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Preparing For Trumpets

Three days ago, on August 7th, was the first day of Elul, a very significant day. The Feast of Trumpets will be with us one lunar month from then. So it is time to give my annual "Preparing for Trumpets" sermon. I think we should hear a sermon on this subject every year at this time, because one of the main purposes of each High Day is to remind everyone of the meaning of the Holyday in God's plan for mankind. If we are going to be ready for the fall High Days, especially Trumpets and the Day of Atonement, we must prepare ourselves for them. Now is the time to do it as we will see as we discuss what makes the month of Elul so important.

Today I will describe some Judaic beliefs about Trumpets and the month of Elul which precedes it; then tie them in with our Christian understanding of this important High Day and its preceding season.

In order to properly observe this or any of God's Festivals, we need to understand the purpose or purposes of the Festival and consider ways in which we might prepare for it as God intended. Judaism calls the Feast of Trumpets "Rosh HaShan'ah" or sometimes, "Rosh-Ha-Shanah'". But Rosh HaShanah means the head of the year, which it is not, for His word tells us otherwise in Ex 12:2 where it says "....(Abib) shall be the beginning of months..."

Trumpets is the first fall Festival and falls on the first day of the seventh Hebrew month, called Tishri. The Biblical and Hebrew name, as shown in 1 Kings 8:2, is Ethanim. Today Judaism believes that this was the sixth day of creation, the day man was created, and so makes it the first day of their calendar. It is the only Festival which falls on the first day of the month and so, it is the only Festival which falls on a new moon. The new moon is, of course, dark, though some insist the new moon occurs when the crescent of the moon first becomes visible. The dark new moon cannot be seen because it has no visible reflectance from the sun while it's located so near the sun in the lighted sky.

David described this event in Psalm 81:

Psa 81:3-4 (NKJV & Tanakh & CJB) Blow the trumpet [shofar - H7782] on the new moon, [and] on the full moon for our solemn feast day. {4} For this <is> a law for Israel, <and> a ruling of the God of Jacob.

So the shofar should be blown on Trumpets, as well as on those feast days occurring at mid-month, when there is a nearly full moon.

Two other well-known scriptures also describe this Festival:

(Lev 23:24-25 NKJV) "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. {25} 'You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD.'"

What is "customary" work? Customary work is the ordinary work you would do any other day. Ex 12:16 permits food preparation during the days of unleavened bread. But before throwing all caution to the wind about working on a holy day, remember the admonition in Neh 10:31 - don't buy anything on the Sabbath or on the holy day. If we can violate the holy day by buying from others, it only seems reasonable we can easily cross the line by too much work. It is far better to err on the side of too little work in order to better please God.

(Num 29:1 NKJV) 'And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work. For you it is a day of blowing the trumpets.

These last two scriptures describe the blowing of trumpets on this day but Psalm 81 describes the day as a solemn feast day. Why? The blowing of trumpets doesn't sound very solemn. The answer is that it pictures a very joyous day for some, and a very solemn day for others, as we'll see. Notice the word "trumpets" is in italics, signifying it is not in the original text.

There are several other names associated with this day. The most accurate name is Yom Teruah. Teruah means a loud blast or the Day of Sounding or the Festival of loud blasts. The words "blowing of trumpets" in Lev 23:24 is a mistranslation of Teruah. If you check Strongs H8643, you'll find that neither Lev 23:24 nor Num 29:1 contains the word "trumpets." Lev 23:24 should read, "a sacred occasion commemorated with loud blasts."

Why is this day commemorated with loud blasts? The first reason is that this is the day the Messiah will be crowned King over all the earth. Some Jews understand this, but few view Him as Jesus, of course. The use of the word Teruah in Numbers 23 is their proof:

Num 23:21 (KJV) He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God <is> with him, and the shout of a king <is> among them.

The word "shout" is translated from the word "Teruah", H8643, the same word we just saw in Lev. 23 being translated "trumpets". So here we have the Teruah (the shout) of Jesus Christ (Yeshua haMeshiach as I prefer to call him), the King, being described as a loud blast, as from a trumpet.

Further proof of this is shown in Rev 1:10 where John is describing the voice and appearance of Jesus Christ.

