The shofar has many spiritual, as well as, practical uses. We see the word shofar more than 80 times in the Hebrew scriptures. We are going to look at a few of these, and look at the spiritual importance of the shofar.
One of the main things we see is that it is a natural object. Man does not make it from wood, or shape it out of metal. It comes from a living animal and the sound produced is by human breath blowing through it. Unlike a musical instrument it is not as much about the quality of the sound that is made, or the pitch and tone as the sound itself.
There are specific times we see the shofar in the Word of God that stick with us today.
- Abraham takes Isaac to sacrifice him but instead God provides a ram, caught in the thicket by its horn
- The sounding of the shofar on top of the mountain when Moses went up to receive the 10 commandments
- Joshua and the Israelites blowing the shofar and shouting to bring down the walls of Jericho
There are actually many instances in the Word of God that have to do with the shofar, let’s take a look…
1) The ram’s horn, the shofar, is a reminder of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac and God’s provision of a ram as a substitute. Genesis 22:13
2) The LAW (Torah) was given to Israel with the sound of the shofar from heaven. Exodus 19:19
3)a The Shofar was blown at the start of the year on Yom Teruah. (Rosh Hashanah) (Feast of Trumpets) 1st day of the 7th month. Leviticus 23:24
3)b The Shofar Sounds again on Jubilee year which is the 10th day of the 7th month through out the land. Leviticus 25:9-10
4) The trumpet was blown to announce the beginning of the festivals. Numbers 10:10
5) Israel won the battle of Jericho with the blast of the Shofar. Joshua 6:20
6) Gideon and his army confused and scattered the enemy with the shofar. Judges 7:15-22
7) The shofar was blown to signal the assembly of the Israelites during war. Judges 3:27, 6:34,
II Samuel 20:1, Jer. 4:19, 51:27, Neh. 4:20, Amos 3:6
8) Seven shofars were blown before the ark of God. 1Chr. 15:24, 2Sam. 6:15
9) They took an oath before the Lord…..with trumpets and rams’ horns.
2 Chr. 5:14
10) The shofar was used for the coronation of kings. I.e. King Solomon.
I Kings 1:34, 39
11) The shofar is a reminder that God is sovereign. Psalm 47:5
12) The shofar was blown to celebrate the new moon each month. Psalm 81:1-3
13) The shofar was used to accompany other musical instruments during temple ceremonies in Jerusalem and in praise and worship. Psalm 98:6, 150:3-6
14) The shofar will be blown at the time of the ingathering of the exiles to Israel. Isaiah 27:13
15) The blowing of the shofar is a signal for the call to repentance. Isaiah 58:1, Hosea 8:1
16) Blown as a warning. Ezekiel 33:3-6, Numbers 10:9, Isaiah 18:3
17) The blowing of the shofar ushers in the day of the Lord. Joel 2:1
18) The shofar is blown to call the sacred assembly. Numbers 10:3, Joel 2:15
19) Israel will be awakened to the coming of the Messiah with the sound of the shofar. Zechariah 9:14, 16
20) The shofar is sounded at the resurrection of the dead. I Thess. 4:16
21) The shofar (trumpet) is the sound of Yahweh’s voice. Rev 1:10
22) John was taken up to Heaven in the Book of Revelation by the sound of the shofar. Revelation 4:1
23) Seven trumpets (shofars) are sounded when God judges the earth during the tribulation. Revelation 8:9
Judaism concerns itself with the “three trumps”. They are called the first trump (blown on Mt. Sinai at the giving of the Torah), the last trump (when Jesus come back for His bride at the rapture 1 Thessalonians 4:16) and the great trump (when Jesus returns to gather Israel at the second coming Matt. 24:31)
When the shofar is blown there are 4 specific sounds that the blower will make
- Tekiah – a 3 second blast, accented at the end (call to worship)
- Shevarim – 3 longer broken notes (repentance, sounds like wailing)
- Teruah – 9 staccato (short/quick) notes in succession (call to war)
- Tekiah Gedolah – a tekiah that is held
as long as the blower can sustain. Some can go for over a minute with the sustained loud blast.(speaks of healing, and to messianic jews the rapture)
PSALM 150:3…”Praise him with the “BLAST” of the “SHOFAR”. The Shofar was the first musical instrument mentioned in this psalm of David. The Shofar is always associated with a powerful move of God.(WORSHIP)
ISAIAH 58:1; Hosea 8:1; Joel 2:1… Repentance – a broken, moaning, and crying sound, signifying that we are broken before the Lord.(REPENTANCE)
GIDEON…brought such complete confusion to the camp of the enemy (the Midianites) with the sounding of 300 SHOFARS that they began to kill one another in their retreat from 300 of Gideon’s men armed with only a Shofar, a torch and a clay pitcher. Judges 7:15-22
Joshua and the Israelites with a shout and the blowing of the Shofars caused the 25- foot thick, heavily fortified walls of the ancient city of Jericho to crumble and fall to the ground like dust. (WARFARE)
The Shofar is a voice as of God. Exodus 19:19, Rev. 1:10; 4:1
In the tradition of early Judaism: when a bridegroom went to claim his bride, the attendants would announce the coming of the bridegroom with the blowing of the Shofar and a proclamation, “Behold the Bridegroom cometh”. This happens again at the return of Christ, Our Bridegroom. (The Ultimate Healing)
Today, the shofar is featured most prominently in the Rosh Hashanah morning services. It is considered a commandment to hear the shofar blown.
