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Watch 2022 online sermons » Jonathan Bernis » Jonathan Bernis - The Call of the Shofar

Jonathan Bernis - The Call of the Shofar

Jonathan Bernis - The Call of the Shofar
TOPICS: Shofar

The sound of the shofar is a powerful call that echoes over history. Though you may have heard it, do you know why or how a shofar was used in biblical times and is it even used today in Jewish traditions and customs? Find out both the historical and spiritual applications from the shofar.

Jonathan Bernis: Shalom and welcome to Jewish Voice. Thank you for joining me today. I'm Jonathan Bernis. Now, you may have seen one of these displayed on a shelf or perhaps you've heard one blown, but do you know the significance of the shofar? That's what we're going to be discussing today. Ezra, thank you for joining me again.

Ezra Benjamin: Great to be here, Jonathan.

Jonathan Bernis: On a really important topic, because there is a lot of misunderstanding and confusion about the shofar.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right, and so many of our viewers join us because they're trying to understand what's called the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith, right? What's the Old Testament context that informs your New Testament faith in Jesus, who said, "I have come for the lost sheep of the house of Israel," and that he's the Savior of the world? And Jonathan, this is quintessentially one of the things perhaps that our audience might think of when they think of Messianic Judaism, Jewish believers in Jesus, or the Hebrew roots of their faith, right? There's the star of David, that six-pointed star, and there is the idea of the lion of the tribe of Judah maybe comes to mind - but also, almost every time, a shofar. But I think we need to be careful to understand where does the shofar, the ram's horn, come from in scripture, and how is it used in Israel, and what would be the appropriate use in a Jesus-believing community of a shofar?

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, because there's things that... this is more than just... this happens to be a kudu, by the way, from Africa, a kudu animal, and then they're sent to Israel for fashioning. This is something that is holy, that God has set apart for specific purposes at specific times, and I'll tell you what it's not. It's not something that we're supposed to blow during the message at a local church.

Ezra Benjamin: 'cause we like what the preacher is saying.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, or we think that somehow, we're urging him on with the blowing of the shofar.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure.

Jonathan Bernis: I know that may cut against the grain for some of you, but this is a holy vessel with very specific purposes. So, Ezra, back to you on the shofar.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure. Well, Jonathan, I think the best thing we can do for our audience today is really to dig into the scriptures.

Jonathan Bernis: Yes.

Ezra Benjamin: Because the shofar, the ram's horn, is a scriptural instrument and it's distinguished from any other kind of instrument, like David's, you know, harp and lyre, or you know, we see mentioned a couple other times in the scriptures, Jonathan, of a silver trumpet. God commanded the children of Israel to actually form these Hammered silver trumpets that they would blow as the twelve tribes moved the camp - you know, when the cloud by day moved.

Jonathan Bernis: Well, talk about that because most translations simply say, "Trumpet".

Ezra Benjamin: Right, and that's the problem, and that's part of what we want to encourage you to do here to deepen your faith walk is to look into the Hebrew words being used. The English we have is a great and a very accurate translation, but I think something's lost if we don't understand the Hebrew words. And there's a certain Hebrew word, it's difficult for me to say, actually - native Israelis can do a great job with it - for that silver trumpet, but what we're spending our time today talking about is the specific Hebrew word, not an English word, Hebrew word, "Shofar". And a shofar is specifically the horn of an animal, usually a ram, hollowed out to be a monotonal instrument, meaning the only way you can make a different pitch is if you change the way you're blowing into it.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah. This one's very special, which has been adopted by the Sephardic, the kudu, which is...

Ezra Benjamin: A Mediterranean Jewish community.

Jonathan Bernis: This is the Mediterranean Jewish community and they get really long, but these are really - it's an impressive sound, and when you see the movies and they're playing the really long shofarot, this is...

Ezra Benjamin: Right. Jonathan, let me share from Exodus 19, actually. Maybe you're wondering at home, "Well, where do we see the shofar show up"? Well, it's right here in Exodus 19, and this is - the heading in the Bible I'm using here today says, "The appearance of God at Sinai". So, Israel is gathered. You know, we've come out of Egypt. We've been delivered from slavery into freedom, and God's delivering his law to the children of Israel. And we understand the way that this happens is Moses goes up on this mountain that's literally engulfed in flames, right? This physical manifestation of the glory of God. Okay, so Moses is up on the mountain and the children of Israel are waiting at the bottom.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, we'll put this up. So, this is really important.

