The Feasts of the Lord Bible Study Commentary:
The Rapture - Jesus in the Feast of Trumpets Bible Study
by I Gordon
If you are a Christian, one day soon your day will be interrupted by the sound of a trumpet. And, unlike when it's just your neighbour, this trumpet blast will not disappoint or annoy! Unlike your neighbour's (or is it your son's?) effort, this will actually be music to your ears. This sound will be heavenly and will be followed by a command for you to 'come up here'. This is the next feast and the next prophetic event to come. So far we have looked at the first four spring feasts and have seen that each of these was fulfilled to the exact day during the first coming of Jesus. The last three feasts, beginning with the feast of trumpets, come later in the year during the fall (Autumn) season. And the interesting thing about these three remaining feasts (Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles) is that they have not been fulfilled at any point of history so far... they all await the return of the Messiah! As we study this topic together I think you will see that God has placed (even hidden) amazing truth concerning His overall plan to redeem this world within these feasts. This Bible study will examine how it points to the next major event on the prophetic horizon - the rapture and resurrection of His bride!
Before we begin... one 'sneaky' verse
Leviticus 23:22 'When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.'
As you are probably aware by now, Leviticus 23 is the main chapter giving instruction on all of the feasts in order. The last feast we looked at, Pentecost, ended in verse 21. The feast of Trumpets is given in verse 23. Between those is this little verse mentioned above. It gives instruction concerning the harvest that God remembers the poor and the alien (strangers to Israel) and that Israel was to do likewise. Now why is this in there? Or more correctly, why did God place this verse between the feasts of Pentecost and Trumpets? You can just take it as general instruction that He cares for the poor and those outside of Israel (which is certainly true) but in that all of this chapter is also prophetic in nature, I believe there is more to this verse than the obvious.
I believe that God has placed this as a sneaky little verse between Pentecost and Trumpets because He was indicating what He was going to do between the fulfillment of these two feasts. As you may remember from the introduction to the feasts study, between the spring and fall feasts there is a gap of over three months. Prophetically, this gap speaks of the Church age that began at Pentecost and will conclude at Trumpets. So what did God do during this time? He did preciously what He told Israel to do - He remembered the poor and alien (foreigner/stranger) in sending His word to the far ends of the earth so that the Gentiles could be saved. Now that age still continues today. It is the age of grace and shall continue until the day when trumpet sounds... and I believe we are very close to the time for the fulfillment of the feast of Trumpets to occur. Let's have a look at this exciting and important feast.
The Biblical commands concerning the Feast of Trumpets
Leviticus 23:23-25 The LORD said to Moses, (24) Say to the Israelites: 'On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. (25) Do no regular work, but present an offering made to the LORD by fire.' "
Now, it is fair to say that God doesn't give the whole game away concerning the feast of Trumpets in this passage. In fact, apart from stating that the day, the first of the seventh month (Tishrei 1) should be commemorated by the blowing of trumpets, not much else is given. We are told that no work is to be done on this day and an offering to the Lord by fire should be made. So we may have to look elsewhere to see why the trumpets were blown. A useful passage is Numbers chapter 10:
Numbers 10:1-10 The LORD said to Moses: (2) Make two trumpets of hammered silver, and use them for calling the community together and for having the camps set out. (3) When both are sounded, the whole community is to assemble before you at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. (4) If only one is sounded, the leaders--the heads of the clans of Israel--are to assemble before you. (5) When a trumpet blast is sounded, the tribes camping on the east are to set out. (6) At the sounding of a second blast, the camps on the south are to set out. The blast will be the signal for setting out. (7) To gather the assembly, blow the trumpets, but not with the same signal. (8) The sons of Aaron, the priests, are to blow the trumpets. This is to be a lasting ordinance for you and the generations to come. (9) When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you, sound a blast on the trumpets. Then you will be remembered by the LORD your God and rescued from your enemies. (10) Also at your times of rejoicing--your appointed feasts and New Moon festivals--you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and they will be a memorial for you before your God. I am the LORD your God."
