A s denizens of the 21st century, the shofar conveys to us a primitive mystique—a voice from the distant past. Even the fact that this ancient instrument has survived through the ages is tribute to its enduring eloquence.
Seeking to unlock the secrets carried within the ram’s horn, we encounter its poignant sound in the past, in the future and as an inspiration for the present. Beginning with the past, what can we learn from the appearance of the shofar in the days of Abraham and Moses?
“Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son” (Genesis 22:13).
This was a moment of enormous encounter with God. In Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac, and in the Lord’s response, Eternity met Time through the divine initiative of substitutionary sacrifice! The ram was offered instead of Isaac. Yeshua is offered in our place. The ram’s horn is an emblem of that sacrifice.
In the process, God confirmed His everlasting covenant with Abraham and his seed. “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice” (Genesis 22:18).
“…and the sound of the shofar was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in ﬁ re. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And when the blast of the shofar sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice. Then the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain” (Exodus 19:16-20).
This is a serious meeting with God. Emphasizing the centrality of hearing His voice, the word kol ( = voice, sound) is repeated several times in this passage. Why does the sound of the shofar accompany the shaking of Mount Sinai? It is again, to confirm God’s covenant with Israel! He manifested His presence through His voice. His authority reverberated through the blast of the ram’s horn— “louder and louder.” This distinct, eerie sound signals God’s arrival on earth, and the timing for all those with a heart for God to meet with Him.
Fast-forwarding to the future, the coming glory of God’s Kingdom is announced by the sound of a great shofar.
“…we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1Corinthians 15:51-52).
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Messiah will rise ﬁ rst… Therefore, comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16,18).
Yeshua’s descent upon Earth will be announced with the sound of heaven’s shofar. What a splitting of the air that will be! Like unto God’s shofar blast on Mt. Sinai, this shofar will be even more sobering, more “show-stopping.” Our future experience in hearing the ram’s horn will surpass even our most vividly imagined demonstrations of Light piercing the Darkness. Not incidentally, we are told to “comfort one another with these words.”
Indeed our present plight leads us to cry out, “How shall we then live? How shall we face the present and impending crises upon the earth?”
Courageous Faith for the Last Days
“Then seven priests bearing seven shofars of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord went on continually and blew with the trumpets…So the people shouted when the priests blew the shofars. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the shofar, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down ﬂat” (Joshua 6:13, 20).
In the days of Joshua, the impenetrable walls of Jericho fell at the focused, simultaneous, consecrated sound of seven shofars. Despite the imposing defenses of Jericho and the vulnerability of the Israelites, the shofar’s supernatural effect imparted courage to Israel and caused the enemy’s ramparts to disintegrate.
Victory through Shofars in Unison
“Then the three companies blew the shofars and broke the pitchers—they held the torches in their left hands and the shofars in their right hands for blowing—and they cried, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!” And every man stood in his place all around the camp; and the whole army ran out and ﬂ ed. When the three hundred blew the shofars, the Lord set every man’s sword against his companion throughout the whole camp…” (Judges 7:20-22). Gideon and his radically reduced army faced enemy forces “as numerous as locusts,” yet the Midianites were defeated at the sound of three hundred shofars. It must have been a freaky sound! This tells me that the shofar is also an instrument of victory. It unites the people of God, especially during times when it seems that the enemy has the upper hand and the momentum is all his.
Is that not the appearance of things today? It’s so extreme that one must dial back to ancient, decadent cultures to find the level of sexual perversion, public corruption and blood-thirsty violence witnessed and splashed on social media today. In the days of Joshua and Gideon, God’s people faced similarly overwhelming conditions. They were instructed to utilize the shofar as an instrument of breaking through. The very sound of the shofar transformed their fears into resolve, their doubts into faith. Here is the sound of His voice. The Lord wants us to hear and take it to heart today.
God wants to give us courage to face today’s profound shaking—which is bound to increase. The outward circumstances will seem terrifying. But we are to rise up, stand together, and look for the coming of our KING! The Kingdom of God is breaking through.
Can you hear the sound of the shofar?
This article was adapted from a message given in Haifa, to the Tents of Mercy network of congregations, on the Feast of Trumpets, 5778 (2017).
The Autumn feasts have passed by, and I would like to give you a short report and ask for your participation in what is happening here at “Return to Zion-Shavei Tzion” congregation and in the ministries associated with it.