Ezra Benjamin: This is Exodus 19:16, okay? And it says, "In the morning of the third day, there was thundering and lightning, a thick cloud on the mountain, and the blast of an exceedingly loud trumpet". But in Hebrew, it's, "An exceedingly loud shofar," and this is the first time we see the word. But what's interesting here, Jonathan, is this isn't a shofar that Moses was playing, and it's not a shofar that the children of Israel are playing. It's the sound of a shofar from heaven. This is literally a manifestation of the glory and the voice of God to Moses in Israel, is the sound, the blast, of a shofar.

Jonathan Bernis: So, Ezra, we know that there is an ark in heaven.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: There's an Ark of the Covenant that's actually given by instruction to reproduce on earth.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: The shofar is very much the same idea, that we see a heavenly shofar, a heavenly shofar blast.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: And then we're told to blow this ram's horn at specific times of the year.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: So, there's a heavenly connection here. I want you to all see that. There's a heavenly connection. The other thing that's amazing, and I want you to read on, is this is the first Pentecost. This is Shavuot. This is the children of Israel experiencing the first outpouring that later happens again in acts 2.

Ezra Benjamin: The way that God manifests himself to Israel on that Shavuot is the giving of the law.

Jonathan Bernis: Is duplicated with the giving of the spirit, but the same...If you look, it's the same thing. There's a mighty sound from heaven.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: There's a shaking, there's smoke, there's fire.

Ezra Benjamin: Right. So, listen to this, Exodus 19:19, an easy verse to remember. "When the sound of the shofar grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him with a thunderous sound". It says in the Hebrew, "With his voice". Now, we, as believers in Jesus, many of us just are so dependent on the Holy Spirit, right? And we're going, "Yeah, I hear the voice of the Lord every day". But this was a people who understood God to be a fearful thing. This is God manifesting himself in fire and smoke on the top of a mountain and the sound of this loud horn, but it says the culmination of the sound of the shofar was that Moses heard the voice of God, the very voice of God himself. It's an incredible thing.

Jonathan Bernis: It is incredible, that this connection between the sound of the shofar and God's voice being heard is amazing.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: And it's repeated in acts 2.

Ezra Benjamin: It is. Jonathan, the idea of the voice of God being - you know, there's many verses we could reference, right? "The voice of the Lord is like the sound of many waters". But here, also, we see that the voice of the Lord is related in heavenly places to this shofar blast. And when you hear - you know, many of you have heard somewhere, on TV, or you've heard it in a congregation, or you've seen the Jewish people blowing the shofar around Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur time, you've seen videos. It's a sharp sound, isn't it? I mean, the voice of the Lord in essence is saying, "Wake up. I want to speak to you. I'm alive and on the move".

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah. So, specifically on Rosh Hashanah, which is the Jewish new year, which actually has a different biblical name.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: Yom Teruah.

Ezra Benjamin: Right, "The day of the blowing of trumpets".

Jonathan Bernis: "The day of the blowing of trumpets". The sound, it's really unclear, but it's clearly a sound that's produced by the blowing of the trumpet, the shofar.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: Not the silver horn, but the shofar.

Ezra Benjamin: Right, and there's actually three different blasts. We won't do them today, but in any typical Jewish synagogue, and it's been this way for centuries, Jonathan, for millennia actually, there's these three types of blowing of the shofar, and one is to remember that God is king and that he's on his throne, and another is a blast of repentance, and another is in essence an assembling to war, that the people of Israel had to remember that God is the God of angel armies, and as much as they were his people, a band of worshippers, they were also an army who would be used to demonstrate his glory to the nations.

Jonathan Bernis: You know, I think of the old Kenneth Copeland song, "Blow the trumpet in Zion".

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: And we've modified that in the Messianic "Blow the shofar in Zion".

Ezra Benjamin: Sure.

Jonathan Bernis: "Sound the alarm on my holy mountain".

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: And there's dancing and there's joy. But it's actually - talk about the context of that verse.

