The Feast of Loudness

Hear the Trumpet!

The average American probably wakes up most mornings to the ringing or buzzing sounds of an alarm clock, or perhaps to pleasant music on the clock radio. But for some of those in the armed forces, the shift from dreaming to reality can be a lot more jarring. The wake-up Reveille call of the military camp is blown on a trumpet. It may be easy to reach over and hit the "snooze" button on your alarm, but the buglerís call has no such button! When the call comes, there is no question that you can roll over for a few more winks. Itís time to wake up!

Trumpets used in this way are not for the purpose of entertainment. They are for business. And it was also this way in the times of ancient Israel:

1The Lord said to Moses: 2"Make two trumpets of hammered silver, and use them for calling the community together and for having the camps set out. 3When both are sounded, the whole community is to assemble before you at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. 4 If only one is sounded, the leaders—the heads of the clans of Israel— are to assemble before you. 5When a trumpet blast is sounded, the tribes camping on the east are to set out. 6At the sounding of a second blast, the camps on the south are to set out. The blast will be the signal for setting out. 7To gather the assembly, blow the trumpets, but not with the same signal. 8"The sons of Aaron, the priests, are to blow the trumpets. This is to be a lasting ordinance for you and the generations to come. 9When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you, sound a blast on the trumpets. Then you will be remembered by the Lord your God and rescued from your enemies. 10Also at your times of rejoicing—your appointed feasts and New Moon festivals—you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and they will be a memorial for you before your God. I am the Lord your God" (Num 10:1-10, NIV)

In addition to the silver trumpets spoken of in this passage, many of the passages in the Scriptures that speak of trumpets are referring to actual "ramís horn" trumpets, called "shofars." These played a role in such events as the march around Jericho.

Among the seven annual Holy Days observed by the Jews and many Sabbatarian Christians, is one the Jews refer to as "Rosh Hoshana" (the "head of the year") and most observing Christians refer to as the "Feast of Trumpets." In reality, the Bible does not use either one of those names.

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 of trumpets, a holy convocation" (Lev 23:24)

And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work. For you it is a day of blowing the trumpets (Num 29:1).

These are the only two scriptures that specifically mention the "Feast of Trumpets," but no Hebrew word for "trumpet" is in them. The expression "blowing the trumpets" is translated from the single Hebrew word tíruwah—which means a "loud sound." Of the 36 times that tíruwah appears in the Hebrew scriptures, it is translated "shout" 11 times, "shouting" 8 times, "alarm" 6 times, and "sound" 3 times (King James Bible). A loud trumpet blast would certainly fit within the meaning of the Hebrew—and we can be sure that trumpets were blown on that day because it was both a new moon and a time for assembly. But the focus of the Feast is not on a specific musical instrument—it is on a loud alarm—a warning to wake up!

Are we saying that all believers must stop calling it the "Feast of Trumpets" and begin calling it the "Feast of Loudness"? No. That would probably make communication with other believers more difficult and possibly create more division. But when we study the Bible and meditate on the meaning of this day, we need to think about other "loud sounds," as well as trumpets.

Except for the offering prescribed in Numbers 29:2-6 and the required blowing of silver trumpets on each new month, there is little the Bible says about what is to be done on that day. We cannot prove which Jewish traditions associated with the day have a divine source, but they are at least worth examining: The shofar (ramís horn trumpet) had a prominent role in this and most other ceremonies involving the use of trumpets. This may be because of a desire to incorporate its unique wailing, almost mournful quality, as opposed to the more crisp sound of a metal trumpet. Several specific types of blast are blown on this feast. They believe it is a last warning as a call to repentance—in preparation for heavenly decisions which will be "sealed" on the Day of Atonement.

Besides finding no specific Biblical definition for the kind of "loud sound" to be made on this Feast, there are also no specific Biblical passages indicating the purpose of the day in typology, either historically or prophetically. Passover is clearly tied to the historical event of the Exodus and to the crucifixion of the Messiah. The Jews tie Pentecost in to the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, and Christians tie it to the coming of the Holy Spirit after the resurrection of the Messiah. But the Feast of Trumpets is not described as commemorating any event in particular. And although we can speculate as to its prophetic significance, there is no passage which clearly states what it must foreshadow.

In the past, many groups which observe the annual Holy Days have tended to package them all up in a neat box with a single, narrow description of their purpose, symbolism and prophetic significance. This description has then been taught by rote to the membership of such groups. Since these packaged systems seemed so complete and self-contained, most members have never thought to either question the system as being accurate, or question whether it might be incomplete. And yet many of these systems have been the result of limited research and reasoning of just one or a few men, without even necessarily a claim to Divine revelation.

The Jews in Jesus time were waiting for the Messiah. They had all of what we call the Old Testament at their disposal. They could read for themselves the types and symbolism. The devout ones kept the Sabbath and all the Holy Days. They were waiting for the Messiah. And yet most of them missed the coming of the true Messiah! They had it "all figured out" how it was "supposed" to happen based on their own research and reasoning. But they were wrong.

