The Sound of the Shofar
Say to the Israelites: “On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts.” Leviticus 23:24
The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, is a day of trumpet blowing. The trumpet used is a shofar, a hollowed out ram’s horn. It is blown from thirty to one hundred times during the high holy days beginning with Rosh Hashanah and ending ten days later at the conclusion of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The in-between days are called Days of Awe, a time of repenting, acknowledging God’s sovereignty, reconciling with God and with others, and reminding God of His promises to His people.
Many Jews begin to repent and ask for forgiveness during the previous month and continue until the Day of Atonement, forty days in all. Using special prayers, they recite the attributes of God revealed to Moses on Sinai after the people had sinned by worshiping a golden calf. Grieved by their disobedience, Moses threw down and broke the Ten Commandments God had just given him. He begged God to forgive His wicked, “stiff-necked” people (Exodus 34:9).
In love and grace, God gave Moses another copy of the Commandments and reconfirmed His covenant relationship with the people. He proclaimed His mercy, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7a).
God asked the people to obey Him, but He knew it would only be a matter of time until they sinned again. An important part of repenting is seeing our need for God’s mercy and our need for a savior.
One day God sent the Messiah, Jesus Christ our Savior, to perfectly obey the commandments and save His people by dying for their sins. A Jew named Paul met the Messiah and believed that Jesus Christ died for his sins and gave him new life. Paul may have been thinking of the shofar blast of Rosh Hashanah when he wrote, “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:14).
Have you repented of your sins? Have you experienced God’s mercy and the new life He offers through faith in the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ?
During the Days of Awe, many contemplate the opening of books in which deeds are recorded. Read Malachi 3:14-18 and Revelation 5:1-14. What connections do you see between the two books/scrolls?
Though we need to repent any time we sin, how can we be assured that our sins are forgiven according to Hebrews 10:1-25? Do you come boldly before God, assured of forgiveness?
Read Exodus 19:9-19. Compare the fearful shofar blast on Mt. Sinai to the festive assembly at Mt. Zion as depicted in Hebrews 12:18-24. Why was the second covenant different? Which mountain are you standing on?
You might also want to read Awesome under Dig into Words as well as Sukkot and Yom Kippur under Dig into Holidays.
Nancy J. Baker