So the four main reasons for blowing the trumpet in this passage are:
1. Assembling the whole congregation together
2. Setting out to a new destination
3. At the times of rejoicing at the appointed feasts and festivals
4. When battle/war was about to begin
We'll address what this means spiritually later but for now, it is also worth noting that the trumpet blown at the feasts was the shofar - the ram's horn. Chumney gives an interesting list of the occasions throughout scripture where it was used.1 Notice also that like the instruction given to the feasts, this was to be a lasting ordinance for all the generations to come.
The days of Awe
As mentioned earlier, the feast of Trumpets starts on the Jewish month of Tishrei 1. It is a two day feast (Tishrei 1-2) because the feast requires the sighting of the new moon and then the sighting had to be reported to the priests. Because of the uncertainty of when exactly this will occur, it is celebrated over two days. Tishrei 1 to the day of Atonement on Tishrei 10 are collectively called 'the days of Awe'. They are the most solemn and holy days in the entire Jewish year. In fact, preparing for this time even starts in the previous month. The previous month of Elul starts a 40 day period known as Teshuvah (meaning repent or return) which concludes on the day of Atonement in the following month of Tishrei. For each day during Elul, the trumpet (ram's horn) is blown to remind to the people to return to God in preparation for the upcoming 'days of Awe' between Tishrei 1-10. Everyone had to search their own hearts during this period and make sure they were right with God.
The prophetic fulfillment
So... how is this feast going to find its prophetic fulfillment? I think it is fair to say that the feast of Trumpets is probably the most debated feast in terms of its fulfillment2. Is it the rapture of the church? Is it the regathering of Israel? Is it the 7th trumpet that is blown in Revelation when 'the kingdom of this world becomes the kingdom of our Lord'? Prior to my recent study of this feast, I believed, as some others do, that the feast of Trumpets found it's fulfillment in the blowing of the 'Great trumpet' used in the regathering of Israel prior to the second coming of Jesus as mentioned in Matt 24:31 and Isaiah 27:13. I now believe this is associated with the day of Atonement. The more I examine this topic, the more evidence there is that the feast of Trumpets finds it's fulfillment in the rapture of the Church and its connected resurrection of those 'in Christ'. I also believe that the entire 'days of Awe' period mentioned above finds its fulfillment in the coming 7 year period often stated as 'the day of Jacob's trouble' or 'Daniel's 70th week' which leads up to the return of Christ at His second coming in glory (fulfilling the day of Atonement). But all of this is preceded by the feast of Trumpets. It is what kicks this whole period off. And that event, as stated above, is fulfilled I believe at the rapture/resurrection of the church. The following chart may help make it clearer.
Now the reasons for believing that the feast of trumpets is fulfilled at the rapture/resurrection of the Church become all the more clear as we look at the names and theme's that are well known and established in Jewish thought surrounding the feast of Trumpets. Let's do that now.
Jewish names and themes for the feast of Trumpets
The following gives the Jewish names and themes for this feast as well as the prophetic significance and fulfillment.
Tishrei 1 is also first day of the Jewish new year in their civil calendar. It is also believed that Adam was created on this day so it is not only the start of a new year but is the birthday of the human race!
Fulfillment: The fulfillment, at the rapture, will certainly be a whole new beginning for the children of God! It is on that day that everything is reset anew as those 'in Christ' are taken to Heaven. How interesting that the first creation started on this day (according to Jewish belief) and the church will experience the full reality of the new creation again on this day! Also consider this: What day did Noah, when he was on the ark, get to remove the covering of the ark and see the new post-flood world for the first time once the waters had receded?
Genesis 8:13 'By the first day of the first month of Noah's six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry.'
Yep, it was the first day of the first month which is Tishrei 1 - the same day that would become the feast of Trumpets, or Rosh HaShanah, the new year, the new beginning! Noah saw his new world on this day. It is quite likely that this is a type for resurrected believers seeing their new world (Heaven) for the first time on this day.
