Part 4. “The Trumpet shall sound!” (1 Cor.15:52)
In our last number we tried to address the “how” of resurrection. In this number we shall look at the “when.” But before doing so, we must state categorically that we shall not be trying to set a date for the Lord’s return, but rather to tie it in with what is clearly revealed in the New Testament. Which brings us to the subject of Trumpets, and in particular the last trumpet.
“We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the wink of an eye, at the Last Trumpet, for the Trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Cor.15:51-52)
Paul told the Thessalonians virtually the same message of hope. “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a word of command, the voice of the Archangel, and the Trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall arise first, and then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up with them.” (1Thess.4:16)
And so we shall concentrate on the expression the last trumpet. The word “last” implies that there have been other trumpets sounding. Where can we get a handle on that? Rev.10:6-7 gives us the information we seek. “There will be no further delay, but in the days of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound the trumpet, the mystery of God was finished, as He preached it to His servants the prophets.”
Immediately we are led to investigate another matter – that of the “mystery”. There is nothing still hidden here. It is clear enough from Paul’s words to the Ephesians. “By revelation was made known to me the mystery . . . as it is made known now to His holy apostles and prophets in spirit . . . that the Gentiles should be fellowheirs of the same body.” (Eph.3:3-5) And so we learn that at the time of the resurrection, the “one body” comprised of Jew and Gentile, shall be complete, and the Lord will be ready to begin another work in His Kingdom.
This mystery had not been revealed in the days of the Old Covenant, but had been revealed to the apostles during the times written about in Acts. Paul had to speak sternly to Gentile believers concerning this great privilege, as we read in Romans. “I do not wish you to be ignorant of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own conceits, thathardness in part has happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in.” (Rom.11:25)
And so the mystery had to be understood from the positive viewpoint, that the Gentiles were being privileged to share with the believing Jews on a completely equal footing, and from the negative viewpoint that the rest of Israel had been judicially hardened, blinded, until the full number of Gentile believers had been received by the Lord. Only the Lord knows when that number is complete, and so we have no idea when the moment will arrive. Jesus warned us about trying to work out the exact time of His return. He said, “Of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matt.24:36)
But when the time arrives, “God will send His angels with a great trumpet, and they will assemble His elect from the four winds, from the extremity of earth to the extremity of heaven.” (Matt.24:31, Mark 13:27) Until that moment, “the heavens must receive [the Lord Jesus] until the times of restitution of all things.” (Acts 3:21)
Returning to Revelation, we read, “And the seventh angel sounded, and there were loud voices in heaven saying, ‘The Kingdom of the World has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.” (Rev.11:15) And in verse 18, “the time has come for the dead to be judged, to reward Your servants the prophets, and the saints, and those who fear Your name, both small and great.”
However, the seventh trumpet is not a singular event like the other six. It contains the outpouring of the Seven Bowls of Wrath. This is in keeping with the Old Testament event at the taking of Jericho, when Joshua called for seven Levites to carry trumpets, and walk round the city once each day for six days, but on the seventh day they encircled the city seven times. Only then did the word go forth to shout, and the walls collapsed. Jericho’s strong security had finally been totally breached. The same is true in the Revelation, where Jericho becomes Babylon. Let us see what happens when the seventh bowl is poured out.
“The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and there came a loud voice out of the Temple from the Throne, saying, ‘It is done.’ . . . And great Babylon came into remembrance before God, to give to her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.” (Rev.16:17, 19)
Gathering together the information revealed in the foregoing texts about the 7th trumpet, we have the following –
- The mystery is finished, indicating that the Lord has completed gathering His Gentile saints.
- The Kingdom of God is established, to replace the various dominions that hold sway in the world.
- The mystery of Israel’s blindness is ended. It is time for the “Deliverer to return to Zion and turn ungodliness from Jacob.” (Rom.11:26)
- A certain “delay” (which is unexplained) is terminated.
- The time arrives for God to reward His saints, “both small and great.”
- The dead in Christ shall be raised to new life first.
- Those who are alive and remain when the trumpet sounds will then be changed into their new bodies.
- The great city Babylon, representative of all corrupt religion, is finally exposed, and the system destroyed.
- The “times of restitution of all things” begins.
- The whole body of raised saints will be collected together by the angels for a solemn meeting with the Lord.
Taking all ten of these statements together shows how complex the Last Trumpet sequence is. It is impossible to sum it up as an event that occurs in a split second of time for everyone, even though each person raised or changed will find it happening “in the wink of an eye.”
Much more could be said about the spread of verses quoted in this part, but we shall hold this over until later, because there are other matters to bring forward in this study.