Blow the Trumpets

GOD instructed Moses to make two trumpets of silver for heralding forth messages to the host of Israel. Different trumpet blasts were to be sounded by the sons of Aaron, the priests, for assembling the people, for beginning their journeys, and for celebrating joyful occasions such as the annual festivals; they also sounded at the beginning of each month. Even though the sounding of the trumpets was mandated for the first day of each month, the Scriptures cite the beginning of the seventh month as a very special time. Israel’s new civil year commenced on this day. In Leviticus 23:24, God told Moses, “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.” This date, coming in the fall of the year, is identified with Israel’s Feast of Trumpets. Aside from the fact that a new year was just beginning, there is not much written in the Bible that might help us understand the full meaning of this celebration.

The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah each recount events in Israel immediately after their return from seventy years’ captivity in Babylon. The Prophet Nehemiah, in chapter eight, verses one to twelve, specifically describes Israel’s first observance of the beginning of the seventh month, after returning to their homeland. The Temple had been rebuilt and the new wall around Jerusalem was finished. We can envision the throng as they gathered together before the Water Gate, calling on Ezra, the priest, to read from the Book of the Law which the Lord had given them. To fully appreciate their request, we must call to mind the afflictions suffered during their recent period of captivity by the idolatrous Babylonians. For seventy long years, Israel had been forbidden to worship with their various celebrations the true and living God.

Verses three and five of Nehemiah’s record describe how “the ears of all the people were attentive” as Ezra read to them, and he “opened the book in the sight [margin, eyes] of all the people.” In gratitude, the congregation bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord. Certain of the Levites assisted the people to understand, carefully explaining to them what had just been read out of the book. Suddenly, the people began to weep, partly, no doubt, in appreciation of a renewed acquaintance with their God; perhaps also stricken with grief as they became aware of the sins they had committed while in Babylon.

The people were told not to weep, because “this day is holy unto the Lord your God.” Then Ezra said unto them, “Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy unto our Lord; neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength. So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved. And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.”—Neh. 8:9-12

Nehemiah’s dramatic account surely points forward in type to the far grander New Year’s celebration promised for all nations in that thousand-year kingdom for which we all pray so fervently. At Pentecost, when Peter spoke of “times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began,” he had in mind that same New Year’s day. And it does indeed picture a truly happy new year for all the world. Associated with Israel’s special day, they celebrated the Feast of Trumpets—a picture of God’s glorious new day—his kingdom.

In that day, the books shall be opened unto all people and they will, for the first time, hear and fully appreciate God’s merciful and loving plan. When Paul wrote to Timothy (I Tim. 2:4) he declared that same message, saying that God “will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” These words agree so well with those spoken by Nehemiah: “So they read in the Book of the Law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.” (Neh. 8:8) All will hear distinctly—meaning, the Word of God will be rightly divided and interpreted for mankind. (II Tim. 2:15) God’s purposes will be clear and his will for mankind well defined.

When the Israelites understood the words out of God’s law, their rejoicing hearts moved them to lend encouragement to others by telling them, “They went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.” This, in a way, pictures what will take place in God’s kingdom, as was also reported by John in Revelation 22:17: “The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” See also Revelation 21:4,5.

Psalm 81:1-5 makes a veiled reference to the blowing of the trumpet “in the new moon, [first day of the month] in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.” David then adds that this was a law and an ordinance which God gave to Israel, and was ordained in Joseph for a testimony or witness, when Joseph “went out through the land of Egypt where he heard a language which he understood not.” This curious scripture leads us to investigate just what Joseph did when he went out through the land of Egypt. It is said that the Scriptures are their own interpreters, and we surely find this truism applicable in this instance.

The old and familiar account of Joseph is recorded in the Book of Genesis, where chapter forty-one recounts Pharaoh’s well-known dream of seven fat, well-fed cattle which came up out of the river to feed in a meadow. Then seven ill-fed, lean cattle followed them, only to eat the fat ones. A second dream involved seven full, good ears of corn growing on one stalk. Seven thin, drought-infested ears sprang up after them and devoured the seven good ears. None of Pharaoh’s magicians or wise men were able to interpret his dream, but, in God’s providence, Joseph was released from prison to appear before Pharaoh and reveal the dream. Joseph said that he could explain the meaning of the dream to the ruler, but he made it clear that it was by the power of God that the interpretation was made known. Joseph said the two dreams were one; that is, they related to the same subject, and that God was revealing the dream so Pharaoh would know what God was about to do. The seven fat cattle and the seven full ears of corn represented seven years of plenty, to be followed by seven years of famine, as shown by the seven lean cattle and the wind-blasted ears of corn.

