How NOT to Celebrate Yom Teruah

(This article is part of a series discussing the themes of Yom Teruah, the Moed that kicks off the endgame of Yah’s plan for humanity on the first day of the seventh month.) 

In a previous article we condensed the theme of Yom Teruah to “Yah’s Word manifesting physically onto the earth”.  This concept was most clearly illustrated with the prototype story of Yom Teruah–the shouting that accompanied the descent of the “10 Commandments” carved into stone.  Previous to that event, they only existed as spoken words.  This shouting of the lawless worshipers in Exodus chapter 32 during the “golden calf incident” is the namesake of ‘Yom Teruah’– which means the Day of Shouting, or the Day of Trumpets.  We also looked at the story of the fall of Jericho and how the Ark of The Covenant (which contains the Words) is extremely powerful when treated lawfully—especially when accompanied by a great shout and a righteous Yeshua (Joshua)!

This way of looking at scripture is often called “thematic analysis” and falls squarely in the bounds of what’s often called “Hebrew thinking”.  Thinking Hebraically is a learned skill, but it’s an important one.  In case you are new to this concept, the entire Bible was written by Hebrews.  Putting ourselves in the writer’s mind will obviously result in fresh insight.  In Hebraic thought, the broadest brushstrokes in one book or chapter can be more important than the small details.  Learning to take a step back will reveal patterns that are consistent throughout the entire bible.  The most important patterns begin in Genesis, are accentuated in Exodus, and then leave a trail behind them like a skipping rock as they continue through Revelation.  This is one reason why mastering the first five books of the Bible is so important.  The neglect of the Torah is the root cause of bad doctrine, and the source of almost every misunderstanding of the New Testament.

Not seeing these patterns is certainly why Yom Teruah is hardly celebrated by Christians. Sure, this feast is supposed to be “mysterious”, but once your eyes are opened to the pattern, you can see related themes all over the Bible.  As an example, the theme of Israel’s sin with the golden calf repeats in both 1 Samuel and  2 Samuel.  In these two books, we see very similar events occur with only slight modifications to the characters and circumstances—just slight enough that we might not even notice the pattern.  You may not have even remembered that there were two separate and distinct events.  I encourage you to read the original text yourself, but here’s an overview, followed by a bulleted breakdown to make it even easier to see. 

The premise of 1 Samuel 6 is that the Ark containing Yah’s words (The 10 Commandments) is being sent back from its brief loss and captivity by the Philistines.  These lawless pagans put the ark on a cart pulled by milk cows.  Desperate to avoid further judgement by Yah, they pointed the rig in the general direction of the Land of Judah.  It arrived at a field farmed by a local fellow named Joshua.  Levites living nearby then sacrifice the cows, along with offering some funky idols which the Philistines sent back as their own guilt-offering to Yah. The Levites treated the ark carelessly and lawlessly, so Yah strikes down 70 of the onlookers, Indiana Jones style.  Thankfully, the anguished people repent, and recognizing their need for wisdom, Samuel is immediately lifted up as their righteous leader.  This narrative ends when Yah “thundered with a mighty sound that day, against the Philistines, and threw them into confusion, and they were routed before Israel.” (1 Sam 7:10)

For the record, if this ever happens to you, it’s important to note these two commandments. One from Exodus 25:13-15, “You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark by them. The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it.”   Also Numbers 4:15, “And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary [in blue cloth], as the camp sets out, after that the sons of Kohath shall come to carry these, but they must not touch the holy things, lest they die.” 

(In other words, when it comes to the Ark, only touch the poles and no peeking!)

If we strip away the specifics, it’s easier to see that the themes from 1st Samuel 6 and 7 line up with the original Golden Calf story from Exodus 32:

* The Holy Word has been away from the people to whom it belongs. It’s been away so long, that Israel did not know what was right and what was wrong.  

* The Levites, who were supposed experts in Holy things, fail the people by leading them lawlessly with ideas of their own, instead of simply following the commandments.

* There are naughty pagan cows involved.

* This disobedience results in death.

* The name ‘Joshua’ is part of both stories—in both events Yeshua (Joshua) remains innocent of wrongdoing.

* Loud shouting is an important part of both stories.

