The authors’ thesis is that Jesus
will complete or fulfill the Feast of Trumpets at the time of His return, which
will usher in the great Day of Judgment. Is this warranted on the basis of the
biblical material itself?
The Jewish holidays: Are They God’s
Calendar? Is the roadmap of world history embedded in the holidays themselves?
We use the term “God’s
Calendar” because it is not a human calendar; it is not the kind of chronological
calendar humans normally use to mark times and seasons. God’s calendar is
different, because He created time and space, transcends time and space, and
dwells above or outside it but invades His creation for His own purposes.
The Creator God
marks the grand sweep of history, many of us think, around the holidays of
Israel. These incredible events that Israel was to keep throughout all generations
seem to point to something beyond themselves. In the actual text of the Hebrew
Scriptures, supported by the stories of events like the Exodus, is the calendar
in and through which God’s history will be worked out. The holidays are God’s way of announcing what
He has done, what He is doing, and what He is going to do.
Must the five feasts, the offering, and the fast be kept today?
Believers in Messiah Jesus are not
required to keep the Jewish holidays, even Jewish believers. This is because in
Jesus the holidays are kept already. Keeping the holidays will not earn anyone,
Jew or Gentile, favor with God. However, an understanding of the
biblical-eschatological significance of the holidays for any believer in Jesus
helps contextualize the gospel message and deepens an appreciation for the
ancient plan of God embedded in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
not a requirement for being “in good standing with God,” the holidays may be celebrated
by any believer in Jesus. Many Jewish Christians as well as Gentile Christians
do observe the holidays because it helps maintain Jewish identity and reminds
them of God’s work through the Messiah.
What about the warning of Acts 1:7?
The feast of Trumpets, as we will
see later on in this chapter, points to the return of Jesus. As soon as this is
stated it is clear that attention must be paid to Jesus’ warning about trying
to know or find out the timing of that second advent. Jesus told His disciples,
who were inquiring about when the kingdom of God would be restored to Israel,
“It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his
own authority” (Acts 1:7). Matthew
24:36, Mark 13:32, and 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 also speak to this general
the first four holidays were fulfilled on the very days they were celebrated,
and if the fall holidays are to be fulfilled in a similar way, would not it be
that we would then know the exact time, at least the exact day of the year,
when Jesus would return to establish that kingdom?
authors of this book do not have a definitive answer to this question, and
clearly, we do not know the day or the date of the final act of God in history,
nor do we suggest that the end time events will take place on the days of the
biblical festive calendar. We are content to wait for His imminent return.
Though no one can
know the date the Trumpets will be blown, some points can be made. One, though
the day and month might be known, the
year would not. Not knowing the year changes everything. Two, Acts 1:7
indicates that the date of the restoration is fixed, but there may yet be
embedded in Scripture clues as to the times and seasons, which may serve as
encouragements and promises to God’s people. Three, biblically-oriented
Christians believe in the second coming of the Messiah Jesus at the close of
the age. The point Jesus seemed to be making in the early section of Acts
chapter 1 was that the focus of the disciples’ work was to be evangelism empowered
by the Holy Spirit and not the ruling over of an earthly kingdom.
An interval of some unknown time
Between the spring and fall feasts
is an interval of time of some unknown duration. The first three holidays of
Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits come in the first month of the Jewish
religious year, Nissan. Pentecost is in the third month of Sivan. All three of
the fall holidays come in Tishri, the seventh month. The interval of unknown
time comes then between Sivan and Tishri, a time encompassing parts of the
third, fourth, fifth, and sixth months. The question is: Why the interval and
what is God’s strategy during that period?
The most crowded
time on the Jewish calendar is the seventh month, with three holidays celebrated,
the last one for seven days. The case might be made that the three are in fact
one long feast since Trumpets announces the preparation for the Day of
Atonement. “Seventh” points back to the beginning of creation. God infused
these holidays with a sense of that seven-day perfection of creation and the
seventh day of rest. In the seventh month a worshipful crescendo is reached. In
between the fall and spring holidays is a dry time with little rain. At
Pentecost, when the Spirit was given to the Church, there was a great harvest
but it was a dry time for the people of Israel.
What about the Jewish People?
One of the issues Paul wrestled
with was that while the Gentiles were trusting in the God of Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob in droves, and while there were also many Jewish people who came to
faith, still the Jewish leadership and with them the bulk of the Jewish
community did not accept Jesus as Messiah. So, from Israel’s perspective, the
interval between Sivan and Tishri has been in some sense a dry time. However, there
will be another harvest after the first harvest of the Gentiles is complete;
and it is all a matter of timing. That timing will come in the seventh month of
God’s calendar, whenever that special time known only to God arrives.
