Feast 5: The Feast of trumpets (Leviticus 23:23-25):
- “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.'”” (Leviticus 23:23-25 NASB)
- “Now in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall also have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work. It will be to you a day for blowing trumpets.” (Numbers 29:1 NASB)
Of the seven feasts, all are described in some detail, with the exception of the Feast of Trumpets. The biblical record for the Feast of Trumpets observance is neither lengthy nor complicated. Israel was simply commanded to memorialize the day by blowing trumpets and to keep the day as a Sabbath day of rest.
The actual observance of the Feast of Trumpets is recorded only once in Scripture. Ezra, the scribe, related that it was during the Feast of Trumpets that the Temple altar was rebuilt, and sacrifices were reinstituted by those who returned from Babylonian exile from the 1st day of the 7th month – Feast of Trumpets (Ezra 3:1-6).
Nehemiah recorded that sweeping revival also took place in Israel from the 1st day of the 7th month (Feast of Trumpets) as Ezra rehearsed God’s Law in the ears of the people (Neh. 7:73-8:13).
There are several things about this feast which should pique our interest. First, this feast was to be celebrated on the first day of the month. Second, this feast was to be celebrated on the first day of the seventh month (Tishri). Third, the feast was marked by a blowing of trumpets. The Hebrew word here is teruah, which means: “an alarm, a signal, a sound of tempest, a shout, a shout or blast of war or alarm or joy.” Why is this significant that this feast was on the first day of the month? The Feast of Trumpets is the only one of the seven feasts which began on the first day of the month.
The Hebrew months each began on the New Moon. The other feasts occurred toward the middle of the respective months, when the moon was at, or near, full. The nights would be filled with moonlight. However, at the New Moon, the moon is DARK and only a thin crescent.
The beginning of each month was originally dependent upon the sighting of the New Moon when the moon was but a crescent; the nights would be dark, with little moonlight. The precise timing of the New Moon was not always easily determined due to weather conditions and a lack of witnesses.
Two concurring witnesses sighting the first sliver of the New Moon determined each new month. The two witnesses see the New Moon and attest to it before the Sanhedrin in the Temple. This could happen during either of two days, depending on when the witnesses come. Since no one knew when the witnesses would come, no one knew when the Feast of Trumpets would start. After the appearance of the New Moon was confirmed, then the Feast of Trumpets could begin, and the rest of the Fall Feasts could be accurately calculated from that date. The Feast of Trumpets is also considered a High Sabbath, and no work is to be done. Therefore, all preparations for the Feast of Trumpets had to be made in advance. Since no one knew the exact day of the New Moon’s appearance, it kept people in a continual state of alertness. They knew approximately when the New Moon would reveal itself, but they did not know the exact day or hour of its appearance. Watchfulness was a critical ingredient of this Feast of Trumpets.
This need for watchfulness and preparedness in connection with the Lord’s Parousia is echoed and re-echoed throughout the New Testament, both in relation to the initial period of His Parousia with the rapture of the righteous at Pentecost AD 66, as well as with the consummation of the Parousia with the destruction of Jerusalem and the final resurrection. See Matt. 24:42:
- “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.”
The Seventh Month à we should see immediately the significance of the seventh month, as the seventh month was set aside as a Sabbath month for the Hebrews. Yahweh had ordained the seventh day as the Sabbath day, the day of rest (Exodus 20:8-11). The Sabbath Day was to be a day of rest and remembrance of what God had done. Not only was there to be a Sabbath Day, but also a Sabbath Year (Lev 25:1-7), and a year of Jubilee (Lev 25:8-17), the year following seven sevens of years.
The Sabbath Year and the Year of Jubilee were times of rest, redemption, and freedom. During both times, everyone rested. During the sixth year, God promised a triple portion, enough to carry the people over for the seventh and eighth years (Lev. 25:20-21).
The seventh month was special in the same way. During the seventh month, the very special Fall Feasts occurred: the Feasts of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. Nearly the entire month was set aside for these three feasts.
The Feast of Trumpets is Israel’s dark day. It occurred at the New Moon when the primary night light of the heavens is darkened. Israel’s prophets repeatedly warned of a coming day of judgment for the nation. It was called “the Day of Yahweh.” It was to occur at the end of the Jewish age. The Day of Yahweh was a time when Yahweh poured out His wrath upon Israel.
The prophet Amos spoke of this dark day of judgment:
- “Alas, you who are longing for the day of the LORD, for what purpose will the day of the LORD be to you? It will be darkness and not light; as when a man flees from a lion and a bear meets him, or goes home, leans his hand against the wall and a snake bites him. Will not the day of the LORD be darkness instead of light, even gloom with no brightness in it?” (Amos 5:18-20 NASB)
We see in Joel 2:1-2 that the Trumpet was used to usher in the Day of Yahweh:
- “Blow a trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, For the day of the LORD is coming; Surely it is near,”
We mentioned earlier that the Feast of Trumpets is the only feast day to begin when the moon is dark. Notice what Zephaniah says:
- “Near is the great day of the LORD, Near and coming very quickly; Listen, the day of the LORD! In it the warrior cries out bitterly. A day of wrath is that day, A day of trouble and distress, A day of destruction and desolation, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of trumpet and battle cry Against the fortified cities And the high corner towers.” (Zephaniah 1:14-16 NASB)
This passage from Zephaniah is only one of many which speak of the Day of Yahweh as a day of darkness, and a day when the trumpet sounds.