With those bullet points in mind, read the 2 Samuel 6-7 story, when it’s King David who tries to orchestrate the return of the Ark.

Here is my thematic broad-brush summary: 

David has JUST been anointed as King of all of Israel, and for the first time takes Jerusalem and officially makes it the capital city.  As King, David carefully consults Yah, and is wisely instructed on how to soundly defeat the Philistines.  David also knows that the Ark of the Covenant still remains out of place, and this is his chance to finally make things right once and for all.  With loud noises, (songs, harps, lyres, tambourines, castanets, and cymbals) David and the Israelites “make merry”, as they bring the Ark back home.  However, without consulting Yah and in violation of the Torah, David repeats the 1 Samuel 6 mistreatment, putting the Ark on an ox cart, which causes the ark to be unsteady.  Uzzah, another Levite who should know better, compounds this transportation error by touching the Ark. Uzzah dies instantly, and David becomes very upset. However, instead of anger or resentment, David takes a time-out, repents, and tries it again—this time treating the Word lawfully and with reverence. The parallel ends with “So David and all the house of Israel brought up the Ark of YHWH with shouting and with the sound of the horn!

Do you see how the thematic points from Exodus, 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel are exactly the same?  The notable exception is that Joshua (Yeshua) was replaced by David in the final retelling.   The sinless Yeshua of Exodus 32 is being compared to the sinless Yeshua from 1 Samuel 6, and that same theme is then superimposed onto a repentant David in 2 Samuel 6-7.  This highlights a huge part of what Yom Teruah is supposed to trigger in our own hearts. 

The shout and trumpet-blast presents a choice to either repent or double-down on our hardness of heart.  

David is called “a man after Yah’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), not because he is perfect, but because he consistently repents when he recognizes his sin.

The other thing that Yom Teruah does (and Yah’s Word does in general) is to cause OTHERS to react, and often in ugly ways.  Whenever any high standard is proclaimed, especially when people see attempts being made to achieve them, it often convicts and even offends those who would rather not be challenged or bothered.  Laws are made to be followed, so there’s nothing the lawless hate more than laws and the lawful.  A loud proclamation, a shout, a trumpet blast, especially one that is done lawfully and within earshot of evil, is actually designed to have a divisive effect.  We see that exact division occur upon David’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  Michal is the daughter of the lawless King prior to David, and she is very offended at the Yom Teruah celebration. Her reaction and the related curse of childlessness is included in this story to contrast it to David’s blessing obtained through repentance, obedience, and enthusiastic worship.

Here’s how these themes become alive in our modern lives, and how Yah’s Word will manifest physically on the earth at some Yom Teruah in the future.  Hopefully you’ll see why focusing on the themes will suddenly make these stories from Exodus and Samuel extremely relevant.

* The Word Made Flesh has been away from the people to whom he belongs. He’s been away so long, that Israel no longer knows what is right and what is wrong anymore. In fact most of Israel doesn’t even realize that they are Israel.  

* The religious leaders: Pastors, Priests, Reverends, and Ministers who are supposed to be experts in Holy things, have failed the people by leading them lawlessly with ideas of their own instead of simply following the Yah’s commandments.

* Pagan worship practices abound…everything from Sunday worship to Christmas trees—usually done with good intentions but done lawlessly nevertheless—just like Uzzah’s touching of the Ark.  Only a tiny obedient remnant is celebrating the actual Feast that occurs on the very day he returns!

* Joshua (Yeshua), the sinless one, the King of Israel, and the Son of David arrives into the midst of this lawlessness, selfishness, and carelessness. 

* There is a LOUD shout, and a trumpet blast.

* Yah’s enemies are defeated.

* Jerusalem is reclaimed by her King, this time permanently and forever.

* There is a brief but last chance to truly repent.

* Blessings are bestowed upon those who repent.

I hope that this made sense, and that you are getting more and more excited about each year’s Yom Teruah.  May Yah find you worshiping with all of your heart, mind, and strength—full with the spirit, and within the safe boundaries of His Holy Law!

Next week we’ll shift the focus to the first loud shout in the New Testament–and the sixth coming of Messiah, his birth on Yom Teruah.

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