The Torah tells us to blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah to announce a holy day of rest and remembrance (Lev. 23:23); a day set apart for Israel to remember all that God has done. A day when God calls us back to Himself. The shofar’s blast evokes the remembrance of that awesome blast of the shofar at Sinai, when Elohim descended upon the top of the mountain and spoke directly to the people. The sound of the shofar also calls us to remember that God speaks.
The gathering of the five Tents of Mercy congregations on Rosh Hashanah was an obvious reminder of what God has done. The sanctuary was packed with believers coming from Poriya, Nazareth, Acco and Haifa to join us in celebration and worship. Worship leaders from Haifa and Nazareth added a new dimension of praise and were enthusiastically received by the people. There was a sense of expectation, an anticipation that God would speak to us.
The God Who Speaks
Eitan Shishkoff seized upon the theme of the God who speaks, recounting the shofar blast at Sinai where the noise grew louder and louder and the whole mountain shook under the power and majesty of God. God’s voice is described in Scripture as thunder and the sound of many waters. The shofar blast at Sinai was not some giant ram’s horn in the sky; it was the very voice of God calling the people to attention. This voice so unsettled the people that they begged Moses to speak to them on God’s behalf. They feared that if they heard the voice again they might die.
The people were not wrong in their assessment (see Deuteronomy 18:16,17) but perhaps they didn’t have the whole story. At Tents of Mercy we love to sing from Song of Songs chapter 2:8, Kol dodi, henei zeh bah, henei zeh bah,
“The voice of my beloved, here he comes, here he comes.”It is the voice of the God that calls us to His presence, to be with Him in intimacy.
“Kol Dodi” is a beautiful song of devotion and expectation. We hear the voice of our beloved and we wait eagerly as He comes bounding towards us. Eitan encouraged us to consider the message of this song, to listen intently for our beloved’s voice. As a bride awaiting her groom we incline our ear and our heart to listen for our beloved. What does He say to us? What words does He bring? We hear afar off His call as He approaches.
“My dove, hiding in holes in the rock, in the secret recesses of the cliff, let me see your face and hear your voice; for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely.” Song of Songs 2:14
The voice of our beloved does not drive us to fear, quake and hide. He woos us. He pleads with us to come out into the open so He can hear our voice and see our faces. The sound of His voice that shatters mountains is also tender and gentle, full of longing to be with us.
Not a Rock Shattering Blast
The moment we all have been waiting for has arrived. Eitan is about to blow the shofar. I have heard him sound the shofar on several occasions and in case you haven’t, let me tell you…he can summon the troops for battle with the best of them.
But today of all days, on Rosh Hashanah, the Spirit has something else to tell us. The sound of the shofar is not a rock shattering blast. No, here is something different; it is a sombre call we hear. As Eitan continues to blow I am transfixed by the melancholy sound. Eitan sounds out gentle call after gentle call for what seems like an eternity, he eventually starts to run out of breath and can barely summon a note from the shofar.
He finishes with just wind passing through the shofar – no musical note. I think he is a little embarrassed at his performance but in this shofar I have heard the voice of God. It is His voice of longing for His people. It is His voice of pleading, “come out, come out, let me see your face and hear your voice. You are lovely to me.”
The shofar has summoned us to remembrance. For my part I will remember my Saviour’s love for me. I will remember that He longs for me with passion and longsuffering. I will remember His voice calling me to forsake my hiding place and show myself to Him. I will remember.