The November - December 2000 Pneuma Informer
In this issue:
- Note from the Editor
- Pneuma News
- Update on the Religious Declaration on Human Sexual Morality
- Resources You Can Use
- Recommend Your On-line Resources
- Excerpts from the Winter 2001 issue (Vol 4, No 1) of the Pneuma Review
- Editor's Introduction to "Pentecostalism and Ecumenism: Past, Present, and Future" by Amos Yong
- From the article 'Pentecostalism and Ecumenism: Past, Present, and Future' Part 1 of 5 by Amos Yong
- Editorial "Growing Deep, Growing Strong" By H. Murray Hohns
- The full article of: 'The Call of the Shofar' by Kevin Williams. From the Messianic Foundations Series
- Prayer Requests
- Thought to Ponder
Note from the Editor
Greetings members and friends of the Pneuma Foundation.
I have the privilege of writing to you again and telling you about this special issue of the Pneuma Informer
. This is the November and December issue. This issue is a combined issue for the purpose of relieving our volunteer staff of extra preparation duties at holiday time. We will be including extensive excerpts from the Pneuma Review
, and I trust that you will enjoy them as always. You will also find an extension of E-mail specials in this issue from the last few issues.
Thanks for sending your prayer requests to us. We always love to hear from friends of this ministry, and it is our privilege to agree with you in prayer.
May the Lord's great love for you become more real to you in the coming days.
, Executive Editor
Webmaster Note: Please do not use any of the links or email addresses pointing to old Pneuma Foundation sites as they are likely inactive.
Some browsers have been having difficulty with seeing the www.PneumaFoundation.com website. Some people who have tried to access it have been sent to a webpage by DirectNIC giving them a '404' error. However, others have been able to see the website from different locations at the same time. Dave Driggs, the Pneuma Foundation webmaster has said that there are complicated reasons why some browsers or some locations may not be able to see a site. No one has noticed any difficulty with E-mail directed to @pneumafoundation.com, so please send Dave any questions about the site to: webmaster
. We hope to have this difficulty resolved in the near future. Thank you for your patience, and keep trying.
Update on the Religious Declaration on Human Sexual Morality
If you have been receiving the Pneuma Informer
for some time, you may remember our introduction to the Religious Declaration on Human Sexual Morality
. Preparation of this declaration is an effort by Mastering Life Ministries to counter a statement by liberal religious leaders that called for same-sex unions, ordination of homosexuals and abortion rights.
As of Nov 17, 2000, 1077 ministers and 255 ministry leaders endorsed the Religious Declaration on Human Sexual Morality
. Some of the endorsers are: Dr. John R.W. Stott, Dr. J.I. Packer, Dr. Bill Bright, Dr. Rick Warren, Dr. Stephen Olford and many other top Christian leaders and rank-and-file pastors, counselors and leaders in ministries. MLM is still a ways off from meeting their goal of 8,500 signatures, so if you have not yet signed the Declaration, log to the site, review it for yourself, and encourage pastors and ministry leaders you know to sign the Declaration.
For more information, visit the Mastering Life Ministries website dedicated to this Declaration. http://www.gospelcom.net/mlm
You may also contact them through the mail:
Mastering Life Ministries, P.O. Box 351149, Jacksonville, Fl. 32235 USA
Resources You Can Use
Ever wonder what is happening among Pentecostal/charismatic Christians throughout the world? If so, you might be interested in a free E-service from Strang Communications, publishers of Charisma
and Ministries Today
Charisma News Service gives daily reports of events and news of charismatic Christians in North America and throughout the world. Stories in CNS run for just a few paragraphs, with usually 4-6 stories per E-mail. Headlines appear at the top of the message, so you can jump to the stories of interest immediately.
If you have an interest in this, go to the CNS website: http://www.charismanews.com
Here you will find archives and how to receive your own free subscription.
Recommend Your On-line Resources
Please write to us and tell us what On-line resources have been the most useful to you. We would love to tell other Informer
readers about your finds and add the links to www.PneumaFoundation.org
Send us a note today with 3-5 of your favorite resources, and we will include them in future issues of the Pneuma Informer
. If you like, include a one-sentence description or recommendation. Feel free to include your own ministry website.
