Too few understand the true and wonderful meaning of the first day of the seventh month. The date on our calendar is not as important as the day itself. On it is the first autumnal new moon, which in most years marks the holy day called by the Jews Rosh Hashanah. This Hebrew phrase, however, obscures the significance of the day, as it simply means "the beginning of the year" - and the Jews keep it primarily as a New Years' celebration. The Bible calls it "a memorial of blowing of trumpets" (Leviticus 23:24), and thus we call it simply the "Feast of Trumpets."
The Bible actually explains very little about this particular day. Some of the other holy days have long passages devoted to their significance, but the Feast of Trumpets receives only three verses in Leviticus 23 and hardly much more anywhere else (see Numbers 29:1). We can only conclude that God feels that calling it a "memorial of blowing of trumpets" is enough for us to begin to understand.
Numbers 11:1-10 provides a slew of details about how the Israelites used trumpets in the wilderness as well as in the Promised Land. They blew trumpets to call the people together and to signal them to advance or halt in their journey. The trumpet blast called men to war or sounded the alarm of danger facing the people. Finally, God instructs them to blow the trumpets "in the day of your gladness, in your appointed feasts, and at the beginning of your months" (verse 10). Then He adds, "They shall be a memorial for you before your God: I am the LORD your God."
A memorial is something remembered, so what were the Israelites to remember and how was the blare of trumpets involved? Perhaps the most notable event linking God and the blowing of trumpets occurred at Mount Sinai when "the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. . . . Then the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai" (Exodus 19:16, 20). Shortly thereafter, He gave them the Ten Commandments and what has become known as the Old Covenant. These events not only marked God as almighty, but also as their Lawgiver and Ruler. In a word, He was their Sovereign.
We can conclude that the blast of trumpets was to be a continual reminder to them that God, their covenanted Lord, was supreme over everything. He ordered their marches, telling them to go and to stop. He called them to assemble. He sent them to war. He gave them blessings to bring them joy. He appointed their feasts. He even provided them with a calendar and the know-how to make it work! The sound of the trumpet, whenever they heard it, was to bring to their minds that God orders everything; He is in charge.
Generally, then, the Feast of Trumpets is a day to remember that God is sovereign, that He is King. But God's holy days are also forward-looking or anticipatory. The Passover looked forward to Christ's redemptive sacrifice, Unleavened Bread foreshadowed the Christian's flight from the bondage of sin and walk toward the Kingdom of God, and Pentecost prefigured God's gift of the Holy Spirit and the founding of the New Testament church. What does Trumpets anticipate? What is the next big event in God's Plan - one whose theme revolves around His sovereignty?
The apostle Paul writes, "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise . . ." (I Thessalonians 4:16). Jesus Himself says:
Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Finally, the seventh trumpet proclaims the beginning of the reign of Christ: "Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!'" (Revelation 11:15).
Now we can understand the significance of tomorrow, the Feast of Trumpets, a little better. Once a year at this time, we remember that God is in complete control, and in a little while His Son will return to take up power as King of kings and Lord of lords. Sounds to me like an excellent reason for a celebration!
Richard T. Ritenbaugh