Jewish belief is that the resurrection of the dead will occur on the feast of Trumpets. This 'awakening blast' is the sound that is said to awaken those that sleep (have died) raising them to life. The great passage in Isaiah speaks of this 'awakening' that occurs at the resurrection of the dead:
Isaiah 26:19 'Your dead will live; Their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, For your dew is as the dew of the dawn, And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits.'
Fulfillment: At the rapture, the trumpet will be heard and the dead will rise!
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (16) For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (17) After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
And how can you not love those last words? 'And so we will be with the Lord forever!'
The term 'the last trump' or 'last trumpet' is well known to believers because Paul uses it to define the time that the rapture and resurrection will take place. Here is the key scripture:
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- (52) in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
So what was Paul talking about when he mentioned this event happening at the 'last trumpet'? The last trump was a phrase known at the time and spoke of the last great trumpet that occurred on the feast of Trumpets. On that day 100 trumpet blasts were heard. The last one was called 'the last trump'. Arnold Fructenbaum writes: 'Paul is writing from his own Pharisaic, rabbinic background. The last trump is a technical term for the final, long, and most significant trumpet blast of the Feast of Trumpets... Paul was saying that the Feast of Trumpets was going to be fulfilled by the rapture of the Church.' So here we have even further proof that the rapture and resurrection is tied directly with this next feast.
The feast of Trumpets is also known as the Day of Remembrance. It is a day on which they remember God. But also, it is a day on which God is said to remember them.
Fulfillment: The wonderful passage from Malachi notes how God is currently remembering those that believe in Him and what the result of this will be.
Malachi 3:16-18 Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name. (17) They will be mine, says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. (18) And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.'
God is writing a book or scroll of remembrance for all those that fear His name. It is those that He will 'spare' when He makes up His treasured possession. But spared from what exactly? The next verse, which starts in chapter 4 goes on to say what they are spared from:
Malachi 4:1-2 Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire, says the LORD Almighty. "Not a root or a branch will be left to them. (2) But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.
Clearly, the day that the righteous are spared from is the time of judgment and wrath that is coming upon the earth. This corresponds exactly with the feast of trumpets being the rapture and removal of the bride to Heaven before the 'days of awe', the time of wrath, that falls upon this earth. God will remember us. God will draw a distinction between the righteous and the wicked just as He said in Malachi.
Jewish thought also associated the feast of Trumpets with the day of Judgment. God was said to open the books on that day and judge the righteous and the wicked according to what they had done. There were said to be three classes: The wholly righteous, the wholly wicked and the intermediates.
Fulfillment: Prophetically, this has meaning again for both the believer and unbeliever. For believers, following the rapture of the church to heaven, is the Judgment Seat of Christ where our lives and even motives will be examined.
Romans 14:10-12 You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. (11) It is written: " 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.' " (12) So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.'
For the unbeliever, 'Yom Hadin' will also usher in judgment... but of a different type. Believers won't face the wrath of God for this has been taken by Christ. But those that reject the offering of Christ will face the wrath of God. Their day of judgment will begin while they are still on earth during the 'days of awe'. Apart from the trumpet at the rapture, trumpets are used to announce the the judgements of God as evident throughout the book of Revelation. According to Jewish belief, in the days of Awe, some will be 'wholly wicked' and will not repent even with clear evidence of God (Rev 16:11,21) But the 'intermediates' will choose in this day which way they go. They will have until death or the day of Atonement (the return of Jesus Christ in glory to earth) to turn to the Lord before it is too late.
In connection with the feast of trumpets beginning this period of judgement is the fact that the Jews also associated this feast with 'the time of Jacob's trouble'. Thus they saw that the 'days of Awe' were going to be an incredibly difficult time for the nation of Israel as well. It is their 'dark day'. But, as Jeremiah tells us, they 'shall be saved out of it' (Jer 30:6-7)
This feast was also associated with the coronation of the King. For example, we read the following about the coronation of King Solomon:
1 Kings 1:39 Zadok the priest then took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. Then they blew the trumpet, and all the people said, "Long live King Solomon!"
