************ Sermon on Psalm 98:6 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on July 12, 2015

Psalm 98
Psalm 98:6
"The Joyful Noise of Trumpets"

This past Tuesday Alexander went straight for grandma's cupboard. He pulled out a funnel and ran into my home-office. He grabbed the Children's Bible, found the story of Jericho, and begged us to read it (right now this is his favorite story in the Bible). When we get to the part about the priests blowing the trumpets he blows into his funnel and says the walls are falling down.

He doesn't know it but he is getting at the heart of our text this evening as we look at the joyful noise of trumpets.

Someone asked me if I could preach on joy. Joy is not the vague, sentimental feeling that so many Christians think it is. When it comes right down to it, there is something sobering about joy.

I The Feast of Trumpets
A The background to our text is the Feast of Trumpets. So, we need to spend a few moments looking at this Feast. Let me begin by reading from Leviticus:
(Lev 23:23-25) The LORD said to Moses, (24) "Say to the Israelites: 'On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. (25) Do no regular work, but present an offering made to the LORD by fire.'"
As you can tell, its name comes from the command to blow trumpets.

During this Feast no work is to be done and burnt offerings and a sin offering are to be brought before the Lord (cf Num 29:1-6).

B Israel used two kinds of trumpets at the Feast of Trumpets. They had the long, straight silver trumpets similar to the ones that we use. And, they had the shofar, a curved trumpet usually formed from a ram's horn. The Israelites were not allowed to use a cow's horn because that was a painful reminder of the golden calf Israel made when she first came out of Egypt (Ex 32). A ram's horn, on the other hand, was a pleasant reminder of God's deliverance of Isaac through the ram caught by its horns in the thicket (Gen 22).

What is the difference between the two trumpets? The silver trumpets are sounded when sacrifices are about to be offered and at the beginning and ending of the Sabbath. They are Israel's alarm clock, their air-raid and fire siren, the way they regulate their life.

As for the shofar, it is blown on the Day of Atonement announcing the start of the Year of Jubilee in which slaves are set free and fields are given rest from the farming cycle. The shofarim are blown on the Feast of Tabernacles and on the New Moon Festivals.

In the history of Israel, the shofarim were blown when Moses led Israel to the foot of Mount Sinai to hear and receive the Law of God. The shofarim were used by the Judges of Israel in order to summon the people to battle against those who oppressed them. The shofarim were blown when David brought the ark of the Lord into Jerusalem. The shofarim were blown when Solomon was crowned as king. The shofarim were also used when Israel marched on Jericho. God ordered Joshua to organize the march in a certain way. At the front of the procession were armed men. Then came 7 priests blowing 7 shofarim. Then came the priests carrying the ark of the Lord. Then came a rear guard. They marched around the city once and returned to the camp. The whole time they were marching the shofarim would be blowing and blowing. The next morning the Israelites lined up and marched in this order again. And they did this for 6 days. On the 7th day they made 7 trips around the city all accompanied by the non-stop blowing of the shofarim. I'm sure the constant sounding of the trumpets struck fear in the hearts of those in Jericho.

The Feast of Trumpets must have been noisy as the trumpets would blast before each and every single sacrifice. At the Feast of Trumpets the burnt offering consisted of 1 young bull, 1 ram, 7 male lambs, 1 male goat; these were in addition to the monthly and daily burnt offerings with their grain offerings and drink offerings -- the trumpets would blast for every one of these. The trumpets were blown all day long, every day, and many of them -- 7 priests blowing the shofarim and 3 priests blowing the silver trumpets. In fact, at the Feast of Trumpets there was never a time of the day when you did not hear the trumpet blast. They were blown from morning until night.

C The trumpet blast of the two kinds of trumpets marks the start of this one day Feast. The Feast, in turn, marks the start of the Jewish calendar even though it is held the first day of the seventh month. You see, at the time of the exodus from Egypt, God announced that the seventh month -- which was the month Israel was leaving Egypt -- was now the start of the Jewish calendar year (Ex 12:1-2). God pronounced this as Israel's New Year's day because it marked the start of Israel's birth as a nation, her rebirth as the redeemed people of God, when God took her out of the bondage of Egypt.

The Feast of Trumpets, then, is a call to celebrate. But it also heralded a solemn time of preparation for the Day of Atonement which fell on the tenth day of the month. This preparation time was called "Ten Days of Repentance" or the "Days of Awe." The trumpet sound, then, is not only a call to celebrate but also a call to examination and repentance.

D What was the purpose of the Feast of Trumpets?

First, the trumpet blast was a call for the people to assemble to hear the voice of God just as was done at Mount Sinai (Ex 19:13). And, in response, the people were called to examine themselves and repent of their sins.

