The First & Last Trump

“…and whom he justified, them he also glorified” Romans 8:30

“…preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” 1Timothy 3:16

The following study is taken from Chapter 1 of UP & AWAY: The Mystery, the Lord’s Day and the Predestination of the One New Man by David Winston Busch.

The First & Last Trump:

Our Rapture and the Excellency of the King James Bible

“Where the word of a king is, there is power” Ecclesiastes 8:4

We are not going to examine all the background for the trumpet that will be blown in connection with our rapture. However, this is something you should do on your own so that you understand the significance of that trumpet. When Paul makes reference to this particular trumpet, it is something that you should already be well familiar with, having read Genesis through Acts. I will simply list a few references that will give you a good working knowledge of the things related to this trumpet and trumpets in general. Pay particular attention to the “voice of the trumpet” and “sound of the trumpet.” You should also understand the connection that trumpets have to war and the coming Day of the Lord, which will be filled with trumpets (Exod. 19:13,16,19; 20:18; Josh. 6:4-6,20; Judg. 7:16-18; 2Sam. 6:15; 1Kings 1:34; 2Chron. 5:13-14; Neh. 4:18,20; Job 39:24; Ps. 47:5; 81:3,7; Jer. 4:19; Joel 2:1; Zeph. 1:16; Zech. 9:14; Heb. 12:18-29; Rev. 1:10; 4:1; 8:13).

There are those who believe that what Paul refers to is the last trumpet of the book of Revelation. That fails to take into account the difference between the programs and does not appreciate the unique things that pertain to our dispensation in connection with Paul, the mystery, the one new man, and “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2Tim. 2:15).

Moreover, if it were the seventh trumpet then it is a rather queer situation indeed, for you are manifestly not delivered, no matter how the wrath is defined. If Revelation is understood in its “cycling” nature –as I believe it should be- then all the sevens converge at the same point at the end, with the return of Christ when the Day of the Lord reaches its climactic end, becoming “great and terrible.” If that is so, then you are not even delivered from the “vials,” which “fill up the wrath of God” (Rev. 15:1). If it is taken as strictly chronological with each series of judgments following in time, then you are only delivered from the vials. However, they simply “fill up” the wrath of God. They are the “last plagues” (Rev. 15:1). In keeping with the increasing “sorrows” of the “travail” at that time, the judgments get progressively worse, as they did in Egypt and as is God’s pattern. He will do something and then give time for people to respond before striking harder “And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands” (Rev. 9:20,21).

In light of judgment, the heart is often simply hardened even more, as it was with Pharaoh. But again, they are “filling up” the previous “plagues” such as the one-third judgment involving the same plagues. It is the same wrath. And beyond that, they are the same “plagues” identified with the two witnesses who have power for forty-two months (Rev. 11:6). Those witnesses are, in fact, the ones bringing this judgment upon the earth as Moses and Elijah did in days of old. So this same wrath has been going on for at least that long. There are other issues involving God’s wrath, its beginning, and the nature of the Lord’s Day, which “comes as a thief,” but the point is that if your departure is at the seventh trumpet, then you are manifestly not delivered from the wrath.

Furthermore, the seventh trumpet in Revelation is not the last trumpet anyway. When the Lord returns on Rosh Hashanah, there are still a host of trumpets yet to be blown. He Himself will blow a trumpet on Yom Kippur to gather the scattered remnant of Israel. There is then to be a great deal of trumpet blowing in accordance with the celebration and ceremonies of the coronation of the king, not to mention the trumpets that will be blown throughout the millennium. Besides all that, it is clear that Paul has a very special trumpet in mind, one that uniquely belongs to the Lord.

There are others, who may or may not understand the distinctiveness of our program, that think that the reference is to the last trumpet for this dispensation. They believe that it is marking the end of this program and heralding the arrival of the Day of the Lord and the resumption of Israel’s program. While this is indeed true of our rapture, that is not what is in view in these verses. Paul is teaching members of the body of Christ a particular doctrine, and it isn’t supposed to be complicated.