Rev 1:10-11 (NKJV) I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, {11} saying, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last," and then John goes on to describe Christ's appearance.

What is He shouting for? It is a Hebrew tradition for the groom to shout for his bride when he comes to get her in the middle of the night and take her to the honeymoon quarters he has prepared for her at his Father's house. I'm sure you remember the scripture in John 14:2: "In my Father's house are many mansions ..."

The second reason this day is commemorated with loud blasts is that it is also known as the "Day of the Awakening Blast." This reference, in turn, has two meanings as well. Let's turn to Ephesians 5:

Eph 5:13-14 (NKJV) But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. {14} Therefore He says: "Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light."

We'll talk about the light of Christ in a few moments, but we are mainly reading here of the resurrection of the dead. Now let's turn to 1 Corinthians 15:

(1 Cor 15:52 NKJV) 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.

The word "sound" comes from the Greek word "salpi'zo", G4537, and means "the blast of a trumpet". This verse is complemented in Isaiah 26:

(Isa 26:19-21 NKJV) Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, And the earth shall cast out the dead. {20} Come, my people, enter your chambers, And shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, Until the indignation is past. {21} For behold, the LORD comes out of His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; The earth will also disclose her blood, And will no more cover her slain.

What have we just read? The saints will be resurrected. Those saints who are alive at the time will hide or be hid until the calamities of the last trump are past. If you don't know what these calamities are, you might refer to Jeremiah 25. We are reading about events just prior to the resurrection of the saints.

Another name for Trumpets is Yom Ha-Zik-ka-ron', H2146, which means "Day of Remembrance" or "Memorial Day". Let's read Leviticus 23:24 again.

(Lev 23:24 NKJV) "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.

As we just said, the word "memorial" is "hazikkaron." You might also note that the word "Sabbath" in this verse is from the Hebrew word "sabbathown." It has a different meaning than the word "shabbat" which is used to describe the seventh day of the week. Sabbathown means a high day or festival day; a day for congregating.

A third name for Trumpets is "Yom HaKaseh." Yom HaKaseh means "Day of the Concealed Moon." Sorry you folks who believe in the crescent moon. As I mentioned earlier, Trumpets is the only high day which is kept on the new moon. All the rest are kept when the moon is visible, often full. Is there any special meaning in observing this high day when there is no natural moon light? Let's turn to Psalms 89.

(Psa 89:15 NKJV) Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance.

The words "joyful sound" come from the Hebrew words "teru'ah teru'ah". We just talked about what teru'ah means. Teru'ah means "a shout as from the Lord Jesus Christ at His return, a joyous crowd, or from a trumpet". The people who know the trumpeting shout of the LORD, the King, will walk in the light of His countenance. Now, turn to John 9.

John 9:5 (NKJV) As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

Jesus was the light of the world when He was here. He is the light that shines in us as seen by others, and He will be the light of the world when He again returns. When Christ is in the world, we won't need the light of the moon to light a darkened world.

One more name for Trumpets is "Yom HaDin", the day of judgment. Let's read a couple of scriptures about the day of judgment.

(Zep 1:14-16 NKJV) The great day of the LORD is near; It is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the LORD is bitter; There the mighty men shall cry out. {15} That day is a day of wrath, A day of trouble and distress, A day of devastation and desolation, A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness, {16} A day of trumpet and alarm Against the fortified cities And against the high towers.

But this disaster need not affect everyone. Some will be hid, protected from it, if they will just seek the Eternal with meekness and righteousness. Skip down a few verses to Zephaniah 2.

Zeph 2:1-3 (NKJV) Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation, {2} Before the decree is issued, or the day passes like chaff, before the LORD'S fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the LORD'S anger comes upon you! {3} Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the LORD'S anger.

These days are coming soon, brethren. Please prepare for them.

Let's see what David had to say about this day. Turn to Psalms 27.

(Psa 27:5 NKJV) For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.

So we can see that some will be judged to be worthy of protection from the terrible troubles of the final trump. Will others be judged at this time? Jewish tradition says yes. Scripture is not specific about the final judgment occurring at this time, but we know from the scriptures we just read that God's people will be judged, are being judged before the calamities to hit the earth at the last trump. The blowing of the shofar is associated with the judging of the righteous dead. Let's read how Paul described this event in his letter to the Corinthians.

