Guest brings a horn of plenty

Published May 5, 2007

LAND O'LAKES - Pastor Guy Weatherly said last Sunday's service was the most fun he has had since he started shepherding the flock at Land O'Lakes First United Methodist Church almost two years ago.

Larry Johnson, congregational leader of the Shoresh David Messianic Congregation in Wesley Chapel, visited the church and demonstrated the blowing of the shofar, a ram's horn and ritual instrument of ancient and modern Hebrews.

"We were bouncing off the ceiling," Weatherly said of his congregation. "Our people started connecting with their Jewish roots."

Johnson talked about the history of the shofar, from the time of Abraham to the final trumpet blast in the book of Revelation in the Bible.

God "uses the trumpet, the shofar, to get our attention to speak to us," Johnson said. "The first mention of God using a ram's horn to call his people was on Mount Sinai."

For Jews, the shofar is blown on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana.

In Exodus 19:13 the Bible states that "when the ram's horn sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain." In Revelation 1:10, John describes the voice of God as a trumpet. "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet."

Weatherly said Johnson explained how when the flesh is taken out of the ram's horn, there are bloodstains on the horn. "He (Johnson) then explained it with New Testament eyes," Weatherly said.

Johnson is not Jewish but says his ministry aims to bring Christians and Jews together. Learning to blow the shofar was difficult.

"It took me four months to get the first tone," he said. "It took a willingness and perseverance, just like learning to do God's will."

Johnny Herbet, a member of the Methodist church as well as the minister of music and worship, also thought it was a great service.

"I never realized there are four distinct tones of the shofar that have four different meanings," Herbet said.

The first is the tekiyah, which is a short blast to gain attention. The second is the shevarim, three short blasts increasing in volume, denoting brokenness or humility. The third is the teruah, nine quick tones that call for movement or preparedness. The final tone is the tekiah godolah, the Great Trumpet, the sound of the call to leave.

This is the last trumpet sound mentioned in I Thessalonians 4:16.