“Sound an alarm with the trumpets.” Numbers 10:9
Every September, the Jewish community comes together to celebrate Rosh HaShanah, meaning “head of the year.” It is considered one of the High Holy Days on the Jewish calendar. It signifies the beginning of a new year on which Jewish tradition bases the sabbatical and jubilee years. The day is usually celebrated by abstaining from work, attending religious services, and family get-togethers. The day also marks the beginning of Ten Days of Repentance and ends on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Rosh HaShanah is also called the Day of Judgement and the Day of Trumpets, the purpose of which is not simply to celebrate a “new year.” Unbeknownst to many, it also points to the second coming of Jesus Christ.
The Day of Trumpets
God’s designation of Rosh HaShanah and all the Jewish biblical feasts are first found in the book of Leviticus.
“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing trumpets, a holy convocation.’” Leviticus 23:23-24
Though the Jews celebrate Rosh HaShanah as the beginning of a new year, it is actually not the first day of the Jewish calendar. That occurs in the Spring, usually in March, when the Jews observe Passover. Regardless, the Jews celebrate Rosh HaShanah as a new year because of rabbinic culture, which recognizes the first day of the month of Tishri (the seventh month) as when God created the world.
The Jews blow a shofar, a hollowed-out ram’s horn. It is typically blown 100 times throughout the day. Just as the people blew a shofar the day God gave the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai (another rabbinic tradition not based on Scripture), blowing a trumpet on Rosh HaShanah symbolizes a call to repentance and a rededication to one’s faith. As a result, rabbinic tradition also refers to the holiday as the Day of Trumpets, or Yom Teruah, which is meant as “a memorial of blowing trumpets,” as mentioned in Leviticus 23.
Trumpets are not only commanded on Rosh HaShanah. God also commands it in the book of Numbers as a form of communication.
“And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Make two silver trumpets for yourself. You shall make them of hammered work.” Numbers 10:1-2
God commanded Moses to forge two silver trumpets for two specific purposes—to call the Israelite camp together and to direct their movements when the priests sent them out. The priests blew the trumpets a precise way according to each unique instruction.
Blowing both trumpets with a long steady sound meant the congregation (all the adult males) should gather at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. But if the priests only blew one horn, only the leaders of the tribes should gather (v4).
Conversely, when it was time to move all the Israelites along their journey in the wilderness, the priests blew the trumpet three short times to signal the tribes on the east side of the camp (Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun) to move. A second trumpet blast signaled the tribes on the south side (Reuben, Simeon, and Gad) to move (v5-6).
In addition, the priests also blew the trumpets at the beginning of each month as well as over their burnt and peace offerings as a memorial to God (v10). And when it was time for war, the trumpets were blown as an alarm, in which case God made a unique promise.
“When you go to war in the land against the enemy who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the LORD your God, and you will be saved from your enemies.” Numbers 10:9
God promised the Israelites He would remember them and save them from their enemies when they blew the trumpets. Numbers 10 ties back into Leviticus 23 and Rosh HaShanah, the Day of Trumpeting. And like all Jewish holiday feasts, it also points to Jesus.
Sending Out the Armies
Recall that Numbers 10 commands the priests to blow a trumpet both to gather the people and to send them out. In the last days—and many people believe on Rosh HaShanah—the trumpet will sound again. At that time, the Lord will stand on the Mount of Olives and send out the heavenly armies comprised of both angels and “holy ones,” believers who were raptured and return with Him to conquer the antichrist and save Israel.
“We shall not all sleep, but 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.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-52
“And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.” Revelation 19:14
“Thus, the LORD my God will come and all the saints with You.” Zechariah 14:5
“Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day, His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley. Half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south.” Zechariah 14:3-4
When we blow the trumpet, we call the people to gather. Likewise, we call out to the Lord to send out His armies and save us (Numbers 10:9). For now, we blow the trumpet in expectation and anticipation for Jesus’ glorious return.
Many biblical prophecies, such as in the books of Revelation, Daniel, Thessalonians, and Joel, foretell events that will occur during the end times. Joel’s prophecy is especially jarring.
“Blow the trumpet in Zion and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the Day of the LORD is coming, for it is at hand: a day of darkness and gloominess; a day of clouds and thick darkness like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been, nor will there ever be any such after them, even for many successive generations.” Joel 2:1-2
The prophet describes an enormous swarm of locusts that will descend on Judah in the last days as a direct judgment from God (see also the Fifth Trumpet Judgement in Revelation 9:1-11). While he foretells a literal invasion of giant locusts, the illustration of locusts also conveys misery and catastrophe, a common expression in the Old Testament.
Notice the specific command to “blow the trumpet.” Later in verse 15, God again commands the people to “blow the trumpet in Zion” and to fast and pray. Verse 18 then promises God will be zealous for His land and take pity on His people. By the end of the book of Joel, God pours out His spirit and blesses His people.
But God will only save the people if they first sound a trumpet and call out to Him.
Blowing a trumpet is a traditional part of Rosh HaShanah. It is not only a call to pray, repent, and study God’s word but also a cry for God to deliver and save us from our enemies.
One day, another trumpet will sound, one from heaven, and the Lord will send out His heavenly armies to save many from the clutches of evil and bring them into His millennial kingdom. It may occur on Rosh HaShanah, or it may not. Either way, we must be ready to hear the trumpet and see Jesus coming with the clouds (Mark 13:26; Revelation 1:7).