As mentioned before, the sounding of the shofar is one of the unique moments that set Rosh Hashanah apart from the other six biblical festivals. There is so much to learn about the importance of the sounding of the shofar and the lessons God would have us learn from this great moment in the observation of the festival. For example, in Numbers chapter ten, the sacrifices of the holy day are detailed.
The priestly sons of Aaron, moreover, shall blow the trumpets; and this shall be for you a perpetual statute throughout your generations. When you go to war in your land against the adversary who attacks you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, that you may be remembered before the Lord your God, and be saved from your enemies. Also in the day of your gladness and in your appointed feasts, and on the first days of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; and they shall be as a reminder of you before your God. I am the Lord your God. (Numbers 10:8–10, emphasis added.)
The sounding of the shofar is a piercing reminder to Israel that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is their God by covenant, and He should be adored and worshipped. If you look at the passage carefully, especially in the Hebrew, it becomes clear that the shofar was sounded not only to warn Israel of what was coming, but according to the text, was also to remind God of the value He attached to His relationship with the Jewish people.
The heart of the holiday revolves around the word relationship. God wants us to have a pure relationship with Him, but also with those who are part of our family, neighborhood, workplace, spiritual community, and beyond! The sounding of the shofar is a call to remember that we belong to God. Our primary relationship in life is as His child, and we were created to serve Him. Life is so fast-paced that we can quickly forget our primary relationship in light of the incessant demands placed upon us by others.
Of course, we must pay careful attention to those God has given to us to love and care for. But, in the process, we cannot neglect our relationship with Him, which is one reason I appreciate this season of the year. It almost forces me to remember that my primary relationship is with God.
The restoration of our relationship with God is why we are called to repent, as sin is what separates us from Him. Even if we know His forgiveness and are assured of our place in the age to come, we still easily become detached from the Lord in the midst of everyday business and responsibility.
Part of heeding the shofar blast is to repent and return to the Lord and to ask Him to make your relationship with Him as close and personal as possible. We know this requires repentance and turning from whatever it is that keeps us away from Him. So, take a moment today and ask the Lord to draw you to Himself, and to give you the strength to turn from whatever it is that keeps you from His presence each day.
The same is true for our relationships with others. We have ten days to repent and make things right with our family, neighbors, those we love, and whomever it is that we have hurt or offended during the year. We must ask God for the strength to say the words, “I am sorry,” and to ask for forgiveness from others, that the Lord would then be able to restore and heal broken or ruptured relationships.
This is not easy, and it takes His power and grace—especially in the most difficult of situations. Consider the person from whom it will be the hardest for you to ask forgiveness during these ten days. Perhaps it is a husband, wife, child, mother, father, or a more distant relative. Maybe it is a schoolmate or a co-worker. You know who it is! Perhaps you should begin with those who might be a little easier, but make it your goal to at least try, with God’s help, to ask forgiveness of the person you least want to face.
Always remember, however, you do not need to be forgiven to forgive. God took the initiative and sent His Son to die in our place. In similar fashion, we also need to take the first step. Human relationships are so complicated. Often, mutual forgiveness is required to restore a broken relationship, but still, you and I must take the first step. We cannot forgive based upon the forgiveness of others as this would be contrary to the very idea of grace. Ask Him for help and take the first step!
Finally, as followers of Yeshua, the shofar blasts also remind us that this world will not last forever, and that, one day, the blast will sound from heaven and those who believe will be raised to meet the Lord. As Rabbi Saul, the Apostle Paul wrote: “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 Thessalonians 4: 16–17).