The reference to the trumpet should get the attention of the believer in this program, as it does seem strangely out of place and something we are not familiar with in God’s dealings with us. Trumpets abound in God’s program with Israel and hold a very special place and significance to the outworking of God’s purposes in that program and the national life of Israel. Yet, as we are instructed in the things that pertain to God’s dealings with us, we don’t come across such things. Paul says nothing to us about trumpets and the like, except when it comes to this issue of our catching away at the end of this dispensation.

Let us begin by noting that the reference in Scripture is to the last trump, not the last trumpet. If you change that, as virtually everyone does, then you destroy the doctrine of what you are being taught there. Once again, the King James Bible alone stands apart from this motley crew and translating rabble, and it is the amateurs themselves, not Bible believers, who have made the Authorized Version the only one of its sort. “They only consult to cast him down from his excellency: they delight in lies: they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly. Selah” (Ps. 62:4). To think that you know the English language better than the King James translators is the height of arrogance and just downright stupidity. Never mind the fact that you must be blind, because the translators themselves make reference to the trumpet in the every same passage. They obviously understood that there was a difference, and God expects you to as well.

You should have noticed from the passages above that there is this issue of the voice of the trumpet and the sound of the trumpet. It is clear from what Paul says that the trump is the sound that the trumpet makes.

“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound” (1Cor. 15:52).

“For” the trumpet “shall sound.” It is all rather simple enough and can only be confounded by a scholar who doesn’t appreciate the gift he has been given in the King James Bible. It should be clear that if Paul, the doctrinal chief for today, tells you about a last trump, the answer must be found within his epistles. So, if Paul tells you about a last trump, you ought to be asking yourself one major question. “When was the first trump, Paul?” And away we go.

What is the concept involved in this “last” trump issue?

“Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones” (Jer. 50:17).

So how many do we have in view? Right, two. But we don’t have to go that far for the explanation. There is no excuse for not understanding this, as Paul tells you what he is talking about and what “last” means in the very passage in question.

“And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven” (1Cor. 15:45-47).

Last is often specifically used in connection with a duo and means “second.” It means we have two in view. We therefore have two trumps in connection with the one trumpet that will sound. I hope it is fast becoming clear where we are going with this, because it is, in fact, where the apostle Paul takes us. There are always two groups in view, and they are delineated by Paul when he talks about our rapture. Those two are the living and the dead. In 1Corinthians 15:51-58 Paul focuses on the last trump.

“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” (1Cor. 15:51-53).

If we are living when Christ returns to catch us away, then we must be “changed.” We cannot function in our inheritance without receiving heavenly bodies. Paul has just detailed this issue of our heavenly bodies in 1Corinthians 15:35-50. Because of who we are as members of the one new man, our future is to inherit the heavenly places in accordance with God’s reconciliation of all things. We simply cannot do that in our current bodies. At our rapture we will be given bodies that will make us fit to function in the heavenly places. You simply cannot receive your inheritance as a member of the body of Christ without that “change” taking place.

When Christ returns for us, He will bring the trumpet with Him. That trumpet will be blown. That trumpet will be blown twice. The living will be canged at the last or second blowing of that trumpet, that is, the last trump. Now, what do you think happened at the first trump? In case you haven’t figured it out, Paul explicitly tells you as he completes the doctrine in 1Thessalonians and focuses on the first trump.

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1Thess. 4:13-18).

