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Shofars in Christian Contexts; An Introduction in short nuggets
Topic Started: Mar 6 2007, 08:37 PM (4,776 Views)
DeanZF
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I was asked to begin our congregation’s services with a shofar blast. I asked if I could start with a quick little “nugget” before actually blowing, so that our people could begin to develop an understanding that we were not doing this because Dean has an infatuation with things Jewish or Hebraic. It was agreed that by sharing these little nuggets, we could develop that understanding plus maybe begin to develop an awareness of and maybe a love for the Jews and for Israel. This is something that’s been on our pastor’s heart for a long time and something that we’ve talked about at length. We’ve been praying for Father’s strategy to woo people’s heart to the things that are on His heart. And so, we arrived at the use of the shofar in our decidedly liturgical services.

I’ve tried to keep these little snippets of teaching to a scripture verse or a single thought or image so that they are crisp and clear. They seem to be well-received and producing fruit.

I'm going to try to post them in the approximate size and sequence that I've delivered them to the congregation so that each could stand on its own in this thread, a few to start, and adding one or two more nuggets every day or two or three.

Looking forward to your thoughts and comments.
Blessings!

Dean
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DeanZF
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Why blow the shofar?

Well, mostly because God said so! What were the trumpet blasts used for? They were used to signal the children of Israel--signals for time to worship, time to move out, time to go to war, time to retreat and more. In any of those situations, one can imagine that it was extremely important to both hear and to understand what was being communicated. And, of course, it was important to obey!

Listen to the two prayers that a shofarist prays before blowing:
Quote:
 
Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, Who has commanded the blowing of the shofar.

and
Quote:
 
Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, Who has commanded us to hear the shofar’s blast.

[The shofar was blown and the service began.]
Blessings!

Dean
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...God...Who has commanded us to hear (and understand) the shofar’s blast

We talked a little about the masses of Israel in the wilderness hearing and obeying the shofar’s call. I want to bring you into the New Testament this time, thinking about what the apostle Paul had to say about the blowing of the trumpet or shofar. It’s not just an “Old Testament thing”, you see. Paul thought it important enough to bring it up! I Corinthians 14:8 says, very much taken out of context but still very pertinent, “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?”

Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, Who has commanded us to hear—to hear and understand—the shofar’s blast. [The shofar was blown…]
Blessings!

Dean
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Recognizing, so we can respond

Last week, we talked about making or hearing unsure sounds on the trumpet. Remember the TV show, M.A.S.H.? Remember Corporal Radar O’Reilly and his bugle blowing? [Lots of smiles and giggles here.] We probably all recognize a couple of Army bugle calls like Taps and Reveille, and we’ve heard “CHARGE” enough because of sports events. You’d likely remember the call to assembly if you heard it, too. Most have heard the Post Call for getting horse races started. We know what those mean and can respond. How much more important is it that we understand God’s call in the Spirit and respond?

“Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, Who has commanded us to hear the shofar's blast.”
Blessings!

Dean
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There are three basic sounds and one variation on the theme.

Tekiah (aaaWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE!)

Shevarim (the sighings)

Teruah (the alarm)


and the Tekiah Gedola (very, very long tekiah!) that is not played since it's like the first one, only as long as the shofarist can hold out without breathing.

When you click, it should get the file and play it in Windows Media Player or any other media player that supports .au files.
Blessings!

Dean
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Sound the alarm on my holy mountain…

In the middle of the shofar call that I usually use, there is a series of at least 9 short, fast notes all strung together. In Hebrew, this is called the teruah, translated as “the alarm”. In the Middle East, and in Native American cultures, there is a mouth sound that is often associated with excitement, with crowds or even mobs of people, and especially with attacks during times of war. It is a high pitched, kind of screechy sounding “YI-YI-YI-YI-YI-YI-YI-YI-YI-YI”. If you’ve watched cowboy and Indian movies, you know the sound. This is that teruah. In Joel 2, the prophet was told to sound the alarm (teruah) on God’s holy mountain, which would be Zion or praise. What is that alarm? Is it because the King is coming? Is it because He expects His people to respond during times of war, even or especially spiritual warfare?? Sounding the alarm!

“Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God…”
Blessings!

Dean
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Fantastic, Dean. That was really interesting. I shall be back for more ...



(And thank you for your teaching the other night - I am still practicing but not good enough to do a tape yet!)
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HelenaZF
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"more is more"

It's too bad Dean couldn't have posted a recording of his own shofar playing....the examples above are pretty wimpy sounding, IMO. But at least they give the idea.
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DeanZF
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I do appreciate my loyal honey's impressions of my shofar efforts. Part of it is the horn. The examples are done on a fairly short ram's horn. The blasts from the yemenite style, the great curly ones especially, have a lot more quality to the sound. Fuller, somehow more alive.

I'll try to work on recording the sounds. Wonder how that'll go. :stunned:
Blessings!

Dean
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Why do you sometimes turn all the way around while playing that last, very long note?

I was taught that it is a tradition in some Jewish and Messianic circles, but it seems to have a pretty good foundation in Scripture.

First, Abram was told that his descendants would be spread out north, south, east, and west. Then, Moses was told to use the two silver trumpets (not shofars, but probably silver trumpets that look something like our brass trumpets of today, only straight and without valves--like a straightened out bugle. One of their blasts was to blow one to the east and one to the west, so that all could hear and know what to do. Then, the psalmist teaches about it in Psalm 107 where the redeemed are gathered (called back) from north, south, east, and west; this is referenced as well in several other similar quotes, calling home the redeemed or the scattered. Kind of like blowing the army call to assembly.

