Exodus 19:16,19 Voice of the trumpet [shofar]. In Jewish thought, the Scriptures speak of three great shofar blasts that have historical and prophetic significance: the first, last and great or final shofar blasts. These are:
The First Trump (or shofar blast) occurred on Shavuot at the giving of the Torah (Matan Torah) at Mount Sinai (Exod 19:16, 19). This shofar blast was of heavenly origin and is the first time the Bible records the sound of the shofar being heard.
The Last Trump (or shofar blast) occurs on Yom Teruah (the Day of Trumpets/Shofar Blasts, commonly called Rosh Hoshana) is the day of the awakening blast calling the saints to prepare their spiritual garments in preparation for the coming Messiah or Bridegroom. This shofar blast corresponds to the last trumpet blast of Revelation 11:15 after which the resurrection of the righteous occurs (1 Cor 15:51–53).
The Great Trumpet or Final Trumpet (or shofar blast called the Shofar HaGadol) is blown on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) signifying the Elohim’s day of judgment and the return of Messiah Yeshua as the King and Judge of the earth. At this time, it seems likely that he will destroy Babylon the Great with its new world order religious, political and economic system (Rev 19:1–21 cp. Rev 18) just before the establishment of his millennial kingdom (Rev 20:1–10). Historically on the Day of Atonement, the jubilee trumpet sounded in Israel on the fiftieth year. At this time, the captives were set free, debts were forgiven and all land was returned to its original owners. Matthew says that Yeshua the Messiah will return with a great sound of a shofar (trumpet, Matt 24:30–31; 1 Thess 4:16). Perhaps this is a reference to the shofar ha-gadol when Yeshua returns to earth, will set the spiritual captives free from enslavement to the enslaving economic, religious and political tentacles of end time Babylon the Great.
What’s So Mystical About the Sound of the Shofar?
The ram’s horn shofar is a uniquely biblical instrument. Although the enemies of Elohim’s truth have misappropriated, counterfeited or perverted much of what is found in the Bible, so far as this author knows, the shofar is one thing that Satan, the adversary of all that is good, and his followers have left alone. It’s like the proverbial “hot potato” that’s too hot to touch. Why is this? What is it about the shofar that causes Elohim’s enemies to leave well it alone? Let’s explore the mystical qualities of this biblical instrument of divine origination that has the ability to stir the human heart at its deepest level, to pierce the heavens, to bring man back to Elohim and vice versa, and to send spiritual shock waves through the devil’s camp.
The Word Shofar Defined
The Hebrew word shofar (pl. shafarot) occurs 72 times in the Tanakh (Old Testament) and is usually translated into English as trumpet and simply means “ram’s horn.” What could possibly be so special about a ram’s horn? The answer possibly lies in root word from which shofar derives — shapar meaning “to be pleasing.” Derivatives of this word include sheper, which is translated as beauty in Genesis 49:21, and shipra meaning “fairness or clearness (of sky)” (Job 26:13). The root shapar is found only once in the Scriptures in Psalm 16:6 where David, filled with praise to Elohim, describes the blessings from above that have fallen on him as most beautiful or pleasant.
As we explore the spiritual significance of the shofar as revealed in the Scriptures in this brief study, hopefully, the beauty and significance of the shofar will become apparent.
The Origination of the Shofar
Even though a shofar can be made from the horn of any kosher animal (except that of a cow, since, according to Jewish tradition, it reminds us of the golden calf incident), the ram’s horn shofar is the most desirable type of shofar since it reminds us of the akeidah and symbolizes the type of lives YHVH’s people are to live. The curve of the horn pictures the bent or humble spiritual demeanor of the heart one must have before YHVH, the Creator and the Holy One of Israel—a heart of contrition and repentance (Heb. teshuvah).
The first place a rams horn is mentioned in the Bible is at the akeidah. It was there that Abraham, in humble submission to YHVH, was willing to trust YHVH with the life of his only son and sacrifice to YHVH that which was most precious to him. We must be willing to do the same, even as YHVH sacrificed his Son for us.
At the akeidah or binding of Isaac where YHVH provided Abraham a substitutionary sacrifice for his son in the form of a ram caught by its horns in a thicket (Gen 22:13). This is a prophetic picture of Elohim who willingly gave Yeshua, his Son, the Lamb of Elohim slain from the foundation of the world as a substitutionary payment for men’s sins (John 3:16). In fact, the first mention of the word love (Heb. ahavah) is found in this same account (Gen 22:3) where YHVH instructs Abraham to offer up Isaac his only son who he loves. It is impossible to miss the prophetic allusion here to the well-known John 3:16 passage, which states that Elohim so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son, Yeshua, to die for the sins of the world . Therefore, for the redeemed believer, the sound of the shofar represents Yeshua’s victory over sin and death and, in turn, our victory over the same through Yeshua our Lord and Savior who died in our place.
Not only this, but the ram’s horns being caught in the thicket (Gen 22:13) is prophetic of Yeshua the Lamb of Elohim wearing the crown of thorns while hanging on the cross. In fact, it is even possible to see in the two horns of the ram the two comings of Yeshua. A horn in the Scriptures is a Hebraic symbol of strength or power. At the same time, the stronger right hand represents power and judgment, while the weaker left hand represents mercy and grace. Therefore, it’s possible to see in the left horn of the ram the first coming of Yeshua who came to die as the sacrificial lamb for the sins of the world. Conversely, the right horn prophetically pictures Yeshua’s second coming as the King who will judge the earth and will establish his eternal kingdom in power. Perhaps this is one reason that the enemies of Yeshua have not stolen the idea of the shofar and appropriated it for their own perverse purposes. It reminds them of things they’d rather forget — especially their eternal fate at the hands of the King of kings and Righteous Judge of the universe!
