Rabbi Schneider - Rosh Hashanah, the Trumpet and the Kingdom of God
On this holy day, called The Feast of Trumpets the Jewish people are commanded to celebrate We're going to begin then in verse number 24 of Leviticus chapter 23. "Speak to the sons of Israel saying, 'In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder, by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.'"
There's two things that I'm wanting to point out and draw your attention to on the first verse. The first thing that I'm wanting us to see together is when this holy day happens, and the second thing that I want us to focus on is what we're supposed to do on this holy day. When does it happen? And what are we supposed to do? So first of all, we find out that this feast happens on the first day of the seventh month in God's calendar, which in Hebrew is called the month of Tishrei.
So we read in verse 24, "In the seventh month on the first of the month..." There we go. There's the identification of when it takes place. Now, what are we supposed to do on this day? Two things. We're supposed to blow a trumpet as a reminder, and we're not to do any laborious work. So let's continue on the 24th verse. "You shall have a rest, a reminder, by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall not do any laborious work..." Israel would think about blowing a trumpet, and they should be reminded of something when that trumpet blows, what immediately comes to mind is in the 19th chapter of the book of Exodus when 3 million Jewish people (Israelites) were gathered in the wilderness at the base of Mount Sinai. And as they were gathered at the bottom of the mountain, they heard from heaven, a divine cosmic shofar begin to sound.
If you can imagine what you felt like at certain points in your life when you were standing outside, and all of a sudden it thundered, a thunder cracked through the sky, and when that thunder cracked through the sky was so powerful, you shook because of the awesome power of it. That's what Israel felt at the base of Mount Sinai when that trumpet began to sound. The Bible tells us they began to tremble. They were so terrified they told Moses to ask the Lord to stop speaking to them. They said to Moses, "You go up the mountain and talk to Him and then come back down and tell us what He said".
Now, I want to take a pause again for a second to compartmentalize our thoughts. I want you to wrap your mind around something. I might begin to declare this, that there was a cosmic shofar or divine shofar from heaven that sounded approximately 3,500 years ago in the wilderness, that 3 million Israelites were gathered at the base of the mountain and heard it, it was so powerful, it terrified them. And it might almost feel a bit like a fairy tale. It happened so long ago. We weren't there. Some might be wondering, did that really happen?
Many people teach that the Bible tells us good moral truths and that there's good lessons we can learn from it, but they don't believe it's fact. I am here today as the host of Discovering the Jewish Jesus, beloved one, telling you that this is a fact. That 3,500 years ago, literally 3 million Jews approximately were gathered at the base of Mount Sinai and a cosmic shofar sounded from heaven. How do I know that's true? Well, number one, faith. But beyond faith, which is a gift of God, I know it because when I think about the Jewish people today... Myself I'm 100% Ashkenazi Jew. My wife finally convinced me to go get my test done through ancestry.com because everybody else in my family had it done. I didn't really care. I knew who I was, but I said, "Okay, for the fun of it, I'll do it". Came back 100% Ashkenazi Jew.
So, when I look at my life, I look at my culture, I look at the culture I grew up in, the Jewish culture I grew up in, the Jewish people being so tightly knit together, looking at how successful they've been in business, the amount of Nobel prizes that Jewish people have won, the fact that Jewish people were exiled out of Israel several times...
We read about in the Hebrew Bible and then again in the Brit Chadashah (the New Testament), because of sin they were dispersed to all the nations of the world, separated from each other by oceans. They couldn't communicate because there was no technology, you know, 200 years ago, and this goes way farther back than 200 years ago. This goes back, you know, between 2,000 to 3,000 years ago. Separated by ocean, could not communicate by mail or by technology. And yet the Jewish people, regardless of where in the earth they were living, they didn't assimilate by in large into the other nations. They retained their Jewish identity. And in fact, they've been celebrating Passover, regardless of where they've lived in the world for 3,500 years. It's the oldest feast in the world.
So what do I mean by Passover? Well, the thing that preceded Israel coming to the base of Mount Sinai was that they were delivered out of Egypt by the blood of the Passover Lamb. God delivered them out of Egypt, parted the sea and then brought them to the base of Mount Sinai. Jewish people today, 3,500 years later, I'm speaking in approximate numbers, 3,500 years later had been celebrating Passover every single year since. How could this be possible unless what the Bible says happened really happened? How could Jewish people retain their identity, retain their language, even though they didn't speak Hebrew as a common language of communication, they still read the Torah in Hebrew?
How do they retain their identity when the Babylonians have come and gone, the Persians have come and gone, the Medes have come and gone and all the other "ites" have come and gone yet the Jewish people retain their identity, retain their celebration of Passover, the oldest feast in the world? How did that happen? Because God really met them at Sinai. The shofar blew from heaven, they quaked and they thundered and they never forgot it.
And so, on this holy day called the Feast of Trumpets that Jewish people are commanded to celebrate every year, we just read about this in the 24th verse of Leviticus 23, when the Lord said, "I want you to blow the shofar every year on the first day of the seventh month..." And remember, what they remember is how God blew a shofar from heaven. And when the shofar grew louder and louder and louder and the people were trembling and quaking, collapsing under the power, then the Lord spoke. So the announcement of the voice of God into the world, the announcement of God's power and kingdom into the earth was preceded by a trumpet, by a shofar.