Category Archives: True Worship

The True Shophar

 

There are no words to describe the overwhelming need for the sound of the shophar in this hour. Heaven must hear it. The earth must hear it. Must hear the voice of the true shophar of God.

What do we mean by the true shophar? Let’s start with some background. The apostle Paul called Israel under the law (the Sinai covenant) children. “Even so we when we were children…” (Gal. 4:3). It may well be said, then, that the old covenant was a picture book for children. Do we grasp this? The old covenant is filled with pictures—types and shadows, representations of reality. God gave these to His children anticipating the day when He would reveal to them the reality that inspired the pictures. This is one of the themes of the new covenant book of Hebrews.

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. (Heb. 10:1)

The law, then, contained shadows of good things to come, and not the very image of those things. In The True Worshippers I enlarged on this, showing that the Scriptures speak of these shadows as “figures of the true” (Heb. 9:24). That is, figures of the reality that cast the shadows. It is vitally important to understand this usage of the word true in Scripture; it is contrasted not only with false but also with type and shadow. We read that Christ the new covenant high priest is a “minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man” (Heb. 8:2). In other words the tabernacle of Moses, central to the worship of the old covenant people of God, was not the true tabernacle; it was but a figure of the true. This is not saying that it was false; God Himself had ordained it, but He ordained it only as a type, a shadow—and only for a time—till in His appointed time the True Tabernacle should come on the scene.

We also read of the true bread and the true vine. These also have their corresponding contrast not only with that which is false, but also with that which is type and shadow. Christ Himself is the image, the body, that cast those shadows (Col. 2:16,17).

It’s in this sense that we must understand the significance of the old covenant shophar. That instrument was but a shadow of a spiritual reality.

Let’s see first what the Picture Book has to show us about shophars.

The Old Testament Hebrew has two words translated trumpet in the King James Version. The first is chatsotserah, which appears 29 times. Here is its first instance:

Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps. (Num. 10:2)

If the priests blew with but one trumpet the leaders were to gather to the tent of meeting; if with two, all the camp was to gather (Num. 10:3,4). And when the cloud over the camp lifted and moved on, the trumpets signaled the order in which the tribes encamped around the tabernacle were to follow (Num. 10:5,6).

The silver trumpets were also used to alert the Lord of His people’s need for His help against their enemies.

And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies. (Num. 10:9)

That’s interesting, isn’t it. The trumpets were also for God to hear.

They were also sounded, once again for God’s ears, “in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God” (Num.10:10). Let us take special note of this. The trumpets in the mouths of the anointed priests were to provide as it were a consciousness of God, an awareness of His remembering that His people were offering these offerings before Him, that is, in His presence, before His face.

The other Hebrew word for trumpet is shophar, which appears 72 times, the first of which is at Sinai when along with thunders and lightnings the “voice of the trumpet [shophar] sounded “exceeding loud, so that all the people that was in the camp trembled” (Ex. 19:16).

No doubt it was an angel who sounded the shophar that caused the people to tremble; we read later that it was blown by the priests at Jericho, where it brought the walls down around their trembling enemies:

And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets [shophars] of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. (Josh. 6:4)

It’s here we discover the shophar was made of a ram’s horn.

The shophar was vital to victory. It was shophars that Gideon’s three hundred were armed with (Jud. 7:16). And Nehemiah had by his side one who was ready to “sound the trumpet [shophar]” if they were suddenly attacked when the wall was being rebuilt (Neh. 4:18).

The shophar had other uses as well. It was sounded on the day of atonement to proclaim the Jubilee (Ex. 25:9). It was blown when Solomon was anointed king (1 Ki. 1:39). It was blown in God’s appointed times—the new moon or solemn feast days (Ps. 81:3). It was used along with the silver trumpets, as when David and all Israel brought back the ark:

Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouting, and with sound of the cornet [shophar], and with trumpets [chatsotserah], and with cymbals, making a noise with psalteries and harps. (1 Chr. 15:28)

All these instances were types, shadows, that were prophetic of a spiritual reality to come.