Fulfillment: Jesus is the coming King! This process starts at the rapture where He is established as the king of the earth. Revelation, with the breaking of each seal, depicts the process of the King taking back His Kingdom having established Himself as the only one with the rights to this world in Revelation 5. He is the One that has been given the decree to reign:
Psalms 2:7-8 I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father. (8) Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.
This process of judging and retaking this world will carry on through the 7 year period until He returns with this name on His robe - 'King of kings and Lord of Lords'! (Rev 19:16) It is quite likely that the 7th trumpet which announces that the 'kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our Christ' will also fall in the final year of that period on the feast of trumpets.3
In Jewish thought this feast was also the hidden day. It was said to be hidden from Satan. It was 'hidden' because they didn't know the exact day it would begin due to the fact that they had to first sight the smallest part of the new moon. Thus it was a two day feast because they didn't want to celebrate it on the wrong day. Concerning Rosh HaShanah, the Jews would typically say "Of that day and hour no one knows."
Fulfillment: Concerning His return, Jesus said the exact same thing:
Matthew 24:32-36 Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. (33) Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. (34) I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. (35) Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. (36) No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.'
While Gentiles read this to mean no one knows when He will return, the Jewish mind would likely see Jesus alluding to the feast of trumpets, Rosh HaShanah, in making this statement!
There is also a strong thought of the believers being 'hidden' at this time. This comes across in several passages. One related passage is in Psalm 27. This Psalm, Chumney writes, is read everyday during the 40 day period leading up to the day of Atonement (which includes the feast of Trumpets). Part of this Psalm speaks of the 'hiding' of believers:
Psalms 27:5 For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.
Other noteworthy passages on this are:
Zephaniah 2:2-3 Before the decree takes effect-- The day passes like the chaff-- Before the burning anger of the LORD comes upon you, Before the day of the LORD'S anger comes upon you. (3) Seek the LORD, All you humble of the earth Who have carried out His ordinances; Seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden In the day of the LORD'S anger.
This next passage in Isaiah is fantastic for it ties the resurrection in with the hiding of God's people in their 'rooms/chambers' until the period of God's wrath is complete.4
Isaiah 26:19-21 Your dead will live; Their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, For your dew is as the dew of the dawn, And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits. (20) Come, my people, enter into your rooms And close your doors behind you; Hide for a little while Until indignation runs its course. (21) For behold, the LORD is about to come out from His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; And the earth will reveal her bloodshed And will no longer cover her slain.
This feast was also said to be the opening of the gates of Heaven in Jewish thought. In contrast, the Day of Atonement was said to be the closing of the gates after which there was no hope of salvation.
Fullfillment: This again is another description of the rapture. This is where 'the gates of heaven are opened' so the 'righteous may come in'. As an interesting type, the 'rapture' of John in Revelation 4 gives a direct parallel to what will happen on the day of the rapture of the church. It also involves heaven being 'open'. Here is the passage:
Revelation 4:1-3 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." (2) At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. (3) And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.'
Note the parallels here:
1. John looked and saw 'a door standing open in heaven'. This is the opening of the gates mentioned on the feast of Trumpets. It will open again at the rapture.