(1 Cor 15:51-52 NKJV) Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed; {52} in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet [G4536]. For the trumpet will sound [G4537 - blast], and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

Paul revisited this subject in his letter to the Thessalonians.

1 Th 4:13-18 (NKJV) But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. {14} For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. {15} For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive <and> remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. {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. {17} 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. {18} Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Verse 17 used to provide the Worldwide Church of God with what I would describe as a point of arrogance. Most of the Christian world uses verse 17 to justify what they call "the rapture." But the WCG and many of its off-shoots arrogantly claimed that the word "rapture" is not in the Bible, so there is no rapture. Some, even today, arrogantly mock the word "rapture." Well, let's look at that. The word rapture comes from two Latin words "rapt," meaning being carried away, and "ure" meaning state of being. In other words, rapture means the state of being carried away. Isn't that what verse 17 says? The act of being carried away is also described for Christ in Acts 1:9 and for the two witnesses in Rev 11:12.

Let's review the characteristics of Trumpets and the events which are prophesied for that day:

  1. It occurs on the first day of the seventh Biblical month.
  2. It occurs in the dark of the moon.
  3. A trumpet is to be blown on this feast day.
  4. It is both a solemn and a joyous day.
  5. The blast of the trumpet is compared to the shout of Jesus Christ as He returns to the earth as King to marry His bride, the Church.
  6. When Christ returns as King, He will punish the inhabitants of the world for their iniquities.
  7. The dead in Christ will be judged, resurrected incorruptible, and changed to spirit.

This is the meaning of Yom Teruah, the day of the loud blast, the Feast of Trumpets.


Now, what can we do during this month of Elul to prepare ourselves for this high day? What can we learn from scripture? Well, other than the general admonishment of Christ and the apostles about obedience, faith (or trust), love and forgiveness, some might feel there isn't much one can do. But remember the verses we just read in Zephaniah 2? Let's read them again:

Zeph 2:1-3 (NKJV) Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation, {2} Before the decree is issued, or the day passes like chaff, before the LORD'S fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the LORD'S anger comes upon you! {3} Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the LORD'S anger.

There is another source of guidance on how we can prepare for this high day that I would like to bring to your attention. That source is Jewish tradition.

Jewish tradition is shunned by main stream Christianity, just as Christian teachings are shunned by the Jewish rabbinical priesthood. In both cases it is considered an anathema, an abhorrence, to take any stock in the other's position. Why this anathema? Is it founded in fear, fear there is some truth in the other's message? I suspect that is the cause. At any rate, I would like to take a few minutes to describe a certain Jewish tradition concerning Rosh HaShanah, or more correctly, the Feast of Trumpets. Again, this is Judaic tradition, though, as we will see, Christian teaching supports it.

Jewish tradition addresses the subject of preparation for Rosh HaShanah through a process called Te-shu-vah'. Teshuvah means to return, to turn around, to repent. The word Teshuvah may remind you of a similar sounding word, Tequphah, referenced in our Calendar Booklet. While Teshuvah means to turn around or repent, Tequphah describes the restarting of the yearly agricultural crop cycle. You can see the similarity. At any rate, Teshuvah, this period of repentance, begins on the first of Elul, the sixth month, one month before Rosh HaShanah. In 2013, according to the new moon, it started on August 7th. During this month, one is to ask God for assistance in a self examination, to find any sins that have been committed over the past year for which one has not repented. (Remember, Judaism looks at Rosh HaShanah as the first day of a new year.) As sins are uncovered, one must ask God's forgiveness. However, sins that have been committed against other people must be forgiven by those against whom the sin was done. In other words, one is to seek forgiveness from others for the sins and offenses we, as individuals, have committed against them. In turn, we must forgive anyone who seeks forgiveness from us, even if the sin is very grievous. If a person who has offended us does not seek forgiveness, it is our obligation to go to that person and give them the opportunity to ask forgiveness.

Most rabbis probably don't like to hear this, but in Matthew 18, Jesus had a lot to say about our relationships with each other. Judaism's practice of going to someone who has offended you is fully supported by our Savior.