Excerpts from the Winter 2001issue (Vol 4, No 1) of the Pneuma Review
The Pneuma Review
is a quarterly printed journal of ministry resources and theology for Pentecostal and charismatic ministries and leaders.
Editor's Introduction to 'Pentecostalism and Ecumenism: Past, Present, and Future' by Amos Yong
I am pleased to present this important series by Professor Amos Yong. The subject of what ecumenism truly is and what it means to the Pentecostal/charismatic is an important one today.
This article has been specifically written to classical Pentecostals, those whose traditions come from the Azusa Street Outpouring of the early 20th Century. Classical Pentecostals have historically been predisposed against ecumenism. The reason for this is that ecumenism has often been viewed as an attempt by ungodly men to bring together all religions of the earth into a compromised one world religion.
Perhaps at no other time in North American history has the church been on the precipice that we are today. While the rest of the nations of the earth are experiencing dramatic awakenings, the church of North America continues to lose ground. Morally and evangelistically (if nothing else), the church is not the agent for change or preservation she was just decades ago. Some have forecasted persecution of Christians in the relative near future. All Christian leaders seem to realize that something must change in order for the church to impact the rising generations of fatherless, visionless youth.
Whether the woes of the church can be rectified such that she regains her saltiness is more than a matter of eschatology. Whether you believe that the church is going to usher in the Millennial reign of Christ or that we are on the brink of the Tribulation, we have standing commands in God's Word to embrace believers as brethren and love one another. My prayer is that you will study this subject with heart tuned to what the Spirit is saying to the church. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
, Executive Editor
* From the article 'Pentecostalism and Ecumenism: Past, Present, and Future' Part 1 of 5 by Amos Yong
In this paper, I would like to raise and attempt to answer four questions. First, is there a biblical ecumenism, and if so, what does that mean (this will be answered in Part 1)? Second, what are some of the classical Pentecostal objections to ecumenism, and how might these be answered (Part 2)? Third, does Pentecostalism have an ecumenical history, and if so, how has this related to the ecumenical movement in the mainline churches (Parts 3-4)? Finally, what is the future of Pentecostal ecumenism and what might be ways we could contribute to such a venture (Part 5)? Let us plunge right into this difficult topic.
I. The Biblical Basis of Ecumenism
The English word 'ecumenism' is a transliteration of the Greek word oikoumene of which various forms are found fifteen times in the New Testament (Matt. 24:14; Luke 2:1, 4:5, 21:26; Acts 11:28, 17:6, 31, 19:27, 24:5; Rom. 10:18; Heb. 1:6, 2:5; Rev. 3:10, 12:9, 16:14). Derived from oikos house and meno dwelling it is invariably translated 'world' or 'whole world,' and signifies the world's inhabitants. Clearly, oikoumene most often functions as a figure of speech describing a pervasive reality. It is not used in the modern sense of the term as related to the unity of the Church except in a very indirect way when referring to the widespread influence of Christian actions such as preaching the gospel (e.g., Matt. 24:14; Acts 17:6, 24:5; Rom. 10:18). Instances of the term in the New Testament do not therefore advance our understanding of contemporary ecumenism. Its current use derives more so from the etymology of the term the whole world or the entire household or inhabitants of the world rather than from the specific ways in which it is used in the New Testament.
Contemporary ecumenism, however, is intimately connected with ecclesiology, or the doctrine of the Church. Here, of course, there is an abundant wealth of biblical material that emphasizes the unity of the body of Christ. In fact, the metaphor of household (oikeios) is applied to the Church as well (Gal. 6:10). In Paul's letter to the Ephesians, the household of God (2:19) is composed of both Jews and Gentiles (cf. 2:11-22), is governed by the gospel (oikonomia; 3:2), and is united together 'in the promise in Christ Jesus' (3:6). Later on in this same letter, he writes, 'Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit just as you were called to one hope when you were called one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all' (4:3-6). Clearly, for Paul, the oneness of God extends to the effects of the work of God, the Church, its faith, its baptism, etc.