We see in the talmud it states…
Why do we sound the shofar? Because the Holy One, blessed be God, said: Blow me a ram’s horn that I may remember to your credit the binding of Isaac, the son of Abraham, and I shall account it to you as a binding of yourselves before Me. The Torah tells us: Abraham look up and behold, he saw a ram caught in the thicket by its horns [Genesis 22:13]. This teaches us that the Holy One, blessed be God, showed our ancestor Abraham the ram tearing himself free from one thicket and becoming entangled in another. Said the Holy One, blessed be God, to Abraham: Thus are your children destined to be caught in iniquities and entangled in misfortunes, but in the end they will be redeemed by the horns of a ram. Therefore the prophet Zechariah said of the time of redemption: And the Lord shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth like the lightning; and the Lord God shall blow the shofar, and shall move in stormy winds of the south [Zechariah 9:14].
According to Leo Rosten, “The bend in the shofar is supposed to represent how a human heart, in true repentance, bends before the Lord. The ram’s horn serves to remind the pious how Abraham, offering his son Isaac in sacrifice, was reprieved when God decided that Abraham could sacrifice a ram instead.
Distinction of sound
These 10 interpretations of the sounds of the shofar were written by Saadiah Gaon, one of the foremost Jewish spiritual leaders of the Middle Ages:
1. Reminiscent of the Coronation of a King
The sound of the shofar is analogous to the trumpet-blasts that announce the coronation of a king. On Rosh Hashanah , God created the world and assumed the role of its Sovereign, and in the sounding of the shofar we acknowledge Him as our King.
2. Stirs Our Conscience
Rosh Hashanah is the first of the 10 Days of Penitence, and the shofar is sounded to stir our conscience, to confront our past errors and return to God, who is ever ready to welcome the repentant
3. Reminds Us of Sinai Revelation
The shofar is reminiscent of God’s revelation at Sinai, which was accompanied by the sounding of a shofar. It thus reminds us of our destiny — to be a people of Torah, to pursue its study and to practice its commandments.
4. Like the Exhortations of the Prophets
The sound of the shofar is reminiscent of the exhortations of the prophets whose voices rang out like a shofar in denouncing their people’s wrongdoing, and in calling them to the service of God and man.
5. Reminder of the Temple’s Destruction
The shofar reminds us of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and it calls us to strive for Israel’s renewal in freedom and in fellowship with God.
6. Symbol of the Ram That Abraham Sacrificed
The shofar, which is a ram’s horn, reminds us of the ram that Abraham offered as a sacrifice in place of his son Isaac. It thus reminds us of the heroic faith of the fathers of our people who exemplified to us the highest devotion to God, of which man is capable.
7. Summons Us to Feeling Humility
The shofar summons us to the feeling of humility before God’s majesty and might, which are manifested by all things and by which our own lives are constantly surrounded.
8. Reminder of Judgment Day
The shofar is a reminder of the Day of the Final Judgment, calling upon all people and all nations to prepare for God’s scrutiny of their deeds.
9. Foreshadows Return from Exile
The shofar foreshadows the jubilant proclamation of freedom, when Israel’s exiled and homeless are to return to the Holy Land. It calls us to believe in Israel’s deliverance at all times and under all circumstances.
10. Foreshadows Coming of the Messiah
The shofar foreshadows the end of the present world order and the inauguration of God’s reign of righteousness throughout the world, with a regenerated Israel leading all people in acknowledging that God is One and His name One
“And on that day a great ram’s horn shall be sounded” (Isaiah 27:13).
So is it important for Christians today?
Even though there is no commandment for us today to blow or hear the shofar blast, I believe there is still significance to it.
For one thing God never did away with what we call “the Old Testament”. Jesus said in Matthew 5:18 “For assuredly, I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law (Torah) till all is fulfilled”
If it was important then I believe it is still important today.
The principles still apply. It still does (supernaturally) what God intended it to do.
It awakens the spirit man, it causes confusion in the enemies camp, it calls us to higher dimensions in God, it announces the greatness of our King.
One day we will hear a shofar blast that will call us up to meet our Messiah in the air and so shall we ever be with Him.