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The Feast of Trumpets

A Turning Point in History

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The Feast of Trumpets introduces the autumn festivals—representing the culmination of the present age of man and the beginning of an incredible time during which God will play a much more direct part in world events. Indeed, this festival, a Holy Day, signals the intervention of God in the affairs of humanity on a global basis. The Feast of Trumpets thus represents a dramatic turning point in mankind’s history.

This particular festival also marks the beginning of the third and final feast season (Exodus 23:14 Exodus 23:14Three times you shall keep a feast to me in the year.
American King James Version×
; Deuteronomy 16:16 Deuteronomy 16:16Three times in a year shall all your males appear before the LORD your God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:
American King James Version×
), which includes the final four Holy Days of the year.

The return of Jesus Christ!

The Feast of Trumpets depicts nothing less than the return of Jesus Christ to the earth to establish the Kingdom of God! The book of Revelation reveals a sequence of earth-shaking events heralded by angels sounding a series of seven trumpet blasts. The seventh angel’s sounding of the last trumpet signifies that “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ” (Revelation 11:15 Revelation 11:15And the seventh angel sounded; 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.
American King James Version×
, English Standard Version). The Bible foretells that at this time Jesus Christ will at last return to the earth. Of all the prophecies in the Bible, this one surely heralds the most exciting news possible for this weary, sin-filled world!

The Feast of Trumpets also marks the future fulfillment of the many Old Testament prophecies that speak of a Messiah coming as a king of the line of David who will sit on the throne of Israel and rule with power and authority over all nations. The concept of a conquering Messiah was on the minds of the apostles immediately after Jesus’ resurrection. When He appeared to them just before returning to heaven, they asked Him, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6 Acts 1:6When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
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).

Even in His earthly ministry, Jesus had spoken of distinctions between His first and second comings. When Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, questioned Him before the crucifixion, Jesus stated clearly that He had not come to rule at that time. “My kingdom is not of this world,” Jesus told the governor. “If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” So Pilate asked Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus responded that He was: “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth” (John 18:36-37 John 18:36-37 36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. 37 Pilate therefore said to him, Are you a king then? Jesus answered, You say that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice.
American King James Version×
).

After Christ’s resurrection, the apostles excitedly anticipated the fulfillment of Jesus’ promises. They were aware of messianic prophecies such as Isaiah’s that describe a time when “the government will be upon His shoulder” and “of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:6-7 Isaiah 9:6-7 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from now on even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
American King James Version×
).

In answer to the apostles’ question as to whether He would then establish the Kingdom, Jesus told them it was not for them to know the “times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (Acts 1:7 Acts 1:7And he said to them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in his own power.
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). Instead, Christ told them to focus on spreading the gospel—the good news—throughout the world. Later, in due time, the apostles realized that His second coming was not necessarily imminent. Numerous scriptures describe the saints as eagerly looking forward to His return.

Why the symbolism of trumpets?

The excitement of this Holy Day, picturing these monumental events, is captured in the symbolism of this festival. Ancient Israel celebrated it with “a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts” (Leviticus 23:24 Leviticus 23:24Speak to the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall you have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

What is the significance of the dramatic sounds accompanying the observance of this day? To help us understand the symbolism of trumpets, let’s consider the use of that musical instrument in the Bible.

God instructed ancient Israel in the appropriate use of trumpets—in that day, a hollow animal horn, known as a shofar, and metal instruments—to communicate important messages. The sounding of one silver trumpet meant a meeting of the leaders of Israel. Two sounded to call a gathering of all of the people (Numbers 10:3-4 Numbers 10:3-4 3 And when they shall blow with them, all the assembly shall assemble themselves to you at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 4 And if they blow but with one trumpet, then the princes, which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves to you.
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). God also used a shofar to herald His meeting with Israel when He descended upon Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:16 Exodus 19:16And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightning, and a thick cloud on the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.
American King James Version×
).

Trumpets could also sound a warning. Numbers 10:9 Numbers 10:9And if you go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresses you, then you shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and you shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and you shall be saved from your enemies.
American King James Version×
states, “When you go to war in your land against the enemy who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets.” In this case the trumpets sounded a warning of impending danger and imminent warfare.

Trumpets could also furnish a festive sound: “Also in the day of your gladness, in your appointed feasts, and at the beginning of your months, you shall blow the trumpets . . . and they shall be a memorial for you before your God” (Numbers 10:10 Numbers 10:10Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, you shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God.
American King James Version×
).

With their ability to transmit sound over great distances, trumpets were in ancient times excellent instruments for attracting people’s attention. In connection with this feast day, Psalms 81:3 Psalms 81:3Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.
American King James Version×
exhorts, “Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon … on our solemn feast day.”

Amplification of the meaning of trumpets

The writers of the New Testament revealed additional understanding of the significance of the blowing of trumpets. Notice Paul’s description of the return of Jesus Christ: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 16 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: 17 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.
American King James Version×
).

Paul also spoke of the day when the firstfruits pictured by Pentecost will be resurrected to immortal life. In 1 Corinthians 15:52 1 Corinthians 15:52In 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.
American King James Version×
he says this will happen “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye , at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” Thus the awakening blast of this last trumpet will awaken the dead!

