The shofar is the traditional Israelite instrument by which Gods people were called to war and to worship.
(a video of my using a shofar to welcome God to our worship and welcoming the warriors back from battle)
Most people understand the basics of what worship is, well at least they do on Sunday when they sing a few songs. LOL. Not everyone has a life style of praise where He is lifted up in daily activities in the mundane as “doing all things unto the Lord” as an act of praise. I believe an applicable phrase here would be “practicing His presence”.
Most people externalize war and focus only on fighting things outside of themselves but the Bible clearly outlines the greatest and most important combat we can enter into is within our own minds against our own flesh.
In this dispensation (age of grace) we (as believers) have an indwelling Spirit and a new nature to combat the old nature.
In light of this, I would like to suggest an extra possible depth of meaning to the Shofar: and an added definition for the call of the Shofar, where war and worship actually come together in each choice made by that same believer.
Romans 7 gives a great description of the battle of choices the Apostle Paul contended with every day as he found himself wanting to do things he did not want to do and doing things he did not want to do. Frankly it sounds like he was experiencing MPD (Multiple Personality Disorder). In a sense, this is what it is like to be a christian, be given a new nature in the Spirit but be left with the old nature that was perfectly attuned to disobeying God at every turn and opportunity. Two “minds” with opposite priorities, goals and drives.
Is the fight real? It sure is and any believer who tells you he is not experiencing this on a daily basis is doing something wrong:
- either has no new nature to fight with or
- stopped fighting and has given in to his old nature and let it seize total control of his priorities. (nothing to really brag about, right?)
The good news is that while this fight never goes away, there are some verses to help us understand the nature of the fight, why we should and are able to win, and how we can win.
Romans 12:2 tells us to not be conformed to the image of this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds (we’ve got to be changed from the inside out not from the outside in)
The believer’s armor parts outlined in Ephesians 6:10-18 all have to do with inner attitude about truths given to us by God
- belt of truth & breastplate of righteousness
- shoes of peace
- shield of faith
- helmet of salvation
- sword of the spirit
2 Cor 10:3-5 (strategic mechanism based on our empowerment of the indwelling Holy Spirit)
Here we are given a discription of a conflict containing some valuable information.
- the tools for fighting left by the enemy will not work for us or help us win.
- the tools we are intended to use will give us victory and are designed and empowered by God specifically for this conflict.
- there are “remnants of the resistance” or “left over enemy soldiers” in our minds (like stray soldiers scattered in a jungle that must be hunted down and captured).
- these scattered resistance fighters are patterns of thinking, or false truths we still cling to that we have not compared to God’s Word, found to be false and removed them from our ideas, perceptions and conclusions.
We are basically looking at a way to change our “minds” our way of thinking (since the mind is the place of battle).
Now let’s go back to Romans 12:2 and back up just one verse to Romans 12:1 “offer yourselves as a pleasing sacrifice which is your reasonable act of service” (Paul put these together when the Spirit inspired him to write them and we’re going to put them together again right now 🙂
The sequence is as follows:
- present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, since it is our reasonable response to Him and for Him.
- We will not be conformed by the world but rather be transformed as He renews our minds (the greek word for renew is μεταμορφοῦσθε a variation of the word metamorphos (meaning transform like a catepillar into a butterfly).
- so that we may be used by Him to prove the will of God, and that others will see that His will is good, acceptable and perfect.
Isn’t that a battle worth diving in to ??!!
Now let’s talk about rams (that’s where the Shofar come from) 🙂
Can you remember the first significant appearance of a ram in the Old Testament?
What was the event that was taking place when it appeared?
What role did the ram play in the event?
The lamb, a symbol of strength, became the sacrifice didn’t it?
(not once however is it ever recorded that the ram was a willing sacrifice)
Long ago, on Mount Horeb, Abraham the father of our faith (in Genesis 22:1-13 ), was about to sacrifice his son Isaac. It is recorded that Isaac willingly layed down before his father to be sacrificed for the Lord’s will and while Abraham is called “the father of our faith”, I don’t doubt for one second that Isaac showed incredible faith since he was the one on the altar facing death. In Genesis 22:13 God provided a ram to take the place of the willing son to be sacrificed by the willing father (a ram caught in the thicket by it’s horns, from which the Shofar is made).
The choice of will.
It takes great faith to trust God who wants to kill us in order to raise us again.
It takes faith to lay down our own dreams and aspirations and desires and plans to exchange those for what God would give us in return.
Jesus said “whoever will lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s it shall be saved (but whoever tries to save his life shall lose it)”.
My brothers and sisters, we are given the privilege and the power (through his Spirit) to will to fight this inward battle every moment, every day, till the Lord sees fit to take us home.
In the believers mind, the battlefield of the mind, war and worship come together as one, in each choice we make, all to God’s glory.
Will you fight ? (each choice you make is an opportunity for God to reveal His glory, or a stake in the ground for the enemy to shake his fist back at God and shout “See… they dont really trust you after all!”)
A followup article called Lessons from a Shofar, about using the shofar for evanglism.
εν διακονια τω θεω, Dave Cadieux