Ezra Benjamin: It's super important because that actually talks of a day yet to come. The prophet Joel, hundreds of years before Jesus shows up on the scene - Joel 2:1 says - we know the verse in English, "Blow a trumpet in Zion". But again, look at the Hebrew. It says, "Sound a shofar in Zion," and it's a sound of alarm, and it says, "Because the day of the Lord is near," a Day of Judgment, really a terrible day when the Lord's going to deal with people who have turned away from him and practiced unrighteousness.

Jonathan Bernis: So, one thing this represents is a wake up call.

Ezra Benjamin: That's exactly right.

Jonathan Bernis: It's a wake up call and we're told to be listening for the sound of the shofar.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right. And so, that's - you know, people may say, "Ah, the shofar is a historic thing. It's just an example". No. Joel is telling us there's a day yet to come, and we understand it's this period when Jesus returns to earth, the scriptures say to trample his enemies under his feet, Jonathan. And leading up to that day, Israel and the nations hear this sound of alarm, and the Bible says Joel heard it. He says it's the alarm of a shofar.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, and it's a heavenly sound that we're supposed to have ears to hear. This is really important because it's a sober moment.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: But it's also a moment of blessing for those who have truly put their faith in Jesus.

Ezra Benjamin: Amen.

Jonathan Bernis: In the living God. Hey, we need to take a short break as our announcer comes to tell you about an incredible opportunity to support Jewish Voice outreaches. Your giving today, in addition to supporting ongoing medical outreaches, will also help us in planting and supporting new congregations of believers in Africa. I'm talking about Jewish people coming to faith in their Messiah, and they're growing every day. Please consider what you can do to provide the funds needed to keep these vital ministries alive. I'm telling you, every dollar will make a difference. Don't go away, Ezra and I will be right back.

Ezra Benjamin: Amen.

Jonathan Bernis: It's not hard to do! We're talking about the shofar today. This is a heavenly instrument and it's powerful, and it's a reminder that the day of the Lord is at hand. Before we continue the discussion, I just want to take a moment to say thank you to all of you who support this ministry. We honestly could not do what we do without you. Your support is making a difference in the lives of Jewish people and their neighbors around the world in some of the remotest places in the world. So, thank you, thank you, thank you. We are so grateful. Ezra, we're so grateful.

Ezra Benjamin: We are. We truly couldn't do it without you. Jonathan, we promised our viewers today some information on when to use the shofar and when not to, but to kind of put that in a Bible verse package rather than just people taking it from you and me, Jonathan, I want to share a couple other passages.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, I just want to say in the same way that a Torah is sacred to the Jewish people, so is a shofar.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: And it's not appropriate to be taken with you to church and blowing during the message. That's just not appropriate and we just want to be clear about that, but there are some appropriate uses.

Ezra Benjamin: There are, and we use this language a lot, Jonathan. For Israel, it's an obligation. For believers from all of the nations of the earth, including you watching today, there's an invitation. Are you earning something with God through blowing a shofar? No. But are you drawing close to him and stepping into the blessing of remembering that our ears are to be attuned to hear his voice? Absolutely. Jonathan, there's a few passages I want to share in Leviticus, and so much of Leviticus is God instructing the children of Israel, "This is how you're to be a set apart people to me".

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah. By the way, I know you bypass Leviticus a lot. Your pages might be stuck together. Listen to this. There's stuff in Leviticus that's really worth understanding.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: Because it has spiritual significance to every believer in the Messiah.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: Go ahead.

Ezra Benjamin: Jonathan, around September, October, depending on how the Jewish calendar aligns with the Gregorian calendar every year, you'll hear Jewish people saying, or maybe you've said to a Jewish friend, or colleague, or family member, "Happy new year," and this is, if you will, one of the Jewish new years on the biblical calendar. Rosh Hashanah, it's called, which means, "The head of the year," but what it's actually called in the Torah is Yom Teruah, "The day of the blasting of shofars". Teruah, specifically in the Hebrew, means the blowing of a ram's horn, of a shofar - no other instrument. And for reasons we don't have time to get into today, the children of Israel, once a year on Yom Teruah, are commanded, literally all day, to hear the blast of the shofar. It's a wake-up call.

Jonathan Bernis: It's important to God, so this is a commanded day, a day commanded to blow the horn, to blow the ram's horn, the shofar.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right, and in the month of elul on the Jewish calendar, the weeks leading up to Rosh Hashanah, to this Jewish new year or the day of the blasts of the shofar, you're to hear it either weekly or daily, depending on which rabbi you ask. But the idea is you're preparing yourself through hearing this sound, the sound of a ram's horn, to remember that there is a king, and it's not me and it's not you - it's God himself on his throne and that he is coming to judge the living and the dead in righteousness.