This Paul confirms in no uncertain terms in his first letter to the Corinthians where factions had developed among those baptized by Paul, by Apollos, by Peter, and so on (1 Cor. 1:10-16; 3:4, 21-23). In response, Paul again emphasizes, among other things, the unity of the body of Christ (12:12 ff.). The intention of God is that 'there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it' (12:25-27). Some might respond that Paul is here speaking to the various individual persons who make up the one body of Christ at Corinth. They may therefore say that these words provide no justification for thinking about the unity of various churches as understood by the contemporary ecumenical movement. This ignores, however, both the plain understanding of Paul's usage of the metaphor 'body of Christ' to describe the Church here and elsewhere in his writings, and the fact that in his salutation, he addresses not only the Corinthians but also 'all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ their Lord and ours' (1:2). It is therefore arguable that the 'various parts of the one body' metaphor is meaningful at a number of levels, including various individual persons in one local congregation, various congregations in a city or geographic region, various groups of churches in the world, and so on.
To stop with Paul, however, would be to leave the discussion at a fairly abstract level. A much more concrete picture emerges when considering the gospel accounts. Specifically, ecumenists have frequently pointed to Jesus' 'high priestly prayer' for the disciples and all believers in John 17. God's heart for the church and the world is unmistakable as the following lengthy excerpt shows:
My prayer is not for them alone [the immediate disciples, in vv. 19 and before]. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they [the disciples] know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them (John 17:20-26).
. . .
Editorial 'Growing Deep, Growing Strong' By H. Murray Hohns
Why commitment to a local church is not just an option.
I have six stories to tell to set the stage for where I want to go. They are short stories, and they are true stories. You will like the stories. I know the people in each of them.
I will start with one where I was directly involved. A few months ago my wife and I went 2500 miles from our home, and attended a Sunday morning service at the church of her youth. It was the weekend of her 50th High School Reunion and also the first time that she had been back to that area since she graduated in 1950. Jean's Dad pastored that church for 13 years from 1938 to 1950. My wife grew up in its parsonage, and had gone to elementary school and then junior and senior high in the same town.
Jean remembered the church and the 300-400 people that used to fill it every Sunday. She still knew some of them there the Sunday we visited even though 50 years had passed. Later at lunch she talked about how her father and mother had loved and served all those people during those 13 years. She remembered her Dad on his knees daily praying for various members of the church. My wife knew her Dad as a godly man and remembers him, as do I, as just that.
Jean's Dad was ordained in a holiness denomination where the national church polity gave the congregation the responsibility to vote on the acceptability of their pastor each year, and his/her contract was renewed for another year after the vote. While there were and are instances where the denomination allowed contracts longer than one year, the polity essentially was and still is one where the pastor serves at the sheep's pleasure. In the summer of 1950 after 13 years of dedicated loving service, her Dad's congregation voted him out of his pastorate by one vote.
My second story is about one of my daughters. A couple of years ago she asked me what I thought she should do with her tithe. Her church was buzzing with rumors that the pastor was misusing church funds. She was uncomfortable with giving her money to a bad cause. What should she and her husband do?
The next story is about a retired businessman who had held ministerial credentials in his denomination off and on over his career. He had a seminary degree, was well read in theological matters, and late in his life was an unpaid though recognized and respected member of the pastoral staff in one of the denomination's largest churches. He did a lot of counseling, and the congregation always enjoyed his thoughts when he was allowed to teach from the pulpit. It was a growing church and people were constantly being saved which meant a baptismal service was held every month for a hundred or so candidates that wanted to follow that ordinance. My friend was one of the dozen pastoral staff members who administered those rites on that monthly Sunday afternoon.
One Sunday when he arrived for the service, the staff pastor responsible that afternoon called him aside and said that the church management team had decided that my friend would not be needed to administer baptism that day or any more. The church's call was to identify and equip young emerging leaders, and he was too old. They needed his space on the team to train the new ministers or potential ministers.
The next story is about a distinguished influential Christian layman who took offense to a group of Christians who loved to dance and attended a church where the pastor allowed them to dance as part of the Sunday morning worship services. Even worse they danced the hula, a dance with pagan origins and followings. When the pastor declined this fellow's request that the dancing be stopped, the man wrote a long critical letter to the editor of the City's largest newspaper who printed it with a big border on the editorial page along with the opinions of several ministers the paper had solicited who likewise urged that the dance was irreverent and ungodly. The group still dances at the church and travels extensively in the US and abroad dancing in churches. A number of fine Christians left the church because of the dancing.
