All you people of the world, you who live on the earth, when a banner is raised on the mountains, you will see it, and when a trumpet sounds, you will hear it. This is what the LORD says to me: “I will remain quiet and will look on from my dwelling place, like shimmering heat in the sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.” —Isaiah 18:3-4 NIV
A Shofar is an instrument made from the horn of a ram or other kosher animal. It was used in ancient Israel to announce the New Moon (Rosh Chodesh) and call people together. It was also blown on Rosh Hashanah, marking the beginning of the New Year, signifying both need to wake up to the call to repentance.
The Shevarim Sound—three medium, wailing blasts is the sobbing cry of a Jewish heart ― yearning to connect, to grow, to achieve. When we think about the year gone by, we know deep down that we’ve failed to live up to our full potential. In the coming year, we yearn not to waste that opportunity ever again.
Every person has the ability to change and be great. This can be accomplished much faster than you ever dreamed of. The key is to pray from the bottom of your heart and ask God for the ability to become great. Don’t let yourself be constrained by the past. You know you have enormous potential.
At the moment the shofar is blown, we cry out to God from the depths of our soul. This is the moment ― when our souls stand before the Almighty without any barriers ― that we can truly let go.
The Teruah Sound ― 9 quick blasts in short succession ― resembles an alarm clock, arousing us from our spiritual slumber. The shofar brings clarity, alertness, and focus.
The Talmud says: “When there’s judgment from below, there’s no need for judgment from above.” What this means is that if we take the time to construct a sincere, realistic model of how we’ve fallen short in the past, and what we expect to change in the future, then God doesn’t need to “wake us up” to what we already know.
God wants us to make an honest effort to maximize the gifts He gave us. You aren’t expected to be anything you’re not. But you can’t hoodwink God, either.
The reason we lose touch and make mistakes is because we don’t take the time every day to reconnect with our deepest desires and essence. The solution is to spend time alone every day, asking: Am I on track? Am I focused? Am I pursuing goals which will make the greatest overall difference in my life and in the world?
The Tekiah Sound is ― the long, straight shofar blast ― is the sound of the King’s coronation. The day of appreciating who God is. We then internalize that understanding so that it becomes a living, practical part of our everyday reality. God is all-powerful. God is the Creator. God is the Sustainer. God is the Supervisor. In short, God is King of the Universe.
But for many of us, the idea of a “king” conjures up images of a greedy and power-hungry despot who wants to subjugate the masses for his selfish aims.
In Jewish tradition, a king is first and foremost a servant of the people. His only concern is that the people live in happiness and harmony. His decrees and laws are only for the good of the people, not for himself.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam’s first act was to proclaim God as King. And now, the shofar proclaims to ourselves and to the world: God is our King. We set our values straight and return to the reality of God as the One Who runs the world… guiding history, moving mountains, and caring for each and every human being individually and personally.
As we begin our journey through a new year, let’s take time to wait, to reflect, and to listen.
Ben and Wanda Anderson, Pastors