The Purpose of the Trumpets

Yael Eckstein  |  June 15, 2022

Close up image of a man in white blowing a shofar.

When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you, sound a blast on the trumpets. Then you will be remembered by the LORD your God and rescued from your enemies. Also at your times of rejoicing—your appointed festivals and New Moon feasts—you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and they will be a memorial for you before your God. I am the LORD your God. — Numbers 10:9-10

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Behaalotecha, which means “when you raise up,” from Numbers 8:1–12:16.

I was waiting in line at airport security on a recent trip for The Fellowship. The line was moving slowly, so I started looking at all the people around me. Almost everyone had earbuds in or headphones on. Most people were holding their phones in their hands, scrolling, texting, or actually involved in a conversation.

I’m sure I’m not telling you anything new. We live in a world where everyone is in communication constantly. We are listening to music and podcasts, reading our social media feeds, answering emails — the flow of information and “noise” is never-ending.

As I was standing there with this thought, there was a loud crash. Someone had taken their luggage cart on a nearby escalator and had lost control of it. The luggage cart tumbled down the escalator, crashing to the floor at the bottom.

Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked in the direction of the sound. Thank God nobody was hurt. The man who had lost control of the luggage cart looked pretty embarrassed. For just a brief moment, the noise succeeded in getting our attention, but soon after, everyone was back in their own worlds on their smartphones.

The Purpose of the Trumpets

As I reflected on how each of us is lost in our own separate world, I thought about the trumpets in this week’s Torah portion. God instructed Moses to make two silver trumpets. They were to be sounded “when you go into battle,” (v.9), and also “at your times of rejoicing—your appointed festivals and New Moon feasts—you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings” (v.10).

It always struck me as odd that the same trumpets were used for war and for the happiest days of the Jewish festival cycle. But the truth is that it makes a lot of sense. The trumpet blast served in getting our attention and bringing all who heard it into a shared experience. The purpose of the trumpets was to bring everyone together and drown out our personal, individual noise so we can all focus on God.

As Isaiah said about the future redemption, “And in that day a great trumpet will sound. Those who were perishing in Assyria and those who were exiled in Egypt will come and worship the LORD on the holy mountain in Jerusalem” (Isaiah 27:13).

Your Turn:

Take some time to turn off the noise in your life. Spend some prayer time thinking about a time when we will all serve God together.