As denizens of the 21st century,
the shofar conveys to us a primitive mystique - a voice from the distant
past. Even the fact that this ancient instrument has survived through the
ages is tribute to its enduring eloquence.
Seeking to unlock the secrets carried within the ram's horn, we
encounter its poignant sound in the past, in the future and as an
inspiration for the present. Beginning with the past, what can we learn
from the appearance of the shofar in the days of Abraham and Moses?
"Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a
ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram,
and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son" (Genesis
This was a moment of enormous encounter with God. In Abraham's
willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac, and in the Lord's response,
Eternity met Time through the divine initiative of substitutionary
sacrifice! The ram was offered instead of Isaac. Yeshua is offered in
our place. The ram's horn is an emblem of that sacrifice.
In the process, God confirmed His everlasting covenant with Abraham and
his seed. "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed,
because you have obeyed my voice" (Genesis 22:18).
"... and the sound of the shofar was very loud, so that all the
people who were in the camp trembled. 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 shofar 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" (Exodus 19:16-20).
This is a serious meeting with God. Emphasizing the centrality of hearing
His voice, the word kol
( = voice, sound)
is repeated several times in this passage. Why does the sound of the
shofar accompany the shaking of Mount Sinai? It is again, to confirm
God's covenant with Israel! He manifested His presence through His
voice. His authority reverberated through the blast of the ram's
horn - "louder and louder." This distinct, eerie sound signals God's
arrival on earth, and the timing for all those with a heart for God to
meet with Him.
Fast-forwarding to the future, the coming glory of
God's Kingdom is announced by the sound of a great shofar.
"... we shall all be changed - 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" (1
Shofars in unison (Wikiphoto, Bible_Card)
"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 Messiah will rise first ... Therefore, comfort one another with these
words" (1 Thessalonians 4:16,18).
Yeshua's descent upon Earth will be announced with the sound of
heaven's shofar. What a splitting of the air that will be! Like
unto God's shofar blast on Mt. Sinai, this shofar will be even more
sobering, more "show-stopping". Our future experience in hearing the
ram's horn will surpass even our most vividly imagined
demonstrations of Light piercing the Darkness. Not incidentally, we are
told to "comfort one another with these words."
Indeed our present plight leads us to cry out, "How shall we then
live? How shall we face the present and impending crises upon the earth?"
Courageous Faith for the Last Days
"Then seven priests bearing seven shofars of rams' horns
before the ark of the Lord went on continually and blew with the
trumpets ... So the people shouted when the priests blew the
shofars. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the
shofar, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell
down flat" (Joshua 6:13, 20).
In the days of Joshua, the impenetrable walls of Jericho fell at the
focused, simultaneous, consecrated sound of seven shofars. Despite the
imposing defenses of Jericho and the vulnerability of the Israelites,
the shofar's supernatural effect imparted courage to Israel and
caused the enemy's ramparts to disintegrate.
Victory through Shofars in Unison
"Then the three companies blew the shofars and broke the
pitchers - they held the torches in their left hands and the
shofars in their right hands for blowing - and they cried, "The sword
of the Lord and of Gideon!" And every man stood in his place all around
the camp; and the whole army ran out and fled. When the three hundred
blew the shofars, the Lord set every man's sword against his
companion throughout the whole camp ..." (Judges 7:20-22).
Gideon and his radically reduced army faced enemy forces "as numerous as
locusts", yet the Midianites were defeated at the sound of three hundred
shofars. It must have been a freaky sound! This tells me that the shofar
is also an instrument of victory. It unites the people of God, especially
during times when it seems that the enemy has the upper hand and the
momentum is all his.
Is that not the appearance of things today? It's so extreme that one
must dial back to ancient, decadent cultures to find the level of sexual
perversion, public corruption and blood-thirsty violence witnessed and
splashed on social media today. In the days of Joshua and Gideon,
God's people faced similarly overwhelming conditions. They were
instructed to utilize the shofar as an instrument of breaking through.
The very sound of the shofar transformed their fears into resolve, their
doubts into faith. Here is the sound of His voice. The Lord wants us to
hear and take it to heart today.
God wants to give us courage to face today's profound shaking -
which is bound to increase. The outward circumstances will seem
terrifying. But we are to rise up, stand together, and look for the
coming of our KING! The Kingdom of God is breaking through.
Can you hear the sound of the shofar?
This article was adapted from a message given in Haifa, to the Tents
of Mercy network of congregations, on the Feast of Trumpets, 5778