Rosh Hashanah’s Shout for Joy

By Al Perrotta Published on September 16, 2015

AL PERROTTA — Rosh Hashanah, the Feast of Trumpets, the launching of the New Year for God’s Chosen People, came to a close at sunset Tuesday night. This Feast was to be a day to “blow the trumpets” (Numbers 29:1) — what some translations call “a day of joyful shouting.” (Numbers 29:1 HCSB)

But as we start the Hebrew Year 5776, there may not seem much cause for horn tooting and joyful shouting in the Holy Land. In the past few days, Jews have found themselves bombarded with rocks and worse by Palestinian radicals from atop the Temple Mount. Anti-Semitism is surging. Iran, with both a windfall and nuclear weapons in sight, promised last week that there’ll be no such thing as Israel in 25 years.

The situation doesn’t look that much sunnier for Christians.

One may want to shout, but not necessarily for joy.

However, there’s a problem.

Twice in Scripture God lays out His desire for the Feast of Trumpets, first in Leviticus 23:23-25:

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the people of Israel, saying: “In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of complete rest, a holy convocation commemorated with trumpet blasts.  You shall not work at your occupations; and you shall present the Lord’s offering by fire.”

Numbers 29 says:

On the first day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work. It is a day for you to blow the trumpets, and you shall offer a burnt offering, a pleasing odor to the Lord: one young bull, one ram, seven male lambs a year old without blemish; also their cereal offering of fine flour mixed with oil, three tenths of an ephah for the bull, two tenths for the ram, and one tenth for each of the seven lambs; with one male goat for a sin offering, to make atonement for you;  besides the burnt offering of the new moon, and its cereal offering, and the continual burnt offering and its cereal offering, and their drink offering, according to the ordinance for them, a pleasing odor, an offering by fire to the Lord. 

Notice what’s missing? The Lord provides details down to the tenth of an ephah on the sacrifices to be made, but not a single hint that the blowing of the trumpets, the joyful shouts only apply when times are good.

Numbers and Leviticus were written while the Israelites were wandering the wilderness. Not exactly a season of celebration. Still, the Lord didn’t place an asterisk at the end of the passages, reading, “This feast is null and void if the enemy is at your gate, terrorists are at your throat, or the culture is on your case.”

The Lord said — and is saying — “Sound the trumpet! Period!”

We are to kick off this God-ordained New Year with a joyful shout to the Lord. Join together in holy assembly. Our voice is a shofar blasting a path forward.

As the Psalmist wrote: (Psalm 98:4-9)

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it!
Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together
before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

To you, Shana Tova — a good year.

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