In Rabbinical literature Rosh Hashanah is considered the second most solemn day of the year.  The most important is the Day of Atonement.

The famous Rabbi Akibah wrote, “On New Year’s Day all men are judged; and the decree is sealed on the Day of Atonement; Rosh Hashanah is the Day of Judgment.

This is the reason Jewish people send greeting cards to each other with the expression “May you be inscribed for a good year.”

According to tradition this is the day on which the names of all the inhabitants of earth pass before God for judgment, just as sheep pass before the shepherd.

According to Jewish tradition, Three books are opened before God.  The names of those who are righteous are written in one book, and they are sealed for everlasting life.

The wicked are blotted out of the book of the living and sometime during this following year they will die and their souls will be placed in the book of Death.

Those whose names are not found in the either The Book of the Righteous or the Book of the Dead are given a respite of 10 days.  These 10 days are known as the 10 days of Awe.  

During this time they are given the opportunity to repent for their sins to God and to seek the forgiveness of those whom they have sinned against.

But probably the most significant aspect of Rosh Hashanah is the blowing of the Shofar, or the rams horn.

The first mention in Scripture of the Rams horn is found in Exodus 19:13,19.  It is found in connection with the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai. Exodus 19:13

He shall surely be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on him. Whether man or animal, he shall not be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they go up to the mountain.”

The blowing of the Shofar was God’s method of calling His Chosen people into the privileges of the Covenant.  We read that the apostle John also heard the sound of the trumpet when he was given a vision of the events that concern the last days in (Rev 1:10-11).  

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, {11} saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

What should we Christians be reminded of when we consider the shofar? Well we need to realize that God’s Holy Days have never been done away with.  Jesus said

(Mat 5:17-20 NASB)  “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. {18} “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished. {19} “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. {20} “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Perhaps we can learn from Israel’s Rabbis some timeless truths that apply to us today.

Maimonides (Rambam) writes: “There is a message implicit in the Command to blow the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah … “Sleepers awake from your sleep!  Slumberers, arouse yourselves from your slumber!

“Search your deeds and return to Tshuva and remember your creator.  Look to your souls, better your ways and deeds.  Let each one of you abandon his evil way and your thoughts which were not good.”

These words harken us to those spoken by our Messiah in the Book of Revelation 2:3-4 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. {4} Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.

Revelation 3:3 – Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

The Shofar of Rosh Hashanah reminds of us many things actually the Rabbi’s list 12 things in particular but this morning I want us to consider four things associated with the blast of the Shofar.

  1. God is our King  
  2. That we are called to repentance.   
  3. That we are called to obedience.
  4. That our King is coming soon.
  5. The Shofar is reminder to us that God is our King

Rosh Hashanah according to tradition marks the anniversary of the creation of the world.  In ancient times King would blow trumpets to mark the anniversary of when their reign began.  So too in like manner are we called to remember our King, who also is our Judge. Consider Psalms 98:1-6

Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. {2} The LORD has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations.

{3} He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. {4} Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; {5} make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing,

Note especially verse {6} with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn– shout for joy before the LORD, the King. and also verse 9: let them sing before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.

This is most significant when we consider this in the light of 1 Samuel where Israel rejected God as their King.

1 Samuel 8:4-7

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. {5} They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” {6} But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. {7} And the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.

1 Samuel 8:19-20  But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. {20} Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”

King Saul was a King chosen by man. David was a king chosen by God. He was a reflection of the Eternal King who was promised to Israel who would bring blessings to all the nations.

2 Samuel 7:12-13

When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. {13} He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 

This promised King of Israel was spoken of by the prophets in Isaiah and Zechariah.  This promised King has come.  The prophets foretold that we would reject this King.

However from the time he came to today Jewish people as well as Gentiles have the opportunity to allow The King and His Kingdom to reign in their hearts.

The Peace and Joy of His Kingdom can be ours if we will allow this Eternal King Jesus to be King and Lord of our lives.

2. This reign can only come if we will respond to the call of the Shofar in Repentance.

As all Jews begin the 10 days of Awe seeking to be written in the Book of Life by doing Tsuvah so we are reminded that entrance into the kingdom of God is entered into only by way of repentance.

Ezekiel 33:1-11 is a call to repentance

The word of the LORD came to me: {2} “Son of man, speak to your countrymen ad say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, {3} and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, {4} then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not take warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will be on his own head. {5} Since he heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning, his blood will be on his own head. If he had taken warning, he would have saved himself.

{6} But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood.’

{7} “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. {8} When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood.

{9} But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself.