Moving from type to true

I say prophetic of a spiritual reality yet to come, and it’s Christ and the new covenant I have in mind, but even in the Old Testament of our Bible we discover that the transition to that reality had begun to take place. It was the voices of the prophets that became the shophars of God.

Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet [shophar], and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. (Isa. 58:1)

What then is a real shophar, a true shophar? “Lift up thy voice like a shophar…”

And this from Jeremiah:

Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet [shophar]. But they said, We will not hearken. (Jer. 6:17)

God is saying that the voice of the watchmen He set over His people was “the sound of the shophar.”

God had also made Ezekiel a watchman with the voice of a shophar. God told him he was to “blow the shophar” to warn the people when because of their iniquities He was sending the sword of their enemies against them. The one who hearkened would “deliver his soul,” the one who did not, the sword would “take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.” Furthermore, if the watchman did not blow the shophar of warning, the blood of those who were slain, said God, “will I require at the watchman’s hand.” (See Ezekiel 33:1-7.)

Again, just what specifically did God mean by the watchman blowing the shophar?

So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. (Ezek. 33:1-7).

How clear that is. The watchman’s warning—the voice of the shophar—is a word he speaks from the mouth of God Himself, a word that brings nigh the very Presence and consciousness of God Himself. No wonder all the trembling, then, at the voice of the shophar. God is nigh; it’s this that He intends the voice of the shophar to convey.

So I must say something that needs to be said. We can blow the ram’s horn till we’re blue in the face and out of breath. With what result? Being blue of face and out of breath. That’s all. For God does not hear that kind of shophar, nor is He brought nigh in it. I realize that we’re living in a time when it’s very difficult for many to accept this, and some will no doubt be offended by it. That is lamentable.

So now my two-fold plea.

Oh for teachers that will teach God’s people that the new covenant involves us, not in types and shadows, but in a realm of spiritual reality called truth.

And oh, new covenant family of God, whether Jew or Gentile, let us be no longer children. Joel prophesied, “Blow ye the trumpet [shophar] in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand…” If there was ever a shophar blown, it is that—Joel’s prophecy. And Isaiah’s. He cried, “Hear O heavens, and give ear O earth…” That too is the voice of the shophar. The true shophar. The shophar of God. Do we want the heavens to hear our cry in this desperate hour, and the earth around us? Then let us cry to God to make shophars of us, that we may lift up our voice to Him like a shophar—that anointed voice propelled by the Breath of the Spirit of God from deep within, whether in prayer to God or prophecy to men. Be sure that God will hear this kind of shophar. And so will those around us, and tremble at His Presence.

 

The Realm Of The True

Here is another excerpt from my book The True Worshippers, which is available on Other Writings (see menu bar above). This excerpt is from Chapter Two entitled The Realm Of The True.

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Neither in this mountain…

…Jesus, in saying to the woman at the well that the hour was at hand when people would no longer worship in “this mountain,” that is, Samaria—what he had in mind was the way the Samaritans attempted to worship God. The Samaritan religion was a mongrel mix of the idolatrous rites of foreign gods along with certain traditions rooted in the Law of Moses.

“Ye [Samaritans] worship ye know not what,” Jesus told her. “We know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.”

Now, any Jew listening in on this conversation would have given his resounding Amen to this Man (also a Jew) for that statement. Yes, salvation is of the Jews—more specifically of the house of David of the tribe of Judah. It’s what the Man had said just prior to this that caused all the trouble.

Nor yet at Jerusalem…

Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

Blasphemy! Nor yet at Jerusalem? God Himself established the religion of the Jews, and Jerusalem was the exclusive city that He Himself ordained His temple to be built in! This was His habitation, and He Himself had called and inspired Moses the man of God to set forth in the Law all the ritual and sacrifice that was to be centred in this great city and temple! Blasphemy! Who is this heretic to say, “nor yet at Jerusalem”?