Jonathan Bernis: So, a very appropriate day to blow the shofar.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: Commanded, an invitation as Ezra said, to those who are not from a Jewish background, but are following the Jewish Messiah. Now, I want you to go back and recap three specific blasts, because they each have significance. This is important.

Ezra Benjamin: Right. On Rosh Hashanah, Jonathan, the Jewish community hears three blasts, and one is to remember the kingship of the Lord. It's the blast of a king summoning his people. The second is a military blast, like the leader of an army summoning the army to war. And the third, and this one is the short, staccato, da-da-da-da-da-da-da. It's the blast of repentance, and the idea of the short, sharp notes are like a rending, like you'd tear a garment, and the idea is when we hear that blast during these days of awe on the Jewish calendar, we're to rend our hearts unto the Lord, to come to him in true repentance.

Jonathan Bernis: Beautiful. Such important meaning. One in particular that I just want to focus on for a moment, and that's the coronation of the king.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: You know, it talks about a shofar blast coming from heaven in the book of Thessalonians, that there is a shofar blast that actually summons God's people to himself, to Yeshua. And I'm not going to get into pre-, mid-, or post-tribulation rapture, but it's a summoning to him, and then a return to the earth together to establish the rule and reign of the Messiah. Jesus is actually coming back physically to earth, but not to New York or not to Rome - to Jerusalem, and we are going to coronate the king. And I think that blast, that last trump, if you will, is connected to the coronation of the king.

Ezra Benjamin: Amazing.

Jonathan Bernis: It really is, and that's not one that you blow, that's one that he blows.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: From on high.

Ezra Benjamin: Right back to the beginning of the story, right?

Jonathan Bernis: Ooh, I'm getting tingles. I'm getting tingles.

Ezra Benjamin: The first blast of the shofar that Israel heard on Sinai was from heaven, and this blast that Israel and the nations are going to hear when Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, comes back to rule and reign, will be another blast of the shofar from heaven.

Jonathan Bernis: I can't think of a better reminder, the king is coming.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: Than to be looking at this and realizing there's a heavenly shofar that's going to be sounded that will summon us together for the coronation of the king.

Ezra Benjamin: Amen.

Jonathan Bernis: Now, I know there's a lot more we could talk about, a lot of questions you may have about when, and how, and all of that. Bottom line, though - coronation of the king.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right. Jonathan, real quick, another one I love also in Leviticus is the sound of the shofar officially began the year of jubilee, when all debts were settled, and that's another thing we can remember. Maybe at home you're feeling weary and heavy laden, not necessarily with financial debt, but with this feeling of things that haven't been accomplished or the prayers that haven't yet been answered. The Lord is the Lord of jubilee, and when we see or hear the shofar, we remember that he's the one who can wipe the slate clean.

Jonathan Bernis: Beautiful. Ezra, we have just a little time left. Appropriate times and places to blow the shofar, for people that are watching.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure. Well, there's appointed times and seasons in the scripture - again, an obligation, if you will, for Israel, an invitation to the nations to believers from the nations of the earth. Specific times on the Jewish calendar, specific times when we need to be called to attention as a people of God, specific times when we need to be called to repentance, and remembering that God is the king on his throne and he's coming to rule and reign. These are appropriate times to hear the sound of the shofar.

Jonathan Bernis: So, a heavenly instrument blown at an appropriate time with a heavenly reality...

Ezra Benjamin: Amen.

Jonathan Bernis: Of a shofar that's going to be sounding to coronate the king.

Ezra Benjamin: Jonathan, maybe our audience is watching at home, going, "That's great for the Jewish people. I understand the significance of the shofar. What does that have to do with me as a Christian"? And there's a verse that, again, we read it in the English and if we don't look at the Hebrew, we miss something. I want to share this verse with you because you know it, but maybe you never thought of it in the context of the shofar. It's from Psalm 89, and this is verses 15 and 16. "Righteousness and justice," says David, "Are the foundation of your throne, o God. Loving kindness and truth go before you". And then, verse 16, "Blessed are the people who know the joyful shout, they walk in the light of your presence, Adonai". And we go, "That's great, blessed are the people who know the shout," but what's the shout?