Because God used Joseph to deliver the prophetic message to Pharaoh, the king rewarded Joseph with the position of first in command over all the land of Egypt. Joseph was invested with jewels and fine linen and given the honor of riding in the chariot immediately behind the ruler himself. Pharaoh called Joseph by a new name, an Egyptian name, Zaphnathpaaneah. Interestingly, some authorities explain this name to mean ‘abundance of life’; others say, ‘food for the living’. As an additional honor, the king also presented Joseph with a wife, Asenath. Then, “Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt. And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls.”—Gen. 41:47

Certainly this must be one of those lessons Paul had in mind that was “written aforetime for our learning.” (Rom. 15:4) The account portrays Pharaoh and Joseph as types of Jehovah and Jesus respectively. We remember that Jesus came to John the Baptist at the river Jordan when he was thirty years of age, and note that Joseph was also thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh, king of Egypt.

In Genesis 41:53-57 we read: “The seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended. And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all land; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do. And the famine was over all the face of the earth: and Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt. And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.”

This passage seems to illustrate the fact that the church is presently being called out of the world in preparation for the work of assisting Jesus to feed mankind with the pure Word of truth, for a thousand years. All during this Gospel Age, bread is figuratively being stored for the blessing of all the families of the earth in God’s kingdom. Who among us has not witnessed the worldwide famine for the hearing of the Word of God? As man’s situation grows more desperate, his cry will ascend to God who is a merciful God, a God who promises to hear man’s cry of distress, and throw wide open the kingdom gates for their help. Divine authority will be granted to the great deliverer who will draw all men unto himself and satisfy their hunger with life-giving food.

An expanded account, telling how Joseph fed the vast numbers of people during the famine, is recorded in Genesis 47:13-26. We read: “And there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very sore, so that the land of Egypt and all the land of Canaan fainted by reason of the famine. And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn which they bought: and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house. And when money failed in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said, Give us bread: for why should we die in thy presence for the money faileth. And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle, if money fail. And they brought their cattle unto Joseph: and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for horses, and for the flocks, and for the cattle of the herds, and for the asses: and he fed them with bread for all their cattle that year. When that year was ended, they came unto him the second year, and said unto him, We will not hide it from my lord, how that our money is spent; my lord also hath our herds of cattle; there is not aught left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands. Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh: and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, that the land be not desolate.

“And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them: so the land became Pharaoh’s. And as for the people, he removed them to cities from one end of the border of Egypt even to the other end thereof. Only the land of the priests bought he not; for the priests had a portion assigned them of Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them: wherefore they sold not their lands. Then Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh: lo, here is seed for you, and ye shall sow the land. And it shall come to pass in the increase, that you shall give the fifth part unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones. And they said, Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants. And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt unto this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth part; except the land of the priests only, which became not Pharaoh’s.”

Observe in this graphic description how the people of earth, illustrated by the Egyptian landowners, gradually divest themselves of former earthly desires and ambitions. That important point is brought out in verse nineteen, where the people give their all in consecration to God (pictured by Pharaoh), entreating Joseph to buy them and their land for bread and they would be servants to Pharaoh. Verse twenty takes us to the end of the Millennial Age, when all the willing and obedient, having completed their journey up the highway of holiness, are now made perfect. We read, “Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them: so the land became Pharaoh’s.” Again, in verse twenty-five, they said to Joseph, “Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants.”

Verse twenty-two seems to express another aspect of this typical story of Joseph. It reads, “The land of the priests bought he not; for the priests had a portion assigned them of Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them: wherefore they sold not their lands.” The word ‘priests’ is rendered ‘princes’ in the margin. Since the Ancient Worthies are elsewhere styled “princes in all the earth,” they accurately fit the description of those who sold not their lands. Rather than selling their land at this time, they had a portion assigned them of Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them. The portion assigned the princes suggests the position of authority they hold in the earthly phase of God’s kingdom. Verse twenty says the earth is God’s, and in his kingdom these faithful servants of old will enjoy the privilege of overseeing his arrangements. There they will stand out as perfect examples and teachers. The rest of mankind, by selling their land for bread, are represented as overcoming former interests in this present evil world.

How well Psalm 98 expresses the jubilation of the people of earth when they hear the sounding of the trumpets on this festive New Year’s day! According to some sources, the ninety-eighth psalm was sung at the dedication of the Temple, a ceremony typically foreshadowing the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. Hear the beautiful harmony of the silver trumpets as this joyous psalm is sung: “O sing unto the Lord a new song; for he hath done marvelous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory. The Lord hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly showed in the sight of the heathen. He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. Sing unto the Lord with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm. With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the Lord, the king. Let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together before the Lord; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.”

Note well, it is the priests who are to sound the trumpets! John the Revelator assures us (Rev. 20:6) that “blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with him a thousand years.” May we be found worthy to attain a position in that glorious priesthood designed by God for the blessing of all the families of the earth—all to the honor and glory of his holy name!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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