THE RELIGIOUS LIFE OF THE ANCIENT JEW AS PRESENTED
IN THE BOOK OF LEVITICUS
The Offerings And The Feasts
Part 10 – The Feast Of Trumpets
Leviticus 23:23-25, Numbers 29:1-10
This study brings us to the seventh month in the Jewish calendar, which marked holy and serious ceremonies. Three feasts occurred at this time, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. This month we might say was a sabbatical month just as the seventh day was a sabbatical day. It appears that Jehovah set the seventh month aside for serious spiritual reflection. It is also significant that while the first month marked the beginning of the spiritual year the seventh month was the commencement of the civil or the secular year. On the seventh month: the ark rested upon Ararat (Genesis 8:4); the Sabbatical Year, one in every seven and the Year of Jubilee, one in every fifty, commenced (Leviticus 25); the ark was brought to the temple (1 Kings 8); the returned captives began worshipping God in Jerusalem (Ezra 3); Ezra ministered during the revival in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 8). Therefore this month is associated with spiritual renewal throughout Old Testament times. This most significant month in the Jewish calendar commenced with the Feast of Trumpets. The key to understanding this day is the word “memorial” (Leviticus 23:24). The blowing of trumpets throughout the day was intended to remind God’s people of something important. Commentators and scholars, however, are divided as to what the Feast of Trumpets was actually a memorial of. In this study I wish to gather these various views together as I consider them all to have certain merit as we consider the theme:
Remembrance of Christ
The Jews regarded the Feast of Trumpets as being a memorial of the two most significant events in their history; events that we ourselves would do well to remember:
- The Work Of Creation
The people rejoiced over the gathered harvest, that had enabled them to store provision for the oncoming winter, they were reminded of the God of creation without whom they would have had nothing.2.
2. The Giving Of The Law
When God came down to Sinai the trumpet sounded from the mount causing deep fear on the part of those who heard, Exodus 19:19. This day reminded them to deeply reverence God and to remember that under the law they had certain obligations to Jehovah.
This was a day not merely for looking back but also for looking into the heart provoking self-examination. In the days of Moses the word “memorial” was almost exclusively used as a reminder for present duty rather than a recollection of past events. For example when Aaron bore the names of the tribes of Israel upon his breastplate and on his shoulders for a memorial he was reminding God to be gracious unto his people (Exodus 28:12,29, 39:7). In like fashion one of the purposes of the various offerings was to constantly remind the Lord’s people of holy duties. Therefore the word memorial or reminder is used throughout Leviticus (e.g. 2:9, 2:16, 5:12, 6:15). This day in particular was a reminder to God’s people that they prepare their hearts for the Day of Atonement, fast approaching, when God would cleanse them afresh from their sins. The trumpets therefore called the people to repentance at the beginning of this all-important month. Therefore special burnt and meat offerings were presented on this occasion to mark the solemnity of the occasion (Numbers 29:1-6). Therefore the day was known as “a solemn feast day” (Psalm 81:3).
The voice of God is compared to the sound of the trumpet in scripture, Exodus 19:16,19, Hebrews 12:19, Revelation 1:10 and Revelation 4:1. The sounding of the trumpets represents God’s voice calling us his people together for worship and prayer (Numbers 10:1-3). Let us hear this call as the Lord’s people heard it in the days of Joel, (Joel 2:12-18) for the sake of the church and our nation. As the Feast of Trumpets took place under the shadow of the Day of Atonement we will know prepared hearts beneath the cross of our Saviour.
This great feast also looked forward to events yet future in the administration of the grace of God.
- The Preaching Of The Gospel
The trumpet as an instrument is associated with glad tidings and joy in the scriptures (Psalm 150:3 and 98:4-6). In Psalm 89:15 the Psalmist is referring no doubt to this feast when he glories in the happiness of those who have heard the joyful sound. There is no sound more joyful than the good tidings of the grace of God. Even when the world seems ripe for wrath the Lord still extends his mercy to the lost offering hope and peace (Revelation 14:6-7).
The trumpet was associated with warning when the children of Israel were travelling through the wilderness (Numbers 10:8-9). Therefore in Ezekiel 33:1-11 the faithful warnings of the preacher were compared to the sound of the trumpet. Likewise the gospel is not just good news but it is also a note of warning exhorting sinners to prepare to meet God.
- The Second Coming Of Christ
In the Old Testament the trumpet was associated with judgement, particularly in the destruction of Jericho (Joshua 6:20) and the ministry of Gideon (Judges 7:18-25). When the Lord appears the last trumpet is set to sound bringing wrath upon the world of sinners (Matthew 24:31 and 1 Corinthians 15:52). What will be terror for the ungodly, however, will bring unparalleled joy for the elect in that day.