As the darkening of the moon in the night heavens announced the Feast of Trumpets, so too, the heavens were to be divinely darkened as the Day of Yahweh commenced:
- “The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.” (Joel 2:31 NASB)
We know that the Spring Feasts were fulfilled with the death and resurrection of Jesus, and the inauguration of the Kingdom with the birth of the Church at Pentecost. Jesus, the Lamb of God, fulfilled the Passover when He was offered as a sacrifice for our sins on the Feast of Passover. He fulfilled the Feast of Unleavened Bread when He delivered His people from their sins and the condemnation to eternal death. He fulfilled First Fruits when He was resurrected. We know that the Feast of Weeks was fulfilled with the beginning of the New Covenant Kingdom and the birth of the church, fifty days later. The four Spring Feasts were fulfilled in Jesus’s first coming, and the remaining aspects of the three Fall Feasts not fulfilled by Jesus during His earthly ministry, and through Him in the church during the transition period, were fulfilled at His Second Coming during AD 66 – 70.
The blast of the trumpet in the OT is a type/shadow of that blast in the NT that was blasted to call judgment on the nation Israel who refused to come to Christ. In short, we see the Feast of Trumpets fulfilled at the final resurrection of the wicked dead ones out of Hades/Sheol, which immediately precedes the Day of Yahweh.
The Bible often speaks of men and angels blowing trumpets, yet only twice is it recorded that Yahweh Himself blows a trumpet. In both instances it is the shofar (Ram’s horn). The first occasion was at Mt. Sinai when the Lord revealed Himself from Heaven and prepared to bring the nation under the Old Covenant. The Shekinah glory of the Yahweh descended with a fiery tempest and with the sound of the shofar (Exodus 19:18-20).
The second occasion on which Yahweh blew the shofar (Ram’s horn) was at the Messiah’s return. The Lord descended from Heaven with the whirlwind, the clouds of His glory, fire, and the SOUND OF THE TRUMPET. The prophet Zechariah declares:
- “Then the LORD will appear over them, And His arrow will go forth like lightning; And the Lord GOD will blow the trumpet, And will march in the storm winds of the south.” (Zechariah 9:14. NASB)
These last three feasts are a little harder to nail down as to their anti-type, because they have no Scriptural reference as to their fulfillment. The Bible is silent about their New Covenant fulfillment, because no books of the Bible were written after AD 70. But we know that the pattern set by the Spring Feasts is continued in the Fall Feasts.
We see the type of this feast, in Joshua chapter 6, with the destruction of Jericho at the end of the forty year exodus. SEVEN priests carrying SEVEN trumpets, with the Ark of God in the midst, marched around the wall of Jericho for 6 days. ON the SEVENTH DAY they marched around SEVEN TIMES. At the close of the march, the SEVEN trumpets were blown, the people shouted, and God caused the walls of Jericho to collapse. The victory was COMPLETE.
The events of Jericho offered a graphic image and actual prophecy of events at the close of the Jewish age, forty years after Pentecost, when there were seven angels with seven trumpets of doom and judgment:
- “And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.” (Revelation 8:2. NASB)
At that time the great and powerful city of Babylon (Jerusalem) suddenly fell:
- “standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’” (Rev. 18:10)
Accompanied by a great shouting in heaven:
- “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her.” (Revelation 18:20. NASB)
* We see the spiritual anti-type of the Feast of Trumpets in the fall of Jerusalem and the return of Christ in AD 66 – 70. God’s people were freed from the bondage of the law at the cross. The New Covenant church was established at Pentecost. For 40 years it grew and matured and journeyed towards the true heavenly Promised Land (Heb. 11:13-16, 12:22-23), but before they were to enter that true heavenly Promised Land the city of oppression, OC Jerusalem, had to be destroyed. Thus, at the blowing of the trumpet, in Matthew 24, the scene was set, and Christ fulfilled the feast. Guess what month it was when Jerusalem fell? (Tishri usually occurs in September-October on the Gregorian calendar). “The city was taken on September 8, AD 70, after the last siege had lasted about five months” (Josephus, vol. 1, p. 467).
The unfulfilled aspects of the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles all take place in the SEVENTH month. Number seven is the number of perfection and fullness. In these feasts, the final resurrection of the wicked in Revelation 20 occur, and the eternal Kingdom is fully consummated.
