Yom Teruah 2003
The Feast of Trumpets
Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 27 September 2003
I welcome you in the Messiah Yah'shua's (Christ Jesus') Name as we once again celebrate the first of the autumnal (fall) festivals, Yom Teruah, otherwise known as the Feast of Trumpets or the 'Day of the Awakening Blast'. How appropriate this day is in view of the lethargy and idleness of the Body of Christ which Satan has nearly sent completely asleep as he has encroached on holy ground little by little. Yom Teruah might equally well therefore be called 'Wake Up Day', which is my main theme this season.
We have been - or ought to have been - observing Teshuvah or the days of Repentance, which concludes, after Yamim Nora'im or the Ten Days of Awe, with Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement. Yom Teruah is a part of this self-examination season of repentance and reformation, and prophetically marks the day when Christ returns victoriously to the earth. And when He does, a series of events take place that leads to the long awaited Millennium.
For us as individuals awaiting this glorious event, there yet remains a process that we must continually pass through. This is the season of the accountability of our stewardships. It is the season when every member of the Church - great and small - makes confession and is judged by the one who has responsibility over him. The blast of the trumpets on this day of Yom Teruah is to remind us that we have up to 10 days to prepare for our Annual Day of Weighing as we review, in contrition, what we have done - or not done - over the previous year. Every baptised member and chrismated member will be making confession to the Deacon or Deaconess who has responsibility for them. Every Deacon and Deaconess will be making confession to the Elder or Eldress that stands in authority over them; they in their turn will confess before their Pastors, Pastors before their Bishops, Bishops before Evangelists, and Evangelists before the Apostles. Finally, the Apostles in their turn will make confession one to another. For Priesthood officers in particular, this will determine whether their priesthood licences are renewed for the coming year or not.
The purpose of all of this is not, however, negative. The goal is to identify sin, repent of it, and be renewed, so that we experience, as it were, a second coming of Christ within us every year. This does not mean that this activity is not taking place throughout the year, because our Christian walk is one of daily repentance. What this is, is a collective repentance of the whole Body - of congregations, Bishoprics, and the whole New Covenant Church of God (B'rit Chadashah Assembly of Yahweh). For not only do we confess before the officers who have responsibility over us, but to the entire body of priesthood officers to which we belong in our local assemblies - the Deacons before all the Deacons and Elders, and the Elders before all the Elders, as of sons to fathers, and daughters to mothers. When done properly and with genuine repentance, it is the death knoll of pride and allows wonderful endowments of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) to take place. Thus the prophet Isaiah writes:
"Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of Yahweh is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But Yahweh will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising" (Is.60:1-3, NKJV).
The hungry of soul are not attracted to the arrogant and unrepentant for there is no beauty in such things. Those who are thirsting after righteousness will only be drawn by a light which is greater than their own. And if they are to come to us as a covenant people of Yah'shua (Jesus), it can only be because Christ is shining within us and not by virtue of any supposed personal merit or legal claim. As we have consistently taught, the only person who has spiritual authority is the one who is possessed by spirit - the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). And the only one who is possessed of this Ruach (Spirit) is the one who has yielded self in death to the resurrected Messiah, as we discussed two weeks ago.
Over the centuries, the Jews have added much to the original Yom Teruah and have evolved something that they call Rosh haShanah, which means 'Head of the Year' or 'Birthday of the World'. So why is it called Rosh haShanah by the Talmudic, and many Messianic, Jews and not Yom Teruah? Because the Jews believe that Adam was created on this day. Why do they believe that? Because if you reverse the Hebrew letters of first words of Genesis 1:1 ("In the beginning"), it spells out alef b'Tishri, or 'on the first day of Tishri', which is the day of Yom Teruah. So, is this the day the world was created? Is this a legitimate way to interpret the Bible - by reversing it? I think we must tread with great caution here. Nowhere has Yahweh told us to engage in such speculations. Could Yahweh have encoded the Torah in this way? It is possible, of course. But equally I must remind myself that satan can do similar things: if you have ever heard of backward-masking, you will know that demons structure language so that listening to it ordinarily it sounds like praising God, but when you play it backwards it is actually praising the devil. A lot of charismatic Christian music has this in it and reveals its inspiration from demons.
Whilst there is no doubt the rabbis have found some good insights, they have also added a lot of unbiblical practices too, which have evolved into unbiblical tradition. Messianic Jews in particular have a weakness inasmuch as many of them accept their rabbinical traditions without ever questioning them. We should not assume that simply because they are 'Jews' that they must have inherited an authentic tradition - there after, after all, not two true religions in the world, but one, and it's called Christian or Messianic Israelitism. And it follows, then, that there must be two incompatible spirits behind them. We must not, therefore, be side-tracked by the Talmudic additions and keep our focus on the simplicity which Yom Teruah represents.