As we saw earlier, the apostle John associated the blowing of a trumpet with Christ’s return when he wrote, “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever’ ” (Revelation 11:15 Revelation 11:15And the seventh angel sounded; 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.
American King James Version×
, ESV). These passages dramatically attest to the significance of the Feast of Trumpets.

Although the Trumpets festival isn’t mentioned by name in the New Testament, we have no valid reason for assuming that this Holy Day should not be observed today. On the contrary, the early Church used the Hebrew Scriptures as the foundation for doctrine (2 Timothy 3:16 2 Timothy 3:16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
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). Like the Ten Commandments (see James 2:10-11 James 2:10-11 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if you commit no adultery, yet if you kill, you are become a transgressor of the law.
American King James Version×
), each of God’s festivals is intimately and intricately related to the others. By keeping all of them, we can understand God’s remarkable plan for humanity as it unfolds. We should not ignore some of His Holy Days while observing others.

Jesus’ prophetic teaching

Near the end of Christ’s earthly ministry, the apostles asked Him about the end of the present era. Notice Matthew 24:3 Matthew 24:3And as he sat on the mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the world?
American King James Version×
: “Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’”

Centuries earlier, the prophet Daniel had foretold the establishment of the Kingdom of God and how the saints, or God’s people, would inherit that Kingdom (Daniel 2:44 Daniel 2:44And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
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; Daniel 7:18 Daniel 7:18But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.
American King James Version×
). Like the disciples, however, Daniel did not understand when the Kingdom would come.

Jesus, in response to His disciples’ questions, laid out for them a series of events that would lead up to His return. He mentioned to them religious deception, wars, famines, disease, earthquakes and other calamities (Matthew 24:4-13 Matthew 24:4-13 4 And Jesus answered and said to them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 6 And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that you be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved.
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). He characterized the time of His return as an era of hatred and lawlessness. In this setting Jesus said, “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14 Matthew 24:14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come.
American King James Version×
).

More details in the book of Revelation

Later Jesus revealed many more details about this pivotal time. The book of Revelation is described as “the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place” (Revelation 1:1 Revelation 1:1The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to show to his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel to his servant John:
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). Here Christ repeated through the apostle John the same events He had described to His disciples decades earlier. Now, however, Jesus used the symbolism of a series of seals He would open one by one (Revelation 6).

After this, at the beginning of God’s anger against the disobedient nations, seven plagues will be poured out on a sinning world, with a trumpet blast announcing each (Revelation 8-9). Finally God will send two “witnesses,” or “prophets,” to proclaim His truth to a rebellious world (Revelation 11). Such prophetic witness is compared to a trumpet warning (Isaiah 58:1 Isaiah 58:1Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
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). Tragically, the godless society of the last days will reject these two servants of God and kill them (Revelation 11:7-10 Revelation 11:7-10 7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. 8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. 9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. 10 And they that dwell on the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelled on the earth.
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).

These dramatic events set the stage for the seventh angel’s trumpet sounding and Jesus Christ’s return to assume rule over the governments of the earth (Revelation 11:15 Revelation 11:15And the seventh angel sounded; 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.
American King James Version×
).

Of this same scenario, Matthew 24 says that “immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:29-31 Matthew 24:29-31 29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 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 in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 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.
American King James Version×
).

Unprecedented events at Christ’s return

Incredibly, when Jesus Christ returns to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, the nations of the earth will gather to fight against Him (Zechariah 14:1-4 Zechariah 14:1-4 1 Behold, the day of the LORD comes, and your spoil shall be divided in the middle of you. 2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. 3 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. 4 And his feet shall stand in that day on the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall split in the middle thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
American King James Version×
). Revelation 19:19 Revelation 19:19And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.
American King James Version×
describes this impending battle: “And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him [Jesus Christ] who sat on the horse and against His army.”

Why would anyone want to fight the Messiah? The armies will try to destroy Christ because Satan has deceived the whole world (Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
American King James Version×
). The devil’s influence will inspire the nations to fight against Christ when He returns.

As already mentioned, the Feast of Trumpets also signals a resurrection of the dead. The apostle Paul spoke of this event: “For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming ” (1 Corinthians 15:21-23 1 Corinthians 15:21-23 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
American King James Version×
).

Paul again further explained: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16 1 Thessalonians 4:16For 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:
American King James Version×
), immediately followed by the people of God who are alive at that time 1 Thessalonians 4:17 1 Thessalonians 4:17Then 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.
American King James Version×
).

Revelation 20:5-6 Revelation 20:5-6 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
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describes this as the “first resurrection,” which is also a “better resurrection” (Hebrews 11:35 Hebrews 11:35Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
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). This change to immortal life was the hope of early Christians and remains the fervent hope of those who understand God’s plan.

In the book of Romans, Paul depicts this resurrection as a glorious deliverance from bondage: “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God . . . because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God . . . And not only they, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption [or full rights of sonship], the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:19 Romans 8:19For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God.
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, Romans 8:21 Romans 8:21Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
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, Romans 8:23 Romans 8:23And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
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).

We see that, even though tragic events lie ahead, the good news is that God will intervene to save humanity and guide mankind into His abundant way of life. Jesus Christ will return to raise His followers from death and establish God’s perfect rule over the earth. This is the wonderful, inspiring meaning of the Feast of Trumpets. Christ taught us to pray to the Father, “Thy kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10 Matthew 6:10Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
American King James Version×
, KJV). How urgently we need the answer to that prayer!

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