But this Heretic was speaking of the great transformation that this same God had sent Him to inaugurate, by which all the types and shadows of the Law would be fulfilled in Himself and His new covenant community the Church in the Kingdom of God. It was a transformation from type and shadow to the true.

For, in Scripture, the word true is contrasted not only with false, but also with type and shadow. Many of our fathers in church history saw this and embraced it, but in our day (to our great humiliation), Christian teachers in great numbers have carelessly relinquished this understanding. “Woman, believe Me,” Jesus had said: what He was about to reveal to her was going to take some faith.

Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

Do we ourselves hear the same promise? The same call to faith? Do we believe Him?

It seems we do not. These days many Christian teachers and their followers are glorying in rituals and types and shadows that were once observed in old Jerusalem, but which Scripture clearly teaches are done away in Christ and His new covenant. They insist that God will one day soon suddenly rapture the Church out of the picture and return to His original plans with natural Israel. Apparently, we are told, He will have the temple in Jerusalem rebuilt so Messiah can come to His temple and be worshipped with all the types and shadows of the Law again, in the process necessitating that Isaiah Chapter 66, verses one and two, be struck from the scriptural record, and repudiating Jesus’ own words here in John 4:21. Earlier generations of the church had greater light than that. Even in my old King James Bible there’s a superscription above Psalm 72 that reads, “David, praying for Solomon, sheweth the goodness and glory of his kingdom in type, and of Christ’s in truth.”

That sets forth very well the nature of truth. Jesus, in talking of the true worshippers, is not saying that those who worshipped under the Mosaic system were false worshippers. They certainly were not; the Samaritans were the ones involved in the false worship. The Jews’ religion was the divinely-ordained one. But—oh for eyes to see—it was just in type and shadow. Jesus, in using the word true here, is contrasting the true with type and shadow.

Neither in this mountain…

The true worshippers, He was telling the woman, shall not worship in Samaria. That is false religion; that is comparing true and false. But the Jews were not false worshippers; they worshipped the one true God—even though they themselves were not true worshippers. Not yet, that is. The worship their God had ordained in Jerusalem was only the type and shadow of the true. And this is why Jesus adds these words, which were difficult back then and are still difficult to this day:

Nor yet at Jerusalem…

That is comparing true and type. And the time had come when the true worshippers need not go to the earthly Jerusalem centre anymore; to worship the Father they need not get involved in what were but representations of reality. How would they worship Him, then?

In spirit and in truth…

Truth? Perhaps reality is a better word, and for a start we want to look at a few of the many facets of this that are revealed to us in our New Testament.

The True Worshippers

The following is an excerpt from Chapter One of my writing The True Worshippers, which is now available on Other Writings (see menu bar above). I hope to publish this book eventually, and made some beginnings via Createspace (hence the ISBN numbers on Page 4) but at the encouragement of friends recently (in the mouth of two or three witnesses…) decided to put it here for a start. It’s a 224-page pdf document with bookmarks.

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And so, God—we take note that Jesus calls Him the Father—He is a seeker. There is great emphasis in Scripture on seeking God; this is very important. We are to be seekers. But, God Himself a seeker? Surely this must lay hold of us. Our own seeking is not going to get us very far if it is not in line with what He Himself is seeking.

What is He seeking, then? Jesus says the Father is seeking true worshippers. You mean He wants to teach us how to really get into it on Sunday morning when the “worship team” leads us in worship? Or maybe He wants to counsel us where to worship? Christians sometimes ask one another, “Where do you worship?” They want to know what church you attend. Does that define worship, then, and set its boundaries—where people go to church and what they do in church on a Sunday morning?

Or, serving God. A little further on in this writing we will see how closely worshipping and serving God are linked. This becomes a powerful pursuit for many who turn to Christ. They don’t want to waste their precious moment of mortal life serving themselves anymore; now they want to serve God. I knew such a young man myself long ago. He had wasted his youth seeking after all the things the Gentiles seek. Now he wanted to serve God, and there was no time to lose. He was thinking in terms of what has been called the “five-fold” ministry of the church—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. This, of course, might be God’s will for certain ones, those He calls to this.

