The shofar is a powerful instrument because it releases the mighty sounds of what God intends to do at a particular place and moment of time. There are three fundamental sounds that announce and declare these intentions. The following is a description of each of these sounds.
The first sound is the “Tekiah” (pronounced “teh-key-AH”). The tekiah is equivalent to the whole note in music. It is one continuous sound that extends for several beats (at least a musical measure). The tekiah is the sound that announces God’s intent to establish His righteous boundaries in an area or arena He wants to occupy.
The “Shevarim” (sheh-vuh-REEM) consists of several shorter “breaking sounds.” They function similar to quarter notes in a measure of music in ¾ time. The shevarim is a breaking sound. It announces God’s intent to breakthrough barriers and shatter resistance to his will.
The “Teruah” (tuh-ROO-ah) is an alarming sound. It is a sound that awakens and draws immediate and focused attention to what God is doing. The sound is made up of nine staccato blasts (a musical measure of eighth notes in ¾ time). The teruah is the sound used to sharply announce God’s arrival on the scene.
There is also a special class of tekiah called the tekiah gdolah (gdole-AH) which translates as a “great tekiah.” It is a single unbreaking sound that extends for several (sometimes many) measures. Since it is such a commanding sound it is used to announce and/or complete a series of shofar sounds. The tekiah gdolah declares the full and complete extension of God’s glory and domain.