Then there is the Christian lady I once knew who had suffered a shattered eardrum in an accident. Her affliction required surgery and she had an appointment for that in several days with an eye and ear hospital in a nearby city. In that interval, her husband took her to hear a man with the gift of healing, and while he was preaching, God healed her ear and the surgery was cancelled. She took that healing as a confirmation that she possessed superior spiritual properties and a deep understanding of God's ways. When someone resisted her ideas, she became angry, resentful and bitter. She literally would shake the dust off her feet and after speaking the appropriate warning to those needing to be warned, she would exit, never to return.
Eight years later her husband finally gave up and left her, and she became someone who bounced from church to para-church to church and on and on. It seemed that every time phenomena were present in a meeting, she was there with an opinion, the correct opinion of how things should be done.
My last story is about a church where God's spirit and presence were evident for a long season of time. The congregation grew in that season of fifteen years from 20 to 5,000 every Sunday. People were saved, healed, delivered; prophecy was commonplace and every gift of the Holy Spirit was in operation. Most of the congregation spoke in tongues, and those who did not constantly were seeking the gift. Over time they built or acquired facilities to house all the people that came. It was the flagship church in its denomination and it contributed the most money to missions and headquarters.
Then the season changed. The time for gathering was over and the congregation stayed at the 5,000 level for many years. People still came and they went as well. Some were passing by and were curious. Some came once and got miffed at something or someone and never came back. Some moved because of reasons unrelated to the church. New faces were ever present each Sunday as people replaced those who left. The new folks got saved, trained, filled with the Spirit and took their places in the local congregation and in the Kingdom of God. Some attended and never came into salvation, and they too are still there or have been replaced by others with the same experience.
Finally after 25 years in leadership, the pastor retired and a new man came on to lead. The church continues. It is healthy and vibrant, a haven of rest, a safe port in the storms of life, a place to meet God for the first time, a place to grow in Him to Whom we owe all, to develop a pure heart and a tender heart as well. Its congregation does not vote on its pastor, instead the pastor can cast a vision for his congregation and can work at seeing it come to pass.
It's a church that births other churches, identifies and equips those called to ministry, supports and blesses other godly works both within and outside its own walls. It is a place where the mantle can be passed. A place to hang out and hang on.
I told you these stories to set the stage to respond to a request from one of our readers who asked us to comment on what he called 'Cruise-amatics'. Our reader is a Spirit-filled Episcopalian minister who indicated he was troubled about what he saw as an unusually high percentage of people filled with the Spirit like you and me but who never belong anywhere. I intentionally ended all my above stories early, I only finished the last one. I wanted to let you think about each situation I described and to imagine what the end of each story should entail.
The first Psalm is on point on these, the cruisers, who fit our inquiring reader's description. The Psalm defines a blessed man and it says in part of that definition that:
He is like a tree planted by streams of water. A tree which yields its fruit in season.
I live in Hawaii. It is a beautiful land of rainbows, and there are lots of trees that we do not see in many places in North America. Hawaii's trees are green all year round. They have root systems that are often astonishing to behold. Our trees have to withstand the ever present strong trade winds and the hurricanes that come through every ten years or so. We have a dry season that lasts six months each year. Our beautiful trees have roots that grow down deep into the soil and in so doing become strong so they can find and feed on the moisture and nutrients in the soil so their portion above ground can withstand the strong forces that would topple what we love so.
You cannot easily move a tree planted deep and strong or one planted by streams of water. If you do, the tree will wither and die. I have moved some houseplants, and they lost their vigor and beauty. I submit that the cruising charismatic misses or lacks what is necessary to grow strong. God can certainly bless a cruiser apart from a local church, but His plan is clear. He says that the local congregation is the place to build roots that go deep and strong. Rooted that reach the point where they are convinced that God is able to keep that which they have committed to Him against that day. The bouncing charismatic is like the chaff that the wind blows away. They float here and there, tossed about by the winds of what is the 'latest.' Their habits and ways never take them to the end where God intended them be.