Whilst Rosh haShanah marks the Talmudic and Messianic Jewish New Year it is nowhere declared to be so in the Bible. Rosh haShanah is not a biblical term and should not therefore concern us. It serves as the beginning of the Jewish civil calendar but not ours. Interestingly, the Talmudic Jews have four new years, but only three of these are biblical.
The first is Nisan 1 which is the New Year of Kings from which is calculated the number of years a king has ruled, and not the date he was crowned. The second is Elul 1 which is the new year for the tithing of animals. And the third is Shevat 15 which is the new year for trees.
Now while I am not saying that the world was not created on this day, I am saying that we don't know for sure. It must be a matter of personal belief. But to insist that it is so cannot be acceptable to us without a clear revelation on the subject. There are many traditions in Talmudism, some very beautiful - but they may well be false.
Please note also that whilst the Talmudists celebrate two days of Rosh haShanah, the Bible only commands that one day be celebrated for Yom Teruah. The reason the Talmudists celebrate two is because they aren't sure which day it falls on. The extra day is a kind of insurance to make sure they have it right and so they join the two days together and make it an imaginary 'single' one which they call yoma arikhta, meaning 'one long day'.
So why do we blow trumpets or shofars? What is the spiritual significance of this to us? This is explained to us in the Psalms:
"With trumpets and the sound of a horn; Raise a shout before Yahweh, the Sovereign ... Blessed are the people who know the festal trumpet call! They walk, O Yahweh, in the light of Your face. In Your Name they rejoice all day long, and they are exalted in Your righteousness. For You are the comeliness of their strength, and by Your good pleasure our horn is exalted" (Ps.98:6; 89:15-17, ISRV).
Yom Teruah is the day of the sounding of the shofar and it is important that everyone hears it. It is described scripturally as a blessing. So why is hearing a trumpet blast a blessing? Because of what it represents. Yah'shua (Jesus) reminds us in the Gospel of John:
"If you love Me, you shall guard My commands" (Jn.14:15, ISRV).
This one verse in the Johannine writings sums up the entire Messianic Gospel and we must not miss its significance or its connection to Yom Teruah. What has a loud trumpet blast got to do with obeying the commandments? Everything! Let me explain.
Love followed by obedience is perfect sequence. Yah'shua (Jesus) even repeats it a few verses on when he says:
"He who possesses my commands and guards them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I shall love Him and manifest Myself to him" (v.21).
And again, He says a few verses further on still:
"If anyone loves Me, he shall guard My Word. And My Father shall love him, and We shall come to him and make Our stay with him" (v.23).
Is this not a summary of the whole Gospel? Is this not what it is all about? Much of modern Christianity has chopped these three passages in half and does not tell us to guard the commandments. And in so doing it redefines 'love' into something without any real substance. Worse, without possessing and guarding the mitzvah or 'commandments', we prove that we do not love Yah'shua (Jesus), we close ourselves off to the love of the Father, Yahweh, and Yah'shua (Jesus) cannot manifest Himself to us to guide us. In short, we open ourselves up to deceiving spirits.
This is not a new revelation. It was given by Yahweh in the beginning to Moses when He declared that He would show "kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and guard My commands" (Ex.20:6, ISRV).
Do you see how unchanged the Gospel is? Do you see that in truth there is little difference between the Word taught in the Old Testament and the New? We are to guard the same commandments in Yah'shua (Jesus). Yah'shua (Jesus) said so three times in the Gospel of John, and the apostle repeats it two further times in his Epistles:
"By this we know that we love the children of Elohim (God), when we love Elohim (God) and guard His commands. For this is the love for Elohim (God), that we guard His commands, and His commands are not heavy, because everyone having been born of Elohim (God) overcomes the world. And this is the overcoming that has overcome the world: our belief (faith) ... And this is the love, that we walk according to His commands. This is the command, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it" (1 Jn.5:2-4; 2 Jn.6, ISRV).
This is the same commandment from the beginning of Yahweh's revelation to man - this is what we who have bothered to study our Old Testament scriptures have always known, and we are commanded to walk in it. And remember, that faith is not passive - true believers don't just sit down and 'believe', but they walk - true faith is active faith, because it involves obedience. One side of the Gospel coin is Love, and the other is Torah obedience. It is as plain as can be, but people do not want to believe it, because they would rather invent their own Gospel. That is why Yahweh has given us Yom Teruah - that is why the trumpet must be blasted in a deafening way so that we do not forget 'the other side of the coin'. For not only is the Gospel incomplete without obedience to Torah, but it actually defines divine love. Love without Torah is not - I repeat - it is not the love of Christ. It is something else.