Second, ancient Jews also read Genesis 22 on this day, reminding them of the ram killed in Isaac's place and pointing forward to the day when a greater lamb would be slain on their behalf.

Third, throughout Scripture we see that trumpets announce the Lord's judgment. As mentioned, trumpets were blown as Joshua led the Israelites in procession around Jericho, proclaiming that the day of judgment on Canaan had arrived (Josh 6). Second Chronicles 13 tells us that trumpets were blown as Jeroboam and his army were defeated for going against the line of David. Jeremiah heard the trumpets of battle as God prepared to judge Jerusalem for its transgressions (Jer 4:19-31). Due to these associations with judgment, it is no surprise that the Feast of Trumpets came to be celebrated as an anticipation of that last day when the Lord God Almighty will right all wrongs and cause eternal judgment to fall upon the enemies of His people. This will be a dreadful day for those who do not repent of their sins and a day of glory for those who believe in the Lord.

The heading to the Psalm tells us nothing about its original context. More than one commentator thinks it may have been written to celebrate the return of Israel from the Babylonian exile. However, on account of the impenitence of most Israelites, the return in 538 BC did not result in the glorious age of righteousness that was hoped for. Thus, the true Israel believed this psalm looked forward to a future when the perfectly righteous Judge brings the Feast of Trumpets to its fullest consummation.

II God Brings Salvation and Judgment
A The original Feast of Trumpets was celebrated only by the children of Israel and the few converts, like Rahab and Ruth, who chose to join with Israel.

What is most notable about the prediction of the end in Psalm 98 is that "all the earth" is called to celebrate the final Feast of Trumpets:
(Ps 98:4-6 ) Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; (5) make music ... (6) with trumpets and the blast of the ram's horn -- shout for joy before the LORD, the King.
"All the earth" includes many of the former enemies of Israel. They, too, will be included in the celebration.

B What is celebrated? Why is there celebration? Listen to what the psalm says at the beginning:
(Ps 98:1) Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.
Now listen to how the psalm ends:
(Ps 98:9) let them sing before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.
In verse 1 God is praised because of salvation. In verse 9 God is praised for judgment. Here is a reminder that the Feast of Trumpets looks to both salvation and judgment.

This double theme of salvation and judgment is found throughout the Bible. We see salvation and judgment when God saved Noah and his family but destroyed the rest of the world with the Flood. We see salvation and judgment at the Red Sea when God miraculously saved Moses and the Israelites and drowned the obstinate Pharaoh and all his army. We see salvation and judgment at Jericho when God gave Israel victory and judged the Canaanites.

C How does this apply to you and me? How does the joyful sound of trumpets fit today's world? Why is all the earth called to participate in what is a Jewish holiday?

Since the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Christ Jesus, God has mercifully sent the Gospel message to those of every tribe and language and people and nation. Anyone who repents of their sin and believes in the Lord Jesus is incorporated into the true Israel of God and is invited to celebrate the Feast of Trumpets. Those, however, who reject Jesus or neglect Jesus are judged.

I love how the Catechism explains this in Q & A 52 when it asks how Christ's return "to judge the living and the dead" brings comfort:
In all my distress and persecution
I turn my eyes to the heavens
and confidently await as judge the very One
who has already stood trial in my place before God
and so has removed the whole curse from me.
All his enemies and mine
he will condemn to everlasting punishment:
but me and all his chosen ones
he will take along with him
into the joy and the glory of heaven.
Notice, when Christ returns there is salvation for the chosen ones and judgment for the enemies of Christ and the cross.

Let me put it this way: Psalm 98 looks forward to the day of Christ's return when trumpets will be sounded. Listen to how Paul puts it to the church at Corinth and Thessalonica:
(1 Cor 15:51-52) Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed--(52) in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

(1 Th 4:16-18) For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (17) After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (18) Therefore encourage each other with these words.
Do you hear? The trumpet will sound. And the celebration will begin.

But there is also judgment when the trumpet will sound. Listen to what John sees and hears in his revelation about the seven angels and their seven trumpets:
(Rev 8:7-12) The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.
(8) The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, (9) a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.
(10) The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water--(11) the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.
(12) The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.
Do you hear? The trumpet will sound. And the judgment will begin. And, the same thing is true if you look ahead to the fifth, sixth, and seventh angel blowing their trumpets.

The trump will sound when the Lord returns. A huge, big, mighty blast that you can hear everywhere. A huge, big, mighty blast that will fill all the earth. A huge, big, mighty blast that everyone will hear and that no one can possibly ignore. It is a loud declaration that if we have not repented and believed we will be destroyed. It is a loud declaration that me and all His chosen ones He will take along with Him into the joy and glory of heaven.

When the trump sounds, congregation, will you -- like the people of Jericho -- be filled with fear and trembling? Or will you rejoice and praise the Lord with the sound of trumpet?
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