The most portentous dates on God’s calendar–right here, right now!
What do the Feast of Trumpets and the “Days of Awe” mean to us?
God’s calendar currently has us on a run-up to the two High Holidays. The Feast of Trumpets begins this weekend–the evening of Sunday, Sept. 9, according to the Rabbinic calendar. Ten days later, Jews will observe Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the pinnacle of the seven Feasts of the Lord. And it’s an amazing picture of Yeshua the Messiah returning to claim His kingdom. But more on that in my next post… So please look for that!
Suffice it to say this is a highly significant time period in the Jewish year. In fact, the Jewish people refer to the days from the Feast of Trumpets through Yom Kippur as the ten “Days of Awe.”
Let me start by putting this in context with the other Feasts.
Looking back at Yeshua’s first coming. I’ve detailed this more in other posts, but during His first coming, Yeshua fulfilled the four Spring Feasts (Passover 1 Cor 5:7; Unleavened Bread 1 Cor 5:7; First Fruits 1 Cor 15:20; and Shavuot / Pentecost Acts 2:38) precisely and in order on their Biblically-proscribed dates.
Looking forward to His second coming. The Fall Feasts provide a beautiful picture that correlates to end-time events as many Christians understand them. It’s my belief that, during his Second Coming, Yeshua will also fulfill the three Fall Feasts precisely and in order on their Biblically-proscribed dates, just as His first coming fulfilled the Spring Feasts. (I’ll lay this out in more detail in a minute.)
The Feast of Trumpets breaks a four-month hiatus after the Spring Feasts. The first thing to understand about the Feast of Trumpets is that… there just isn’t much in the Hebrew Scriptures to understand.
Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to the Lord.’ ” (Lev 23:23-24)
That’s it! It’s a holiday for resting and making a joyful noise! And yes, they do blow trumpets… One hundred blasts are blown. The last long blast at the Feast is called “the last trumpet.”
While it seems simple on the surface, there are several intriguing and somewhat mysterious aspects to this Feast.
First, an interesting thing about the language. The traditional Hebrew name for the feast is Yom Teruah, which I’ve always seen translated as Feast of Trumpets. But the word “trumpets” isn’t actually in the text. The word תְּרוּעָה (terû‘āh) means a sudden clamor.
תְּרוּעָה terû‘āh: A feminine noun indicating a shout of joy; a shout of alarm, a battle cry. It… often indicates a shout of joy or victory (1 Sam. 4:5, 6); a great shout anticipating a coming event (Josh. 6:5, 20). It can refer to the noise or signal put out by an instrument (Lev. 23:24; 25:9). Amos used the word to refer to war cries (Amos 1:14; 2:2; cf. Job 39:25; Zeph. 1:16). The Lord puts shouts of joy into His people (Job 8:21; 33:26).
And here’s another bit of mystery…. The word translated “reminder” is זִכָּרוֹן zikkārôn: A masculine noun meaning memorial, remembrance, record, reminder. Everywhere else this word is used in scripture (that I see), the Lord tells His people what it’s a memorial / reminder of.
Only at the Feast of Trumpets are the people told to celebrate… something. As a reminder of…. something. It’s a feast to remind us of something mysterious that will occur with a clamor!
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (1 Cor 15:51-52)
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thes 4:16-17)
Do you see why many believe the language in these two passages may be a reference to the Feast of Trumpets?
Where there’s a void, the rabbis will fill it with traditions! So in practice, the Feast of Trumpets has also become Rosh Hashanah, the “head of the year.” Jewish Rosh Hashanah celebrations feature apples, pomegranates, and honey on the table, with wishes for L’shanah tovah u’metuka” (שנה טובה ומתוקה), “a good year, and sweet.”
It’s true that all three of the synoptic gospels stress the element of mystery surrounding the timing of end-time events:
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” (Matt 24:36)
But what was the Lord’s purpose in this? So we could go about our business, ignoring the possibility of impending judgment (sleeping)? Or dismiss it altogether (scoffing)?
Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. (Matt 24:42)
For this reason you also must be ready… (Matt 24:44)
Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. (Matt 25:13)
Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 24:34-36)
The Lord’s goal was for us not to be caught unaware—for the day not to come on us “suddenly like a trap.” We’re to keep on the alert, watching for these things and warning about these things.
Matthew’s gospel moves on to explore the theme of someone taken unaware from several angles. And in every case, there’s peril and loss involved in getting surprised—particularly for those not doing what the Lord intended.
We may not know the day or the hour, but let’s not kid ourselves. That day will come and there will be a big downside if we take our eyes off the ball.