After 16 years as a congregation, we have begun the process of “membership.” Bear in mind that many of the adults in our congregation grew up in the USSR. For immigrants from the USSR, where everyone tried to stay “under the Communist radar,” there was a certain resistance to “being listed” again. But a new generation of leaders said, “Let’s go for it” and so we did. Somehow “electricity from Heaven” has entered all segments of our ministry. We work on the documents/structures/principles of faith and membership, while the Lord works on us, challenging us to leave our comfort zone and seek His face. We have always been a bit conservative, but recently, during congregational prayers, we heard many prophecies and a lot of expressed desires “to start doing what the Lord shows us to do.” Therefore, I ask for your support in prayer!!
The Feasts of the Lord
To be honest, I lost count of the number of events that we organized during the Autumn feasts. We had meetings with new immigrants (Olim), and we organized trips for them across Israel (all in the framework of Zionism and the belief in the Messiah). We distributed a huge number of food packages, and now we are preparing an “Alpha Course,” to which we have invited more than fifty people (we’ll see how many will come). We have held dinners, studies of the Scriptures and other festive meetings.
Our Sukkah (tabernacle) was full of guests – from Israel, Germany, Russia, Kazakhstan, China and Norway. “Ushpizin” (Aramaic for “guests”) is the traditional sign of Sukkot – the Feast of the Tabernacles. Receiving guests, living out faith in God and all this in the Land of Israel—that’s how it was. The Lord wants to increase the “heat” of our passion and give all of us special experiences during these days!
(Rejoicing in the Torah)
The “concrete” of our building was shaking from our dancing, as we simply rejoiced together with all Israel in thanks for the written Word of the Lord. We have already noticed that when we “rewind” the Torah scroll from Deuteronomy back to Genesis, the Spirit of God touches everyone!
Music and Art School
We started the music school as a small project eight years ago with seven children. This year we started with more than a hundred students and fifteen teachers. This is a place where talented children from underprivileged families can be strengthened and find direction in life. It is being funded as follows: 50% being subsidized by donations and 50% from tuition fees. It is an opportunity to be a light to those children and their parents who have never heard of the Grace of God and the Messiah!
Oasis Media is functioning as a “Jewish Voice” in the Russian-speaking world – offering Russian language programs about the “Jewish” God, Messiah, and Scriptures. We register more than 50 thousand views a month. By our standards this is quite considerable. Thousands of viewers in Israel are watching up-to-date programs and interesting speakers. In a way this is feeding the needy, because “Man will not live by bread alone, but by every Word coming out of the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3).
Haifa Bridge and the Twin-Cities Conference
This event brought together key leaders from Haifa, Germany, Taiwan, China, the USA and South Africa. Return to Zion acted as a host. The Lord was present with us as we tried a novel format of faith, prayer and discussions. How will all this affect the future days? We will pray and see … We are inviting everyone who knows that your city is a “Twin-City” of Haifa to the meeting next year, during Sukkot, in 2018. (Please write us if this includes you.)
“The Prophetic Studio”
I tried to describe it to people from outside as a “Prayer Room,” but I was corrected and it was confirmed as a “Prophetic Studio.” A studio is a workshop—a place where we try, where we compare, where we learn. It is a place where one is not afraid to try to hear the Voice of the Lord! I’m even a little scared to write about this, but we see that it has begun to function! And it has become a “revolving door” where many can enter, feel God’s touch, and as one brother from China prophetically said, “ascend the mountain of the Lord” and go further, renewed in the Word heard from the Creator. Why Haifa, and not Jerusalem? It sounds ostentatious, but many have said, more than once that a breakthrough in Israel will come from the North! We prayed for more interaction among the congregations Concert for Holocaust Survivors Prophetic studio in Haifa, for the interaction of the congregations from Haifa with other congregations from abroad, and most importantly, about our joint interaction with the Lord our God.
We are asking for your intercession and are grateful for your ongoing support. So many of our projects are functioning successfully and achieving their goals because of your generosity!
Many thanks to all of you who have sent me and my wife Nina birthday greetings. We appreciate hearing from you and receiving your greetings and prayers.
We love you…please keep in touch.
Wishing all of you many blessings in our Lord Yeshua,
Leon and Nina Mazin, Return to Zion Congregation