On the other hand, true Spirit filled people are wise people. Wise people are pure, peace loving, willing to yield, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. They are peacemakers who sow in peace and raise a harvest of righteousness. Spirit filled people also know when to pull up stakes and move their tent and flock to another location. Seasons when it is time to move come occasionally to most of us. The mature dependable Spirit filled people of God are prudent and discerning. Their decisions are thought through and prayed through. They are people where the ordinary and the righteous have long merged in the deepest part of their souls. They are the old money in the Kingdom of God, the people who count and are wanted everywhere. They can hear the voice of the good shepherd, and they follow that voice to the good pasture he has selected for their growth. They are not cruising through the Kingdom, they are not looking for entertainment. Their call is to serve their master all day, every day even when the price they must pay to serve is so high it costs all they have. They are God's people, special in his sight, set aside for his purposes, calling and blessing and you can be one of them. Tough people may get going when the going gets tough, but when God's people face a challenge they go to Him and listen for his voice. When they hear that voice, they move with the confidence that only the bonding of the commander, commandee and commandment can produce: A prophetic awareness of God.
The full article of: 'The Call of the Shofar' by Kevin Williams. From the Messianic Foundations Series.
In this edition of Messianic Foundations, we're going to take a look at the ram's horn trumpet called the shofar in Hebrew. It has played an important role throughout Scripture, and will play a crucial role in the days that lie ahead as we wait for the return of the Messiah. We are going to look at some of the different ways the shofar was used, what symbolic representations it took on as Jewish theology was molded, and how all of these things might apply to us today. We're going to cover:
- The Akedah (The Binding of Isaac)
- The Call to Repentance
- The Call to Assemble
- The Last Trumpet
Over the last decade there has been a growing trend in churches to incorporate the shofar or ram's horn into praise and worship. This uniquely stylized trumpet has become one of the few symbols in traditional Judaism which the church has felt comfortable adopting, and rightfully so. It has a meaningful position in our biblical heritage dating all the way back to Abraham, and plays a crucial role in prophetic events as believers in Messiah listen for the 'last trump.'
There are two basic types of shofars. The oldest, and still widely accepted type among much of the Orthodoxy (Chassidim), is short with one curve in it. The timbre is usually a 'tenor' sound. The shofar gaining wider popularity is the more recent, long, gently curving and twisting Yemenite shofar. These produce a lush baritone sound that carries further and seems to be more desirable. The tone is produced in the same way a person blows a trumpet, but pressing the lips tightly together and making an 'elephant' noise into the narrow opening. With a little practice, almost anyone can produce a sound. Some people can produce two or three notes, and one Israeli believer I know can play two at the same time!
The pictures, at least during the Temple period, are vivid. Imagine if you will, the walls of the Temple surrounding the outer most gates, lined shoulder to shoulder by levitical priests. Each has in his hand a shofar. The sun is sinking low in the western sky, casting the Holy City, Jerusalem, in a blazing golden hue against her sandstone buildings. For miles around the sacred mount, the gold topped Temple looks like fire. Your nose twitches with the fresh scent of the ketoret the holy incense now being burned on the altar of incense. 'Soon,' you say to yourself, 'Very soon now.'
You cannot see it, but you know that somewhere in the middle of that column of smoke rising into the heavens, is the presence of the Almighty, the God of Israel. And where the Shekinah glory rests, is the Ark of the Covenant also known as the Tree of Life. Images of Moses at the burning bush spring to mind. Just as the tree would burn yet was not consumed, so it was now in Israel. The Tree of Life was burning with God's holy presence, yet was not consumed. Rather the truth of the God of the Hebrews was spreading throughout the pagan world as gentile 'God-fearers' were joining synagogues in ever-increasing numbers.
The sun sets and a quiet expectation rests on the Promised Land. The column of smoke has now become a pillar of fire, and the Temple no longer reflects the sun's brilliance, but has become its emanating source as the external glory has become internal a foretaste of the coming One who whose light would be seen by all, and then radiate within the living temple.
Glancing toward the sky, first one star can be seen, then two. 'Any moment now,' you say to yourself. As soon as the third star is witnessed, the air fills with the sounds of the ram's horns as the trumpet blasts from the Temple Mount reverberate in the surrounding mountains, falling back on itself in ripples of splendorous waves of multi-tonal sounds. A new day has been declared in Israel.
