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Do You Hear the Sound of the Shofar? (part 4)

Post Title: Past, Present, and Future Implications

Hearing the shofar sound fills us with awe, dread, and even terror because the Maker of the heavens and earth is coming to judge. And yet when we look to the Lamb, it fills us with joy, hope, and assurance because the coming Day of Atonement teaches us His atoning sacrifice covers our sins.

The shofar sounding is a blessing to those who repent, who turn and return. Yes, God has provided the sacrifice, but there must be repentance. Jesus died for the whole world; He came as light, but the darkness would not receive the light. Without repentance, His sacrifice is null and void in your life.

We must constantly guard against glossing over or casually dismissing our sins. "Well, I don't have to worry because the blood of Jesus covers my sin." How about the sin of pride? A statement like that reeks of arrogance. The price paid for your sin is unspeakably painful and horrendous. Will you dismiss it or fail to confront it?

The Feast of Trumpets calls you to stand before the judge today. It is not some magic sound, some mystical chord. It demands your attention.

Listen to this story from Jewish tradition. If a shepherd pastures his flock behind a synagogue and hears the shofar on Rosh Hashanah (Head of the Year, the Feast of Trumpets) and directs his heart heavenward, he has fulfilled his religious obligation. In other words, the shofar was efficacious for him. But if he does not direct his heart heavenward, he has not fulfilled his duty.

In other words, the goal is not to just physically hear the shofar. You have to listen to it with kavanah, a brilliant Hebrew word that means with intention, with focus, to be fully engaged. Do you remember the story of fiery serpents among the people in the wilderness? God told Moses to make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten shall live when he sees it.

Was it the symbol that saved them? No, say the sages of Israel. It is to teach you that when the Israelites directed their thoughts on high and kept their hearts in subjection to their Father in heaven, they were healed. Otherwise, they pined away.

He who worships must direct his heart to God. In other words, your intention is essential for your salvation. It is not enough to hear the shofar. It is not enough to hear the teachings of Jesus. You must do it with intention, with subjection, with obedience. Who is in my movement, the kingdom of heaven, asks Jesus? Those who do the will of my Father in heaven. If not, the sound of the shofar is falling on deaf ears.

Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a shofar; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins, says the prophet, Isaiah. Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God (58:1-2).

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free

and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry

and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? (58:5-6)

Let us close with these promising words of Jesus, Paul, and John.

In Matthew 24, Jesus gives an eschatological dimension to the sounding of the shofar. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Again, thinking Hebraically, it is the call of the shofar.

Based on this text and one found in first Thessalonians, some believe it will be during this time of the festival of trumpets that we will see the advent of the Son of Man. I do not know of such things, but in typology, it at least makes a very nice correlation. Moreover, it seems reinforced by this text that Paul writes to the Church at Thessalonica.

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the shofar of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thess. 4:16-18)

And finally, the witness of John from his Apocalypse.

Then the seventh angel blew his shofar, and there were loud voices in heaven. There is the connection again, the sound of the shofar and the sound of loud voices. What do they herald? The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever." And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God. (Rev 11:15-16)

What is the Feast of Trumpets all about? The reign of God, His sovereignty over all. May He give you ears to hear the sound of the shofar with all of its past, present, and future implications.

We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was,

for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth. (Revelation 11:17-18)

The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever! Amen, and amen.

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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.

Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.

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