The Trumpet Calls Israel to Prayer in the Midst of a Storm
While turmoil grips the political world, tens of thousands of Jews come together to pray God at the Western Wall.
Sunday, October 06, 2019
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The world is in a state of political turmoil with the “sea and waves” roaring.
In Britain, the parliament has been forced by the courts to re-open after being shut down by the Prime Minister. It is less than a month until the October 31st deadline for Brexit and there is no clear path out of Europe yet.
In America, the President is under constant attack, threatened by impeachment by the liberal left who hate him and his polices with virulent hatred.
In Israel, the country is divided down the middle between secular and religious parties, and the formation of a government is looking unlikely, possibly forcing a third election in the same year.
In Canada, with a general election one week away, the Conservative prime-ministerial candidate is having his character assassinated for issues such as not marching for gay pride.
In the midst of all this, this past week was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, and next week is Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, the week following is Sukkot, or the feast of tabernacles. These are some of the holy days outlined under the law of Moses which are observed by the Jewish people today.
Leading up to the celebration of Rosh Hashanah is Selichot. This year the event saw tens of thousands of Jews congregate at the Western wall and engage in joint prayer. Selichot simply means “prayers”. It is interesting to see such a large congregation of Jews gathering at this time to engage in prayer.
According to one Jewish website, Selichot prayers are described this way:
“We sense the extraordinary nature of the prayer and turn introspectively within ourselves. The prayers themselves are pleas for mercy. The melodies are sad and full of longing. Properly chanted, they form an oratorio expressing the despair that accompanies separation from God and the desire to change and repent.”
It is a reflection on the name and character of God and his forgiving nature based on Exodus:
“And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6–7)
The coming together of Jews to pray the Selichot prayers is quite moving because of the words of the prophets. Consider the words of Malachi to Israel:
“Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.” (Malachi 4:4)
The fact that Jews are coming together and reciting prayers based on the Torah – where God revealed himself to Moses and the people of Israel is fascinating. It is even more fascinating that they are doing this in Jerusalem in the tens of thousands.
Listen to the voices…
One of the prayers at this time is called Avinu Malkeinu, and is described by a Rabbi:
Because Rosh Hashanah is a coronation of God as king of the universe, one of the most famous and familiar prayers of this season is Avinu Malkeinu (“Our Father, Our King”). Consisting of 20 lines of entreaties asking God to forgive our sins, to help us achieve repentance for our transgressions, to remember us favourably, and so on, it concludes with a haunting congregational melody in which the community sings “Our Father, Our King, graciously answer us, although we are without merit. Deal with us charitably, and lovingly save us.”
What is worthy of note is what God says of his people in the Prophecy of Zechariah:
“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.” (Zechariah 13:7–9)
The context of this passage is the scattering of the sheep when the shepherd is smitten. We know the shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, was smitten around AD 33. The sheep were scattered in AD 70 and since that time have been going through the furnace of affliction. This is spoken of in Isaiah:
“For my name’s sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off. Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.” (Isaiah 48:9–11)
The people of Israel have certainly been in the furnace of affliction for the past two thousand years. Yet as both Isaiah and Zechariah indicate they will be brought through the fire and refined. The result of the refining process is that they will “call upon my name, and I will hear them” says God, and reclaim them as his people, and they shall say, “The LORD is my God.” This is an exciting concept, that God has begun the process of bringing his people back to himself as he promised throughout the prophets.
As tens of thousands of Israelites come to Jerusalem to pray for forgiveness our minds are reminded of these passages in Isaiah (and other of the prophets), and the redemption that is coming:
“Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people. Behold, the LORD hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the LORD: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.” (Isaiah 62:10–12)
Zion’s saviour is coming. When he does come, they will recognize him at the moment of crisis:
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:9–10)
They will finally recognize him:
“And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.” (Zechariah 13:6)
It is at the end of a long period of desolation that Israel will welcome their Messiah, after a long period of them rejecting him, according to the words of the Lord:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (Matthew 23:37–39)
Israel’s house has been left desolate for 2000 years, and at the end of that period, termed “the times of the Gentiles” the house of Israel is being regathered, and eventually they will call the Lord Jesus blessed.
