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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:The Reformed Church of Oamaru
 Oamaru, New Zealand
Preached At:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
Title:You Are His - Celebrate It!
Text:Numbers 29:1-6 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

NUMBERS 29:1-6

(Reading: Heb.4:1-11; Ex.23:14-19)


You Are His – Celebrate It!



Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ…


     We have come, in our considering of the festivals of the Old Testament Church, to the third feast in the year.

          The first two festivals – the Feast of the Passover and the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) had fallen within the first two months.

              The festival of our text, however, doesn’t occur until some six months later.


     So, we are now in the seventh month.

          All the harvests have been gathered, bar perhaps one.


     But here we come to a bit of a mystery.

          Because the origin for this festival is unknown.

              Unlike the other feasts we cannot connect it directly with something else in Scripture.

     That has left the commentators wondering.

          And that’s not always a good thing!


     So let’s open up what this feast means in a quite different way.

          For we will do that through how it is celebrated today.

              Because by what it has now become in Judaism there will be a connection to what it originally meant.


     Now, there have been other things added to this festival over the years.

          Jewish rabbinic tradition was good at doing this.

              But there will be something tying it to what it originally meant.

                    When we find that we will see the Scripture it’s joined to.


     Indeed, the way this particular festival has developed through history is very interesting.

          Also the relation it has with the following two festivals is a help to us as we see where this festival fits in.


     You see, to the Jews today, and for the Jews for thousands of years already, this is the beginning of their year.

          The ‘Feast of Trumpets’ is the Jewish New Year.

              It’s when they start their civil year.

                   And it’s the beginning of the Jewish calendar year.


     Now their term for this festival today, ‘Rosh Hasbanah’, is a rabbinic one.

          It means “beginning of the year.”


     And also rabbinic is the focus of this festival.

          For it emphasises repentance, preparation for the day of divine judgment, and prayer for a fruitful year.


     Traditionally the last month of the old year is a time of preparation known as the ‘High Holidays’.

          That’s been a time of penitence for known sins toward the family of God.


     This two-day festival for them falls usually in September or early October in our calendar.

          It starts at sundown of the preceding evening, as do all Jewish observances.

               During this festival there’s the sounding of a ram’s horn in the middle of a long synagogue service that focuses on the festival themes.

     And there are quite involved meals at home to bring in the new year.

          There will also be an added focus on prayers confessing sins.


     We see certain parallels with our end-of-year celebrations, especially for those spiritually minded.

          That’s a time for reflection and re-dedication.


     Having seen what it’s become we find three distinct lines tying back to the text and to the Scriptures around the text.

          The first of these is that this is THE END OF THE HARVESTS.


     The Feast of Trumpets marks a break in the cycle of ploughing and reaping.

          For about a month there was no work on the land.

              And as their economy was completely agrarian that meant it was a time of rest.

                   So it was that this whole month became the major religious focus of the year.


     We read in Exodus 23 that it was the third feast marked out as being compulsory for all men to attend.

          Though there it was actually called the ‘Feast of Ingathering,’ it became called later ‘the Feast of Trumpets’ in Leviticus and Numbers.


     In Exodus 34 it is again proscribed in a similar way to Exodus 23.

          In Exodus 34 verse 22, however, it is said that it is celebrated at the turn of the year.


     There is a recognition here of a definite period of time coming to an end.

          And while the calendar then was primarily lunar, as we’ve seen it was also seasonal.


     That is a helpful pointer to the place this feast has in the Old Testament Church Calendar.

          The people could have this period of rest having harvested and stored what they would need for the coming year.

              It was the time to celebrate.

                   And while celebrating to the world around us may consist of getting drunk, or stoned, and being quite immoral, the word celebrate actually means marking an important occasion in quite a respectful way.


     So, the happiness here was deep and thankful.

          The Lord God had blessed them with what they needed for another year of service for Him.


     That’s why it was a day to sound the trumpets.

          For that was the call to worship.

              A distinctive sound that was blasted out as they looked to the Lord.

                   For where else were these trumpets blown?


     Numbers 10 verse 10 says that they were to be blown whenever there was a time of rejoicing.

          Therefore it was done at all the appointed feasts and New Moon festivals.

              They were to be sounded then over the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings.

                   That way they were a memorial before their God.


     It was also blown after the 49th year when there was the year of jubilee.

          The year when there was no work on the land for a whole year.

              That is a long period of rest.


     But what kind of trumpets were they?

          We think of brass wind instruments with that sharp sound.

              But, as we’ve heard, today the Jews use ram’s horns.

                   That is called a ‘shofar’.


     So when they remember this day today they blow the ram’s horns.

          It’s a deep, hollow sound.

              Quite unlike the trumpet we know.

                   And that’s indeed what the Bible describes in Joshua 6 being blown by seven priests as the people marched around Jericho those seven days.


     But it is actually something like the trumpet we know that they used originally on this day.

          Numbers 10 verse 1 tells us of the Lord instructing Moses to make two trumpets of hammered silver.

              These trumpets would call the people of God to order.

                   They would be blown when they set out and when they came together.  


     So this trumpet was an ancient call to worship.

          It distinctively reminded the people about the Lord and their privilege to worship and serve Him alone.

              It served a uniquely sacred purpose.


     And so we have our second aspect this morning.

          This is the strand where we see THE CALL TO WORSHIP.

              There’s been THE END OF THE HARVESTS and now there’s THE CALL TO WORSHIP.


     We are reminded of that in the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation.

          Chapters 8 and 9 of that book tell of the seven angels given seven trumpets to declare God’s judgment throughout the earth.

                   That definitely wasn’t a call to worship anymore, because it is too late.

                        But it does tie us to the same instrument and its uniquely sacred use.


     So what does a call to worship do?