But it is not His ultimate calling—even for them. In a message I listened to recently the speaker said something like this: “If God is grooming you for a very high calling, then know that He will first take you into the depths.” That is true, yet it saddened me that the man was speaking in terms of the apostolic calling. I wondered how many in his audience might have felt left out, that they had not been “marked out for a very high calling.” Yet Paul, himself a called apostle, wrote that he was giving his all in order to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). This ought to cause those who have been called to the ministry to search their hearts, and it ought to encourage also those who are not called to this. For, God’s ultimate call for one and all is, simply, to become true worshippers. The Son of God says that this is what the Father is seeking. True worshippers.

You mean this is all He wants? All He is seeking? Yes. All. If that seems kind of a letdown to us, it’s only because we have not yet discovered how utterly breathtaking this is—being one of the Father’s true worshippers. It is something they are more than something they do. Oh, for vision, then: open our eyes, Father. For, once we discover what becoming a true worshipper is all about, we will lose interest in our own ideas of something fulfilling for our lives.

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.

This is what, or should I say, who, the Father is seeking. True worshippers. We must ask the searching question, then, and it will take some courage. In all the activity that falls under what we know as church—all the ministry, all the preaching and teaching, all the outreaches, all the Bible studies, all the programs… all the activity we have come to consider church… is Father finding what He is seeking? If He is seeking true worshippers, is He finding them? Let’s bring that closer to home. Am I one of them? Am I at least becoming one of them? Hopefully this question causes me to pause, and then stop, and check my bearings… lest somewhere down the road I discover to my great sorrow that what I was seeking and what God was seeking were two different things, and I have arrived at a destination far from where God, if He had been given His way, would have led me.

The encouraging thing is that in asking this searching question—and asking God Himself to search our hearts about it so we may know for sure if He is or is not finding what He is seeking in our lives—we are right there becoming engaged in the Father’s own seeking. He is seeking true worshippers, and as we respond with an open and honest heart, a heart that is willing to give Him the desire of His heart, we are right there beginning to enter into the true worship He has in mind. We are totally helpless to come to this on our own. We would have no idea what steps to walk in to get to this destination, much less know what the destination actually looks like. But since God Himself is seeking this in our lives, we have much assurance. If we are truly desirous of becoming one of these true worshippers of His, He will see to it that we are not disappointed. He will not disappoint the desire of His own heart.

Jesus defines the true worshippers as those who worship the Father in spirit and in truth. What is this all about, then? We want to look at this, and hopefully discover in some measure, with His help, what He means by this. For, it is a beautiful discovery in our walk with God—the day we begin to see that, whatever our lot in this earthly life, the greatest of all fulfillments is ours in simply becoming one who worships the Father in spirit and in truth. This is all God is really after in our lives. There is nothing greater, nothing higher, nothing more fulfilling that we could possibly hope for, or attain to, than becoming a true worshipper. Coming to this, we have arrived at the destination of the walk of the disciple of Christ—only to discover that this destination is actually an eternal Way—and the deepest desire of God’s own heart. In fact there is a realm of worship that, as far as finding fulfillment is concerned, is exceedingly abundantly above anything we could ever ask for… or even think.

We think of worship as something we do on Sundays for an hour or so—the worship service. Our concept of worship must be enlarged. We think of ministry, of serving God, as something the man behind the pulpit is involved in. Our concept of ministry must be enlarged. There is a ministry beyond ministry: I mean beyond ministry as we are accustomed to think of it. In fact, when the ministries God has set in the church become an end in themselves and not a means by which the people of God are equipped to give Him the desire of His heart, those ministries have failed God’s purpose for them.

And so, let us examine this. What does it mean to be one who worships the Father in spirit and in truth? What is a true worshipper?

But let us ask first:

Just what is worship? 

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