What if all the prepackaged reasonings some have presented over the years are incomplete? Not necessarily false, not necessarily misleading—just incomplete. We would venture to guess that a fair number of the people reading this did not know that "Feast of Loudness" or "Feast of Loud Sounds" would be a more accurate translation of the Biblical name for this day. This should cause us to want to look in new places in the Bible for parallels and possible explanations of this day.

As we keep the Holy Days year after year, we can expect to learn new things from the experience. We can have understanding in a way that those who have only read about these days do not have. The value of keeping the days and focussing on their meaning year after year should be to go deeper into the understanding of the things of the Eternal, not just rehearse the same few lessons over and over. Many concepts in the Scriptures have multiple layers of meaning, and can be understood on various levels depending on the spiritual and mental maturity of the reader. For instance, regular meditation on the "model" "Lordís prayer" can yield deeper and deeper understanding as the years go by. Praying "give us this day our daily bread"can mean simple provision of physical food, and the passage makes sense at that level to most young believers. To the more mature, it can be a prayer to receive the spiritual "manna from Heaven" daily. To the veteran believer, it can be a prayer to spiritually feed all of the Eternalís people for this age.

For years, some have observed the Days of Unleavened Bread as a symbolism of "putting sin out of their life," and spent those days examining all the nooks and crannies of themselves, trying to pinpoint and "put out" bad habits and the like. And this is valid and profitable. But in recent years, many have come to see an even deeper symbolism in the fact that we donít put out leaven during the Days of Unleavened Bread—that is to be done before the days begin! The actual command for the Days is to take in Unleavened bread! We are to take in the nature of our Messiah—that "bread that came down from heaven." And this points to such passages as "let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus." This change in emphasis doesnít negate the earlier lessons, it just deepens and broadens them.

Thus it may be with the Feast of Trumpets. The usual prophetic explanation of this Feast is to say that it signifies the "Last Trump" of Revelation, the return of Christ, and the resurrection of the dead. That is a reasonable and possible valid conclusionby no means exhaustive of the possible significance of the day. Note that the trumpets of Numbers 10 were blown for a variety of reasons, not just war. They were to call an assembly together. They were to blow over offerings, that the Lord might "remember" his people. They were to be sounds of rejoicing at festivals. Now that we know the day is about loud sounds other than trumpets, we have even more possibilities to consider!

Passover and Pentecost each had both memorial and prophetic significance. That is, each had a former and a latter fulfillment. If the Feast of Trumpets does point to the return of Christ as its latter fulfillment, where is the former fulfillment? Some have speculated that Christ was born on the Feast of Trumpets—but we cannot prove that and therefore cannot celebrate it. But what if there is a fulfillment yet to come? What if some of the other events should play a part in such a fulfillment? One possibility might be an extremely powerful "wake-up call" of some kind to His people—a loud and obvious miraculous event. Another possibility is a "wake-up" call to the world: a miracle televised by all the major news networks or maybe a divine voice speaking everywhere on Earth at the same time. An unusual earthquake, storm or volcano could also "fill the bill." Yet another possibility would be the arrival of the flying scroll that reveals thieves and liars (Zech 5). Could one of these events occur 15 years (a day for a year) before the millennium begins?

We do not claim to have any divine revelation regarding the above suggestions. We do believe that the meaning of this Feast deserves much more study and prayer for divine revelation. There are many other possibilities. Maybe you will be given understanding of some of them. Even so, none of this negates the possibility that the Messiah will, indeed, return on some future Feast of Trumpets. But seeking greater understanding on this subject will certainly give the Eternal opportunity to do greater work in our lives.

After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples and told them to wait in Jerusalem until Pentecost. But it does not appear that they really understood what was going to happen on that day! Jesus had made vague references to receiving "power from on high," but were they really expecting to "speak in other languages" that day? Once it happened, they recognized the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel. But there is no indication that either they, or the rest of the Jews, expected this particular manifestation. Now that we have the "Spirit of Truth," it is possible that the Eternal may show us what will happen beforehand.

Let us not become so dogmatic about exactly how prophecy must play itself out, according to our own particular interpretation of the symbology of the Holy Days, that we miss out on some of what the Eternal plans to do.

Instead of approaching each Holy Day season, such as the fall Feasts coming up, with all our old "cue cards," it might be better to approach them with excitement and prayer that the Eternal might open our eyes to discover more and more of Him and His plan in them.

We hope that everyone finds a place to assemble with other brethren during the holy days this year. We know of many smaller congregations that are getting together for larger meetings on the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement. We would like to encourage this practice.

May the Eternal bless all of His people during this fall holy day season!

—Norman S. Edwards &Pam DeweyReturn

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