Pastor Mark Biltz of El Shaddai Ministries in Seattle, WA wants Christians worldwide to connect to the upcoming holiday of Rosh Hashana through the shofar. Each year for the past eight years, Biltz has encouraged Christians around the world to blow the shofar as Rosh Hashana enters their time zone.
In a story about the growing Christian fascination with the shofar, published last year by Christianity Today, writer Kate Shellnutt explained, “Believers who incorporate the shofar often echo biblical references to sounding a trumpet, such as its use in warfare by Gideon’s army (Judg. 7:15–22) or the battle of Jericho (Josh. 6), as a call for repentance (Is. 58:1, Hos. 8:1), as a way to gather an assembly (Num. 10:3, Joel 2:15), or for other occasions of praise and proclamation…”
Rosh Hashana, the holiday that marks the beginning of the new Hebrew year, is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve. It is commonly called the birthday of the world. Traditionally, Rosh Hashana is the day on which we crown God as King; the most important symbol of Rosh Hashana is the shofar.
For Hashem Most High is awesome, great king over all the earth; Psalms 47:2
“At sports events, people do the wave. I thought we needed to have a shofar sounding wave around the world, honoring the King of Kings,” Biltz told Breaking Israel News, describing his original inspiration.
This year, Blitz attracted the biggest group of participants ever. Over 700 people and organizations from 73 countries, from Albania to Zimbabwe, have pledged to blow the shofar on the first night of Rosh Hashana, which begins Sunday evening, September 29 at sunset.
His website includes a list of the 73 countries and how many individuals or groups from each country have pledged to blow shofar for Rosh Hashana. A world map displays pins that indicate participants’ home countries.
“Rosh Hashana is the one holiday that the Nations can celebrate. It’s the birthday of the world,” Biltz explained. “It’s all about crowning God as King. The [heavenly] books are open. The courts in heaven are open. It’s a dress rehearsal for what’s coming.”
Day 1 of Creation was the 25th of the Hebrew month of Elul, five days before Rosh Hashana.
Biltz commented on a second significant event that happened on that date. “Nechemiah finished the walls of Jerusalem on 25 Elul,” he said.
The wall was finished on the twenty-fifth of Elul, after fifty-two days. Nehemiah 6:5
“Over the past eight years, I’ve had people all over the world blowing shofar when Rosh Hashana begins in their time zones,” he related. “New Zealand is first, then all over the world, one time zone at a time. It ends up in Washington State,” where his ministry is located.
In order to prepare people for their shofar blowing, Biltz’s website includes a brief video of an expert Jewish shofar blower and a document that explains the sequence and significance of the traditional 100 shofar blasts that are done on Rosh Hashana. The website even includes Rosh Hashana recipes, like honey cake and apple-cinnamon challah.
Biltz’s ministry, which includes an in-person congregation in Washington State and a virtual congregation of 250,000 people in 300 cities across 30 countries, began approximately 20 years ago.
“One of the things that blew me away, I was hearing that other churches were reading the Koran in solidarity with Israel. This is total ignorance,” he asserted. It inspired him to do things differently.
His ministry is based on the foundational idea of introducing Christians to the Biblical holidays which he calls the moedim (appointed times). “We get 1500 people at Passover. We want to get people to better understand the moedim. We celebrate Chanukah and Purim, Sukkot. And we connect with Christians around the world.”
He continued, “More and more gentiles are understanding the importance of studying Hebraic roots in context. I teach errors from the New Testament, whether intentional mistranslations or misunderstandings because they don’t understand the Hebraic context. I’m telling them things they’ve never heard before in their whole life. I explain that you can’t understand the New Testament without understanding [Hebrew scripture].”
Unlike some Christians, Biltz, who calls himself, “a rebel in Christianity,” loyally follows the same calendar as the Jews. “I totally follow the Hillel calendar with the Jews. God gave the authority to them,” he said, referring to the rabbinically-fixed Jewish calendar that ensures that holidays fall in the correct Biblical season.
His life’s work is, “getting people excited about God, getting people excited about the moedim. People need to connect. I want Christians to love Israel, the Jewish people and Torah from a Torah perspective.
“I’m giving Christians around the world the opportunity to connect with their Jewish roots,” said Biltz, who brings tours to Israel every year. He wants Christians everywhere to know that, “the Torah is totally alive today. It’s alive and they need to catch the wave.”
“We have over 1000 people at our Rosh Hashana service, which include apples and honey. We really do it up!” he enthused.
The motto of El Shaddai Ministries is Taking Torah to the Nations.