But! When I laid out an expectation of divine judgment in a post at about this time last year, here is how two readers responded:
“The fear in this article is palpable… But I’m not afraid. God is love and love, perfect love drives out fear.”
So… no fear of judgment—for himself or for others. Is this guy “on guard,” “ready,” “on the alert”? No, he’s a “sleeper.” (Plus, doesn’t the Bible also say that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” [Prov 9:10]? No wonder foolishness is so pervasive in our day–even so-called Christians have been taught they needn’t fear the Lord!)
“Weather catastrophes have been happening since the beginning of time (just ask Noah). These aren’t the first and won’t be the last. Unfortunately weather s*^% happens.”
Are you kidding me? So… the Genesis flood was just s*^% that happened? In other words, we’re scoffing at the idea that God ever judged?
Sadly, the people who wrote these comments are “churched.” Both of them referenced scripture in their replies. But… a sleeper and a scoffer! Ouch!
This is by no means true for everyone, but I think for many “No one knows the day or the hour” has become a reason to doze… and then to snore… and then to forget that when Jesus saved us, He not only saved us to something (eternal life, adoption into God’s family–John 3:16, John 1:12) but also from something (Divine wrath, which will come on the world–John 3:16-18, Romans 1:18).
This kind of reaction (sleeping, scoffing) is not what the Lord was after when He told us we couldn’t know the day or the hour.
For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. (1 Thes 5:2-3)
By the way… “come like a thief in the night” is also a Jewish idiom that relates to the Feast of Trumpets. It refers to a bridegroom coming to “steal away” his bride! See this post for more on that connection.
First, I am confident that the Lord will rapture His church on a Jewish feast.
Second, I am cautiously confident that it will be the Feast of Trumpets. (Some people who study these matters and are much smarter than me make a case for Passover or for Shavuot / Pentecost.)
But this year? Next year? In a decade? That, I don’t pretend to know.
Five reasons I believe the Lord will rapture his church on the Feast of Trumpets, some year soon.
When Yeshua used the phrase “no one knows the day or hour,” could He actually have been telling his listeners which Feast the Rapture would take place on?
There’s another fascinating picture, which has to do with the relationship between Jewish wedding traditions and the Feasts. You might check out this post for more context. It’s really cool stuff.
So the bottom line on today’s topic? Perhaps we can’t know the exact day and hour of the Rapture, but scripture says we can and must recognize when He’s “right at the door.”
Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. (Matt 24:29)
So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. (Luke 21:31)
But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?” (Matt 16:2-3)
In context, the “these things happening” refers to the Parable of the Fig Tree. Which is in turn a clear reference to the rebirth of Israel. Many signs are listed among the “birth pangs.” But when we see Israel reborn, we know He is “right at the door.” (I cover that a bit more systematically here.)
But the point isn’t to try to guess the Father’s dates. The point is to stay alert. To maintain our confidence that He is coming soon, and to be ready when He does.
The rabbis have taught for centuries that the ten “Days of Awe” from the Feast of Trumpets through Yom Kippur represent the opportune time for good Jews to “Seek Hashem [the Lord] when He may be found.” (RAMBAM in “Hilchot Teshuvah,” the “Law of Repentance” 2:6 referencing Is 55:6) Of course, as followers of Yeshua we know that the fulfillment of Isaiah 55:6 can be found in Him year-round.
At the acceptable time I listened to you,
And on the day of salvation I helped you.
Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”… (2 Cor 6:2)
Here’s something really cool! The passage Paul quotes here is Isaiah 49:8. Guess what the word for salvation in this passage is in the Hebrew? יְשׁוּעָה yešû‘āh: It’s a form of our Lord’s name! “…salvation, deliverance, help, victory, prosperity.” Isaiah told Israel to look for the “day of Yeshua”!
Speaking of “at the door”:
Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. (Rev 3:20)
Many Bible scholars believe that the seven churches in Rev 2-3 symbolically represent the phases of church history.
The Church of Laodicea, to whom this plea is addressed, is a general picture of the church in our era. Notice that Yeshua isn’t even inside the church! He’s outside the door, knocking.
Be watchful. Be alert. And if He’s knocking at the door of your heart, let Him in!
If you’ve never opened God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus (Rom 3:23, 6:23), please please please be persuaded to do it now! It’s simple. Just tell God from your heart that you admit you’re a sinner that needs a Savior (“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Rom 3:23) that you’re done running your own life, and that you’re ready to make Jesus Lord of your life.
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” (Rom 10:9-11)
The decision that saves you is that simple!
Simple… But no one said living it out will be easy. Especially now.