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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Greenberg

The Feast of Trumpets and the Binding of Isaac

The blast of a shofar awakens your soul and calls the spark of God’s Spirit inside you to attention. If you don’t believe me, try spending a week in a marketplace where they sell ram’s horns and you will soon recognize how agitated you become when people practice using one shofar after another to decide which unique horn to purchase. The human ear never really gets “used to it.” Instead you soon realize quickly – that it becomes actually nauseating, like listening to an ambulance siren for hours instead of mere minutes. Being called to attention – by God – on the Biblical feast of Yom Teruah and Rosh HaShanah is a supernatural call to LISTEN. 

In traditional Jewish synagogues around the world, the story of Abram being tested by God is the traditional story to read. Oddly, the only real connection to this story has nothing to do with the normal weekly reading portion. Instead, the ram God uses to rescue Abram from sacrificing his son, Isaac, is the connection to the blowing of the shofar. With all the many shofar soundings in the Bible that herald God’s saving His people – for example with Joshua at Jericho – why would THIS story be chosen to celebrate with? 

Among Jewish believers in Messiah Yeshua, Jesus, we always welcome this opportunity to remember the rescue of Isaac because it so CLEARLY makes sense that this story is a direct foreshadowing of how God sent His only Son into the world to become our eternal sacrifice. Abraham’s story – called the “Akedah” in Hebrew – is a proof text for what we actually believe! Jesus followers believe that Messiah gave His life as the final blood atonement for each of us – to save our souls. But, if old world Jewish tradition does not believe Jesus is the Messiah, why is THIS the story they focus on year after year? How does this story have any meaning in today’s world if you bypass faith in Jesus?

The Binding of Isaac

Original artwork drawn by Michael Washer titled, “The Binding of Isaac”. View all 100 pieces of Messianic Jewish Illustrations in the Messianic Jewish Family Bible.

Here is my best guess after twenty years of celebrating this Feast of Trumpets as a non-Jewish follower of Messiah. This account is the plumb line for building faith across the generational divide. Living your faith in God, especially in front of your children, makes them eye witnesses of His miraculous saving power in your life every day. God’s promise was not only to Abraham, but to His children, and to mine. 

We are compelled to raise children who know God is eternally faithful to His creation, His promise AND His story throughout the ages. Like Isaac, my own children are coming to know that God has rescued us each – time after time – because together is how our faith is grown from one generation to another. And as a mother, I believe truly KNOWING the God of Israel begins with trusting that – no matter what the circumstance – He NEVER asks you to sacrifice your children to satisfy His desire for your heart to be His treasured possession.

The faith of Abram was tested when God asked him to sacrifice the visible fruit of his faith – the living proof that God really did call him and keep His promise. Have you ever considered that you can make a trophy out of anything – including your own children? The minute we forget that God provides in countless ways for all His children – physically, financially and especially relationally – we risk deafening our ears to hear His voice in our lives. And, our faith can turn our children away from God if we do not help them “hear” for themselves. You are God’s living testimony to your own children.

This holiday, when you hear the call of the shofar and turn your ear to God, remember we are – all of us together – Abraham’s seed. This call to attention is for all of us. Abram believed God would give him children and land. Today, Abraham and Sarah’s children outnumber the stars in the sky and thankfully, the Promised Land has become a womb of resurrection for an entire generation of Jewish followers of Messiah Yeshua to grow and prosper under His care. There is much to rejoice about in our day – our God is indeed faithful. 

“In that day, the LORD shall be King over all the earth. On that day, the Lord shall be one, and His Name one,” is the way the prophet Zechariah said it thousands of years ago. And Moses said it this way in Deuteronomy over 3500 years ago, “Hear O Israel! The Lord your God is ONE.” Halleluyah! 

Praise God for sending His Son into the world to save the world. Tell your children about His miracles! Celebrate the sounding of the shofar! Trim your wicks, fill your lamps, and ready yourselves for the soon return of our coming King. The same God who made the promise to us also provided the sacrifice for us, by becoming the sacrifice Himself. For those who have ears – let them hear. •

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