Mat 18:15 (NKJV) "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.
verses 21-22 (NKJV) Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" {22} Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Following this encounter with Peter, Jesus taught His disciples, including us, the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant. It is the story of the man who owed the king an enormous sum of money. He was arrested and brought before the king. The man pleaded for mercy and was forgiven his debt. Then this same man promptly went out and found a poor man who owed him a little bit of money. The poor man could not pay, so the man who had been forgiven of the large debt had the poor man thrown into prison. Then the king heard about the matter:

Mat 18:34-35 (NKJV) "And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. {35} "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses." - The spirit of Teshuvah.

Forgiveness, like charity, is an individual responsibility, not a government responsibility. As Christians it is imperative that we learn how to properly forgive. Just because we ask God to forgive us of a sin, it does not follow that He will automatically forgive it:

Mat 6:14-15 (NKJV) "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. {15} "But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Matt 5:23-24 (NKJV) "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, {24} "leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

This adds a whole new dimension to the meaning of the word "forgiveness." Not only must we seek forgiveness from God, we must also forgive others, and in the spirit of Teshuvah we must also seek forgiveness from those people we have offended. For some reason, that seems to be a much more difficult thing to do. We get used to talking with God in prayer, and we know He already knows all our sins, and faults, and weaknesses anyway, so it is fairly easy to admit sin to Him and to ask forgiveness (unless, of course, we are blinded to the sin). It is much more difficult to admit to another human being that we have been anything less than the perfect Christian we want to be and want others to think we are. Isn't this a form of self-righteousness?

So, repentance can be put into two categories: Repentance from those sins which are against God, and repentance from those sins which are against other people. In Judaism, repentance for sins against God is called a sin offering. For sins against another man, it is called a guilt offering. But the Torah also has another breakdown of the 613 commandments that it contains. It describes both sins of omission and sins of commission. The sins of omission are those committed when one fails to perform a positive command. In other words, if God instructs us to take care of the widow, and we fail to do that, we commit a sin of omission. We omitted doing a positive "Do" or "Remember" command. On the other hand, a sin of commission is when we break a negative command. The Torah says, "Do not commit murder". If we murder someone, we are committing a sin against a negative "Do not" command.

As Christians we know that true forgiveness can only be obtained through the acceptance of the sacrifice of Christ, our Passover Lamb. Yet, His sacrifice does not negate the need for repentance in our lives. The New Testament is full of instructions about our need to repent before God, our asking of forgiveness from our fellow man, and our willingness to forgive those who have "trespassed against us." Indeed, there is much that most of us need to learn when it comes to repentance and forgiveness. That is the purpose of this period of Teshuvah, so that we can repent completely, return to God in both our worship, and in the way we conduct every aspect of our lives, and thereby be reconciled with both God and our fellow man. No wonder a whole month is set aside for Teshuvah, plus the "Days of Awe" between the Feast of Trumpets and Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement.

An old saying tells us: "No sin is small if one persists in it. No sin is great if one beseeches pardon for its commission." If one persists in a sin it shows that the person takes God and the commandments lightly. It is also much more difficult to repent of a persistent sin once it has become a habit.

Num 15:30-31 (NKJV) 'But the person who does <anything> presumptuously, <whether he is> native-born or a stranger, that one brings reproach on the LORD, and he shall be cut off from among his people. {31} 'Because he has despised the word of the LORD, and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt <shall be> upon him.' "

According to an ancient Jewish scholar, Saadia Gaon (892-942 AD): "The terms of repentance are four in number: 1) The renunciation of the sin; 2) remorse; 3) the quest of forgiveness, and 4) the assumption of the obligation not to relapse into sin again..."

The apostle Paul included these terms when he talked about the process of repentance:

2 Cor 7:10-11 (NKJV) For godly sorrow produces repentance <leading> to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. {11} For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, <what> clearing <of yourselves>, <what> indignation, <what> fear, <what> vehement desire, <what> zeal, <what> vindication [or revenge]! In all <things> you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

Why was Elul 1 chosen to be the day on which Teshuvah was to begin? Is it a significant date in the history of the children of Israel? The answer is yes, it is a significant date, and there were good reasons for the choice of this date and the length of the process.

In actual fact, for all but the righteous, Teshuvah does not really end on the Feast of Trumpets. It extends all the way to Yom Kippur - the day of Atonement. Thus, Teshuvah becomes a forty day period, rather than thirty days, for most people. Forty is the scriptural number of trial and testing, and repentance.

