A beautiful sound like a trumpet or a chime interrupted our after dinner conversation. Wanting to investigate, all four of us left the Italian restaurant and walked across the courtyard near city hall. There was absolutely no one around. I thought to myself maybe it was a church bell or a clock chime. Out of nowhere a man appeared and he was holding a long instrument. “This is a ram’s horn” the man said. “Do you know what it is?” he asked me. “Yes,” I answered. I had read about the shofar or ram’s horn in the Bible but I’d never seen or heard one before that. “We don’t want darkness here. So me and a few other men in the area blow the ram’s horn on the steps of the city hall regularly,” he said.
I knew right away what he was doing. He was taking spiritual authority over Sugar Land, our new home. I was blown away, no pun intended. At that point we were living in a hotel with not a lot of answers. My recent post Scraps of Paper tells more about our move. I felt something very different in Sugar Land, in a good way, and I couldn’t figure out exactly what that good thing was. After hearing the shofar and speaking with that man, I got my answer. Jesus was there and at work.
God had been working the whole time, I just wasn’t seeing a lot of evidence of His work. Maybe I wasn’t looking in the right place. Hearing the shofar was God telling me I’m here. I brought you here and I am working. It’s all going to be OK. That may seem strange to some of you. But for me, hearing a ram’s horn brought encouragement, comfort, and hope. Now, the keeping the darkness part out sounds a bit scary. I knew what that man meant. Spiritual darkness. Evil forces at work. Sounds spooky, but it’s the reality.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12, NASB)
Our battles ultimately are spiritual in nature. We are not fighting people, though we may be in a disagreement with someone. The real battle is not in the flesh. What does this have to do with the shofar?
In ancient Israel the blowing of the shofar had many purposes. Some of it’s uses were to call people together, for battle, and to praise God. The ram’s horn is first mentioned in Exodus.
“So it happened on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and flashes of lightning, and a thick cloud was on the mountain, and a very loud blast was sounded on a ram’s horn, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.” (Exodus 19:16, AMP)
One of the most famous stories using the shofar is Joshua and Jericho.
2 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. 3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4 Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. 5 When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” (Joshua 6:2-5, NIV)
I’m not going to put the entire story on here. I highly recommend reading it either for the first time, or again for those of you who have read it many times. It is such an incredible story of God’s power. Joshua 6:1-20. Here’s the final verse from that passage:
20 When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. (Joshua 6:20, NIV)
The ram’s horn didn’t bring the wall down. The shouting didn’t bring the wall down. The marching didn’t bring the wall down. God brought the wall down. The shofar doesn’t have magic powers. It’s what it represents that brings the power and presence of God.
The shofar was used often for warfare.
“When you go to war in your land against the enemy who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the Lord your God, and you will be saved from your enemies.” (Numbers 10:9, NKJV)
Here are some of the military uses of the shofar:¹
- Signaling and alerting: Ehud and Nehemiah use it to summon their men (Judges 3:27; Nehemiah 4:12-14).
- Weapon for frightening the enemy (Judges 7:22)
- Announcing victory (Samuel A 13:3)
- Announcing rebellion (Samuel B 20:1)
- Cease fighting (Samuel B 20:22)
- Warning sign about approaching enemy (Jeremiah 4:21; Hosea 5:8; and other)
The mysterious man I met that night was drawing a line in the sand for the city. It was a battle cry. And even though I didn’t know the bigger significance of a ram’s horn then, I knew enough in my spirit to know it was a God thing. You know when you just know because of the Holy Spirit? I just knew.
The ram’s horn is still used by Jews today for many things like Rosh Hashanah, where 100 times it blasts. There are four main notes or sounds used when blowing the shofar. I could fill volumes on the shofar and it’s significance for God’s people.
My little interaction at the city hall was about spiritual warfare. There are other Christians today, using the shofar. I am not suggesting you need to blow a ram’s horn. But if God wants you to, then by all means go for it.
What I love about the shofar is it brings things into perspective. It points to God and we need more of that in our world. In the middle of my battle, God showed up and He will for you too. He’s working right now in your life. You may not see Him at work. Maybe you’re like I was, and you think He has forgotten you. He hasn’t. God sees you. God knows you. Trust Him.
I lift up all those who are in a battle. Show up for them Father. Bring answers, provision, and the best thing of all, your presence. Encourage the battle weary that you will fight for them. We love you and praise your Holy name!
Love you all,
Photo credit: John Theodor