The harvest is over. The work is nearly done. Israel has spent the past four months working from sunup to sundown. If they are to have enough food to provide for their needs over the next five months of autumn and winter, they had to have already gathered it. And as night falls, all throughout the land, the sound of the ram’s horn – the shofar – is heard. And everyone who honors the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, drops everything, puts on their white robe, and proceeds to the feast; to Yom Teruah – the Feast of Trumpets.
This appointment with God is unique in a couple of ways. First, very little is said in Scripture about how to observe it. There aren’t any special sacrifices or anything like that. They are simply told to blow the shofar and remember. Rather strange.
Second, it is the only of the feasts that takes place at the start of the month. All of the other feasts begin at least ten days after the new month begins. This is important because the new month on the Biblical calendar doesn’t begin on a set date. Because the Biblical calendar is a lunar calendar, it is determined by the sighting of the new moon. The lunar cycle is 29.52 days. Israel was instructed that the new month would begin only when the first sliver of the new moon could be sighted from Jerusalem. That means that the month could be either 29 or 30 days long. It depended on when the new moon could be clearly seen. In fact, there is some evidence that by the time of Jesus, an idiomatic expression had become synonymous with the Feast of Trumpets: it had begun to be called “the feast where no man knows the day or the hour.”
The meant that every Hebrew would have to have be prepared for the feast in advance. The only warning that the feast had arrived was the blast of the trumpet. When that was heard, they were to drop everything and observe this feast.
The parallels are obvious. As we near the end of the harvest of souls, we await the trumpet call of God. All work must be completed by that moment, as the harvest will then be complete. We don’t know specifically when that trumpet is going to sound, but we know when we hear it that we will leave what we are doing and celebrate the harvest. But first, we must take stock of what has been done.
Ten days following the Feast of Trumpets, all of Israel would observe what is considered the most holy day of the year: Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement. It is the day where Israel would take stock of the harvest, to determine what had been gathered. Would it be enough? But even more importantly, it was the day where the nation as a whole, would be held accountable for its sins. The High Priest would sacrifice the lamb for the sins of the nation. If each individual had confessed their sin, the lamb’s death would atone for it. If they had not, they would be expected to atone for it themselves.
At the end of the Harvest, each one of us will be held accountable for our sins. If we have confessed our sins, the Lamb of God will atone for them. If we have not, we will be judge for them. And for those who have received atonement, our works will be judged. What have we done during the harvest? Have we gathered wood, hay and stubble that will be burned in the fire? Or are our works gold, silver, and precious stones that will be refined?
These are the shadows of the next two feasts on God’s calendar. We can see the shadows of prophecy in them. But the final feast is what we’ve been building to. It is when God restores the Kingdom. It’s when we return to Eden.