September 18, 2020

Understanding Feast of Trumpets or Rosh Hashanah

 

We live in a time when as the Savior prophesied in Matthew, there are wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes. These perilous times can cause us to fear an uncertain future. But as followers of Christ, if we are prepared, we have nothing to fear, for these are signs that the Savior will come again bringing peace to the land. The Lord taught ancient Israel about his first and second coming through the celebration of the Feasts, including the Feast of Trumpets or Rosh Hashanah. Understanding these feasts, and in particular the fall feasts, can help us prepare for the glorious return of Christ our King.

Israel has two major harvest seasons. The early or spring harvest, and the later or fall harvest. Each of the various holy days and feasts coincide with these two harvest seasons.

The Passover Supper by Brian Call

Let’s first look at the feasts that occur during the early harvest. In the spring, the Feast of Passover reminds Israel when the lamb’s blood on the doorposts spared them from the destroying angel. It also commemorates the crossing of the Red Sea as they escaped bondage in Egypt. During the Passover season is when the Savior died and rose from the dead, redeeming all who believe on his name, just as ancient Israel was redeemed from bondage by the blood of the lamb. 

Fifty days later, Israel celebrated what was known as the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, reminding them of the receiving of the 10 commandments and the law of Moses on Mount Sinai. It also commemorated the harvest of wheat. It was during this feast, 50 days after the resurrection of Christ, on the Day of Pentecost, that the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples and the first harvest for souls began.

The high priest entering the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement

The high holy days in the fall begin with the Feast of Trumpets, followed by the Day of Atonement, and finally the Feast of Tabernacles. These feasts were to remind Israel of the 40 years spent wandering in the wilderness before arriving in the promised land. This later or final harvest has yet to be fully fulfilled and points to the time we now live in, when scattered Israel will be gathered in preparation for the Lord's second coming.

With this in mind, let’s now focus on how the fall or later harvest begins, with the Feast of Trumpets or Rosh Hashanah. This feast begins on the first day of the seventh month. The number seven can symbolize fullness or completion, and can point to the completion of the end of the yearly harvest cycle. This month is the sabbatical month of the year. Just as God rested on the seventh day after the creation, and the seventh day of the week is to be a day of rest, so too is this month meant to be a holy month. 

The month officially began when two or more witnesses observed the new moon and testified to the Jewish leadership of what they saw. Once the leadership verified their testimony, the announcement was heralded around Jerusalem, then to Israel, and beyond. Messengers were sent to all the land. Large torches were lit from mountaintop to mountaintop to proclaim the start of this most holy season.

In addition to light, sound was also used to spread the word. Trumpets were used to declare to the people in villages and cities that the high holy days or “days of awe” had begun. Throughout the scriptures we learn that the sounding of trumpets symbolized several events. Trumpets were used to announce the beginning of the sabbath, and all feasts. Trumpets were used as a battle cry. The sound of a shofar horn was used to symbolize the gathering of Israel. Trumpets were used to call forth a solemn assembly, the anointing of a king, and were even used as sounds of praise. 

This particular sounding of the trumpets was to warn Israel that the time to enter the Lord’s presence was at hand. For ten days, Israel was to remember the Lord, repent, and prepare for the most high and holy day, the Day of Atonement also known as Yom Kippur. On this day, and only on this day, the high priest entered the most sacred room of the Tabernacle or Temple called the Holy of Holies. He did this on behalf of all Israel, symbolically taking them into the presence of the Lord. There he would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice seven times on the mercy seat. This symbolized that because of the shedding of blood, Israel was now forgiven and prepared for the holiest of the feasts, the Feast of Tabernacles. Starting on the fifteenth day, Israel then would dwell in booths, or tabernacles, for seven days. Families would wave palm branches, and feast together celebrating this most joyous of seasons, the end of the final harvest.

The sounding of the shofar during the Feast of Trumpets also could remind the people of when Israel was gathered at Mount Sinai. The Lord wanted all of Israel to enter into his presence, and told Moses that “...when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.” (Exodus 19:13) It was the sound of the trumpet that was to signal that they could come to the mountain of the Lord into his presence.

Interestingly, for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this day is also very significant. On September 22, 1827, on the very day of the Feast of Trumpets, the angel, and ancient prophet Moroni delivered the golden plates to the young Joseph Smith. These records are known today as the Book of Mormon and are a second witness of Christ’s words to the people in the ancient Americas. Moroni today is often depicted on Latter-day Saint temples with a trumpet in hand symbolically signalling the final gathering of Israel, and perhaps reminiscent of this connection to the Feast of Trumpets.

In a world filled with a cacophony of noise, have we heard the trumpets sounded by messengers warning us that the Lord will soon come to dwell among us? Signs are all around us that the second coming of Jesus Christ is near. Are we preparing spiritually for this glorious day? We are living in our own days of penitence. Are we striving to repent of our sins and live his gospel by studying the scriptures, drawing close to God in prayer, and loving and serving those around us? Just as the light shone on the mountain tops announcing the beginning of the fall festival season, so too can we shine our light on a hill for others to see and hear the good news of the gospel. 

Let us heed the trumpet’s warning that now is the time to spiritually prepare for Jesus Christ’s second coming. The trumpet’s battle cry is calling us to gather Israel in a solemn assembly. The trumpets are announcing that soon we will attend the marriage supper of the Lamb (see Revelation 19:9). Let us join in the trumpet’s song of praise to the anointed King, our great high priest, who by the shedding of his own blood has enabled us to be clean that we may enter into the presence of our Father in heaven.

4 comments:

  1. This is inspiring and so informative. We were in Jerusalem for the feast of tabernacles last year and I only understood a part of what the celebration was about and much enjoyed your explanation, and reminder of how we must prepare for the trumpet when it sounds.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the video/article! I would have loved to be in Jerusalem during Sukkot! I am kind of jealous. I should hopefully have another video released in about a week on the Feast of Tabernacles. I also have one on the Day of Atonement you might enjoy. https://youtu.be/4UYT-0AmlnA

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  2. Some other parallels that occurred to me after reading your description: People couldn't know the exact day (because the new moon can vary by 24 hours, because of the 29.5-day cyle) or the exact hour (because clouds or haze can block a slivery moon from sight until later in the evening). Matt. 25:1 "Ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."

    But people still weren't totally clueless about when they would see those torch beacons or hear the trumpets. If they were watching the moon phases or a calendar with any degree of regularity, they could be ready weeks or months in advance. When the torch beacons were lit, they didn't just then start thinking, "Hey, we should pack for a trip to Jerusalem for the solemn assembly." They hefted their already-packed bag and hit the road.

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    1. Nathan, that is an excellent insight! I wish I would have had you say this before I made the video! I would have loved to include that. Thanks for sharing!

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