"We ask you not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled..." ~ II Thes. 2:2 *** "But stir up the gift of God that is within you by the laying on of hands..." ~ II Tim. 1:6

Category: Old Testament

The Feast of Trumpets:  Dark Before the Light

In scripture, there are prophetic descriptions that evoke images of terrible destruction.  Zechariah 14 describes the inevitable end of what we term as the “trumpet plagues”.  There are, of course, other passages in the Old and New Testaments that describe the destruction associated with the last seven trumpets.  It is not my goal in this study to describe the trumpet plagues, which can easily be found in the book of Revelation.  My goal is to shed light on the actual holy day of Trumpets—what it does and does not symbolize.

There are historical events in the bible that, I believe, paint a picture of just what the Feast of Trumpets foreshadows.  I will attempt to clarify the symbolism of the Feast of Trumpets.

The Feast of Trumpets in the Bible

I am of the viewpoint that the holy days give us important milestones in God’s plan, so let’s start here.

“Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation” (Lev. 23:24)

The first thing mentioned is the day.  It’s easy to jump right over this after noting it on your calendar and letting your boss know.  The fact is, the Feast of Trumpets is the only holy day that is kept on the new moon.  This particular new moon was the beginning of the civil year, and that in itself may have significance.  But more important is the new moon itself, or more correctly, the phase of the new moon; does this have significance in determining what the Feast of Trumpets is all about?

The New Moon Holy Day

There has been controversy for centuries over the new moon, mostly the question of what constitutes the new moon (to simplify, you would have the ‘dark of the moon’ and the ‘first crescent’ crowds).  This issue has attained a higher profile in the past several years as it relates to the topic of the calendar/holy days.  The calendar debate is beyond the scope of this article, but the actual symbolism of the new moon is very important when discussing the meaning of the Feast of Trumpets in the bible.

There are scenarios in scripture that paint a picture of what the new moon symbolizes.  These stories all have to do with something being ended—done away with—so something new can begin.  The “dark” of the moon—the period of time between the disappearing crescent and the first crescent—is right at three days.  I don’t think that this is random.  Our Savior was dead for that same period of time.  During that time, the spiritual world was dark.  It wasn’t until He rose from the dead and ascended to be accepted that the light started to shine again.  The new covenant (bringing light) could not come without the death and burial of the Messiah (which caused darkness).

The seven trumpet plagues (depicted in Revelation 8 and 9, and continued in chapters 11 through 15)  mark the ending of a society that mankind has built.  It will have no redeeming qualities that should be saved.  The politics, governance, values, use of technology, business practices, etc., will all have to be swept away to make way for something that is 100% new.   Two examples from the Old Testament that encapsulate the trumpet plagues (which is what the Feast of Trumpets foreshadows) are the fall of Jericho (Joshua 6), and the image dreamt of by King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2).

Year of Jubilee & Pentecost — Inheritance & Freedom

“Count Fifty”:  Pentecost & the Year of Jubilee

Fifty is an interesting number in the bible.  Many significant numbers (such as seven or twelve) have common threads that show up throughout the entire bible and weave in and out, but there are only a few places where the number fifty is of great significance.

In general, fifty symbolizes complete perfection, the completing of a cycle, or the ending of an old cycle and beginning of a new one.  The concept of firstborn or firstfruits is also associated with the number fifty.

For instance, God redeemed the tribe of Levi as a substitute for the firstborn of the land of Israel, and consecrated them to serving Him in the tabernacle.  Levites would begin service in the temple at age 30, and finish their service at the age of 50 (Num. 4:3, 39, 43, 47).  The tabernacle itself, and later the temple, was measured off in various segments of fifty curtain loops, knobs, cubit lengths, etc. (Ex. 26, 27, 30, 36, 38).

And then there are two major events in the bible that revolve around the number fifty.  The command for the first is found in Leviticus 23, where God outlines the Feast of Firstfruits, or Pentecost.

“And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath [during the Days of Unleavened Bread], from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord. You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the Lord…they shall be holy to the Lord for the priest” (Lev. 23:15-17, 20).

The Israelites are told to count seven cycles of seven days (symbolizing perfect completeness), and on the next (eighth) day, to observe a holy convocation (see deeper Eighth Day study).  This holy day also included a peace offering, which was a joyful celebration, symbolic of eating a meal with God.

The second event, the Year of Jubilee, was commanded only a few verses later:

“And you shall count seven Sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven Sabbaths of years shall be to you forty-nine years. Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land. And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family” (Lev. 25:8-10).

Leviticus goes on to explain that the fiftieth year was to be a rest for the land (coming on the heels of a 49th year rest as well), “neither sow nor reap what grows of its own accord, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine” (Lev. 25:11).  But more importantly, inherited land that had been lost or sold reverted back to the original family owners.

God, in His omnipotence, knew that despite all the measures He instituted in Israel to maintain economic and societal equality, some people would still get themselves in way over their heads—drowning in debt, without family to fall back on, unable to support their families.  While all of Israel had received land as an inheritance in the Promised Land, some would give up or lose their inheritance through misfortune, ineptitude, or negligence and be forced to sell themselves into slavery or indentured servitude.  The Year of Jubilee was the societal failsafe.