Pray with me that all the saints that belong in this place will hear the shofar blast. “Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God… king of the universe…Who has commanded us to hear…to hear the shofar’s blast.”

[With this teaching, I started to ask the congregants to pray that prayer responsively with me, that we might hear and understand the shofar’s blast.]
Blessings!

Dean
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There seem to be different parts to your trumpet call…

Yes, there are. I want to talk particularly about two parts today. We talked before about the alarm or teruah. Today, two more parts, two more traditions and a story. The first part or word of this traditional call is described kind of like “booo-WAAAAAAAAAH” and often lasts 3-4 beats or seconds. This is a gedola and is often interpreted as being a call to wake up or to arise. At one event we took part in, there was a wonderful shofarist who at one point in the program could hardly contain himself as God told him to blow. He blew powerfully, just that first little “word”, and then blew it again. The large crowd was awed by the power in that blast, but when a woman stood to the microphone and sang equally loud and equally long, “a-WAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE----a-WAAAAAAAAAAAKE”, many of us on the platform began to shiver and shake. It is one of the most powerful of my memories.

The next little word is like the first, but it is three shorter versions, each about 1 second or beat long, kind of like “boo-WAAH---boo-WAAH---boo-WAAH”. These are called “the sighs”, and almost seem to be God’s lament that we do not hear His wake-up call.

Will we hear? Will we pray that others will hear?

Please pray with me, “Blessed art Thou...O Lord our God…”
Blessings!

Dean
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aaa-WAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE!!!

One of my favorite verses is I Peter 2:9, but I’d not thought about it in terms of being a "shofar verse" before, but there it is! What do people normally do at night? They sleep, right? And during the day, most people are awake. We have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light for the express purpose of showing forth His praises! aaa-WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE!!!

Please pray with me: “Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God…”
Blessings!

Dean
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Why do you blow that really long blast anyhow?

I’m glad you asked! I have a treasure for you this morning. In Joshua 6:5, in the middle of the story of the march around Jericho, where God is instructing Joshua about how to do this thing, He tells Josh that the priests with the trumpets are going to march around with everyone else, seven times, blowing their trumpets, but look at the very end of the story: "It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat…” Part of the tradition behind that long blast is to remember the event and to commemorate the way in which God gave them that city.

Has God given us this city, our Jericho? When we hear the long blast, pray that God will indeed make His word come to pass and that we will be given the city!

Please pray with me: “Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God…”
Blessings!

Dean
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Palm Sunday Thoughts

If you've ever watched a movie about ancient or medieval times where a king was involved, you know that trumpets were used to herald the entrance of the king. Those were usually silver "herald" trumpets, long and straight, without valves. They are not unlike the shofar in how they blow, and again, the trumpet is used to convey a message, this time of a royal arrival.

With your Holy Ghost imagination, picture the scene as the people awaited the entry of Jesus of Nazareth into the city, the entry of "The King of the Jews". Can you hear the whispers? Can you hear as those whispers gradually become a welling cheer as the King comes on the scene? "The King is coming!" "The King is coming!" "The King is coming!" "The King is coming!" "The King is coming!"

The King that was coming was being proclaimed as Messiah, but He came in a way that was totally against all that the Jews had anticipated. They wanted earthly power and displays of greatness. Instead, they saw a "mere" man, on the back of a yearling donkey. While the masses welcomed him, the religious leadership sought ways to destroy him. After all, how dare he claim to be Messiah when he does not meet any of our expectations for how Messiah should come!

Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King--KING!!!--KING of the universe, Who has commanded us to hear the shofar's blast.
Blessings!

Dean
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The first trumpet in the Revelation

Revelation 1:10
 
In the Spirit I found myself present on the day of the Lord, and I heard behind me a loud voice which resembled the blast of a trumpet. (Weymouth translation, 1912)

Can you imagine St. John the Apostle, likely in his 90s on an island in the Mediterranean? See him praying and being totally consumed in the presence of our Lord, so intent, so focused in prayer, that he's just not prepared for The One Who's coming up behind him? Praying and suddenly John's world is totally interrupted by a shofar blast! "YO! Yochanan!!" That would get MY attention! Like driving along under an overpass and having a train or semi horn go off as you intersect?! Certainly makes my heart go fast. In John's case, that trumpet blast was the voice of the living Lamb of God, the Alpha and Omega, our Messiah, Jesus. Later in the Revelation, Chapter 4, "The Voice like a trumpet" spoke again. Both times were explicit instructions, one to write, one to accompany "The Voice".

We've talked before about the shofar call being a spiritual experience. Here is John the Beloved, startled out of his sandals the first time, Hearing Jesus in a whole new way, with His "Heavenly Voice" more than His earthly, shepherd-to-the-sheep voice, giving John spiritual instruction through the trumpet blast. In Barnes New Testament Notes, Barnes talks specifically to the Jewishness of this trumpet: "The Hebrew word employed commonly to denote a trumpet—shophar—means 'bright and clear', and is supposed to have been given to the instrument on account of its clear and shrill sound, as we now give the name "clarion" to a certain wind instrument. The Hebrew trumpet is often referred to as employed, on account of its clearness, to summon people together..."

When Abba speaks to us, whether through the written Word of God, through the words of prophets, pastors, or any wise counsellor, or the impressions in our own spirits through symbol, sound, or substance, will we be quick to follow John's example of falling at His feet as though dead? Will we be "instantly in the Spirit" and transported to the "up here" that Messiah has for us to see? How shall we respond to the trumpet's call?

Blessed art thou, O Adonai our G-d, Who has commanded us to hear the trumpet blast!
Blessings!

Dean
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