I discovered that there are lessons from a shofar waiting to be learned and lived. While I previously wrote about shofars (The Shofar (a call to war and to worship), that was about responding to a call, this lesson will be about “being the call”. (If you want to bypass the history and details and skip right to the lesson, click here)
The Shofar is the first blown instrument mentioned in the bible. The word shows up in the Old Testament as “trumpet”. It is made from the horn of an animal and was first made from that of a ram. Historically, the Yemenite Shofar came into use after the Israelites returned from Yemen after exile around 1948-1950 (made from the much larger horn of an antelope like animal called a kudu).
Here is a picture of a kudu showing horns at least 40″ from base to tip (measuring straight rather than along the curvature). As you can easily see, the horns are huge and the animal they are attached to is quite large and strong. The Greater Kudu shown here weighs up to 700 lbs.
Here is a picture of a male ram (No push over either) weighing in up to 350 lbs. You can see the horns are quite a different shape then the Yemenite Kudu above and the sound produced is audibly higher in pitch and harsher than the Kudu horn.
This would have been the type of horn blown by Joshua (and by the musicians marching around the walls) at the battle of Jericho (Joshua 5). The Yemenite horn was not in use yet.
Exodus 19:13 tells us the sound of a shofar would be heard as God would want the Israelites to come up to the mountain on the third day (after spending the first two days repenting and preparing themselves to be ceremonially clean to meet God). Exodus 19:16 describes a very loud trumpet sound (translated shofar) and the people trembled. In Exodus 19:19 the shofar continues to grow louder, Moses speaks and God answers in the thunder.
The Israelites used shofars to announce holidays (Holy-days), to call to war, give commands during the battle, call to meetings, and call to worship.
There are, in fact, four different blasts in tradional use of the Shofar that we still have knowledge of (there are likely far more when one merely considers sounding orders to military forces to advance, retreat, attack, hold position, etc):
- Tekiah – one long blast with on or two notes. (alert, pay attention, wake up)
- Shevarim – 3 medium blasts, two tones each. (repent/brokeness)
- Teruah – 9 short, staccato blasts. (warfare & victory)
- Tekiah Gedolah – an extra long single blast. This is the jubilee note extended as long as one can do so … and it represents the great last trumpet sound when the Lord returns as king when we who are saved receive new bodies and we are all healed. Also used to call upon God. (the grand alarm)
What has developed over time regarding shofar usage in non-Jewish context seems to outline as follows:
- The ram’s horn is becoming the shofar of use to signal repentance among the listeners.
- The yemenite kudu horn is becoming the shofar of choice to proclaim victory and to invite listeners to join in worship.
When I go out to publically blow a shofar in a park or such gathering place (as God tells me to do so), I bring both horns (and blow them appropriately as the Spirit leads me). This is a step by step exercise in pure obedience to my Daddy. He tells me to go so I go, not knowing what I will be walking into out there.
Ozy and I blowing together at Clasky Commons. It was my first time trying shofar envangelism and his first time going public. We both trusted Him and enjoyed the pleasure of the Father as a result.
Here I am at Colt State Park teaching some YMCA kids about how a shofar reminds us about God.
Tyler and myself at Buttonwood Park on Labor Day 2017.
Four people accepted Jesus as Savior and prayed so with us.
Blowing in front of City Hall New Bedford Summer, 2017 during the “United New Bedford Parade”. There were at least 15 shofar sounders that day.
this is the larger team I play with at concerts (combination of Yemenite shofars, rams horn shofars, and ebix horns).
Here are my yemenite shofars. I have found a supplier in Israel who sends excellent products. Both of these came from the same supplier (and the quality is great).
I can help you acquire one if you contact me.
So what happens when I go out and use this in public? Some people have never heard or seen one and simply ask questions (great!). Others may comment that it “stirred something” inside them and want to know why. Almost everyone ends up having a conversation about God and His love for us. Some take a witnessing tract, Most will gladly accept prayer on the spot for whatever they will talk about. In general, people are more receptive to street evangelism when the Shofar is used than not used (in my experience).
A small team of sounders is joining together to do shofar evangelism: (Shofar New Bedford).
- A shofar is a horn that was part of a living animal.
- The animal is killed in order to remove the horn at the base.
- the porous bone core, living tissue, and soft cartilage must be removed from the inside.
- The first step is to boil the horn for anywhere from 2-5 hrs
- Now the inside material can be removed, bone pulled out, cartilage and tissue scraped out, from the inside of the horn.
- A remnant of tissue remains and gives periodic odor of the corruption.
- The tip is cut off to faciliate the creation of a mouthpiece at the narrow end.
- Air is blown at the small end of the horn (opposite end from which is was nourished when attached to the head of the animal.
- Minor imperfections in the shape and material of the horn add harmonics to the sound coming out creating a very rich overall tone that varies from horn to horn.
- Simply blowing air into the horn does nothing. I must make a “tight raspberry sound” with my lips tighty sealed against the mouthpiece. The air inside the horn then vibrates in resonance to the vibration I create and amplifies it.
The first and only recording of God blowing into anything at all is recorded in Genesis 2:7. God blew the breath of life into the man !! Man was God’s chosen instrument. 🙂 (While a trumpet is mentioned in Exodus 19, scripture does not specify that God blew the sound so it may have been an angel on that trumpet. Others think it was God who blew the shofar and others still think it was a shofar like sound which was actually the voice of God Himself.)
Let’s look at the “human parallel” of this metaphor.
- We are filled with flesh
- We have to die before God can use us to “make His sound” through us.
- God cleans us and empties out our old flesh to make a way for His new way to work within us and through us.
- He does not nourish us or use us from the old connections of the flesh but blows from the smaller, new way He has created in us.
- There is a periodic odor in us to remind us of the flesh that once dictated our life.
- We have our individual personality differences and imperfections making God’s sound through us just as unique as the natural sound of a shofar.
- God is able to make His sound through us, as His instrument of calling and praise.
- (& 9-10) The blower of the shofar must maintain a tight seal between his lips and the mouthpiece of the shofar. This is intimate prolonged contact. God must have a close relationship with us for us to clearly amplify His sound. (He seals us with His Spirit Eph 1:13)
I blow to proclaim the victory to all in hearing. I am also prepared to “be the shofar” and let God make His sound through me. I am ready and willing to share what God has done for me and through me. I pray with anyone willing and am prepared to be used by Him who sent me out there in the first place.
Just as I use a shofar (killed, hollowed out and cleaned) to make my desired sound, so does God choose and desire to use us… as His shofars.
He must blow into us (once we die and are cleaned out) to make His sound (of repentance, war, or worship).
Are you ready and willing to be His instrument ?
εν διακονια τω θεω, Dave Cadieux