The Last Trumpet and the Jewish New Year
The traditional Jewish New Year, called Rosh Hashanah, was called the Day of the Sounding of the Trumpets in the Bible. As written in the Torah, “On the first day of the seventh month hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. It is a day for you to sound the trumpets.” (Numbers 29:1) Today, this is considered the first day of the first month on the Jewish calendar, celebrated for two days instead of one. (This year, the celebration begins the night of September 15.)
Yet the Bible actually says very little about what is to take place on this sacred day, other than the sounding of the trumpets (or, rams’ horns, shofars). What do these shofar blasts signify?
A Time for Examining One’s Life
According to Moses Maimonides, writing in the 12th century, the meaning is this: “Wake up from your sleep, you sleepers! Arise from your slumber, you slumberers! Examine your deeds! Return to God! Remember your creator! Those of you who forget the truth in the futilities of the times and spend all year in vanity and emptiness, look into your soul, improve your ways and your deeds. Let each of you abandon his evil ways and his immoral thoughts” (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Repentance, 3:4, as translated by Avraham Yaakov Finkel).
This makes perfect sense, since this holy day takes place 10 days before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the most sacred day of the year in Judaism. That’s why these 10 days are called yamim nora’im, “Days of Awe.”
It is a time of special reflection and repentance for religious Jews around the world. In fact, even non-religious Jews tend to get religious at this time of the year.
Right now, though, I’d like to step back and take a bird’s eye view of the biblical calendar, but this time in light of Jesus (Yeshua), the Messiah of Israel and the Savior of the world.
The Feasts and the Life of Jesus
The biblical calendar begins with the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread. Jesus brings this season to its full meaning by dying as our Passover Lamb (at the time of Passover), offering Himself as sacrifice without leaven of mixture.
He rose from the dead in conjunction with Firstfruits, which takes place the day after the Sabbath during Passover, and He sent His Spirit on Pentecost (Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks), which took place 50 days after Firstfruits.
These were the Spring Feasts of Israel.
Trumpets (now Rosh Hashanah), begins the season of the three Fall Feasts: Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles (Sukkot), which lasts for 7 days and begins 5 days after the Day of Atonement.
How do these relate to Yeshua the Messiah?
Jesus’ Return Involves the Sound of a Trumpet
Let’s look at a common element in descriptions of His return:
- “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” (Matthew 24:30–31)
- “According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15–17)
- “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’” (1 Corinthians 15:51–54)
The Lord will return with the sound of the trumpet!
Yes, the next great event on the biblical calendar, the first of the Fall Feasts, all of which are still to be fulfilled, points to the event for which all Christians long, the return of the Son of God.
Are These Passages Speaking of the Return of Jesus as Well?
Could this be what the prophet Zechariah spoke of as well, more than 500 years before the time of Jesus? “Then the LORD will appear over them; his arrow will flash like lightning. The Sovereign LORD will sound the trumpet; he will march in the storms of the south, and the LORD Almighty will shield them. They will destroy and overcome with slingstones. They will drink and roar as with wine; they will be full like a bowl used for sprinkling the corners of the altar. The LORD their God will save his people on that day as a shepherd saves his flock. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown.” (Zechariah 9:14–16)
Is this also what the prophet Isaiah had in mind, roughly 700 years before the time of Jesus? “And in that day a great trumpet will sound. Those who were perishing in Assyria and those who were exiled in Egypt will come and worship the LORD on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 27:13)
And what about Revelation 11:15, when the seventh angel sounds the seventh of 7 trumpets (which, of course, would be “the last trumpet”)? The text states, “The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.’”
Hoping for Promises of God to be Fulfilled on That Day
On that day, the time of the prophetic fulfillment of Trumpets, the Lord will return in the clouds and raise up His people to meet Him in the air as we then turn and escort Him back to earth.
On that day, if Zechariah and Isaiah also spoke of this time, He will also regather the scattered Jewish exiles. And on that day (which does not have to refer to a 24-hour period), as Revelation states, He will establish His kingdom on the earth.
This will then result in the cleansing of the people of Israel (see Zechariah 13:1) — the fulfilment of the Day of Atonement! — and the ingathering of the survivors of the nations that attacked Jerusalem. “Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.” (Zechariah 14:16)
It will all come together at that time.
May the Lord hasten the day of His return! And may we live to hear that final trumpet blast!
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Why So Many Christians Have Left the Faith. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.