The city of Jerusalem is central to this prophecy at the time of crisis. The prophet Joel records:
“For, behold, in those days, and in that time, When I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, And will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, And will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.” (Joel 3:1–2)
It was in 1967 that Israel again came in possession of Jerusalem, 2300 years following the commencement of the 2300 year prophecy given to Daniel by the angel Gabriel.
“Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one who spoke, “For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?” And he said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.”” (Daniel 8:13–14 ESV)
So remarkably the Jews can now gather in the holy city, to pray for the restoration of the temple and the coming of Messiah, and their redemption.
Following the prayers of repentance comes Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, which occurred on September 30-October 1, Monday and Tuesday of this past week.
The Jewish new year is brought in by the blowing of trumpets, which is based on Leviticus 23:23-24:
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.” (Leviticus 23:23–25)
So as Jews met in Jerusalem, the ram’s horn sounded out across the city.
Why we find this so interesting is the change of circumstances that have allowed this event to take place in Jerusalem. For thousands of years the Jews utter a prayer at the end of the Passover Seder and at the prayer service ending Yom Kippur, “L'Shana Haba'ah B'Yerushalayim,” meaning “next year in Jerusalem.” This prayer encapsulates the desire of the Jews to return to the land and rebuild Jerusalem.
The Jews have now returned to Jerusalem, and are in possession of it, and many of them are in eager anticipation of the third temple being built and of Messiah’s coming.
Ten days following Rosh Hashanah is Yom Kippur. Yom is the Hebrew word “day” and Kippur means “covering” and has the same word root used for the “kippah,” or small round head covering worn by Jewish men after rabbinical tradition, called a yamaka in Yiddish (it isn’t a biblical commandment). This day of covering reminds the Israelite of mankind’s need to be covered in order to come before God, just like God provided the coverings for Adam and Eve at the beginning of creation.
“Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.” (Leviticus 23:27–29)
This occurs October 8-9, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.
It is not possible for proper observance of Yom Kippur to be held at this time as it required an “offering made by fire”. This offering was to be made by the High Priest:
“For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD… And he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation.” (Leviticus 16:30,33)
Israel today is in a similar predicament that they were in the days of the prophet Azariah:
“And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded: And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law. But when they in their trouble did turn unto the LORD God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them.” (2 Chronicles 15:1–4)
What would change the predicament was if they “turned to him” and “sought him” then God would again answer them. This condition was to come on the people of Israel again, as Hosea prophesied:
“For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.” (Hosea 3:4–5)
We live in the very end of the days of the time when Israel is without a king, a prince or sacrifice. They are beginning to seek the LORD their God, and soon will have Messiah revealed to them, and the temple mount will be cleansed completely, and the restored. There will be a restoration of temple worship and sacrifice once again. Israel will call upon their God and he will hear them.
We are witness of the commencement of that process. Israel is back in the land, and more Jews are returning all the time. The “times of the Gentiles” have expired. The city of the great king has been restored to Jewish hands. The Jews are again calling upon their God, and he tells us he will again hear their prayers.
May that day be soon when God will bring about the promises he made to Abraham, which include the Gospel message, where all nations are blessed in him.
May he answer the prayers of the Jewish people, and redeem them through the Messiah. Then will Israel say,
“The LORD hath chastened me sore: But he hath not given me over unto death. Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD: This gate of the LORD, Into which the righteous shall enter. I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, And art become my salvation. The stone which the builders refused Is become the head stone of the corner. This is the LORD’s doing; It is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the LORD hath made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: We have blessed you out of the house of the LORD. God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light: Bind the sacrifice with cords, Even unto the horns of the altar. Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: Thou art my God, I will exalt thee. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: For his mercy endureth for ever.” (Psalm 118:18–29)
May the trumpet soon sound out that will bring David’s son to Jerusalem.
The trumpet sounding that will redeem both the nation of Israel and also the saints. A trumpet that will also call back to life those who have died:
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51–52)
This trumpet sound will herald the Lord’s return:
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17)
For the Bible in the News, this has been Jonathan Bowen joining you.