This is but one picture which if time permitted, we could explore in greater detail of many represented by the ram's horn. The shofar had a daily commonalty not unlike the noon-day bell in hamlets all around the world. But it also held a place of honor as it signified beginnings, and endings. It summoned men to war. It called the people to assembly to hear the very words of God. It announced the celebratory feast days, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and the New Moon, among others. Before we examine each of these roles, let's take a look at what the shofar has come to symbolized to Jewish men and women in synagogues around the world.
The 'Akedah' is a Hebrew term literally translated as 'the binding.' For the observant Jew and now for you it brings to mind the binding of Abraham's son, Isaac. The shofar has become the earthly symbol of Isaac's ordeal, and when one hears the ram's horn, he is to remember that 'God will provide a lamb.' These are words that should resonate within every believer, as Abraham's words became the fulfilled proclamation of the most blessed man ever born to woman John, son of Zechariah: 'The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, 'Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!''
But for many the shofar's relevance in the Akedah is deeper still. In the binding of Isaac, we find many characteristics of the Messiah of Israel. In the chart below, borrowed from the study booklet The Holidays of God: Fall Feasts
, we find many Messianic parallels between Isaac and Jesus.
I am sure that if you and I were to pour over the texts, we could find even more parallels than the 15 listed above. But likely, at least two of the comparisons in our chart jumped out at you as new. If you are a born-again, Bible-believing Christian, accepting the accuracy and infallibility of the Word, the concept that Isaac was sacrificed and resurrected comes as a total surprise! Where does it say that in Scripture?
In truth, the Bible does not teach that Isaac was sacrificed. It comes out of an ancient tradition in Orthodox Judaism. Yet what a striking picture of the Messiah, who was sacrificed, dead and raised again to life!
Here is one commentary on the Akedah from Rosh Hashanah: It's Significance, Laws, & Prayers
A reading of the Talmudic sources makes clear that God thinks of Isaac as if he had actually been sacrificed and his remains burned on the altar
Isaac's ashes are before [God] always a living reminder of Isaac's covenant because an ascent to such spiritual heights as the Akedah never dies. Therefore too, Isaac's life after the Akedah was of a different order than any other. He was a living sacrifice, sanctified, and spiritual.
We do not have the time here to dive into all the implications of the rabbis' teachings, or what a powerful tool they can be in sharing the Good News with your Jewish friends. But the similarities between the person of Isaac and the person of Jesus are undeniable.
All of this is to say, that when the ram's horn is blown in synagogues, or throughout the streets of Israel (and maybe in your own church as well) it is supposed to bring to mind the Akedah, the binding of Isaac and all that happened there. If this is true in Judaism, then how much more so for us in the community of the redeemed, who see this picture's grand fulfillment in Jesus the living sacrifice, sanctified, and spiritual?
The Call to Repentance
Given what we now know about the Akedah, we are ready to move into the next attribute of the shofar the call to repentance.
When the shofar is blown, a person does not know if God Himself is about to make an appearance.
Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet [shofar in the Hebrew] was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.
To stand before the Almighty Creator is a fearful thing. Who among us could bear it? Even Isaiah, who by our standards was completely obedient and lawful, full of the Spirit of God, and a prophet among prophets, felt he was undone when He stood before Yaweh. How much more so for us?
Therefore, the shofar became the ultimate call to repentance. You may have scarcely a heartbeat to turn from sin before He would stand before you. Who wants to be caught before the Judge of all the earth in sin?
Hence, the Feast of Trumpets (also called Yom Teruah or Rosh Hashanah) in the biblical calendar begins with the shofar blasts, and the call to repentance. In fact, since Trumpets begins on the first day of Tishri, the month prior, Elul, is devoted to turning one's heart and mind toward repentance. Prayers are offered asking God to call to mind any and all sins which have not been dealt with, all debts to neighbors, friends, family members which have not been put to rest. Promises and vows are critiqued and examined. 'Did I live up to my promises?'
One of the other unique properties assigned to the shofar by the rabbis is that when it is blown, it sends Satan and his minions into total confusion. While I cannot attest to this as true, I like to imagine the hordes of evil swirling about in confounded rage with all of that 'repenting' going on!
