interesting parallel between the events that took place at Mt. Sinai and that which the prophets described would take place at the return of the Messiah, both occasions when the Shofar will be blown for all to hear. As Israel camped at the base of Mt. Sinai, they observed the following:
“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. Then the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.” (Ex. 19:18-20)
The prophet Zechariah, when speaking of the time when the Messiah would return, declared a very similar sounding scenario: “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.”
Here we have the two occasions mentioned in Scripture where the blowing of the Shofar announces the coming down of God to meet with His people. The first time represented the giving of the Torah, God’s marriage covenant with His people. The second time will be when the bridegroom comes for His bride. Both events involved the blowing of the Shofar which if we can hearken back to the previous post, was a signal for the people that something important was taking place.
Certainly there is much debate over whether there will be a pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, or post-tribulation “rapture” of the bride. Debate has waged for many years over the validity of each position. As noted at the outset of this post, the purpose of discussing the fall feasts, those which have yet to be fulfilled, is not to determine which position is correct nor is the purpose of this discussion to enter the fray of that debate. With that said, there are some lessons we can glean as believers from Yom Teruah in this time of preparation we are currently in as we await the coming of our bridegroom.
The first thing we must remember is the Messiah will return again as he promised. Whether that will take place before the tribulation, during the middle of it or at the end, is to some degree a moot point. What we all can and should affirm is he will return. The fact of the second coming at in and of itself should mean something to us, something more than just the simple fact of his return. Yom Teruah and the blowing of the Shofar was a time for the people of Israel to remember a number of things, first and foremost that God is Creator of the universe. A reason for the blowing of the Shofar is that Yom Teruah “is the celebration of the birth of creation and that God began to rule over the world on this day. When a king begins to reign, he is heralded with trumpets. That is why Psalm 47 precedes the blowing of the Shofar; it is a call to the nations: “Sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth.” Thus, Yom Teruah and the sounding of the Shofar during this feast signifies God as Creator and King as well as the future coming of the Messiah to rule and reign as promised.
As we also discussed in our previous post, one of the three blasts of the Shofar was to signify a time of remembrance. Mitch Glaser states “Remembrance is an appeal to God to remember His covenant with Israel and a similar appeal to man to repent of his sin and obey God.” During this time of year, the Days of Awe if you will, we should be reminded of our marriage covenant with God, our necessity to be a faithful and chaste bride, and to be faithful to our bridegroom as we await his promised return. We can have great confidence that God will be faithful to His covenant promises, but “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). Yom Teruah is a time when we should assess our level of faithfulness to God.
Finally, Yom Teruah gives us great confidence that death has no sting. Paul noted in I Thess. 4:18-20:
“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. Then we who are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
In Isaiah 26:19, the prophet Isaiah stated “But your dead will live, LORD; their bodies will rise– let those who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy– your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.”
Both these passage speak of the promise of the resurrection, an event that will take place when the Messiah returns. When that Shofar blasts, the dead in Christ and those who are alive and remain will forever be with their King and bridegroom, Jesus Christ. What a glorious promise to rest upon. So while the sound of the trumpet during Yom Teruah signified spiritual awakening, a call to repentance, it will one day signify the awakening of the dead as well, the time of the resurrection, the final nail in the coffin for death. As noted by Daniel Fuchs, “Our great expectation is to hear the trumpet that will sound as the dead are raise incorruptible.” After that glorious day will come the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles, the final two feasts on the Jewish calendar which we will discuss in our next few posts.
For those who have never heard what the blowing of the Shofar sounds like, I recommend watching this video:
Picture the blowing of the Shofar and the coming of the bridegroom for His bride!
 Ma’se Daniel, Patai, 143.
 Barney Kasdan, God’s Appointed Times (Baltimore: Lederer Publications, 1993), 66.
 Marvin Rosenthal, The Feasts of the Lord (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997), 113.
 Mitch Glaser, The Fall Feasts of Israel (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1987), 38.
 Daniel Fuchs, Israel’s Holy Days (Neptune: Loizeaux Brothers, 1985), 48.
“Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first [day] of the month, you shall have a sabbath-[rest], a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. ‘You shall do no customary work [on it]; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD.’ ” (Lev. 23:24-25)
Now that the fall feasts of the Lord are rapidly approaching, it is time to resume our study of these important holy convocations. After a long summer break following the completion of the Feast of Pentecost, the next feast on the biblical calendar is that of the Feast of Trumpets or Yom Teruah, the Day of the Awakening Blast.
As noted by Daniel Fuchs, “The most solemn holy days of Israel’s sacred calendar are celebrated in the month of Tishri, the seventh (sabbatic) month of the year. These solemn, sacred convocations include the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement. In modern Judaism, these are usually called “the days of awe.” In the next post, we will engage the prophetic implications of Yom Teruah and in the process it will become very clear why that description of this feast is known as the days of awe. In this post, we are going to look at the different reasons for the blowing of the shofar or ram’s horn and just what this Feast of Trumpets was believed to have signified.
Let’s begin with an overview of the various reasons for the blowing of the shofar in ancient Israel. The 10th century Jewish Rabbi Saadia Gaon, provided 10 reasons for the blowing of the shofar. These include:
1. The Shofar is used to announce the coronation of a king. It is blown on Rosh Hashanah, the birthday of the universe, to declare God’s Sovereign rule.
2. The Shofar blast calls us to examine our deeds and return to God.
3. The blowing of the Shofar is a reminder of the time when it was blown at the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. It is a reminder to always study and cherish the word of God.
4. The Shofar’s blast is also a reminder of the oracles of the Old Testament prophets who called the people to do justice and mercy and to follow the ways of the Lord.
5. The Shofar sounds like crying, a reminder of the destruction of the Temple.
6. Since a Shofar is a ram’s horn, it is a reminder of the binding by Abraham of Isaac and the provision of a lamb, a true demonstration of God’s sacrificial love and a call for faithfulness.
7. The Shofar’s mighty blast is a reminder for humility and the power and awesomeness of God.
8. On the Day of Judgment, a Shofar will be blown to announce God’s rule over all the earth. The call of the Shofar is a reminder to prepare for that time.
9. The blowing of the Shofar foreshadows the time when peace and joy will reign when Messiah comes to rule and reign on the earth. It is a reminder to have hope and faith in the salvation provided by our Messiah.
10. The Shofar will be blown in Messianic times to announce the redemption of all things, when everyone, everywhere will recognize that God is One.
Other uses of the Shofar include preparation for battle, to rally the troops, to signify the taking of a solemn oath, and to sound the alarm that danger was approaching. It is quite clear the Shofar carried great significance and was used for many different reasons, most all of them revolving around the need to remember, be prepared, to glory God, or to recognize His rule and authority. In fact, “its most important use was to intimidate the enemy, to declare war, and, in general, to make proclamations to the enemy.”
As with the other Feasts of the Lord, a variety of sacrificial requirements are noted in Scripture. Mitch Glaser notes “The specific offerings recorded in Numbers 29:4 on Yom Teruah are one bullock, one ram, seven he-lambs with the proper meal offerings, together with a he-goat for a sin offering. That is similar to the sacrifices prescribed for the usual new moon celebration. But the Yom Teruah offerings were to be presented in addition to the offerings of the new month and the regularly scheduled daily offerings.”
One very interesting note of biblical history is that from the giving of the command in Leviticus 23 to observe this day of trumpets and the subsequent provision by God of the sacrificial elements of this feast in Numbers 29, there is somewhat of an absence of any mention of this feast taking place. While certainly silence cannot always be a valid reason to adequately state that Israel had neglected to follow God’s commands for this holy convocation, the lack of discussion of this holy day is nevertheless interesting. Perhaps Israel neglected this time of the blowing of the Shofar which could certainly have resulted in their slow but steady decline towards ungodliness, finally resulting in judgment. Since the blowing of the Shofar, as we discovered earlier, was a signal to return to God and to remember His holiness and power as well as a signal for repentance, one can certainly wonder if overlooking this feast just might have led to the overall spiritual decline in ancient Israel and Judah. As Glaser notes, even in the time of spiritual revival, albeit short lived, in the times of King Josiah and Ezra, one is hard pressed to find mention of the blowing of the Shofar or the restoration of that feast.
