In titling this post “The Last Trump,” I am not referring to the guy who’s trying to become the next U.S. president. Humorously speaking, where the Bible says that the last trump shall sound, it’s not about Donald J. Trump, although he is known to “sound off” quite a bit. But enough of politics.
The Bible speaks of “the last trump” in connection with the second coming of Christ. In First Corinthians 15:51-52 the Apostle Paul says, “Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed,” (King James Version, KJV).
The apostle’s reference to “mystery” in this verse, according to the Greek, is not something that is meant to be unknowable but something once hidden that is now ready to be divinely revealed (cp. Mark 4:11). So, through God’s inspiration, Paul is revealing that a complete, sudden change will literally come upon all the Christian faithful when the trumpet sounds and Jesus returns to earth.
It breaks down this way: (1) All those who have died in Christ will be, in a manner of speaking, awakened from their “sleep” of death at the trumpet sound and raised from their graves in the first resurrection (Revelation 20:6). In the Bible, the state of death is compared to an unconscious sleep (Psalm 146:4; Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, 10; Matt. 9:18-26; John 11:11-13; Acts 7:60). When the dead in Christ are resurrected, they “will be raised imperishable…” That is, they will “put on incorruption” and “immortality” (1 Cor. 15:52) which is compared to putting on a new garment (See Isaiah 61:10).
(2) Those faithful who will not have died before Christ returns—in other words, the ones who are still living at that time—will also be changed instantly, in the blink of an eye, to put on “incorruption” and “immortality” just like the resurrected believers.
(3) This whole scene at the coming of Christ will commence with the sounding of “the last trump.” It will signal the raising of the dead in Christ, first; then, the instant change of those believers still living at that time.
Paul also mentions the last trump in First Thessalonians 4:13-18, calling it “the trumpet of God.” He writes,
13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. (New American Standard Bible, NASB.)
The apostle is referring to the same events as he does in First Corinthians 15 and yet he adds that Jesus will come “with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God.” At that moment, those Christian believers who have died will be raised to life.
Paul also makes it clear that, when the trumpet of God sounds, living believers will not precede those who have died. Those faithful who have died will be raised to immortality first. Then the remaining believers will instantly change from perishable to imperishable and mortal to immortal. Once this takes place, all immortalized believers including both the resurrected and those who are already alive and remain will be caught up together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air at his coming.
The trumpet of God is the last trump for signalling the end of the present evil age ruled by humanity and the beginning of the Kingdom of God which Jesus will establish through his Divine rule. The sound of this trumpet is not a brass instrument like you’d hear in a musical band. More realistically, it’s referring to the sound that comes from the blowing of the shofar or ram’s horn used by Israel at the time of their religious feasts.
At the Feast of the Trumpets (Leviticus 23:24; Numbers 29:1-6), the ram’s horn was sounded to announce the occasion of the chosen time to be reconciled to one’s fellow man and to God. At the sound of these trumpets, work ceased and worship took place. It is a symbol of the new day that will dawn at Jesus’ return when the burden of hard labor will cease and eternal glory will be granted to all believers in God’s kingdom (Hebrews 4:8-11; Revelation 21:4). Like the old hymn, Some Golden Daybreak, says,
Some glorious morning sorrow will cease,
Some glorious morning all will be peace;
Heartaches all ended,
Labor all done,
Heaven will open
Jesus will come.
Some golden daybreak Jesus will come;
Some golden daybreak, battles all won,
He’ll shout the victory,
Break through the blue,
Some golden daybreak, for me, for you.
(Words & Music by C. A. Blackmore)
The Feast of Trumpets (shofarim) are a type of God’s judgement pointing to the future day of the Lord when Jesus returns to rescue his people and end all evil and death in the world. After God’s trumpet sounds, then believers will rise to meet the Lord in the air and “…thus shall we always be with the Lord,” (1 Thess. 4:17). With his church accompanying him, Jesus will descend on the Mount of Olives and enter Jerusalem to rule as King of kings and Lord of lords on the throne of his father David. Incidentally, the shofar was used for the coronation of kings (1 Kings 1:34, 39) and this typifies the crowning of Christ as King when he comes (Rev. 19:16). He will come to save his people, Israel, who will recognize him as Messiah (Zechariah 12:10; John 19:37; Rev. 1:7).
Not only were trumpets used to commence the feasts of worship and celebration, but to gather armies to war, as in the case of Israel. For example, Numbers 10:1-10. “”And when you go to war in your land against the adversary who attacks you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets that you may be remembered before the Lord your God and be saved from your enemies,” v. 9). Note that these particular trumpets were not the ram’s horns but hand-crafted silver trumpets (v. 2).
The blowing of the shofar is also envisioned as a warning of an impending war on the Day of the Lord. Joel 2:1 reads, “Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming; Surely it is near!” (NASB)
The trumpet of God signifies God’s vengeance upon the nations who fight against him at Jesus’ coming. In reference to this, Jesus speaks of the trumpet of God in Matthew 24 and what will occur “immediately after the tribulation of those days,” (vss. 29-31). He said,
“And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth shall mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory, And he will send forth his angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other,” (vss. 30-31, NASB).
“The tribes of the earth shall mourn” applies to the wrath the nations will suffer when they fight against the Lord and his people (Cp. Zech. 9:14; 14:3). This scene parallels the seven trumpets in Revelation 8-11. Each trumpet sound that John sees in his vision signifies some kind of future judgement upon the world: (1) The trees and grass are burned; (2) a mountain burning with fire is cast into the sea and one-third of the sea becomes blood, a third of the creatures in the sea dies and a third of the ships destroyed; (3) a great star called Wormword falls to the earth and a third of the waters become poisonous, killing many persons; (4) darkness: a third of the sun, moon and stars are darkened throughout day and night; (5) killer locusts appear, with monstrous-like forms and features as if preparing for a modern-day battle; (6) an army of two hundred million fighters from east of the Euphrates river invades the Middle East and kills a third of all humanity; (7) the coming of Christ.
There are those who believe that some of these trumpets may have already occurred as we head toward the Lord’s return. But that seventh or last trumpet is the Good News we are looking forward to. Revelation 11:15 says, “And the seventh angel sounded [the trumpet] ; and there arose loud voices in heaven saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ; and he will reign forever and ever.’” Verse 18 goes on to say, “And the nations were enraged, and Thy wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to give their reward to Thy bondservants the prophets and to the saints and to those who fear Thy name, the small and great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.”
This last-day scenario obviously describes, in detail, what we’ve been looking at in regard to what will take place when Jesus takes over the world and rewards his servants. The great trumpet sound will signal the great Day of the Lord, the time when all believers will be called forth to worship the Lamb of God in glory and splendor (Rev. 5:9-14); to win the battle and gain the victory over the world (Psalm 60:1-12; 108:13; John 16:33; 1 John 5:4, 5;); and to celebrate with joy forevermore (Psalm 126:6; Isaiah 12:2; Revelation 7:9-17; 19:5-10).
If you would like to get a taste of what it might be like to hear the trumpet call of God when Christ comes in his glory, click on the following link. It almost makes one’s hair stand on end to imagine the sound of the last trump when that Great Day comes!
It’s a call to get ready. Sound the alarm. Jesus is coming again!
Good News to YOU!