The purpose of the interval
At the time of the ascension, Jesus
made it very clear what the Church’s work was to be. He said, “But you will
receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my
witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the
earth” (Acts 1:8). Jesus’ followers were to be proclaimers of what we call the
Gospel, which is essentially that Jesus took our sin upon Himself, took our sin
away, rose from the dead, ascended to the right hand of the Father, and from
there, after some unknown interval of time, will return as the conquering
The Feast of Trumpets
The Feast of Trumpets is the first
of the fall feasts and was celebrated on the first day of the seventh month of
Tishri. In Leviticus 23:24 the word that gives its name to the feast
transliterated from the Hebrew is teru`ah
and literally means “trumpet blast.”
“horns” are mentioned in Scripture; there are the silver trumpets of Numbers 10,
and there is the Shofar of Joshua 6 and other passages, which is an actual
10:1-2 describes the silver trumpets: “The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Make
two silver trumpets. Of hammered work you shall make them, and shall use them
for summoning the congregation and for breaking camp.’” The ram’s horns were
blown while the Hebrew army under Joshua was circling the city of Jericho. The
silver trumpets were blown when offerings were brought to the Temple, at the
time of all the feasts, and for every New Moon (see Numbers 10:10). These
trumpets were celebratory in nature. The trumpets spoken of in Leviticus 23 and
25 are traditionally thought to be a ram’s horn, the Shofar, and are for calling
to repentance and seeking of God’s forgiveness.
was a ram “caught in a thicket by his horns” (Genesis 22:13) that Abraham
sacrificed instead of his son Isaac. The ram’s horn therefore became of special
significance in the history of Israel and became a symbol, an icon, in the
religious life of the people. In fact, Genesis 22 is traditionally read on Rosh
Hashanah (the current Hebrew name for the holiday).
And 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 solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast
of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, and you
shall present a food offering to the LORD.”
Notes on the passage:
One. After almost four months have
passed from the last spring feast, the clock is now running.
Two. Again we find an emphasis on
“rest,” which is the meaning of the word for sabbath in Hebrew. It is a solemn
rest, or a time set aside to commemorate or remember.
Three. A blast of trumpets
announced the coming of the holiday.
Four. No ordinary work was to be
Head of the Year
Passover began the religious year
for Israel. Trumpets announced the beginning of Israel’s civil year or ordinary
calendar. Rosh Hashanah is the
transliterated form for the Hebrew Head
of the Year, and is the Jewish New Year.
The new moon of the seventh month of the year would, of course, be a special
and holy time. Rather than a time of joyous celebration, this was one of solemn
spiritual and moral examination by each observant Jew.
Year’s Day may mean the beginning of something entirely new and embedded here
may be a pointer to something new for all that is Israel.
The close of the previous civil year
On the first day of the seventh
month, Tishri, is the Day of Trumpets or the blast of trumpets, but it is also
the thirtieth day in a season of Teshuvah, which means repentance and return—in
the traditions of Judaism. In the sixth month of Elul is when preparations
would be made for the climatic seventh month. Prayers and good deeds are
performed in order to achieve reconciliation with God. In the Jewish mind, it
is a time when you need to prepare yourself for judgment by making amends.
Seventh and sevens
The Torah, the Mosaic covenant, is riddled with sevens,
starting with the Creation story. In the Hebrew Bible the very first statement
is made up of seven Hebrew words which are translated, “In the beginning God
created the heavens and the earth.” The seventh month in God’s calendar—in a
sense the perfect month, the month of completion—and the silence of the
previous four months is broken by the blast of a trumpet.
The prophets also described God’s seventh month as
though it were God’s final month, a time of great expectation. The prophets
Isaiah, Zephaniah, and Zechariah talked about the Shofar of God that will be
sounded “in that day.” Isaiah 18:3 reads: “All you inhabitants of the world,
you who dwell on the earth, when a signal is raised on the mountains, look!
When a trumpet is blown, hear!” Isaiah 27:13 reads: “And in that day a great
trumpet will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those
who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD on the
holy mountain at Jerusalem.” The prophet Zephaniah, proclaiming that the Day of
the LORD was coming, wrote in 1:14-16:
The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter;the mighty man cries aloud there. A day of wrath is that day,a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements.
finally there is Zechariah who, in a prophecy concerning the “Coming King of
Zion” to save His people, the prophet preached: “Then the LORD will appear over
them, and his arrow will go forth like lightning; the LORD God will sound the
trumpet and will march forth in the whirlwinds of the south” (Zechariah 9:14).
The long prophetic conversation
The completion of the Torah
catalyzed a conversation among Israel’s prophets that seems to have lasted
throughout her biblical history; this process continued with the apostles of the
New Testament period. The prophets were studying and looking for clues, not
just about the past, but also about the future. There are hints in Scripture
that what God did in the past pointed ahead to or were harbingers of what He would
do in the future. A conversation about the seventh month and trumpet blasts was
going on among the prophets, which was actually begun by Moses (remember the
ram’s horn in Genesis 22).
conversation that went on in the Tanakh concerns suffering. Psalm 22, among
others, depicts a suffering, dying, even crucified Messiah. Isaiah presents the
same, in his chapters 52 and 53. Zechariah, in chapter 12 verse 10, spoke of a
suffering, pierced, and dying Messiah.
