Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Feast Of Trumpets: Memorial Of What?

All of the Biblical Holy Days are listed in Leviticus 23. The Feast of Trumpets has the shortest description of all of them. After telling us when it occurs, the only thing it tells us to do that is sets it apart from other Holy Days is blow trumpets as a memorial. Which begs the question, “memorial of what?” Here is all that it says.

Lev 23:23 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying, 24 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. 25 Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

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We in the Churches of God usually focus on the future fulfillment of this day - UCG(Feast Of Trumpets) [1], when Christ “descends from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first” - 1 Thess 4:16. But Lev 23 was penned by Moses when Israel was still in the wilderness. No one could have known the future meaning of the day until Thessalonians was written, so again, “memorial of what”? Can we set aside what we know the Feast of Trumpets pictures in the future, and put ourselves in the place of ancient Israel 3500 years ago? Let’s start by seeing what we can learn by examining verse 24 more carefully. Here’s the "Freeman" translation of Lev 23:24.
Lev 23:24 It will be to (all of) you a Sabbath, a memorial of Teruah*, a holy meeting.
*According to Lexicon-Concordance [2], the word Teruah is variously translated as :

shout 11
shouting 8
alarm 6
sound 3
blow 1
blowing 2
joy 2
jubilee 1
noise 1
rejoicing 1

So, rather than citing that whole list, I will use the Hebrew word Teruah.That’s it, that’s all it says about keeping the day – 1) Sabbath 2) memorial of Teruah 3) holy meeting 4) offering. Notice there is no mention of trumpets here, though Teruah is usually associated with the blast of a shofar, also called “cry of the shofar” or “shout of the shofar”. The list of words translated from Teruah give more meaning to 1 Thess 4:16 “with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God”. One article I read suggested that the memorial of Teruah is a memorial of Jericho. And there certainly are a lot of parallels between The Day of Teruah and Jericho. Here are three.

The wals of Jericho fell at the sound of the shofars

1. Six days of Jericho parallel six "trumpet plagues of Revelation.
  • For six days seven priests walk around Jericho with the ark blowing shofars -  Josh 6.
  • In Revelation, six trumpet plagues fall upon the earth - Rev 8-11.
2. Jericho typifies the fall of this world at the seventh blast.
  • On the seventh day, the priests circled Jericho seven times, and at the seventh circuit,  the people shouted when the priests blew the shofars ... the wall collapsed - Josh 6:20.
  • Rev 11:15 Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”
3. Possession of the Kingdom.
  • Israel began to take possession of the Promised Land with the collapse of Jericho.
  • Revelation 11:18 the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name.

You can find more parallels between Day of Teruah and Jericho - Trumpets And Fall Of Jericho [3]. But Jericho was conquered after Israel entered the promised land. So The Day of Teruah couldn’t be a memorial of Jericho. The Battle of Jericho is certainly a type of the ultimate Day of Teruah , that is Christ's return, but the Day of Teruah is not a memorial of Jericho. As best I can tell, Leviticus was written just after the Tabernacle was built, meaning within two years of leaving Egypt, but clearly before entering the promised land - Wikipedia(Book_of_Leviticus) [4]. When else do we read about a shofar blast? A shofar blast familiar to all Israel? In their collective memory so to speak?

Mount Sinai

At Sinai. We associate the giving of the Ten Commandments with Sinai on the Feast of Pentecost - Israel arrives at Mount Sinai [5]. But before the Ten Commandments were given, here’s what happened.

Exodus 19:18 Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. 19 When the sound of the trumpet [shofar] grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder.

In fact, it is the first use of the word shofar in the Bible. And here’s what happened before that.

Exodus 19:3 Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. 5 Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6 and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”
7 So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the Lord had commanded him. 8 All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do!”

So for ancient Israel, in the desert, before entering the Promised Land, the shofar blast was a direct reminder of the covenant they made with God Himself at Mount Sinai, not that many years before. Note the people repeat their acceptance of the covenant in Ex 24:7. God’s voice is likened to a shofar blast, and it made quite an impression on Israel. Here’s their reaction after hearing the shofar and the Ten Commandments from God Himself,
Exodus 20:18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.

Depiction of sound/color synesthesia
Note the people SAW the thunder.  According to many Hebrew scholars, this is not a mistranslation - Seeing The Sounds [6]. Some English translations say “witness” or “perceive”, like we might say in English "I see" meaning "I understand", but it looks like it really means physical sight was involved - What's Bothering Rashi? [7]. This was an intense revelation from God. "They saw what was audible and heard what was visible" - Seeing Sounds [8]. One interpretation is that it was mass synesthesia, where synesthesia means "union of the senses". There are people who routinely see sounds as color, but this was a case where everyone was seeing sounds. They SAW the thunder. As with many things Biblical, many scholars do not agree with this interpretation - Seeing Sounds [8].

