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The Shout of a King

by David C. Grabbe
Forerunner, "Prophecy Watch," August 24, 2022

 

To adherents of Judaism, the Feast of Trumpets is essentially a mystery. They can see that the first day of the seventh month is a holy day, and a noisy one at that:

 

 

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD.’” (Leviticus 23:23-25; see also Numbers 29:1-6)

 

 

The Jews have their traditions, but they have little idea what to make of this annual holy day. Their confusion is both ironic and telling because God has made the clues readily available. However, putting the pieces together would require accepting something they are not ready to accept, at least not yet.

 

 

In Hebrew, the Feast of Trumpets is called Yom Teruah, based on the sparse instructions in Leviticus 23:23-25 and Numbers 29:1-6Yom (Strong’s #3117) is the Hebrew word for “day,” while translators commonly render teruah (Strong’s #8643) in those places as “a trumpet blast,” “a blowing of trumpets,” or even “loud blasts on the ram’s horn.” But in the instructions, God does not specify why. He only indicates that it is to be a day of great noise, a day of alarm, joy, rejoicing, and shouting, which is what teruah literally means.

 

 

The root of teruah is ruwa (Strong’s #7321), and its figurative meaning is “to split the ears (with sound).” The sound can signify alarm or rejoicing. It can be destructive or joyful. Regardless of the occasion, ruwa is piercing, thunderous, or otherwise deafening. The emphasis in teruah lies in earsplitting noise rather than its source. It does not directly mean “trumpets,” “ram’s horn,” or “shofar,” but instead points to an arresting noise like the sound those instruments make.

 

 

But it also describes the sound a throng of people makes when shouting with a full-throated roar, and particularly in shouting to God (Psalm 47:166:181:2100:1). In God’s church, our observance tends to be subdued compared to how Scripture uses teruah and its root, but we at least have a song service during which we can lift our voices—“make a joyful noise”—as commanded.

 

 

A Prophecy of Balaam

 

 

A survey of the three dozen places teruah appears uncovers a few common themes, such as war, alarm, rejoicing, warning, and victory. However, another theme of teruah, often overlooked, is found in a Messianic prophecy given through the soothsayer or priest-diviner, Balaam. Balak, king of Moab, had hired him to curse Israel, but God ensured he could only bless the nation. Balaam prophesies in Numbers 23:21: “He has not observed iniquity in Jacob, nor has He seen wickedness in Israel. The LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a King is among them.”

 

 

Through Balaam, God explains why He could not curse Israel as Balak desired. He essentially says that He had chosen to overlook the sins of Israel because of what He was working out. We can readily see an example of His sparing them in the Exodus Passover, where God “passed over” the sinful nation to fulfill His promises to Abraham. God is not saying Israel was without iniquity, only that He had chosen not to focus on it. He would not curse Israel just because Balaam or Balak asked Him to.

 

Teruah appears in the last half of the verse: “The LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a King is among them” (emphasis ours throughout). This couplet contains an example of parallelism, in which the two phrases express the same idea. The word “shout” shows a common usage that can help us appreciate this holy day: Teruah—which is shouting, the blowing of trumpets, or the splitting of the air with an arresting noise—draws attention to the presence of God. Of course, we understand that He is always present, but the deafening noise, from whatever source, draws attention to the reality of His presence.

 

 

In this prophetic utterance, God says He is with Israel, and His shout—the noise that cannot be ignored—rings among His people. Thus, on Yom Teruah, this Day of Trumpets or Day of Shouting, we remember His presence because the sounds of this day should capture our attention and redirect it to what the King is doing. It is a highly effective way to begin the fall holy day season, focusing God’s people on the right things because it is nearly impossible to ignore a noise like teruah describes.

 

Remember, in the prophecy, God is explaining why He is defending Israel, even though His people were really not any better than their neighbors. In many ways, they were worse because they were accountable for much more. God defended them simply because of His faithfulness to Abraham. On that basis, the shout of rejoicing went up because the Creator God was their King and in their midst, favoring them.

 

 

God in the Camp

 

 

Scripture contains other examples of shouting that are linked with God’s presence:

 

 

And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted [teruah] so loudly that the earth shook. Now when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout [teruah], they said, “What does the sound of this great shout [teruah] in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” Then they understood that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp. So the Philistines were afraid, for they said, “God has come into the camp!” And they said, “Woe to us! For such a thing has never happened before.” (I Samuel 4:5-7)

 

 

The Ark of the Covenant represented the presence of God, and when the Israelites saw it, they all began to shout. Their response was fitting and correct because their divine King was among them. However, the rest of the story reveals He was intensely displeased with Israel and gave the victory to the Philistines.

 

 

This episode occurred when the sons of Eli had disgraced the priesthood, and God had largely removed Himself from the nation. The Israelites thought they could use the Ark like a good luck charm. They trusted in a holy object, not understanding the principle of reciprocity in their relationship with God. As He told King Asa much later, “The LORD is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you” (II Chronicles 15:2). So, the neglectful Israelites presumed to bring God into battle with them, and He fought against them. The shout of the King was among Israel, but God’s presence brought destruction rather than favor.

 

 

I Chronicles 15 contains another example:

 

 

Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouting [teruah] and with the sound of the horn, with trumpets and with cymbals, making music with stringed instruments and harps. (I Chronicles 15:28)

Again, the presence of God was celebrated with shouting, both by the people and by their horns and trumpets. King David had finally followed the correct procedure for moving the Ark, which required it to be borne by priests with solemn dignity rather than jostled along in a cart like a bundle of hay or other common possession (II Samuel 6:1-11). God’s presence evoked a tremendous audible salute from His people.