The Tanakh reveals
two Messiahs, a suffering Messiah and a conquering Messiah, One Messiah suffers
in His first coming and conquers in His second coming. The coming of this last
or second Messiah will be heralded by a trumpet blast in the seventh month of
Whether or not the
prophets related the end-time trumpets to the Feast of Trumpets is not as
obvious as we find in regard to the spring holidays, where it is plain that
Jesus, in His life and ministry, fulfilled or completed those holidays. In this
case, as with the Day of Atonement and Booths, surmises and analogies are made
connecting the fall holidays with the end-time events spoken of in the New
Trumpets in the New Testament
Trumpets were used to gather the
people of God together for celebrations. They were used in time of war, and
used to announce judgment. In the wilderness after the Exodus, trumpets were
blown to summon God’s people to break camp for another day’s journey toward the
Promised Land. The silver trumpets were used in celebrative instances, the
Shofar for serious and solemn times.
the New Testament trumpeting announces the return of Messiah, or Son of Man as
in the follow passage (Messiah, Son of Man, and Son of God are synonyms according to usage in the New Testament).
“Immediately after the tribulation of
those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and
the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all of 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.”
34:4; Ezekiel 32:7; Joel 2:10; and Amos 8:9 contain the same kind of language
that Jesus used in verse 29; the sun darkened, the moon not giving light, stars
falling from heaven, and the powers of heaven shaken. These are at least images
suggesting judgment, images of events that announce the arrival of the Day of
the Lord or the day of judgment.
Son of Man appears then, the Messiah Son of David, the conquering hero of
Israel, to bring judgment upon the mourning nations.
messengers, the angels, are sent out with a loud trumpet call. The word used in
the Greek text is the generic term for trumpet, transliterated salpiggos. If the language had been
Hebrew would we find Shofar or the silver trumpets used?
trumpets are probably, but not conclusively, the silver trumpets. Something
utterly new and celebratory is present, the newest of the new, newer than any
New Moon—the Kingdom of God has come. No more will anyone pray, “Your kingdom
come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” because God’s kingdom
will be present finally. The chosen of God, the elect, will then be gathered at
the sound of the trumpet. The desire of ages is realized.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall
not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in a twinkling of an
eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be
raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
Paul described the
resurrection of all those who are trusting in Messiah for salvation. Some
Christians had already died, but that would not prevent them from being raised
to life again. Those, however, who are alive at the return of Jesus, will hear
a trumpet sound. The dead will be raised, all things will be made new—the
Messianic Age will suddenly come in power and great glory.
biblically faithful Christians is a disagreement about the timing of what is
called the rapture. Some think it will occur prior to a period of tribulation,
others think it will follow a time of tribulation, and still others connect the
rapture with the Second Advent itself. In any case, whichever turns out to be
the reality, there will be a trumpet blast that announces the final end-time
events, including the resurrection of the believers.
1 Thessalonians 4:16
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 trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
Here again, Paul
describes what will happen at the arrival of the Messiah,
and again there
is a trumpet, a triumphant blast, and there is resurrection.
Connecting the trumpets
Trumpets figure prominently in the Old
Testament. There we find the Shofar and the silver trumpets. In the New
Testament there is the trumpet of God calling the elect and announcing
resurrection. Are they the same? Does the Levitical Feast of Trumpets foreshadow
the day of judgment and resurrection as seen by the New Testament writers?
New Testament writers were Jewish, and here in this chapter are quoted Jesus,
Matthew, and Paul—all Jews and all steeped in the traditions of the Jewish
people, and it must be considered plausible that they were aware of the
significance of trumpets and the Feast of Trumpets. At least Jesus and Paul, and
probably Matthew, were observant Jews. How often had these men heard the blasts
of both the Shofar and the silver trumpets? It is not difficult to conclude
that the trumpets of both Old and New Testaments are one and the same.
Is there a biblical warrant?
Is it possible to state that Jesus
completed, satisfied, and fulfilled, in His death, burial, resurrection,
ascension, and sending of the Holy Spirit something that God had laid the
foundation for in the spring holidays? Is it also possible to think that the fall
holidays will also, in essence, be completed, satisfied, and fulfilled in the
return of the Messiah and thus usher in judgment, resurrection, and the great
celebration that inaugurates the kingdom of God then come? Paul was convinced
that Christ is the substance behind the shadows cast by the holidays. Here is
how he put it in Colossians 2:16-17:
Therefore let no one pass judgment on
you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon
or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the
things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.