‘Kicking Against the Pricks’ – Stubbornness vs. Submission

What does the bible mean by “kicking against the pricks”?

“The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd” (Eccl. 12:11)

Have you ever had one of those weeks, or months or even years, where you feel like nothing is going the way you want it to? It seems like getting anything to go your way is such a struggle, that you’re walking into the wind or swimming against the current.

I think we’ve all been there, and it’s easy to wonder at the reason. It may very well just be that you’re having a bad week, a string of mishaps all coming at once, or that you’re simply going through trials for a purpose. There’s another possibility we should all consider during this sort of experience, though—that we’re resisting God’s will.

The apostle Paul tells the story of his conversion a few times in Acts. After seeing the blinding light, he said, “And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the pricks’” (Acts 26:14).

To us, this is kind of an odd statement, but it was a well-known proverb in Paul’s time. A prick (or goad, as it’s translated in the NKJV) can be any sharp point that pierces or stings but is generally known as the ox goad, a heavy, sharp piece of iron used to drive oxen. A stubborn and unyielding ox would kick against the goad, driving the instrument in deeper and hurting no one but himself.

When a person is kicking against the pricks and resisting God’s will, it is not necessarily out of a place of hostile rebellion. Take Paul/Saul, for instance. He was following his path of persecuting Christ’s disciples because he believed they were perverting Judaism (the faith of God’s true people), and leading people astray. His actions were executed through righteous zeal. That didn’t make them right.

We often see this in the church, when people decide one particular idea or doctrine is right, and blaze a path of destruction through brethren trying to convince them of the same. Goads are used on oxen to stimulate action, urge onward, or steer in the right direction, as well as to prevent them from going the wrong way, and God has a variety of tactics at His disposal to do the same.

When someone tries to forge their own path away from God’s will, God will often try and nudge them back in the right direction; when they’re sitting still in a place of apathy or stagnation, He may prod them into picking up the yoke and moving forward.

“In All Your Ways Acknowledge Him” – What Does It Mean?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

For many people this is a memory verse, both because it’s quite succinctly and beautifully phrased, and also because it is one of those snippets that can be a kind of life mantra.  Often when we read this verse the emphasis is on the first sentence, while the second sentence—that of acknowledging Him and allowing Him to direct us—gets glossed over.  I read it recently and the word “acknowledge” jumped out at me, because I had never really ever thought about what that really means.

Understanding “acknowledge”

See, while the technical definition of the word hasn’t really changed, the way our society uses it definitely has—basically to “give a nod” to.  If you’re walking down the street and you see someone you’ve met before, you’ll often acknowledge them with a nod or wave, basically saying “yeah, I see you”.  Or you may acknowledge someone when they give you a gift, or in centuries past a nobleman might acknowledge an illegitimate child as being his own (bestowing some legitimacy).  So by today’s standards, “in all your ways acknowledge Him” is basically the equivalent of professional athletes pointing to the sky after a touchdown—meaningless.

The trouble is that these understandings of the word render the verse in Proverbs very distant and cold, when the meaning is much more powerful.  The word translated “acknowledge” in most bible translations is yada (H3045), which generally means “to know or recognize”.  In the case of Proverbs 3:6, it is to know His ways inside and out and to recognize that He is the ultimate arbiter of our lives.  It’s a root word so it can be translated many different ways and is used almost a thousand times in the Old Testament.  While most translations use “acknowledge”, the NIV says “in all your ways submit to Him”, while the NLT says “seek His will in all you do”.  Throughout the rest of the bible, yada is most often translated as some form of “to know” (i.e. known, know, knowing), but other uses include “respect”, “understand”, “be sure in”, “consider”, “discover”, and “discern”, and these start to paint a more complete understanding of the word.

Christ As Our Kinsman Redeemer: Redemption From Slavery (Passover Themes)

“As for our Redeemer, the Lord of hosts is His name, the Holy One of Israel” ~ Is. 47:4

Each of God’s holy days has many themes to be explored, Passover maybe even more so because it has already been fulfilled—so we see much more of the whole picture.

The first time we see the Passover commanded and celebrated in the bible, it directly precedes God redeeming His chosen nation out of slavery and leading them toward the Promised Land.  Many see this story as a specific event in time that the Passover commemorates, and nothing more.  However, the theme of redemption from slavery and how it ties to the Passover goes far beyond just Israel and Egypt.  It’s actually one of two core stories that permeate the entire bible from start to finish (the other being that of a betrothal and marriage that build a family).

Lessons From Rahab’s Faith – “Come Out of Her, My People” (Musings on Faith)

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace” (Heb. 11:1, 30, 31)

“By faith, Rahab the harlot did not perish…”

Rahab the harlot is one of the unlikeliest heroines in the bible—a pagan prostitute in the city of Jericho, which was a place as corrupt and depraved as it got. Yet, because of her faith and actions, she is one of only two women named in Hebrews 11 (known as the “faith chapter”), and one of only two women named in the genealogy of Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:5).  There are many parallels between Rahab and the church, and a number of lessons we can draw from her life and character.

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