As I said before, Judaism believes that Rosh HaShana (Yom Teruah or Trumpets) pictures the day each of us will be judged. That is the day the Messiah will come (or return, according to Christian understanding). On judgment day three books will be opened. Those who have returned to God are written in the Book of the Righteous.

All other people are divided into two groups. The first of these is known as the Rashim, the wholly wicked. Their fate is sealed on Rosh HaShana. The last group is known as the intermediates. They comprise the largest group. They are given ten more days, until Yom Kippur or Atonement to repent. Their fate is sealed on Yom Kippur. Those ten days are called the Days of Awe.

The first forty day period of trial and testing began when Moses ascended Mt. Sinai on the Day of Pentecost. This was early in the third month, Sivan. Forty days later would bring him back down near the middle of the fourth month, called Tammuz. During that time the children of Israel had convinced or forced Aaron to construct the golden calf. Aaron's words when he presented the idol to the people are very interesting:

Exo 32:4-6 (NKJV) ..... "This <is> your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!" {5} So when Aaron saw <it>, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, "Tomorrow <is> a feast to the LORD."{6} Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

The people knew all about idolatry from their time in Egypt. They wanted a god they could see and touch. It is probable that they actually believed the God of Israel looked like an ox. The ox is one of the faces that Ezekiel observed when he was given the vision of the four living creatures. We won't turn to it but you can read of it in Ezek 1:10. Let's continue in Exodus 32:

verses 25-26 (NKJV) Now when Moses saw that the people <were> unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to <their> shame among their enemies), {26} then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, "Whoever <is> on the Lord's side; <come> to me." And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him.

Moses coming down off the mountain, sees the blasphemy, breaks the tablets containing the ten commandments, destroys the idol and calls on the sons of Levi to slay the perpetrators of this blasphemy. Three thousand men died that day.

God then called Moses back up the mountain for a conference. According to Judaic tradition this was also a forty day stay, with Moses returning sometime during the latter part of the fifth month called Av.

verses 30-33 (NKJV) Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses said to the people, "You have committed a great sin. So now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin." {31} Then Moses returned to the LORD and said, "Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! {32} "Yet now, if You will forgive their sin; but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written." {33} And the LORD said to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.....{35} So the LORD plagued the people because of what they did with the calf which Aaron made.

Moses came back down and pitched the tabernacle outside the camp, away from the people. There he continued to talk "face to face" with God. ("Face to face" is also a Hebrew idiom for the Day of Atonement since this is the day the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies.)

Exo 34:1-2 (NKJV) And the LORD said to Moses, "Cut two tablets of stone like the first <ones>, and I will write on <these> tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke. {2} "So be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself to Me there on the top of the mountain.

According to tradition, Moses ascended Mt. Sinai with this second set of tablets on Elul 1. He came back down forty days later on Tishri (Ethanim) 10, which is, of course, the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. During these forty days the children of Israel did Teshuvah (repentance) so that when Moses came back down on Yom Kippur, they had been forgiven for their sins.

The importance of the thirty day Teshuvah in the month of Elul is that those who repent during this time (i.e. prior to the return of the Messiah) will have their names written in the "Book of Life" and will not have to go through further repentance during the much more difficult ten "Days of Awe" which follow.

Let me repeat that.

The importance of the thirty day Teshuvah in the month of Elul is that those who repent during this time (i.e. prior to the return of the Messiah) will have their names written in the "Book of Life" and will not have to go through further repentance during the much more difficult ten "Days of Awe" which follow.

In conclusion, the whole structure of the month of Elul is to turn us back to God before the judgment day (Trumpets) arrives. I hope you are able to see that.

As we have moved through this sermon, I have identified certain points as being based upon Hebrew tradition. As you go about proving this sermon (Acts 17:11 & 1 Thes 5:21), please keep that in mind. But also keep in mind the meaning of the day of Trumpets and the purpose of the thirty days of Teshuvah, the turning around, which began on Wednesday, August 7th.

This sermon was adapted, with permission, from an article in Hebrew Roots.

Sermon given by Wayne Bedwell
10 August 2013
Copyright 2013, Wayne Bedwell

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