|September 6, 2006
PLAINER WORDS ONLINE …THE LAST TRUMP
Is There A Secret Rapture?
Many Christians are of the opinion that this dispensation ends, and their hope is realized “at the last trump.” In fact, many Christians look to the last trump as their signal to escape the Great Tribulation. They are of the opinion that a “rapture” (which is not a Bible word) will take place for them, and they will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and, then, He will take them to heaven. This is their doctrine; it is not a Bible doctrine.
These folks are confident that this event will take place before the Great Tribulation. As a proof text for this opinion, they quote 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Also, 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 is pointed to as proof that the “church” will realize its hope before the Great Tribulation begins. They are not clear on which “church” they are speaking about. The Bible mentions several churches; the Church in the wilderness, the Church of God, as well as, the Church which is His Body.
“Behold, I shew 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. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”
Failure to rightly divide the Word of Truth results in considerable error regarding the “last trump.” Those who fail to rightly divide associate the “last trump” with the Church of the Mystery (i.e. the Church after Acts 28), and they insist the “last trump” of 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4 takes place before the Great Tribulation. This is a mistake (or a lie) of the highest order. Keep in mind, truth misplaced is error and can become a lie.
In fact, many of the most popular dispensational points of view regarding the “rapture” are lies which have been made up out “of whole cloth” to support an unscriptural “secret rapture.” This unscriptural point of view is a profitable one to hold on to. This view of a “secret rapture” is believed by several of the most prominent Christian authors of all time, Hal Lindsay, Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. The have made tens of millions of dollars publishing their novels, The Late Great Planet Earth, and The Left Behind Series. Their novels are based on their false interpretation of Scripture—the pre-tribulation “secret rapture.” They disassociate the “Christian Church” with the Tribulation period. This lie has been bought-into by, literally, millions of people. Hal Lindsay made a bundle of money promoting this view in his book, The Late Great Planet Earth of thirty-some-odd-years-ago. He still preaches and writes on this erroneous interpretation of the Bible.
An article was sent to us recently, asking us to review it; then let them know what we thought of the article. We have never made a practice of doing this. It was titled, “Defending The Pre-Trib Rapture (Again).”
The author’s name will remain anonymous. He writes that 1 Thes. 4:15-17 and John 14:1-3 explains the Rapture. He, then, stated that the Rapture is not another name for the Second Coming. “The Rapture,” he writes, “is an unscheduled secret event where Jesus comes part way to Earth to meet His Church in the air and take us to be with Him where He now is.” This unscheduled event is prior to the Tribulation about which much is said in the “Book of Revelation.”
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we don’t know what to say, except, if you want to read this, you will be stepping “through the looking glass,” like Alice did, into a “wonderland” where nothing is as it seems.
“On the other hand,” the author continues, “the Second Coming is a scheduled public event where Jesus comes all the way to the Earth with His Church to establish a kingdom here.” If I read him correctly, his point of view shows Christ coming twice; once will be a secret coming “in the air,” and the second will be a coming all the way to the earth “to establish His Kingdom.” In his words, there is an “unscheduled secret” coming (i.e. the Rapture) and, then, three-and-a half years later, the “scheduled public” coming.
A close reading of 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, John 14:1-3, and 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 doesn’t suggest, at all, an “unscheduled secret event.” The advocates of this theology remind me of Lewis Carroll’s “Humpty Dumpty” and his reply to Alice when she questioned the meaning he gave to words.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
It doesn’t matter that the “unscheduled secret event” is not even intimated in the texts; the texts means just what “they” choose it to mean—neither more or less.
How can the collateral events surrounding the so-called “unscheduled secret event” be a secret when there will be a SHOUT which will awake the dead, the blast of the TRUMPET of God sounding, and a great, visible gathering of the “caught-up” saints in the lower atmosphere. Third grade logic would tell us that this, in no way, could be a secret event—it means what they say it means—neither more or less!
Actually, the texts teaches that when this event takes place, as the last trumpet call of seven trumpet calls during the Great Tribulation, the caught-up saints meet the Lord Jesus in the air and accompany Him back to earth as the returning Conquering King of Kings.
