Sunday, June 25, 2017

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Modern watchmen - shofar significance

I set watchmen over you, saying,

‘Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!’

But they said, ‘We will not pay attention.’

Yom T’ruah, (Day of Blowing), a day more commonly known as Rosh HaShanah (New Year), features the blowing of the shofar – the distinctive-sounding instrument made from a ram’s horn. Many translations, such as the ESV cited above, use the word “trumpet” or “horn” (like the JPS translation) – but the Hebrew word is shofar. The passage above likely has little to do with the festival, but because Yom T’ruah began this week, it seemed prudent to note similarities.

The above passage was a message from the L-rd delivered to His people via the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 6:17 to be precise). This is not a pretty picture for His chosen people: the L-rd reveals that Israel is engaged in idolatry (Jeremiah 4:1) and that Judah is uncircumcised in their hearts (Jeremiah 4:4). There is not a single just person in Jerusalem (Jeremiah 5:1). God’s people are engaged in adultery with foreign gods (Jeremiah 5:7), they have not helped the orphans and the needy (Jeremiah 5:28) and judgment is coming (Jeremiah 5:14-17). Not pretty at all.

This desolation, though tragic, was foretold. G-d warned Israel by the “Song of Moses” –also called the Ha’azinu (pay attention) – which is read on the Shabbat between Rosh HaShanah/Yom T’ruah and Yom Kippur (Deuteronomy 32:1-47).

But the question that comes to mind when I read these things is: why did they not listen? There are many reasons cited by Jeremiah, but certainly the big reason has to be that they rejected the Word of the L-rd (Jeremiah 6:19). This is not surprising because the prophets made false proclamations and the priests ruled in their strength (Jeremiah 5:31). Of course similar rejection occurs amongst some believers in Messiah today – so before we cast of Israel like an old shoe, we would do well to remember that G-d as always been, and continues to be, a G-d of forgiveness as well as judgment (Exodus 34:6-7).

As the Festival of Yom T’ruah deals with judgment (Yom HaDin) and prophetically the return of Yeshua (1 Thessalonians 4:16), that there is judgment in the Jeremiah passages to me is significant.

But what I also want to know is: where are the watchmen who will blow the shofar today?

It is great that on this sacred festival we sound the shofar as did our ancestors. But, metaphorically speaking, who "blows" the shofar to alert the Jewish people about the need for repentance and forgiveness in Messiah Yeshua? Who is alerting them to the dangers that lie ahead? Who is reminding them to reconcile with their Creator and the “Prophet like Moses” – Our Lord and Savior Yeshua?

Pray that we may all sound the shofar in our communities – to draw attention to the one who comes at the sound of the shofar – our L-rd Yeshua. Blessed be His Name!

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