Summary: The Feast of Trumpets points prophetically to two dark days.
We come now to the first of the fall feasts of Israel, and the fifth of the seven feasts, the Feast of Trumpets. The instructions for this feast are fairly straight forward. (READ TEXT)
In Numbers 29:1-6, we’re told the sacrifices to be made on this day. A special burnt offering was offered consisting of a young bull, a ram, and seven lambs. A goat was also to be sacrificed as a sin offering.
This feast took place on the first day of Tishri, which was the seventh month on the religious calendar; but the first month on the civil calendar. Tishri would include the latter part of September and the first part of October on our calendar. This feast has come to be known in modern times as Rosh Hashanah, which means “Head of the year.”
1. The practical significance of this feast for Israel.
A. The timing of this feast - This feast is the only one that occurs on the first day of the month, at the new Moon, when the moon is dark and the shape is that of a thin crescent. All the other Jewish holidays occur later in their respective months when the moon is shining brightly.
Just as the seventh day was holy (Exodus 20:8-10) and the seventh year was holy (Leviticus 25:4), so too, was the seventh month. This feast fell on the first day of the seventh month during which all three fall feasts occurred. The Feast of Trumpets was on Tishri 1, while the Day of Atonement was on Tishri 10 and the Feast of Tabernacles began on Tishri 15. The new moon was announced by a trumpet blast on this day and the beginning of this holy month was announced, as well.
B. The trumpet of this feast - Most English Bibles don’t distinguish between the two types of trumpets used by the Jewish people.
1) The Hatzotzerah - It was a straight trumpet that was flared at the end. God commanded that two silver trumpets be fashioned “of hammered work” (Numbers 10:1-12). The priests sounded them over the sacrifices as a memorial to the Lord (Numbers 10:10). By Solomon’s day, the number had grown to 120 (2 Chronicles 5:12).
2) The Shofar - It was a curved trumpet made from a ram’s horn. A cow’s horn wasn’t accepted for it was a reminder of Israel’s idolatry in the desert when they worshiped a golden calf (Exodus 32). The ram’s horn was a reminder of God’s provision of a ram for Abraham in place of having to sacrifice his son, Isaac (Genesis 22).
While Scripture doesn’t indicate the trumpet to be used for this feast, it does specify that the Shofar be used in announcing the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:9), which occurred every 50 years. During that year, all slaves were freed, all property was returned to the original owners, and the land was also allowed to rest and wasn’t worked.
The Shofar was to be sounded on the Day of Atonement, the 10th of Tishri. Therefore, the historical observance and rabbinic tradition of the Jews has been to use the Shofar as the primary instrument in the Feast of Trumpets.
When peace offerings and burnt offerings were presented in the Temple, the silver trumpets were sounded, and this was true on the day of the this feast. But also, an additional priest sounded a Shofar. The Shofar sounded a long, sustained blast while the silver trumpets sounded short blasts over the sacrifices of the day. And the Levitical choir would sing Psalm 81, which was the Feast of Trumpets Psalm:
“Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob! Begin the music, strike the timbrel, play the melodious harp and lyre. Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon, and when the moon is full, on the day of our festival; this is a decree for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob.” - Psalm 81:1-4a (NIV)
2. The prophetic significance of this feast for Christians.
A. It pointed to the dark day that brought our deliverance.
Remember that the timing of this feast fell on at the new Moon, when the moon is but a sliver in the sky and darkness is prevalent and, as previously mentioned regarding the Shofar, this trumpet reminded the Jews of how God delivered Isaac from death by providing a ram as a substitute. Both of these things point forward to a dark day that brought our deliverance, when our Savior bore our sins at Calvary.
“From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’).” - Matthew 27:45-46 (NIV)