Now, in the balance of this essay, we purpose to show that the “last trump” is the final trumpet blown in a long series of trumpet calls. Trumpets find no place, whatsoever, in Present Truth. The Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head is not in way associated with trumpets. The calling which the Apostle Paul made known after Acts 28 has no first trumpet, nor does it have a last.
LAW OF FIRST MENTION
The Law of First Mention has long been noted by Bible believers as a key to understanding how God will use a particular word in the Bible. The first mention of a word in the Bible generally sets its usage and meaning. Also, the first mention of the word is generally a guide as to the essential point connected with it.
The first occurrence of the word, “trumpet,” is found in Exodus 19:13. Here, in Exodus 19:11, God spoke to Moses and told Moses to speak to the children of Israel saying, “And be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people (i.e. Israel).” Then, in verse twelve, the LORD further told Moses to speak to the children of Israel, saying, “There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount” (Exodus 19:13).
This is the first Bible mention of “trumpet.” It is interesting that the word, “trumpet,” is associated with Israel and her coming up “to the mount.” Moses told Israel, in verse 15, “to be ready against the third day:” and in verse 16, “it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud: so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.” The 17th verse follows, stating, “And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; …”
So, we have the first mention of the word, “trumpet,” and it is associated with Israel responding to the call of a trumpet, the LORD coming down, and Israel being led out to meet the LORD. The first mention is the “trumpet’s” call to Israel which signals the meeting with the LORD.
FEAST OF TRUMPETS AND ISRAEL
One of the Feasts of the LORD which Israel was to observe was the Feast of Trumpets. For its institution, see Leviticus 23:23-25. The Feast of Trumpets was prophetic in that it pointed to the time when Israel will be re-gathered back into the Land of Promise. As it was noted in the first mention of the word, “trumpet,” there was the idea of gathering Israel. The trumpet was to be the signal of re-gathering to Israel. The “Church which is His Body” is not in view at all.
The Feast of Trumpets followed an interval of time (the fourth, fifth, and sixth month) after the Feast of Pentecost. The interval of time does not typify the present dispensation for it was hid in God (Eph. 3:9), but it does typify a period of Israel’s dispersion. The Feast of Trumpets was to be observed on the first day of the seventh month. The purpose it served was that of preparing Israel for the realization of her hope. We’ll leave the rest unsaid and continue our look at the things which pertain to the “last trump.”
TWO SILVER TRUMPETS
Notice another relationship which “trumpets” have with the nation of Israel. In Numbers 10, the LORD told Moses to make two trumpets of silver “for the calling of the assembly” (v. 2). Verse 3 says that when the trumpets blow, “all the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee (Moses) at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.” Of course, the Lord Jesus Christ, being a Prophet like unto Moses (Deut. 18-15-18), is prefigured for He is to be associated with the blowing of a trumpet at His Coming (i.e. His Parousia) as the remnant of Israel is to be gathered to Him with the trumpet blast at the consummation of the Kingdom. A reading of Numbers 10:1-10 makes it perfectly clear that the blast of the two trumpets were signals to Israel. It was Israel’s call to be gathered unto the LORD. Numbers 10:10 intimately connects with Israel’s holy days and calendar.
RAM HORN TRUMPETS
Again, notice how trumpets were tied to the children of Israel. Jericho was delivered into their hands by the blowing of the trumpets.
“And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him” (Joshua 6:2-5).
These passages are veiled references to 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15. Notice the ingredients found in association with Israel ascending up into the city of Jericho, for it is at the last blast of the trumpet, and with it, is a great shout. The “shout” and the “trumpet” tie in very closely with Israel. “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:” (1 Thess. 4:16).
Trumpets seem to have had a very close association with victory as the city of Jericho is delivered into the hands of Israel. Victory is also coupled with trumpets as Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:54-55, “…Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” The grave will have no victory.
Just before Paul wrote about victory over death and the grave, he said in 1 Corinthians 15: 51-52:
“Behold, I shew 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.” The “last trump” will never sound during the Dispensation of the Mystery. The Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head will never be looking, listening, or anticipating a blast of a trumpet’s call. The call of the “last trump” will be during the last days of the Dispensation of the Kingdom of God.
