Why So Many Christians Sound the Jewish Shofar in Israel

Mike Huckabee, one of several American Christians in Jerusalem for the opening of the US embassy last week, announced that he planned to commemorate the occasion on live TV with a Hebrew greeting and by blowing a shofar.

The shofar, an obscure instrument made of a ram’s horn and traditionally blown during the Jewish High Holidays, has made its way into evangelical hands in recent decades. Some Christian Zionists, Holy Land pilgrims, and even worshipers at charismatic churches in the United States use the curled horn to call out in celebration and identify with the ancient heritage of their faith.

Crowds of evangelicals at pro-Israel parades, conferences, and worship services turn up with Israeli flags, prayer shawls, and their own shofars. More than a dozen options for the spiraled instrument are for sale at online Christian bookstores.

Sounding the shofar often accompanies the opening prayer or worship set at events held by groups like Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the Christian Zionist organization founded by John Hagee (who also attended the embassy opening last week).

Christian use of the shofar has grown in certain traditions over the past 25 years, along with interest in the Holy Land and dispensationalist understanding of the end times. Believers who incorporate the shofar often echo biblical references to sounding a trumpet, such as its use in warfare by Gideon’s army (Judg. 7:15–22) or the battle of Jericho (Josh. 6), as a call for repentance (Is. 58:1, Hos. 8:1), as a way to gather an assembly (Num. 10:3, Joel 2:15), or for other occasions of praise and proclamation (Psalms and Revelation).

For Christians, blowing the shofar “seems to have an eschatological aspect,” said messianic Jewish theologian Daniel Juster, founder and president of Tikkun International.

“As Israel is fulfilling prophecy, the shofar announces God’s intervention and fulfillment; so the shofar shows support for Israel with the idea that God is fulfilling prophetic events,” he said. “The shofar announces those events. The move of the embassy on the 70th anniversary would be seen as a prophetic event.”

But for Jewish people, the sound of the shofar often comes as a somewhat unexpected alarm outside of the prescribed times and patterns that correspond with holiday rituals. Traditionally, it’s blown every day but Shabbat in the month leading up to the High Holidays, during services for the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah), and at the end of the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).

“To Jewish ears, a shofar blast serves primarily as a call to repentance or a call to arms. It’s not something we hear every day, or even every week,” said Monique Brumbach, executive director of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC), whose congregations follow Jewish tradition to use the shofar in the month preceding the High Holidays and on Rosh Hashanah, which the Torah even refers to as the “Day of Blowing.”

“In some Christian worship services, there is a shofar blast every few minutes. It can feel jarring,” she said. “I’d compare it to keeping a Christmas tree in your house all year long. If you use a worship instrument every day or every week, it becomes common, like a piano or a guitar. There is something primordial about the sound of a shofar, but it tends to lose its resonance when you hear it all the time.”

It’s actually Christians who are responsible for most sounds of the shofar outside of the traditional trumpeting during the High Holidays.

Click here to read more.
Source: Christianity Today