{10} “Son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?” ‘ {11} Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’

The Scriptures clearly teach that all of us are separated from God because of our sins. Isaiah 59:1-2

Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. {2} But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

The Jewish prophet Isaiah taught that One would come upon whom our sins would be transferred.  As the Passover Lamb and later the Sacrificed Lambs were substitutes, so too would One come like a Lamb.

Isaiah 53:6

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Jesus is this Lamb. John 1:29

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

So as we consider the Shofar we are called to Repent. And to understand that our sin was placed on God’s perfect Lamb.

There is a beautiful picture of Yeshua in the history of the Jewish people.  Joseph the beloved son of Jacob was betrayed by his own brothers.  He became their savior after first saving the Egyptians.

So too Jesus was sold for the price of a slave and became savior to the Gentiles first and will ultimately be the deliverer of His kinsmen.

As Joseph said in Genesis 50:20-21  “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (21) So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

And so it shall be that if we repent and come to One promised by the prophets we will receive the comfort of the King of Kings.  The Shofar is a reminder of a call to do Tsuvah.

3. The Shofar is a reminder That we are called to obedience and personal sacrifice.

The Shofar for Israel is a reminder of how God spared Isaac with a ram caught in a thicket by his horn. And God established His covenant with Abraham and Isaac because of their obedience.

In Exodus 18 at the giving of the Law The Shofar sounded.  We said that we would obey.  But we disobeyed and the result was the great diaspora.  

But God promised a new covenant in Jer. 31:31-33.

“The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. {32} It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them, ” declares the LORD. {33} “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

The messenger of that New Covenant is the Messiah. Malachi 3:1 “See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,”

And now we are called Like Isaac to surrender our lives.  In losing our Lives we shall find it.

  1. The Blowing of the Shofar is a reminder that the King is Coming Back.

First He is coming back for Believers. John 14:1-3 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ; trust also in me. {2} In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. {3} And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

1 Corinthians 15:50-52 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. {51} Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed– {52} 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.

Then following a period of Great Tribulation for Israel He is coming to Judge the Nations and Save the survivors of the Battles against Israel. Described in Zechariah Chapters 12

Zechariah 12:1-3

This is the word of the LORD concerning Israel. The LORD, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the spirit of man within him, declares: {2} “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. {3} On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.

Zechariah 12:9-10

On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem. {10} “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

Israel will recognize Yeshua and mourn over their sin and that they were responsible for his being pierced for their transgressions and receive Him as their Kinsman Redeemer.

The Shofar is a call to all of us gathered here.

A call to remember that God is our King.

A call to repentance.

A call to obedience and the laying down of our lives

And a call that the King is coming again soon.

Reasons for blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah compiled by the 10th century sage, Rabbi Saadia Gaon.

  1. The Shofar is like the trumpet which announces the coronation of a king. That is why it is used on Rosh Hashanah, the birthday of the universe. At that time we accept Hashem’s Rulership. Our prayer and shofar blasts are like the coronation ceremony in which the assembly of Yisroel crowns Hashem as Sovereign.
  2. The Shofar calls us to examine our deeds and return to Hashem, who will always accept us if we are sincere.  This is why we blow the Shofar on Rosh Hashana which is the first of the Ten Days of Awe.
  3. The Shofar reminds us of the Shofar which blew when the Torah was given at Har Sinai; thus we are reminded to study and cherish  Hashem’s Word.
  4. The Shofar reminds us of the voice of the Prophets, whose voices rang out like a Shofar blast in calling the people to do justice and mercy and follow Holy ways.
  5. The Shofar sounds like crying, which reminds us of the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash, and thus calls upon us to work for and daven for the Geula or the day of redemption.
  6. The Shofar, since it is a ram’s horn, reminds us of the binding of Yitzchok, when the Lord provided a ram to be sacrificed instead. Thus we are called upon to be as faithful to Hashem as Avraham, and be inspired by his example of sacrifice and love of Hashem.
  7. The Shofar calls us to be humble- its mighty blast reminds us of the mightiness of Hashem and the fact that Hashem is everywhere at all times.
  8. On the Day of Judgment, a Shofar will be blown to announce Hashem’s Rulership- our Shofar blasts remind us to prepare for Hashem’s examination of our deeds.
  9. The Shofar foreshadows the jubilant return to freedom and peace when we all end up in Yerushalayim in the time of Moshiach- it reminds us to have hope and faith in Hashem’s saving power.
  10. The Shofar will be blown in Messianic times to announce the redemption of the whole world, when all nations will recognize that Hashem is One.
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