The word shofar first occurs in Exodus 19:16 and refers to the heavenly shofar that sounded when YHVH gave the Torah to Israel at Mount Sinai. This is the first time the Scriptures record the shofar being sounded, and the fact that this sound was of divine origination is evidenced by the fact that the shofar sound increased, not decreased, in volume the longer it sounded, which humanly is an impossibility (Exod 19:16–19).
When Was the ShofarSounded in Biblical Times?
The shofar in biblical times was sounded for nearly every significant occasion in the life of the ancient Israelites. It was to them what the telephone, email, radio and text messaging is to us today. It was their main source of instant communications. The shofar was blown for the following reasons.
- It announced the Day of Shouting or Blowing (Heb. Yom Teruah), the full moon feasts (Unleavened Bread, Pentecost and Tabernacles) and the new moon (Ps 81:4).
- It signalled the first day of the seventh month (Lev 23:24; Num 29:1) the Day of Blowing (Yom Teruah).
- It was a call to repentance (Isa 58:1; Joel 2:15).
- The shofar was blown when a king was anointed (1 Kgs 1:34, 39, 41; 2 Kgs 9:13).
- It’s a call to battle (Job 39:24–25; Ps 47:5). It signified the start of war (Josh 6:4; Judg 3:27; 7:16, 20; 1 Sam 8:3; Jer 4:5, 19; 6:1, 4), and was used during military campaigns (Judg 7:22).
- It sounded during celebratory religious processions (2 Sam 6:15; 1 Chron 15:28).
- It was used as a musical accompaniment in praising YHVH (Ps 98:6; comp. ib. 47:5; 150:3).
- Sounding the shofar declares the YHVH Elohim is the king of the universe (Ps 98:6)
- It was sounded on the Day of Atonement to announce the jubilee year (Lev 25:8–13).
- It signaled Israel’s glorious redemption Israel out of the lands of their captivity at the second exodus (Isa 27:13).
- It signals the approach of the day of the YHVH (Joel 2:1).
- A watchman on the wall of a city would sound a shofar to warn the inhabitants of impending danger such as an approaching enemy (Ezek 33:3–6; Neh 4:18–20; Jer 6:17; 42:14).
- In the last days, the elect will be gathered after the shofar is sounded (Matt 24:31). They will be resurrected from the graves and along with those who are alive will be caught up into the air to meet Yeshua (1 Thess 4:16; 1 Cor 15:51–57).
- Seven heavenly shofarot will signal YHVH’s judgments being poured out upon the earth just before the second coming of Yeshua (Rev 8:7–9:20; 11:15). The seventh shofar announces Yeshua’s victory over the kingdoms of this world that he is the King of kings who will rule forever and ever (Rev 11:15).
- It was sounded to gather YHVH’s people together to hear him (Exod 19:16–17).
- It warned the people of their sin of breaking YHVH’s covenants and Torah-commandments and impending judgment as a result (Hos 8:1–3).
- The shofar was blown to announce the coming of a Jewish bridegroom to fetch his betrothed — a picture of Yeshua returning for his bride, the saints. All the righteous living and the righteous dead will receive glorified, resurrected bodies and will meet him in the air at the sound of the shofar. (Compare Matt 24:31; 25:6; 1 Cor 15:52; 1 Thess 4:16; Rev 11:15–18).
What Should Be Our Focus When We Hear the Shofar Sound?
Blowing the shofar is more than just a religious ceremonial activity. It is full of deep meaning that should call to remembrance several significant spiritual truths in the mind and heart of the hearer.
- The shofar is a powerful reminder of the mighty right arm of YHVH outstretched on behalf of his people.
- The sound of the shofar sends tremors of fear throughout the camp of YHVH’s enemies, and his people and rallies the righteous to take courage and to rise up against evil knowing they will be victorious through faith in YHVH Elohim.
- The shofar proclaims and announces that Elohim is the King of the universe, and that Yeshua the Messiah, his Son is returning to the earth and will be crowned King of kings after the destruction of all his enemies including his arch-Adversary, Satan the devil.
- The shofar should awaken the hearts and minds of the redeemed righteous from a state of spiritual sleepiness, and to prepare for the coming of Yeshua the Messiah, our spiritual Bridegroom.
- When we hear the shofar blowing, it should remind us of the shofar that our forefathers heard at Mount Sinai when they accepted YHVH’s Torah
- Finally, the wailing sound of the ram’s horn shofar represents man’s appealing to YHVH with a simple, primal cry from the depth of the human soul.
What Should Be Our Response When We Hear the Shofar?
We should have the same response as the Israelites when they heard the heavenly shofar for the first time. They trembled and came out to meet Elohim and stood at attention waiting to hear from him (Exod 19:16–17). It’s a time to fear and return to Elohim. Similarly, when the jubilee shofar sounded on the fiftieth year, each person returned to his family clan and property (Lev 25:8–10). The sound of the shofar should bring us back to our physical and spiritual roots.
When the ancient Israelites heard the shofar, they gathered together (Judg 3:27; 6:34; 7:8). Again, the shofar was their means of instant communication to the nation as a whole before the invention of telephones, radio, email and text messaging. They would stop what they were doing and come to attention. The sound of the shofar was a call to action. The specific shofar call communicated what response was expected.