So there it is. When Christ returns to catch away the one new man, the trumpet “shall sound” twice. The dead will be raised at the first trump, and the living shall be changed at the last trump. This is why if you are living you could never “prevent” them no matter how hard you tried. The dead go at the first trump. The living don’t go until the last trump. And that is the doctrine of the last trump. So, whether at the first trump or last trump, you will be transformed when the Lord returns and the trumpet sounds to gather the members of His body to Himself so that we may serve Him in the heavenly places in accordance with our identity, vocation, calling, and hope. This is our blessed hope. We don’t have any “times or seasons” when it comes to our gathering and His return for us. This is part of the mystery of Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ is Christ preached “according to the revelation of the mystery” (Rom. 16:25). While He is most certainly King of Israel, that is not our relationship to Him. We know Him as the Head of the body, and we eagerly await His return for us before He opens the sealed book and unleashes the day of His wrath upon mankind.

This dispensation is to be ushered out just as it was ushered in. The Lord unexpectedly returned from heaven and raised up Paul as a brand-new apostle. Rather than beginning the Lord’s Day, He instead began the mystery and committed the revelation of it and all the doctrine pertaining to it to Paul. In Paul’s epistles alone, Romans through Philemon, we have the unfolding of the mystery of Christ, the dispensation of Gentile grace and the one new man who is being formed out of both Jew and Gentile during this time.

In Acts 9 there is a secret return of the Lord to usher in a new program. Christ makes a return that was not prophesied or according to the prophetic program. He appears only to Paul for the purpose of making him the apostle of the Gentiles, the doctrinal chief of this new dispensation and program that He was ushering in. When He appears to Paul, even the men around Paul do not see Christ. Furthermore, the Lord talks with Paul, and while the other men hear a noise or sound, they cannot understand what is being said. It is as if I were to blow a shofar (ram’s horn) in a room full of people and all of a sudden one person exclaims, “Did you hear that? Did you hear what the voice was saying?”

Well, that comparison is most apt, because that is, in fact, what the trumpet is, the very voice of the Lord. Whenever the Lord speaks, His voice sounds like a trumpet.

“I was in the Spirit o the Lord’s Day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last” (Rev. 1:10-11).

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter” (Rev. 4:1).

“At this also my heart trembleth, and is moved out of his place. Hear attentively the noise of his voice, and the sound that goeth out of his mouth. He directeth it under the whole heaven, and his lightning unto the ends of the earth. After it a voice roareth: he thundereth with the voice of his excellency; and he will not stay them when his voice is heard. God thundereth marvelously with his voice; great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend” (Job 37:1-5).

“Father, glorify thy name, Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him” (John 12:28-29).

“For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will…Verily, verily I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also; because he is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth” (John 5:21,25-29).

“Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?…And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus come forth. And he that was dead came forth” (John 11:23-26,43-44).

It has long been pointed out that if the Lord had not been sure to include Lazarus when he spoke, then they all would have come forth at his command. Well, like Lazarus, we will hear the Lord shout. It should be no surprise, therefore, that we are told by our apostle that in connection with the mystery and our rapture-resurrection according to that mystery, we too will hear that glorious power-filled voice that brought the universe into existence and will transform us in connection with His reconciliation of all the things He has created and our calling as the one new man in connection with that purpose of His (Ephesians 1; Colossians 1).

“And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principalities, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come” (Eph. 1:19-21).

“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself” (Philip. 3:20-21).

The voice of that trumpet was heard on Sinai. It was heard when Christ secretly returned, appeared to our apostle, interrupted the prophetic program, ushered in this dispensation of Gentile grace, and began to form the one new man, the body of Christ. The voice of that that trumpet will be heard once again when Christ secretly returns, appears to the completed one new man, ends this dispensation of His grace to the Gentiles, and resumes the prophetic program. Today we live under a silent heaven. But our departure marks the arrival of the time when God begins to speak. It has been grace without measure. But when He begins to speak again, it will be to usher in the final series of events to end earth’s history as we know it.

“The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers…Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’s wrath” (Zeph. 1:14-18).

That voice will continue to be heard for as long as Jehovah, the Eternal One, the Holy One of Israel speaks in the power of His majesty and glory. To those who will experience that time and need to endure till the end He declares:

“Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’s anger” (Zeph. 2:3).