Jonathan Bernis: Shout unto the Lord, right?

Ezra Benjamin: It's "Teruah". It's the same word as the blast of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah. That's the only original meaning. But what God's saying, or David's saying, "Blessed are the people," and we'll say Jew and gentile alike - "Blessed are the people who know the sound of the shofar," which signifies an attuneness to the voice of the Lord, that he's alive and on the move.

Jonathan Bernis: That's a beautiful verse.

Ezra Benjamin: It is.

Jonathan Bernis: You really miss it with "Shout," don't you?

Ezra Benjamin: Right, right.

Jonathan Bernis: "Shout," everybody give a shout, hallelujah, but it's "Teruah".

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: It's "Teruah". It's the same day that was appointed.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: The same Hebrew word that had a day of appointment in the appointed festivals of the Lord, so along with Passover, along with Shavuot or Pentecost, along with the feast of tabernacles, Sukkot. You have a Day of Teruah.

Ezra Benjamin: Amen.

Jonathan Bernis: That's amazing!

Ezra Benjamin: It is. And Jonathan, for our Christian audience listening today, was this originally given to Israel? Sure, it was, but David says, "Blessed are the people" - blessed is anyone who knows the sound of the shofar and is attuned to the voice of the Lord.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, this is for you, and don't forget - you have been grafted in.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: Maybe you're a wild olive branch as it says in Romans 11. You've been grafted into the olive tree. And so, you become a partaker of all of the blessings and promises of Israel. It's not a replacement. It's not that Christians have replaced the Jewish people in God's plan, but with the natural branches have been grafted in and you become part of the olive tree.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: You become part of the people of Israel, not replacing Israel, but you become inheritors, spiritual sons and daughters of Abraham.

Ezra Benjamin: Amen.

Jonathan Bernis: Bless you, sons and daughters of Abraham, and receive the blessings through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and of course through the Messiah, Jesus, we pray. Amen. Ezra, we need to take a short break so we can share some information about the resources we're making available this week. Make sure to stay with us. At the end of the program, Ezra and I are going to come back into prayer. We're going to be praying for you and your family. So, we want you to stay tuned, but pay attention first to this short message and we'll be right back.

Jonathan Bernis: We try to leave time at the end of every program to pray for your needs, and I want you to know we have people at Jewish Voice that are dedicated to praying for you by name, to praying for your needs by name, because we believe that God is listening.

Ezra Benjamin: Amen.

Jonathan Bernis: That he hears, he answers prayer, because he loves you, and we love you. So, right now we just want to take a moment. We've been getting a lot of prayer requests, Ezra. There's a lot of people that have been fighting COVID, some cases more severe.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure.

Jonathan Bernis: But, and mostly just dealing with the isolation, dealing with the loss of jobs, the fear.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: There's a lot of fear out there, and so, we want to take authority over that together. So, will you join with me? And all of you at home, just believe with us. In the name of Yeshua, in Jesus' name, we take authority over fear.

Ezra Benjamin: Amen.

Jonathan Bernis: And we command fear be gone. God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of love, of power, and a sound mind. So, we break the spirit of fear over you and your family, and we say come forth!

Ezra Benjamin: Amen.

Jonathan Bernis: Come forth out of isolation, come forth out of depression, come forth out of hopelessness, and receive the faith of God to walk confidently and boldly, and to take advantage of every opportunity that God is bringing into your life at this time. In the name of Yeshua, we speak life to you and your family. We speak wholeness, we speak provision, and we speak healing to you and your family in the name of Yeshua, in the name of Jesus - receive it.

Ezra Benjamin: Amen.

Jonathan Bernis: Amen and amen. If you'd like more information about our ministry, you can log on to our website, You can also send us your prayer requests right on the website, and our dedicated team, as I told you, will pray for you by name, will pray for your requests specifically, believing that God will answer your prayer because we believe in the power of prayer, and we care about you. More importantly, he cares about you and he loves you. As we close our program, I want to remind you that God asks each of us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and then goes on and tells us, "May they prosper who love thee". So, follow Psalm 122:6 and pray for Israel and the Jewish people this week. Until next time, this is Jonathan Bernis with Ezra Benjamin, saying shalom and God bless you.
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