          Well, we have one at the beginning of each worship service.

              With a passage from Scripture the minister or elder focuses God’s people on why they’re here.

                   To worship God Himself, no less!


     This, then, is an exhortation to preparation.

          We focus on meeting with God.


     The Israelites then were beginning a special month.

          They were joining to thank God together.

              Those trumpets called them to prayerfully prepare.

                   In the same way that Hebrews 4 verse 11 told us to make every effort to enter God’s rest, so the trumpets sounding was to do for God’s people under the old covenant.


     You see, we know that Hebrews 4:11 is to be fulfilled by each of us individually.

          God’s Spirit is now upon our hearts in the fullest way.


     But then it was through the leadership and with God’s people altogether that they were being obedient.

          That’s how they heard THE CALL TO WORSHIP.


     And, indeed, the first ten days of the seventh month, leading up to the next feast, ‘The Day of Atonement,’ have always been a time of prayerful preparation.

          The first of those ten days is the ‘Feast of Trumpets.’


     You can imagine the situation.

          Three times Israel was required to assemble before the Lord at the place where the tabernacle or temple was.

              This was the third time.

     And yet, as the third time, at a time when they were at rest, and with two other festivals coming up in the next few weeks, those faithful weren’t likely to go off home in-between.

          The men there as representatives of each household would stay all the time, using that time to particularly focus on the Lord and His will for them.

              They wouldn’t come this time only to the ‘Feast of Tabernacles’ as many would do because it was the biggest feast of them all.

                   For they would respect the intent of Moses said in Exodus.


     One tradition that has come down is the reading of the Law on the Feast of Trumpets.

          That would tie in exactly with this penitential season.

              They knew they had to be right with the Lord in order to be used by Him in this new year ahead.


     The number of sacrifices given for this day illustrates this.

          For as well as the normal daily offerings, and the new moon offerings, there was this added offering of the young bull, ram, and seven male lambs, all without defect, and the other offerings that went along with them.

              And that included the male goat as a sin offering.


     So what was offered up on the new moon is offered up twice.

          This really highlighted that aspect of public worship.

              It was certainly THE CALL TO WORSHIP!


     And then there is the third strand which leads us back to what this day would have meant.

          Because this is THE BEGINNING FOR REST.


     Congregation, Leviticus 23 verse 24 tells us something crucial about this feast.

          It says that this is to be “a day of rest.”


     In other words, this day is to be to them like a Sabbath day!

          Despite whatever day it fell on, it was to be regarded as a Sabbath day – the seventh day.

              No work this day!


     The designation of this day being the first day of the seventh month is a key here.

          The seventh month in the year.

              The month which was the first month of the year.

     It doesn’t seem to make much sense, does it?

          And yet, scripturally speaking, it made the most sense of all!

              Because it’s all about God’s timing.


     Here the rabbinic tradition of this New Year as being the anniversary of creation helps us.

          Then this strand of THE BEGINNING FOR REST fits in so well.

              For this is, in such a small way, a foretaste of glory itself.

                   Doing this faithfully would be for God’s people then their version of Answer 1 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.


     You see, that Catechism begins with the question, “What is the chief purpose of man?”

          In other words: “What are we here especially to do?”


     The answer is biblically clear.

          “The chief purpose of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”


     Congregation, this is something which Old Testament Israel never got anywhere near to doing.

          Neither will the New Testament Church either.

              But it’s certainly what we’ll be doing on the new heavens and the new earth!


     Congregation, all their outward worship – all those burnt and sin and fellowship offerings - pointed to the ultimate sacrifice that was to come in the Messiah.

          In the same way, this feast, and the next three weeks, pointed to what they would enjoy in all eternity with Him. 


     We might wonder how much would that have come home to them then.

          Well, we don’t exactly know.

              We do know, though, that where this was faithfully done the Lord gave them peace and prosperity physically.


     Now, we read in Hebrews 4 that they could not enter forever into that rest because of their disobedience.

          A different situation for us today because Jesus Christ has come and was the perfect once-for-all sacrifice.

              It’s through Him that the first day of the week has become the rest day – the Christian Sabbath.

     For now no more does a sacrifice need to be made every day for us.

          And not every Sabbath day, or New Moon, or Feast Day.

               He has taken all that away.


     But we must enter into that rest, congregation.

          The sacred trumpets will sound again.

              And this time not to proclaim salvation but to pronounce condemnation!


     Are you making every effort to enter that rest?

          Is your life a living sacrifice glorifying God?

              Do you enjoy Him?


     You see, if Isaiah 58 verse 13 tells God’s people of old to call the Sabbath a delight, how are you beaming forth the joy of your salvation?

          Are you happy to be here?

              Do you go out there glad to be the Lords’?


     Dear Christian, is your home the place of true peace?

          Because there is nothing else quite like the believer living out what he is in the Lord.

              He’s bringing heaven to earth.


     Another tradition the Jews have is concerning the time Lucifer was cast out of heaven.

          When he was asked in hell what he missed most out of his former life, the devil replied, “I miss most the sound of trumpets in the morning.”


     Does anyone here miss the note of the trumpet?

          Is your spirit weakening?

               Has the strong purpose dropped off in your life?

     Then bravely put the trumpet to your lips.

          Answer all your doubts and all your wavering and all your fears with rejoicing in Him.

              Sing to Him!



          So why don’t you celebrate it?





Let’s pray…

     O Prince of Peace, blessed Redeemer, precious Saviour, how much don’t we thank You for putting us where we are now.

          For we stand in the position of supreme privilege.

              We are rich beyond any man’s wildest dreams.

     And yet we might be very poor.

          Because it’s not this world that holds us.

              It’s rejoicing in You that makes us true.

     That’s why it’s in Your name alone we offer up this prayer.













* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2006, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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