The Day of Loud Noise

This is part of a series of essays I wrote in 2018 to explain the Biblical Appointed Times (mo'adim) to my family members. If you'd like to read the other papers in this series, you can find them linked here:

  1. Happy New Year! (four months early)
  2. Shabbat shalom!
  3. Passover & Unleavened Bread
  4. Pentecost
  5. The Day of Loud Noise
  6. The Day of Atonement
  7. The Grand Finale
  8. That Jewish Christmas?



Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of Yehovah is coming; it is near.
—Joel 2:1

It's been three months since I sent you the last essay on the feast days of Scripture. Spring and summer are behind us, and we are entering the season of the fall appointed times (mo'adim). Before we dive in, let's recap what we covered before.

The biblical calendar begins with a month called Aviv. It kicks off with the sighting of the fresh sliver of the new moon when the barley crop is nearly ready to harvest. The spring feasts celebrate Israel's—and our—redemptive history. The exodus from Egypt began with Passover, when every family sacrificed a lamb and painted the blood over their doorposts. That night, the angel of Yehovah killed the firstborn son of every household who didn't have the blood on their door frames. For the next week, the Hebrews were on the run until they finally crossed the Red Sea on the seventh day. Now, we celebrate the Passover and eat unleavened bread for a week to remember God's miraculous hand in delivering our ancestors.

When we get to the Gospels, we reach the greater Passover—the crucifixion of our Messiah. Jesus served as God's lamb which he sacrificed for us so that we could be spared of judgment for our sin and live. And he was resurrected on the Day of Firstfruits to become the firstfruits of the resurrection—and to prove to us the surety of our hope in the resurrection of the dead. The resurrection of the dead is the central theme of the fall feasts, so we will return to that topic soon.

The barley harvest begins on the Day of Firstfruits, which is always on Sunday during the Week of Unleavened Bread. Fifty days later, the harvest has wrapped up, and all of Israel would reconvene in Jerusalem for the next great feast—Shavuot, aka Pentecost. Like Passover, Pentecost has a dual fulfillment in the Torah and the writings of the apostles. The original Shavuot celebrated when God descended upon Mount Sinai to give the Torah (Law) to Israel. On that day, the entire nation heard the voice of God thunderously bellow out the Ten Commandments, which are the framework for the rest of the commandments in the Torah. To memorialize this day, the priests would offer two leavened loaves made from the new barley harvest before God in the temple. This signified the new, pure, perfect word of God which replaced the old customs we left behind in Egypt.

Fast forward to Acts, and the next installment of this holy day occurred fifty days after Jesus emerged from his tomb. The disciples were in the temple in Jerusalem early on Sunday morning when the breath of God came upon them as tongues of fire, empowering them to speak in languages they did not know and perform mighty miracles. This event mirrored the first Shavuot and is best summarized by this quote from Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” The Torah has gone from being written on tablets of stone to being engraved on our hearts, so that we may walk in obedience before our God, following in the footsteps of the Messiah (1 John 2:6).

And now we are finally caught up. The spring feasts pertain to our salvation. The fall feasts are all about the glorious future that awaits us. As such, they aren't so much about specific events in Israel's history as they are focused on grand themes.

As the moon disappears at the close of the sixth month, we are abuzz with anticipation. Every new month is marked by the sighting of the new moon, but the beginning of the seventh month is uniquely important. Jews call this day Rosh Hashanah, which means “Head of the Year”. In Israel, this day marks the beginning of the civic calendar, just like July 1 kicks off the American fiscal year.1 But the name for this day in the Bible is Yom Teruah—the Day of Loud Noise. We eagerly watch the evening skies for that first slice of moon to appear faintly over our heads. When we see it, we place our shofars to our lips and blow a jubilant noise of celebration, a clarion call announcing that our God is sovereign over all. If we don't have a shofar, then we shout and sing and make a joyful noise before Yehovah. And then we feast! This day is a mandatory day of rest, whether it falls on a Saturday or not.

As I mentioned earlier, the Bible doesn't pinpoint a specific event for being the reason we celebrate this day. But where the Torah is unclear, the Prophets fill in the details. Do you remember the verse that opened this essay?

Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of Yehovah is coming; it is near.
—Joel 2:1

Yom Teruah is all about the Day of Yehovah. What is the Day of Yehovah? It is actually a huge theme spanning all of prophetic Scripture. God promised a day in the future when he himself would enter the realm of earth and go to war against his enemies. For those who belong to God, it is a day of hope because God will set all things right. But for those who hate him, it will be a day of terror and dread. For the purposes of this essay, I won't go into too much detail on that aspect of this day. I would encourage you to study the passages at this link for yourself. Meanwhile, I will focus on another element of this great day, one which has been the hope of Jews and Christians alike for thousands of years—the resurrection of the dead.