 

 

The Triumphal Entry

 

 

A well-known prophecy, fulfilled at Christ’s first coming, also contains the theme of shouting that accompanies God’s presence:

 

 

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout [ruwa], O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9)

 

In this prophecy, the shouting by the people of Zion/Jerusalem would be on account of their King coming to them, bringing salvation. It is another example of shouting because the King was present among His people.

 

 

Jesus Christ fulfilled this prophecy of the Messiah entering Zion on a donkey during His triumphal entry into Jerusalem:

 

 

Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” 

 

 

All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” (Matthew 21:1-5)

 

 

Yet it was not just His riding on a donkey that was fulfilled; the detail regarding shouting also came to pass. A tremendous cry went up from the people. Whether they recognized it or not, the multitudes were announcing the presence of their King:

 

 

Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!” And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.” (Matthew 21:9-11)

 

 

The King—the Son of David—was in the presence of the multitudes, and they were crying out—they were shouting, as was only fitting. Of course, He had been among them for three-and-a-half years, and His presence did not evoke shouting everywhere He went. His entry, however, was an extraordinary occasion to draw attention to the fact that God was present and something significant was happening. He had been among them for half a prophetic week, healing, teaching, warning, and performing signs, but now His earthly work was almost finished. He fulfilled Zechariah 9:9 by entering Jerusalem on a donkey in the lead-up to the covenant memorial of Passover.

 

 

Acknowledging Their King

 

 

For those with eyes to see, what was happening was as plain as day: They were shouting in celebration, honor, and recognition of their King. As Zechariah prophesied, He had salvation for those who would accept Him. Hosanna, a transliterated Hebrew word, is a plea that means “save now” or “save, we pray.” The people were shouting, “Save now!” while their King entered Jerusalem with salvation. They took the words they called from Psalm 118:25-26, a Messianic psalm.

 

 

Some had made the connection, but not everyone was pleased:

 

 

Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: “‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest [echoing what the angels shouted at His birth]!” And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.” (Luke 19:37-40)

 

 

As was their custom, the Pharisees were offended at Him because they felt threatened. Since they focused only on their own positions, they could not see God. Jesus answered them with a declaration that if His people failed to shout, the stones themselves would take up the cry!

 

 

Part of His statement deals with the creation—whether men or stones—rightly praising Him as the Creator. Shouting was not just fitting but absolutely required on this occasion. His words about stones crying out may also refer to Habakkuk 2:11, a prophecy of woe against those who covet unlawful gain, those who feather their nests at the expense of others, something He accused the Pharisees of doing (see Matthew 23:16-26). In that verse, God says, “The stone will cry out from the wall, and the beam from the timbers will answer it.” In other words, the stones and other parts of the house would cry out as it crumbled on the occupants. In this case, Jesus’ words were both a defense of the people’s appropriate shouting in His honor and an allusion to destructive judgment upon a wicked house.

 

 

Blessed Is He Who Comes . . .”

 

 

Christ Himself foretold the people’s shouting the words of Psalm 118—“Save now . . .. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!” He uttered the prophecy during His final journey to Jerusalem:

 

 

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!” (Luke 13:34-35)

 

 

He was still some distance from Jerusalem when He prophesied that the city would not see Him until the citizens proclaimed the words of Psalm 118. When some of them indeed shouted, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!” He entered Jerusalem on a donkey as their King with salvation, thus fulfilling Zechariah 9:9.

 

 

Though some welcomed Him, His reception by the religious authorities was entirely hostile, and as He foretold, their house was left desolate shortly thereafter. They had searched the Scriptures after a fashion, trying to gain eternal life for themselves, but their rotten hearts would not allow them to see that the Scriptures testified of Jesus of Nazareth.

 

In the same way, many religious Jews today observe the Day of Shouting without acknowledging that the shouting points to the divine King, Jesus Christ. And as Jesus prophesied, they will not see Him until they proclaim, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!”—that is, until they acknowledge Him as Messiah.

 

 

Zephaniah 3:14-17 contains a yet-to-be-fulfilled prophecy of future Israelites turning to Him and receiving salvation:

 

 

Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away your judgments, He has cast out your enemy. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall see disaster no more. In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save [they will cry out ‘Hosanna!’—‘Save now!’—and He will answer]; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

 

 

What will it be like when the King Himself joins in song with His singing and shouting people? What a magnificent day that will be!

 

As God said through Balaam millennia ago, the shout of a King has been among them, but most of them missed it. But we greatly anticipate the day the shout of the King breaks forth again, which Psalm 47 anticipates:

 

Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout [ruwa] to God with the voice of triumph!

For the LORD Most High is awesome;
He is a great King over all the earth.

He will subdue the peoples under us,
And the nations under our feet.

He will choose our inheritance for us,
The excellence of Jacob whom He loves. Selah

God has gone up with a shout [teruah],
The L
ORD with the sound of a trumpet.

Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
Sing praises with understanding.

God reigns over the nations;
God sits on His holy throne.

The princes of the people have gathered together,
The people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
He is greatly exalted. (Psalm 47:1-9)

 

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Latest comments

08.09 | 23:52

Thank you for this! You might enjoy my take on the whole 'Christmas' story, not born on Dec 25th etc,
https://tranzmachine.bandcamp.com/track/a-saviour-born

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17.03 | 00:11

Praise God! He is so good to all of us!

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16.03 | 15:20

I needed to hear this today. Its been sooo very difficult for a long time honestly asked God if I was the toxic one and just didn't realize it so I could repent

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11.01 | 20:32

this is so beautiful and such a testimony to the Lord's healing power and sanctification through our suffering. Much of my walk with Christ is similar to yours.

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