Those who would deceive, either knowingly or unwittingly, insist that this call of the trumpet really means nothing even though they proclaim it takes place during the Age of Grace and rescues the Church from the coming Tribulation. I would curse this presumption with the oath of the Red King, in Lewis Carroll’s “Through The Looking Glass,” by saying, “Imperial fiddlestick!”
Early on in our trek through the desolate land of “churchdom,” we asked our pastor, “Is the last trump of 1 Corinthians 15:52 the seventh trumpet to sound during the Great Tribulation?”
He did a double-take and swallowed hard and answered, “Absolutely not! The trump of 1 Corinthians is the last trump of the Church Age.” Excuse me! I wanted to say, “But, there are no trumpets related to the Church Age.” He dismissed the question, with a wave of his hand, as it was “inconsequential.”
The trumpet sounding will be appropriate in the closing days (i.e. the consummation) of the next dispensation—the Day of Christ—that is to say, the coming Kingdom of God.
THE GATHERING OF MATTHEW CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR
The whole chapter of Matthew 24 concerns the answer the Lord Jesus gave to His disciples when they had asked Him, “Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of Thy Coming (Parousia), and the end (consummation) of the world (eon)?” His answer was all bound up in things which related to the Kingdom of God and the Great Tribulation which is to take place as the Pre-Parousial Kingdom draws to a close.
Within the context of Matthew Chapter Twenty-four, the Lord mentioned the “gospel of the Kingdom” being preached, in verse 14, and the “abomination of desolation” in verse 15. In verse 21, He said, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world.” Verse 29 begins with “Immediately after the tribulation of those days …:” Then follows:
“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man Coming (Parousia) in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other”
The “sound of the trumpet” ties Matthew 24:30-31 in with the trumpet call mentioned in 1 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians. This ends the Great Tribulation, for immediately after the tribulation of those days, the angels gather together the elect of Israel and any Gentiles who, by faith, became Abraham’s seed. Again, we notice the relationship of the sound of the “trumpet” with the gathering of Israel just like in the references in Exodus 19 and Numbers 10. Here, the “big lie” is exposed by the Scripture; no believer at the time of the Great Tribulation will escape it, as the false teachers claim; “And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they (the angels) shall gather together His elect …” In the days before the Tribulation no-one will be gathered prior to this Biblical gathering which is at the end of the troubling times. Those who teach the “big lie” which is so popular today, in reality, teach TWO COMINGS OF CHRIST—the pre-tribulation “rapturists:” (1.) teach the “unscheduled secret rapture” of the “church” and, then, (2.) the actually coming of Christ to the Mount of Olives. Thus, two comings. Why are these people not challenged?
These very well could be who Paul warned us about in Ephesians 4:14 who would prey on immature believers having them tossed about by every wind of their doctrine, “by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”
It should be pointed out that the angels of God will gather together His elect which will be those who are “alive and remain.” This gathering is more fully explained by the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17. Part of Paul’s ministry during the Acts period was to point out the fact that Gentiles will also be part of the Israel of God, who will be part of God’s elect during the pre-millennial Kingdom of God. Believing Gentiles will be counted as the seed of Abraham and heirs according to the promise (Gal. 3:29). This is how believing Gentiles will figure into the Matthew 24 30-31 equation.
The gathered elect, both Jew and Gentile, will meet the Lord Jesus in the air and accompany Him back to earth. None of this is Present Truth. None of this relates to the Church which His Body.
It is noted in Revelation 8:2 that there stood before God seven angels who had seven trumpets. Reading from Revelation 8:2 through Revelation 11:15, it is found that after each angel blew (or sounded) his trumpet we get a description of events that take place during the Tribulation. Notice when the seventh angel blows his trumpet, which is the last trump, it is the END OF THE GREAT TRIBULATION.
“And the seventh angel sounded [the trumpet]; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).
This is the “last trump” of 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15. No believer, at the time, will have escaped the Great Tribulation. But, the Church which is His Body (Ephesians 1:22-23) will have already been raised, or changed, to immortality hundreds of years before the Parousia (2nd Coming) of Jesus Christ takes place at the end of the Tribulation. The Church of the Dispensation of the Mystery will have been called into service when Jesus Christ begins to adjudicate between the living and the dead at His Appearing (Epiphany) and His Kingdom (2 Timothy 4:1) Therefore, let us live looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God-Savior-Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).
Tom L. Ballinger