Although Yom Teruah might have been neglected in the Old Testament, in the years proceeding the time of Christ, it took on a new significance in the Jewish calendar. Since the people of Israel were scattered across various nations, the blowing of the Shofar was vital for the remembrance and celebration of this holiday. We must remember that only three of the Jewish festivals required the Israelites to travel to Jerusalem and Yom Teruah was not one of them. Thus, in the time of the Dispersion, the people of Israel would gather in the local synagogue to remember this feast and the flowing of the Shofar in the respective communities, signified the time of this holy convocation.
Despite God decreeing the month of Nisan as the first month of the Jewish calendar, Jewish tradition began to recognize the time of Yom Teruah as the beginning of the New Year. This was arguably based on the statement by the prophet Ezekiel during the Babylonian exile “In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year (Rosh Hashanah), on the tenth of the month, in the fourtheenth year after the city was taken, on that same day the hand of the Lord was brought upon me and brought me there.” (Ezekiel 40:1). So at some point, Rosh Hoshanah rather than the beginning of the month of Nisan began to be considered the start of the Jewish New Year. Glaser notes “Judaism has maintained a distinction between the religious and the civil year. Even today, the month of Nisan and the feast of Passover begin the religious year of the Jews, yet Tishri and Rosh Hashanah begin the civil year. Many Jewish writers trace this system of the two new years to the Babylonian captivity. Others say the distinction existed since the time of Moses, when God set aside Nisan as the first month of the religious year (Exodus 12:2).”  Furthermore, it was believed Yom Teruah was a remembrance of the time of creation, another element of why this feast has such a tremendous focus on God’s sovereignty, power, and Kingship.
During the time of Christ, Yom Teruah had developed into a rather magnificent ceremony rich in tradition. For instance, “the priest chosen to blow the Shofar was trained for his calling since youth; he was an artist, a virtuoso of sacred song. On Rosh Hashanah, he would raise the twisted horn and press his lips to the golden mouthpiece, draw an enormous breath of air, and begin to blow. The haunting sound of the horn would pierce through the Temple mount, stirring the hearts of the faithful in dire need of repentance. Three times the Shofar would sound, followed by the blast of silver trumpets blown by two attending priests. The sound of those trumpets was a mere echo of the mournful call of the ram’s horn.”
There were three blasts by the priest, each one signifying a very important theme of this feast, themes which we have noted earlier: 1) the sovereignty of God (malchuyot); 2) a time of remembrance for the people (zichronot); 3) and the sounding of the Shofar (shofarot). It was also required of the people to “not recite less than ten verses about sovereignty, ten verses of remembrance, and ten shofarot verses.” So a lot of attention was given to Yom Teruah during the time of Christ, something that is rather interesting given the coming of the Messiah and the various elements of what the sounding of the Shofar was believed to signify.
The feast of Yom Teruah marks the beginning of the fall feasts, a time of great importance in the Jewish calendar. It is a time that leads to other important feasts such as the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. Just as with the previous feasts we explored, the fall feasts are pregnant with great prophetic significance. Unlike the previous feasts which have already been fulfilled in God’s prophetic timeline, the fall feasts remain to be fulfilled. In our next post, we will begin to explore some the various prophetic implications and theological meanings behind the feast of Yom Teruah as we take a look at what this feast might be pointing to and why.
 Daniel Fuchs, Israel’s Holy Days (Neptune: Loizeaux Brothers, 1985), 44.
 Saadiah Gaon, The Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 14, 1447.
 Hayyim Schauss, The Jewish Festivals (Cincinnati: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1938), 159.
 Mitch Glaser, The Fall Feasts of Israel (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1987), 24.
 Ibid., 24-25.
 Ibid., 34-35.
 Ibid., 35.