“When you go to war in your land against the adversary who oppresses you, you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, so that you may be remembered before the Lord your God and be saved from your enemies. Also on your days of rejoicing, at your appointed festivals, and at the beginnings of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over your sacrifices of well-being; they shall serve as a reminder on your behalf before the Lord your God: I am the Lord your God.” – Numbers 10:9-10
I’ve been listening to Father Mike Schmitz’s Bible in a Year podcast. If you’re not listening/reading along, please take the time to join now! You can go back and listen to the first 60 days and then move forward with us! It’s amazing. The Scripture excerpt above is from yesterday’s reading on the podcast. I am always struck by many of the words that Father Mike reads to us and by his own words of prayer and explanation that come after.
The above words from Numbers are what I felt moved to share with you today. Here is the thing. Trumpets sounding “when you go to war” is a common occurrence to this day in the U.S. Army. Not that there is always a trumpet sounding in actual combat situations, but there is a trumpet played during ceremonies when the troops are gathered in formation. Sometimes that is before they are to deploy to combat zones, sometimes it is at a change of command when one leader is leaving an organization and another is coming into take command.
I’ve been to change of command ceremonies where the only commands to the assembled troops come from the bugle, or the similar brass instrument, the trumpet. The bugler has learned all of the musical notes that comprise the normally verbal commands that cause the Soldiers to move about the field for various portions of the ceremony. It’s quite impressive to hear a couple of notes played, notes that hang in the air for a moment after, and then the people in uniform move in unison to new positions for the next requisite formation in the ceremony.
I am reminded of Cavalry charges back in the 1800’s, as well. There was always a bugler playing as the troops rode into battle, and to call them back for retreat or just to regroup. There could be bugle calls for ‘time to eat’ and ‘time to get up.’ And then there is the famous and poignant “Taps” that is played at the end of the day, and also at Military funerals. Many Army installations still play recorded versions of many of these ‘time of day’ calls over public address systems for all to hear. It’s tradition.
Military ceremonies are all about precision and predictability. They are all about everyone being, “on the same page,” so to speak, during the event. No guessing here. There can’t be. Without everyone knowing where to move and when, and at what speed, chaos would ensue with hundreds of Soldiers on the parade field.
This whole idea got me to thinking about tradition and the importance of doing things in remembrance of what has gone before to honor organizations, undertakings, people. Or it could be in remembrance of the God who loves us and acts out of compassion and mercy always for a greater good. And that’s why God commands Moses in the Book of Numbers to sound the trumpet. Wake up! Hey! Something very important is going on and all should pay attention.
I don’t know. I just love the idea of God telling Moses to ensure there is a blare of a trumpet for significant events in the lives of His people. As an old Army wife, it makes my heart smile. And as a lover of tradition and the importance of remembering what has come before so that the things we do never lose their meaning, I just love this.