The Trumpet Call
“And it came to pass that he arrived and blew the shofar on the mountain of Ephraim. And the Sons of Israel went out with him from the mountain and he was before them. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, for Yahweh has given your enemies, the Moabites, into your hand. So, they went down after him and took control of the fords of the Jordan which are toward Moab and they did not permit anyone to pass through.”
Ehud blows a signal on the shofar — a ram’s horn — to signal to the people that it was time to gather to battle. The horn played an important role in ancient society, depending on the kind of horn and on how the horn was blown, would send a signal to the people of the land that they were to mobilize for battle, for a gathering, for worship, for travel, etc… In the days before cell-phones and PA systems, the trumpet or horn was the tool of choice to communicate over long distances. Thus, Paul, in addressing the way we communicate, writes:
“And now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you if I do not speak with a revelation, or with knowledge, or in prophesy, or with a teaching? Even inanimate instruments give sound. If a flute, or if a harp, does not give distinct sounds, how will someone know what is being played? And if an indistinct trumpet is sounded, who will prepare for battle? And so, it is the same way with you. If through your tongue you speak unintelligible words, how will anyone know what is being spoken? It will be as if you are speaking into the air.”
(1 Corinthians 14:6-9)
Babel and the confusion of languages was a curse upon mankind due to their arrogance and disobedience of God. What we see in the spiritual gift of tongues in Acts is as reversal of this judgment in a specific time and place not only to foreshadow the new creation to come, but also to be a sign of judgment upon the Jewish authorities (1 Corinthians 14:21; Isaiah 28:11-12). The Gospel is meant to be a clear and intelligible message of hope to a dying world and it is a rallying cry to the church to take up arms against the forces of darkness. If the trumpet call does not go out in a distinct way, then how will the people respond appropriately? Ehud gives the trumpet blast clearly and distinctly, and the people rally to go to war. May we be quick to do the same.