“If a Shofar shall be blown in a city, can it be that the inhabitants will not be shaken?” (Amos 3:6)
Mysterious trumpet-like noises from the sky have been “continuing to baffle people all over the world,” the Daily Mail reported. People in Germany, Ukraine and even Canada and the United States have reported hearing the sounds, leaving many to speculate whether a heavenly signal is being blown from above.
The Bible provides various signs as to the beginning of the Messianic era and the End of Days. However, one such sign, or rather sound, will herald in his final arrival and signal to the nations God’s ultimate kingship – the shofar, or ram’s horn.
Today, a tourist who goes to the Yochanan Ben Zakai Synagogue in Jerusalem will notice something very unusual. High up, on an inaccessible glass shelf, is a flask of oil and a shofar. The two items look incongruous – too high to be viewed by the public and unreachable for practical use. Yet, they serve an important purpose.
The special oil and shofar are waiting for the arrival of the Messiah, where they will play a role in greeting and anointing him, just as every Jewish king in history has been greeted – with the sound of the shofar and doused in oil sanctified for that purpose (1 Kings 1).
The shofar is traditionally blown in the days leading up to the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashana and on the days of the holiday itself. The Hebrew month of Elul, which began on the eve of August 14, begins a month-long process of repentance leading into Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
The shofar serves as a piercing reminder to the soul of His kingship and acts as a wake-up call for repentance. Jews around the world sound the shofar every morning for 30 days of Elul and then 10 additional days during the Days of Awe. The origin of blowing the shofar as a form of repentance goes back to Moses ascending Mt.Sinai for 40 days before bringing the Torah down to Israel.
The Biblical significance of and the ancestral connection to the shofar serves as a reminder of personal service to God. The piercing sound of the ram’s horn is a wakeup call to the nations to seek out God and inwardly repent, an essential element to the ultimate arrival of the Messiah.
The shofar’s origin is attributed to the binding of Isaac, when Abraham’s love of God was tested against the love of his son. At the last moment, an angel stayed his hand, and in place, a ram was substituted instead (Genesis 22:13). The site of the altar is, according to Jewish tradition, the site of the Holy Temple, where the ram appeared again as a sacrifice and its horns were used as shofarot in the Temple service.
The primal horn, limited to one note, played a significant role in the Temple service, and the sounds of many shofarot blown simultaneously was heard on every holy day. It is interesting to note that in the Temple, which used gold, silver, and precious gems extensively, adorning a shofar made it unsuitable for use. The sound, as well as the Shofar itself, had to be a simple crying out to God.
The importance of the shofar and its connection to the Holy Temple was exemplified during the 1967 Six Day War. Chief Rabbi of the IDF Shlomo Goren carried a Torah scroll and shofar to the Western Wall following the liberation of Jerusalem from Jordanian rule. The moment, captured in an iconic photo, was the first time a shofar had been blown and heard in the heart of Jerusalem in hundreds of years.
Blowing the shofar in celebration of liberating Jerusalem served two purposes: a shofar always goes before the Nation of Israel in battle (Numbers 10:9) and, as Rabbi Goren explained later, unifying Jerusalem was part of the Messianic process, therefore requiring the blowing of a shofar.