* Important note: the Resurrection of the “Righteous” dead ones, Rapture, and the Trumpet:
As previously mentioned, it is not possible to fit the entirety of any Feast into a neat box of any one event. In light of this, it is of critical importance that we do not try to conflate the Feast of Trumpets with the many NT passages which speak about the blowing of the trumpet for the resurrection of the righteous dead ones out of Hades/Sheol and rapture of the 1st century living righteous saints.
We need to remember that the Day of Trumpets (Rosh HaShana) was NOT the only day of the year when the trumpet (shofar) was sounded. It was also sounded during Yom Kippur, Passover and other occasions. Plus, we can see throughout the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Judges that the trumpet was sounded for many different purposes and on many different occasions than merely on the Day of Trumpets.
In the New Testament, we see many passages where the “trumpet” was also to be blown at the resurrection of the righteous dead ones out of Hades/Sheol, with the coinciding rapture of the righteous living saints, at the start of Christ’s Parousia in AD 66 before the wrath of God would be poured out on unfaithful OC Israel (1 Corinthians 15:23, 51-52; 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 4:14-17, 5:3-4, 9).
Passages referring to the resurrection of the “righteous” dead saints out of Hades/Sheol and the change of the righteous living saints and rapture:
- “And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” (Matt. 24:31)
- “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. NASB)
- “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 Thess. 4:16-17. NASB)
Paul equates the time of the resurrection of the righteous dead saints out of Hades/Sheol, and rapture of the righteous living saints, with the sound of God’s trumpet. This occurred at the start of the Parousia in the Spring of AD 66 à not at the Feast of Trumpets in the Fall of AD 70. The resurrection at the Feast of Trumpets in the Fall of AD 70 was the Great White throne “final” resurrection of Revelation 20:5, 11-15, which was the resurrection of the “rest of the dead” à the wicked in the latter part of Christ’s Parousia (Presence). The righteous dead saints were resurrected in the Spring of AD 66 at the start of Jesus’ Parousia à before the outpouring of the wrath of God on unfaithful OC Israel as promised.
Matt 24:29-31 is one of the key texts for sequencing the resurrection of the “righteous” dead saints, change of the righteous living, and rapture. Verse 29 states that “immediately after the tribulation” (the Neronic persecution) they would see the sign of the Son of Man in the sky above (Christ coming with His angels). Then he would send forth his angels to gather His elect (resurrection of the “righteous” dead saints, change of the living righteous, rapture). Josephus gives us the “day and hour” when the angelic armies were sighted in the sky (a few days after Passover in AD 66), as well as the day and hour when the righteous dead ones were raised out of Hades/Sheol (at Pentecost in AD 66). This was at the Spring and Summer festivals in AD 66 – NOT the Fall festivals in AD 70. The Great White throne general resurrection at the Feast of Trumpets in the Fall of AD 70 was the final resurrection à the resurrection of the wicked dead souls out of Hades/Sheol.
We always need to allow scripture to answer scripture, and to also rightly interpret the promised sequence listed within. Jesus, John, and Paul promised the Christians that they would not be left on earth to endure the wrath outpouring. They would be relieved of their persecution (Matt. 24:21-22; Rom. 9:27-28) (it was “cut short” by the outbreak of the Jewish/Roman war), the saints were promised to be rescued from the earth before the wrath was poured out (1 Thess. 1:10, 5:3-4, 9), and rewarded in heaven while the Jews were being destroyed.
All of this timing and sequencing of the “righteous saints” resurrection-change-rapture is found in the Olivet Discourse, Jesus’ parables, in Paul’s eschatological teaching, and in the book of Revelation. Plus, we have Josephus’ historical validation of it. With all of that information in front of us, it is very easy to precisely fix the day and hour of the “righteous saints” resurrection-change-rapture event. It occurred on the day of Pentecost in AD 66 – NOT at the Fall festivals of Rosh HaShana or Yom Kippur.
The Parousia was not just a one-day flash-in-the-pan event at Yom Kippur in AD 70. It was instead an extended visitation/presence lasting at least three or more years. That visitation was for the purpose of both rescuing his saints and destroying his enemies. 1 Pet 4:17 states that the saints would be judged first before the wicked were judged and destroyed. That means that the saints had to be raptured out of there before the wicked were destroyed, so that the saints did not have to endure the wrath outpouring. They were relieved of their persecution, rescued out of the wrath that was about to come upon the ungodly, and taken to heaven where they were judged and rewarded. That is when the twelve apostles were taken to heaven where they sat on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes during that wrath outpouring (Matt. 19:28). They did not have to remain on earth during that wrath outpouring. They were taken to heaven before the wrath was poured out.
See also related “Topic Studies & Terms”:
Related full “Study Series” (available upon request if not hyperlinked):
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 8 Lesson 1 God’s Festal Calendar (Spring Feasts)”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 8 Lesson 2 God’s Festal Calendar (Fall Feasts)”]