2. John heard a voice like a trumpet. As will the believers at the rapture (1 Thes 4:16, 1 Cor 15:52)
3. John heard a command to 'Come up here'. This is likely to be the 'loud command' of the Lord at His return (1 Thes 4:16)
4. John got to see what takes place 'after this' (the church age represented by Rev chapters 2-3). At the rapture the bride of Christ is taken to heaven which is the close of the 'church age'.5
5. John was immediately before the throne in Heaven. At the rapture the Lord's promise is fulfilled where He said 'I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.' (John 14:3)
In Jewish thought, the feast of trumpets was also tied in to the wedding of the Messiah. The stages in the Jewish marriage have a tremendous amount of significance for the believer who is part of the bride of the Lamb. A fuller study can be read here. All believers are currently 'betrothed' to the Lord Jesus. He has gone away to prepare a place for us (the heavenly Jerusalem). He has promised to come again and take us to be where He is (heaven). In the Jewish wedding ceremony the groom would come and take his bride into the wedding chamber for 7 days. At the end of this time they would emerge and celebrate the marriage feast with guests and friends. So it shall be with Christ. He shall return for His bride prior to the coming 7-year tribulation period that will be on the earth. Heaven is opened in Revelation chapter 4 where the trumpet is heard and the command is given to come up here. This is a type of the rapture. Heaven opens again at the second coming of Christ in chapter 19 where both Christ and His bride are pictured leaving Heaven with the wedding supper / feast having been announced.
Revelation 19:7-9 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. (8) Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (9) Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!' " And he added, "These are the true words of God."
Revelation 19:11-17 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war... The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. (15) Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. (16) On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. (17) And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God...
The Personal Aspect
In the 'Introduction and overview of the feasts' study, we noted that the personal aspect of the feast of trumpets centered on the believer being watchful and ready. Trumpets were used to alert the people of God. Because trumpets were also used in the battles that Israel fought, the personal aspect also speaks of the spiritual warfare that a believer experiences. These two aspects are related and are beginning to converge in our age. The 'attacks' upon the believer are increasing in our age. Spiritual warfare is increasing. Persecution of Christian believers has been common outside of the Western countries but as we approach the time of the fulfillment of the feast of trumpets I don't believe it will be at all easy to hold to a true Christian faith in any part of the world. Believer, you need to watch! Watch and be aware of what is happening in this world. Watch for the coming of the Lord. Watch and guard your own heart. Is worldliness choking your fruitfulness and passion for the Lord or are you growing in the Lord and desiring to help others? Are you staying alert or getting sleepy? The warning of the Lord concerning the difficult days that lie before us was this:
Matthew 24:12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold...
Don't allow that to happen in your heart. Understand that there is a full, real time battle going on for your heart and life. Be like the wise virgins who were found ready when the groom returned.
Can you remember what we said the blowing of the trumpets were for in Israel's history? We looked at four aspects given to us from Numbers chapter 10. Totally forgotten? That's ok... As far as I know, there isn't going to be a memory test at the gates of Heaven! Here they are again:
1. Assembling the whole congregation together
2. Setting out to a new destination
3. At the times of rejoicing at the appointed feasts and festivals
4. To sound the alarm when battle/war was about to begin
Can you see now how these will all be fulfilled at the rapture? The blowing of the heavenly trumpet will be a call for the entire, true, bride of Christ to assemble together. That place, according to 1 Thes 4, will be in the air! And when I say 'the whole congregation' that is what I mean. God will not leave one true believer out of this. Not even those that are already dead, for the amazing thing is that the dead in Christ will rise first and then we which are alive will meet them in the air. That is one big assembly! But that is what the Lord will do... He will assemble the entire congregation together for the first time. Secondly, the heavenly trumpet is a call to set out to our new destination. And we are not talking Italy, Hawaii or the Bahamas here. The new destination is the heavenly Promised Land. It is the city of God - the new Jerusalem. Thus, for the people of God, we see how the third aspect is fulfilled at this time for the rapture will be a time of rejoicing just as there was rejoicing around the feasts. And lastly we see that the heavenly trumpet will signal a time of battle and war for those still on the earth. It is the sound of alarm for those left behind. As the prophet Joel spoke about:
Joel 2:1-2 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand-- (2) a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come.
Like I said at the beginning of this study - we are approaching the time when the heavenly trumpet will be heard. Jesus is coming soon. Run your race well... Finish the race well... For the new day could well dawn quicker than you think!