The Call to War
The shofar was commonly used as a battle horn, not unlike the bulls' horns of medireview Europe, or the trumpet in America's own Civil War.
'And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets (Joshua 6:4).'
From this point on, the shofar became God's battle call. With the shofar often tucked into your belt, you can see why the smaller, more traditional ram's horn would prove more battle-ready than the longer, twisted Yemenite Shofar.
As mentioned above, according to the rabbis, the shofar sends the demonic realm into confusion. Maybe yes, maybe no. But, when we as the body of Messiah come together to worship and to pray to enter into spiritual warfare I believe blowing the shofar is very appropriate. According to Nehemiah: 'Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet [shofar], rally to us there. Our God will fight for us (4:20).'
The shofars were a very effective communications tool in Israel. Within minutes, from the sound of the first shofar, a network of watchmen set on hills could hear, and sound their shofar off into the next community or mountain. Men would drop their winnowing forks and shepherd's staffs to pick up their battle gear and gather into the Lord's army.
What a wonderful picture for us! Would that we, as a community, could be signaled from anyplace in the country to gather together into God's spiritual army. Would we drop everything to enter into battle against the encroaching enemy of our souls?
The Call to Assemble
Another important attribute of the shofar was to call the people into assembly. When this shofar call went out, it meant that God had something to say to the people. The congregation would gather together into what in Hebrew is called an Adat. The Hebrew word Adat means 'assembly or congregation,' but the first two letters in the word, ayin and dalet, form a word meaning 'to bear witness.' The congregation not only gathered to hear the Most High's instructions, but to bear witness of them to others.
'And when the blast of the shofar sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice (Exodus 19:19),' and so was the advent of the 10 Commandments at Mount Sinai.
The other unique principle of this assembly is that they were 'one' assembly. The Hebrew used is echad, a composite unity. It is the same 'one' applied to man and woman who through marriage come together as one flesh. It is the same 'one' used in Deuteronomy 6, that 'the Lord our God is One.' If you will, it is a picture of Messiah's One Body, a singular congregation unified in Him, and as already discussed, bearing witness of His reality.
The Last Trumpet
There are other minor aspects of the shofar we could discuss, but perhaps the one following is of the most significance to the modern-day believer.
'Then you shall cause the shofar of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth [day] of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the shofar to sound throughout all your land (Leviticus 25:9).'
The Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, generally falls in late September or early October. It is also known by Hebrew tradition as the Awesome Day of the Lord. Certainly, it is the day legally set aside by the Almighty for Atonement under the Temple sacrificial system. However, it is also the day when the King of all the earth sits on His Judgment Seat.
Once every 50 years, at the close of Yom Kippur that is to say, at sun down a shofar is blown to announce the beginning of the Yovel, the Jubilee. This particular shofar blast has the unique distinction of being called the last trumpet.
Does that strike a chord in you? Does that title remind you of the words of Rabbi Paul?
. . . in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed (1 Corinthians 15:52).
What a moment that will be! And everything we have learned here will be true. Those who recognize the greater Akedah (Binding of Isaac) in Christ Jesus those who have repented will hear the shofar's call. Those who are raised incorruptible or translated from this life into the next will answer the shofar's call to war to do battle with the enemies of El Shaddai (God Almighty).8 Those who assemble before the King of kings and Lord or lords will be 'one' assembly, bearing witness to the world that Jesus Christ is Lord over all the earth. In the twinkling of an eye, we shall hear the last trumpet and be brought into the full revelation of the Jubilee.
The Spirit of the Lord GOD [is] upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to [those who are] bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD9, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified (Isaiah 61:1-3).
At the sound of the shofar, the last trumpet, new trees will be planted, and like the burning bush before Moses, like the Tree of Life in the Temple, they shall burn with the fire of the Almighty, but they shall not be consumed.
This is the eighth article written on Messianic Foundations for the Pneuma Review. I have hesitated at every turn to say, '. . . and the church should do this,' leaving those choices up to each individual according to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
Yet at this point, concerning the shofar, it seems only logical that since we as the Body of Christ yearn to hear that last trumpet, we would want to incorporate so mighty a symbol of our faith into our congregational worship. I know churches all around the globe are using them to their great delight. They've been heard in popular recordings by Integrity Music's Paul Wilber. I have witnessed hundreds of thousands of men at the Promise Keepers rally in Washington D.C. in 1997 make a joyful noise after hearing the shofars with a singular shout of praise that had to reach the heavens. No one considered it legalistic or 'Jewish.' Rather, they recognized deep down inside the intrinsic call of the shofar, to repentance, to battle, to assembly, and to Jubilee.