When Christians froth at the mouth when you remind them of this truth by blasting a shofar in their ears it is because the father of lies does not want them to know the truth. The devil would rather have you ignorant and believing you are communing with Yahweh when in all likelihood it is yourself you are listening to and believing. Do you think Yahweh would have ordained this feast if it were not necessary? Don't you think He knows all about the human condition? He does. And He knows that sometimes we must be rudely awakened. So if the blasting of a trumpet during the Teshuvah season annoys you, consider that the annoyance may come from a source that does not want you to know the truth.
Torah tells us that it is imperative that we hear the shofar. We are not to blow it ourselves but to hear it. Teruah means an 'awakening blast' or 'shout'. It is deliberately noisy and jarring. It is a symbol of a supernatural shout from Yahweh Himself who is crying out to sleepy and slothful mankind: "Wake up!".
The Millennium or Athid Lavo is announced in exactly the same way throughout the messianic passages of scripture in the Old Covenant:
"I shall wipe out your transgressions like a cloud, and your sins like a mist, Return to Me, for I shall redeem you. Sing, of heavens, for Yahweh shall do it! Should, O depths of the earth! Break forth into singing, O mountains, forest, and every tree in it! For Yahweh shall redeem Ya'aqob (Jacob), and make Himself clear to Yisra'el (Israel)" (Is.44:22-23, ISRV).
Yom Teruah, and all the other festivals of Yahweh, are also commandments we are to obey. He never told us to stop observing them. They are to remind us of the essentials of our faith so that we do not need too many Yom Teruah's to stop us from falling asleep. That is why the apostle Paul reminds the Ephesians:
"Wake up, you who sleep, and arise from the dead, and Messiah will shine on you. See then that you walk exactly, not as unwise, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are wicked. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the desire of Yahweh is" (Eph.5:14-17, ISRV).
And what is His desire? That you should love Him and obey Him through His Son so that He may commune with you. And when Paul says:
"Do not grieve the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) of Elohim (God), by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and displeasure, and uproar, and slander be put away from you, along with all evil. And be kind towards one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as Elohim (God) also forgave you in Messiah" (Eph.4:30-32, ISRV).
That 'day of redemption' is, of course, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which we celebrate in ten days' time - a festival that was given to us to teach us that that is when we shall be judged. And remember this - after that final Day of Judgment - Yom haDin - it will be too late to change eternity. What is decided then is absolutely, and totally final. If we, then, cannot repent on and receive judgement on an annual basis, how on earth will we be prepared to meet Yahweh face-to-face on the last Day of Judgment? Will we be prepared? If we are not taking these days of repentance and judgement seriously, then the chances are that there is something seriously wrong with us spiritually. That is why we have these festivals - to wake us up and get us into action. For when the closing of the gates takes place on the final Yom Kippur, it will be too late! Too late!
These festivals - Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur - are therefore an act of Yahweh's loving kindness to us. He wants us to receive a thousand blessings and for our descendants! He wants us to be redeemed and know of His love. He wants us to enter into the Festival of Booths (Sukkot) with thanksgiving and joy because this represents the Millennium - the New World of peace, justice, and happiness.
So do not think Yahweh bothersome or noisy because He commands the blowing of trumpets this day. This He has not commanded to irritate us or because He wants to burden us with needless ritual. This is His warning call to you to get your act together before the day of repentance is finally and forever closed against you. You may not live to experience another Yom Teruah. And if you don't, then the time for redemption has passed. The gates have closed forever against you.
The blowing of the shofar is a declaration that you may be delivered from the slavery of sin. It is an invitation to stop serving the devil and be delivered from the slavery of the world. Paul said:
"Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, to obey it in its desires, neither present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to Elohim (God) as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to Elohim (God)" (Rom.6:12-13, ISRV).
And finally, the apostle James:
"Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with Elohim (God)? Whoever therefore intends to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of Elohim (God)" (Jas.4:4, ISRV).
But it need not be so. There is no need to be violently awakened by a trumpet blast. But if you are, take it kindly, as a message of love, not as an irritation in your ear. Let this be for you a day of personal decision, a resolution to do what is right for all time and eternity. Amen.
This page was created on 20 September 2003
Last updated on 20 September 2003
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