It will probably shock you to hear me say this, but the great hope of Christians upon death is not going to heaven. In fact, there are only two verses that **might** suggest we go to heaven when we die—2 Corinthians 5:8 and Philippians 1:21-23. This issue has been hotly debated by Christians for centuries, but it ultimately goes back to a single question: Are humans intrinsically immortal, or are we granted immortality by God at the resurrection?

In the book of Genesis, we see that human life (soul) is composed of two elements: body and breath (spirit). Our bodies are formed of dirt, and our breath/spirit is given to us by God. When you combine body and breath, you get a living being (Genesis 2:7). When God cursed Adam for his sin, he told him he would die and return to the dust (3:19). Although several passages in the Old and New Testaments talk about what happens to us when we die, the Book of Ecclesiastes is where we get the most definitive information.

For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath [spirit], and man has no advantage over the animals, for all is vanity. All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. Who knows whether the breath [spirit] of man goes upward and the breath [spirit] of the animal goes down into the earth?
—Ecclesiastes 3:19-21

King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived and one who has many prophetic connections to Jesus, concluded that “the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit/breath returns to God who gave it” (12:7). This same idea is carried over into the New Testament with descriptions of the dead as “sleeping” (e.g., 1 Thessalonians 4:13).

This all sounds rather bleak, doesn't it? We've been raised our whole lives to believe that we go to heaven when we die, but the Bible doesn't actually say that. I've just presented a small sample of verses on this subject, but there are more. At the end of the day, the thought of our deceased loved ones being in heaven and not simply buried under the earth is an immense comfort. It took quite a bit of studying for me to move past my own beliefs because this is such a heartfelt truth for us. You might be angry at me right now for this, or you might be wondering why you've never heard this before. I don't want to dwell on the negative for too long, though, because the reality in Scripture is much more glorious than whatever our ideas of heaven might be.

The real hope of the Christian is the resurrection of the dead. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul addresses this subject quite thoroughly. There were some in Corinth who were saying there is no resurrection, that this life is it. They were preaching a #YOLO message, and it was discouraging many in the church. Paul soundly defeated that notion, saying that the proof of our resurrection is that Jesus was raised from the dead. I would strongly encourage you to read that entire chapter, especially beginning in verse 12. If I were to try to pick out key verses, I'd just be pasting in the entire chapter.

Likewise, 1 Thessalonians 4 says the following:

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Pay particular attention to the words I've bolded. These two sentences tie this meandering essay back to where we began—with the Day of Loud Noise. Paul says here that the resurrection of the dead—when we are given eternal life—will occur on Yom Teruah! A popular name for this day among Christians is the “Rapture”, a word which comes from Latin. It translates to “caught up” in English and comes from Paul's statement that “we who are alive, who are left [on earth], will be caught up [“raptured”] together with [the resurrected saints] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” Jumping back to 1 Corinthians 15 for a moment, verses 51-57 state the same thing. “We will not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” Sometime in the future, there will be a group of believers (maybe us, maybe not) who are alive on this great day. They will hear the trumpet of heaven blasting across the skies. The tombs of all the dead saints will break forth just like the ones at Jesus' crucifixion (Matthew 27:52-53). They will receive new bodies that cannot decay. And then we will also be caught up and transformed, even without dying.

And with that, I will abruptly cut this essay short. The fall feasts occur back-to-back in rapid succession, and their future fulfillment will only take three weeks from start to finish. When this mo'ed is finally fulfilled at Christ's return, it shouldn't catch us off guard. First Thessalonians 5:1-11 tells us that if we remain in the light, we can know when the Day of Yehovah will begin and not be terrified by it. Don't get me wrong, the times leading up to the Day of Yehovah will be terrifying. Jesus himself told us2 what will happen before he returns, and things will get very, very bad before they improve. The night is always darkest just before the dawn, and that rings true here. If we should be the ones to live to see such times, “straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28).

May the grace of God our Father be with you in Jesus the Messiah.

Love,
Seth שת



  1. This is a gross simplification of the reason Jews keep this day as the beginning of the year. I put it in this language because I'm trying to keep this at the level of the average Christian who is uninformed on Judaism. For a much better understanding, see this article from Chabad.org.
  2. Matthew 24:3-31.

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