The original memory aid
The Day of Teruah is also a memorial of creation itself, but ancient Israel probably couldn’t have known that either. These words also came later,  “When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy” - Job 38:7. Shouted (for joy) is the same root word as teruah. I would argue that Teruah is a reminder to remember everything the Bible says to remember. Every verse where God says to remember something (and there are many) could be brought to mind by the shofar blast, making it a memory aid, like a string on your finger. The tradition of the Jews is to blow the shofar 100 times on the Day of Teruah, could there be 100 things God wants to remind us of? There are 215 verses in the KJV that use the word "remember", and 48 of these tell us as humans to remember something. I compiled a list of these verses, they are listed after the References section.

Remember these!
The holy days picture God’s plan for Israel, and ultimately for all of mankind, but they also picture His plan for each one of us. We often refer to Egypt as a type of sin, where God delivered Israel from Egypt, pictured by Passover and the Exodus, which can be likened to our personal deliverance from the slavery of sin. There is an old saying “In every generation, each person must regard himself as if he had come out of Egypt.” - The First Step [9]. Likewise, Israel experienced a national awakening on the day of Pentecost when God spoke to them directly (the Jews refer to this as the Revelation). God made a covenant with the nation of Israel. The New Testament shows a more personal connection between God and His church on the same day of Pentecost, when the disciples received the Holy Spirit as tongues of fire. At some point in our calling, God made Himself known to each one of us, a personal revelation if you will. I didn’t see thunder, or hear His voice from a mountain, or have a tongue of fire dancing on my head, but He made Himself real to me. We usually use language like “He opened my mind”.  We followed through to baptism, where we made a covenant with God, not a national covenant, but a personal one. The Day of Teruah is reminding each of us that we made that commitment. The Day of Teruah means many things to the nation of Israel, some of which have yet to come to pass, but it also means something to each of us personally – it means remember.


1. https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/gods-holy-day-plan-the-promise-of-hope-for-all-mankind/the-feast-of-trumpets-a-turning-point-in-history
2. http://lexiconcordance.com/hebrew/8643.html
3. https://www.cgg.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Audio.details/ID/1240/Trumpets-and-Fall-Jericho.htm
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Leviticus
5. http://bible.ucg.org/bible-commentary/Exodus/Israel-arrives-at-Mount-Sinai/
6. https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/2587173/jewish/Seeing-the-Sounds.htm
7. http://www.aish.com/tp/i/wbr/48943241.html
8. http://aryehbderech.blogspot.com/2013/10/seeing-sounds.html
9. https://steinsaltz.org/essay/the-first-step

Verses with an admonition to remember

Exodus 13:3 And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt

Exodus 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Numbers 15:39 And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them ;

Numbers 15:40 That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.

Deuteronomy 5:15 And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm:

Deuteronomy 7:18 Thou shalt not be afraid of them: but shalt well remember what the Lord thy God did unto Pharaoh, and unto all Egypt;

Deuteronomy 8:2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.

Deuteronomy 8:18 But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.

Deuteronomy 9:7 Remember, and forget not, how thou provokedst the Lord thy God to wrath in the wilderness: from the day that thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the Lord.

Deuteronomy 15:15 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing to day.

Deuteronomy 16:3 Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life.

Deuteronomy 16:12 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt: and thou shalt observe and do these statutes.

Deuteronomy 24:9 Remember what the Lord thy God did unto Miriam by the way, after that ye were come forth out of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 24:18 But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt

Deuteronomy 24:22 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt

Deuteronomy 25:17 Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt;

Deuteronomy 32:7 Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.

Joshua 1:13 Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, The Lord your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land.

1 Chronicles 16:12 Remember his marvellous works that he hath done, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;

Nehemiah 4:14 And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.

Esther 9:28 And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed.

Job 36:24 Remember that thou magnify his work, which men behold.

Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.

Psalm 22:27 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.

Psalm 45:17 I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.

Psalm 63:6 When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. 7 Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.

Psalm 77:11 I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.

Psalm 103:18 To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.

Psalm 105:5 Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;

Psalm 111:4 He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the Lord is gracious and full of compassion.

Psalm 119:52 I remembered thy judgments of old, O Lord; and have comforted myself.

Psalm 119:55 I have remembered thy name, O Lord, in the night, and have kept thy law.

Psalm 137:1 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.

Ecclesiastes 11:8 But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity.

Ecclesiastes 12:1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;

Isaiah 46:9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,

Ezekiel 16:43 Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, but hast fretted me in all these things; behold, therefore I also will recompense thy way upon thine head, saith the Lord God: and thou shalt not commit this lewdness above all thine abominations.

Micah 6:5 O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal; that ye may know the righteousness of the Lord.

Malachi 4:4 Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.

Luke 17:32 Remember Lot's wife.

John 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

2 Timothy 2:8 Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:

Hebrews 13:3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

Hebrews 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

Revelation 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.