The Lord and His twelve apostles have prepared the remnant so that they might be “counted worthy” (Luke 21:36) and be among the hidden ones that are talked about all throughout the prophets.

To us He declares:

“But of the times and seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as ye do” (1Thess. 5:9-11).

Because the Day of the Lord will come upon those at that time as a thief in the night, those living at that time need to be written to about it. They may or may not be hidden and endure, depending on how faithful they are. That day cannot overtake us as a thief in the night, because we will not be here. We understand that the coming Day of the Lord cannot begin until the trumpet is blown, this mystery among the Gentiles is complete (Col. 1:27; Rom. 11:25), and we receive our fullness as the members of the one new man are gathered together to forever be with the Lord. This is our blessed hope, the hope of the trinity which now abideth. This future hope ought to work in us and create an abounding love in the present that flows from the past-established faith that has been laid (Rom 1:1; 16:25; 1Cor. 3:10-11) and has given us the position and identity we have in Christ, and instructs us in that position accordingly.

“That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1Thess. 2:12-13).

“Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel” (Col. 1:4-5).

“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving” (Col. 2:6-7).

“Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” (Eph. 1:15-18).

It ought to cause you to earnestly desire and look for that blessed hope when two members of that abiding trinity –faith and hope- will give way to sight (2Cor. 4:18; 5:6-9; Rom. 8:18-25).

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).

“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2Cor. 5:7).

“But the greatest of these is charity” (1Cor. 13:13).

“Charity never faileth” (1Cor. 13:8).

“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:13-14).

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee” (Titus 2:11-15).

And so, we wait to hear that awesome trump, the very voice of God for that all-important meeting, the great conclusion to that most glorious event and dispensation that began in Acts 9, when the natural branches were broken off (Rom. 11) and we Gentiles began to have the exceeding riches of God’s grace extended to us (Eph. 1-3; Col. 1-3) in accordance with the mystery of God’s will (Eph. 1:9). This, like the one in Acts 9, is no ordinary meeting. He has not left this gathering to be overseen by any underlings or servants. No, He Himself will be making an appearance, and when you understand the “fullness” in connection with it and the inheritance that He has in the saints (Eph. 1:18), you then appreciate why He has reason to “shout,” and is more excited than any of us for this meeting and wouldn’t miss it for the world.

“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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1Thess. 1:16-18).

“But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do” (1Thess. 5:8-11).

Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let us now prepare ourselves for the things to be examined in Part II in connection with the “voice of the archangel.” There are two major issues which the Thessalonians needed to appreciate concerning our coming Rapture as the one new man, as is evidenced by there being a 1 and 2 Thessalonians. It is especially the issue of the relationship of our rapture to the coming Lord’s Day and the resumption of Israel’s program that Paul will expand upon in the second of those epistles, as well as the things that we are supposed to appreciate about the “times and seasons” of the coming Lord’s Day. We have mainly been examining the “glory” aspect of the rapture, and it is to this issue that we will return in part III, where we will examine it more fully. While the glory and timing are inextricably linked dispensationally, and while Paul does indeed deal with the Lord’s Day in the first epistle, nevertheless the Thessalonians required another one from Paul in the face of those who were attempting to “trouble” them. This is very interesting to say the least, and there are many fascinating issues connected to this that relate to the structure of God’s Word, the “sound doctrine” contained in the “pattern” and the “form of sound words,” and the edification process, and are manifested right down to the present time. The short of it is that by the time you get to Thessalonians you should “know” some things concerning your “hope” as the one new man that will keep you from being “moved.” We will go with Paul as he “drops in” on the details of the prophetic program and the “to come” dealings of God as he reconfirms the doctrine of the “hope” and its “salvation” with the Thessalonian saints, beginning his argument in 1Thessalonians and completing it in 2 Thessalonians. It is the things surrounding the “times and seasons” of the coming Lord’s Day in Israel’s program and our unique “salvation” which we now turn to in part II.

David Winston Busch

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