The Biblical pattern for worshipping God has nothing to do with religion. It’s based on faith and on hearing. Israel is called to hear, not necessarily to focus on what we see. Idols can be seen, but they don’t have life, and therefore don’t have a voice. The essence of this important principle is described in the well-known statement: “Hear, O Israel”; and not “Look and see, O Israel…”
Our entire faith comes from hearing. So even though what we see has a much stronger hold on our human flesh, seeing is not the testing stone for Truth or for the depth of relationship one can have with the God of Israel.
One of the most challenging aspects of following our God is recognizing His voice and following it. We’d rather follow what our eyes see, or what audible voices say. We work hard to recognize His still small voice, that so lovingly echoes in our innermost being. Throughout the OT and the Gospels, Yeshua constantly rebuked our nation for expecting signs and wonders – proofs that can be seen, while ignoring the Ancient Voice of the Word – written and spoken.
A Loud and Clear Sound
Imagine with me – a multitude of people, milling around aimlessly, not sure what to do, when to move. And then, a sound is heard, loud and clear, calling them to their appointed place with the blowing of the Shofar.
There are seven feasts God called Israel to specifically celebrate or commemorate perpetually – seven appointed Moadim. Times set aside to meet with Him, to draw near to Him (Lev. 23). These give us the framework for God’s plan for the salvation of the world and preparation of His kingdom.
But for the most part today in Jewish circles, we have lost much of the intended meaning of these Moadim. Many of these appointed times are not celebrated at all, and the rest are not celebrated the way God intended them to or at the original Biblical date. And thus we miss many annual opportunities to hear His voice and stray further and further from the path that points to Yeshua.
Zichron Teruah – Leviticus 23:24
Tonight, Jews all over the world will mark the feast of Rosh Hashana – the beginning of the Jewish year. Some call it the “Day of Trumpet”, but a more literal translation of the original title is “remembering the sound of the trumpet”. Kind of an odd name. What is it exactly that we are supposed to remember?
Why is the Shofar Blown?
- To gather the people, whether for war, feast, convocation, reading of the Torah or the likes of which
- To declare the coronation of a king
- To declare the new moon (beginning of a new month)
- To indicate the order of movements of the tribes after the exodus from Egypt (See Num. 10)
Jeremiah (6:17) describes the voice of God as Kol Shofar – the sound, or better yet the voice of the shofar. The context makes it clear it is referring to God’s voice. So, what is it exactly we are called to remember? I believe it is the voice of God. Zichron Truah – remembering the voice of God.
Where did the people hear the blowing of the trumpet as the voice of God? At Mt. Sinai.
His Volume Level
Exodus 19:16-20 tells that God spoke with the voice of a trumpet. That’s His volume level. Or his frequency! So on this day, we are to remember what God said on Mt. Sinai. We are to go back to the Word of God – not to some interpretation.
With the sound of the Shofar God is calling us, begging us: come back to the original framework, to what you were told from the beginning!
However, most of us Jews hear the Shofar and think this is man’s way to open heaven during these ten Days of Awe, so that God can hear us. We do not turn back to His original Word, but rather to interpretations and distortions made by men.
How should we then remember? By going back to the original.
What should we remember? That which God spoke to us, and the very fact that He still speaks today. Directly, Right into our innermost being. Sometimes with a still small voice, sometimes with the shaking sound of a Shofar.
Zichron Teruah – hear what God has to say to you. It should always cause us to examine our hearts and bring us to repentance.
Tashlich – Getting Rid of Our Sins
In the middle ages, an interesting tradition started during which the Jews would find the nearest body of water – a river, a pond, a lake – gather there, empty their pockets and symbolically get rid of all their sins. They would then follow that by reading from Micah 7:18-20:
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. You will be faithful to Jacob, and show love to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our ancestors in days long ago.
If someone does this ritual with Yeshua in the center – this can become a beautiful symbolic act.
As Jews all over the world take time, beginning tonight, to celebrate Rosh Hashana, we encourage you to pray that their hearts will turn to the One who has set the days and times, that they will long and thirst to the original sound of His voice that is still calling them, and that they will remember.
*This post was written by my assistant, Adi Baxter.