- God's Appointed Times, Barney Kasdan, Lederer Messianic Publications, Baltimore, MD, 1993
- The Holidays of God: Fall Feasts, Kevin Williams, RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI, 2000
- Rosh Hashanah: It's Significance, Laws, & Prayers, Mesorah Publications, Ltd., Brooklyn, NY, 1983
- The Fall Feasts of Israel, Mitch and Zhava Glaser, Moody Press, Chicago, IL, 1987
-  1 Corinthians 15:52.
-  2 Corinthians 6:16.
-  Genesis 22:8.
-  John 1:29.
-  p. 11 (To order a copy without cost or obligation, write RBC Ministries at PO Box 2222, Grand Rapids, MI 49501-2222 and ask for booklet #Q0408. Find them on the web at: www.rbc.org).
-  pp. 33, 34; brackets mine.
-  Isaiah 6:5.
-  If Satan wasn't thrown into chaos when the shofar was sounded earlier, he certainly will be when the last trumpet is blown.
-  The Acceptable Year of the LORD is a euphemism for the Year of Jubilee.
- Please pray for Dave and Debbie Johnson and their ministry in the Philippines in the remote Bicol region. The region was recently struck by a powerful typhoon, and many of the area sharecroppers have lost their entire livelihood. Although there were mudslides and much destruction of property, Dave has reported that no lives were lost during the storm. Please pray that ministry is able to continue unhindered, sharing the life-changing Message of Jesus Christ. Dave Johnson is a contributing editor to the Pneuma Review.
- A friend of the ministry has asked for prayer for her unsaved son, Mike, and daughter in law. She says that their marriage is falling apart and they have 2 little girls.
- A minister in the UK has asked us to pray with him that the Lord will make him into an expositor of His Word and that He will receive the glory. Please join the Pneuma Foundation volunteer staff in trusting the Holy Spirit to make him a teacher and leader that He can use effectively.
- Pastor Abraham Emmanuel has asked for prayer for the ministry efforts he oversees in the nation of Sri Lanka. His Nazarene evangelistic mission has sent out four full-time evangelists which are in desperate need of support. For as little as $26 USD a month, these ministers can be sent into the war torn regions of Sri Lanka to share Jesus.
Pastor Abraham writes, 'These days our country situation is very very worst. As a minority we have to face lots of inconvenience when we go out of the house, because last week in a rehabilitation camp 29 Tamil youths (under 18 yrs) were killed inside the camp itself. Therefore all the Tamil speaking people of the country were very angry and they try to show their sympathy by picketing things and strikes on behalf of these 29 people. Because of this, there are lots of unpleasant things took place everywhere. (Specially in Nuwara Eliya district is very worst) So brother, the situation is very bad now. The devil is in uncontrolled. Please pray for our country. The devil is bringing so many obstacles to block the Lord's work.
'We are praying for your ministry and please pray for us.
'May God bless you and your ministry, --Abraham Emmanuel.'
If you would like information on how you may support Pastor Abraham's ministry, please write to Raul Mock for this information: email@example.com. You may also contact him directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Thanks to the generous gifts of our members and friends, the Pneuma Foundation Treasurer has reported that if gifts continue to come in as they have, our need mentioned in the October 2000 issue will be met. Thanks for your support in prayer and financially.
- The printing of the Winter 2001 issue of the Pneuma Review was executed with next to no difficulties, and the production staff is rejoicing. Thanks for praying with us about this need. It appears that the Pneuma Foundation has found a good solution to its printing needs of the Pneuma Review for some time to come.
- Please send us your prayer requests and praise reports. We have a great God who always meets our needs.
- If you would like more information about how you may help in meeting these needs, please E-mail us at: email@example.com.
Thought to Ponder
'God is looking for [ministers] through whom He can do the impossible. What a pity that we plan only the things we can do by ourselves.'