Isaiah’s Prophetic Message
In poetic language and metaphor Isaiah expressed the message of the Feast of Trumpets the Day of Reckoning. It is a sobering warning to everyone for all time, but most importantly to the leaders who dictate political, social, economic, and military policy. No matter who you are or where you are, God is promising to cut down the proud and the arrogant. He will destroy the great economic system – their magnificent ship of state – along with the builders. Much later the apostle John wrote a similar vision in the book of Revelation. John revisited this theme of the Feast of Trumpets the Day of Reckoning when he scribed the message, “The great Babylon is fallen, fallen…” He recorded God’s judgment against the elite rulers of the world who had built a life of luxury on the backs of those they had enslaved. They would fall in a day and be brought to ruin in a single hour. And the merchants of the world who had profited from this tyrannical but profitable system would mourn its destruction. But why would God judge them so harshly?
God of History
Paul gives us the answer when writing to the Romans. Rome, not unlike ancient Babylon, was a great centre of worldly power and wealth, and like Babylon it too fell. Paul’s warning was to the elite of society who did not consider God worth knowing. Though the creation should have informed them of God’s nature, they preferred lies over reality. Foolishly they worshipped what they created, and rejected the wisdom of the Creator. As a result. their thinking was ‘nonsense’ from God’s perspective. And history recorded Rome’s collapse when they reaped the fruit of their foolish thoughts and actions. God is a God of history, and he can predict the future because he knows the nature of humanity. As in the past, he continues to create, intervene, redeem, or judge the people based on their thoughts and actions. God’s appointed times, his feast days, celebrate God’s intervention and his accomplishments past, present, and future.
Followers of Christ
Peter, Jesus’ disciple, observed the annual festivals, understood Isaiah’s prophetic message, and had faith in God’s power to perform what he had promised. Yet, it was challenging living a godly life in the midst of Roman culture, and out of step with the mainstream of society. He wondered what would be the end result of following Jesus? For all who call themselves Christian, followers of Christ, should be committed to looking to him as their ultimate authority. Peter’s challenge, and the challenge of every disciple is to live by faith in obedience to God’s instructions. Trusting in God’s love and conforming wholly to Jesus’ example, disciples must accompany Christ. Walking in harmony with him, and perhaps suffering because of him, disciples looked in anticipation to the reward that Jesus’ offered. Paul eagerly awaited this reward, the glorious hope of eternal life. But he also understood that he had to wait patiently and maintain loyalty without compromise, in order to realize this hope.
The Day of the Lord
So are we as followers of Christ, Christians, preparing to celebrate the festivals that Jesus and the disciples celebrated?
Have we read God’s instructions to Moses, and are we planning to observe the days he made holy, and established for all generations? The Feast of Trumpets the Day of Reckoning, is one that looks back to God’s deliverance in the past when the the trumpet (shofar) of warning was blown in times of war. It also anticipates God’s future intervention and the ‘Day of the Lord’ as envisioned by many prophets including Joel. There will be a future day of reckoning when God will judge all nations. It will be a day of vengeance and punishment on those who have hated God and abused others. But it will be a day of deliverance for those who will find refuge with the Lord, the one they have followed and served faithfully.
When Christ Returns
Zephaniah and Jesus reiterated Joel’s message of the coming ‘Day of the Lord,’ a time of great turmoil and upheaval in society. Jesus likened the time before his return to the time of Noah. The vast majority of people in Noah’s generation grieved God because of their extreme wickedness and violence. And yet, at the same time many people seemed to be living ‘ordinary’ lives in a prosperous society. There was a curious dichotomy between outward wealth and inward depravity, something that we are beginning to see in our generation. Yet just a surely as the flood obliterated Noah’s generation, wiping the slate clean, and destroying the wicked, so will it be in the generation that witnesses the ‘Day of the Lord’ when Christ returns. Those caught up in the evil system will mourn its destruction, but those who are vigilant and ready when Christ comes will rejoice. So Jesus’ question for each of us is whether we will be one of his fruitful and sensible servants. Will we be walking with Christ, living by every word of God, observing his appointed times, and teaching others God’s ways? We have choices to make.
Learn more about the Feast of Trumpets