For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.1 Thessalonians 4:16
Today at sundown [September 18, 2020] designates the new year on the Jewish civic calendar. This day is called Rosh Hashanah and initiates the two-day Feast of Trumpets.
The Feast of Trumpets is one of the seven appointed Feasts of the LORD, given to the people of Israel to observe faithfully each year as holy convocations [see Leviticus 23]. The Feast of Trumpets is called Yom Teruah — the Day of Shouting — and traditionally is known as the hidden day because it is the only feast day that must be determined by the observation of the new moon.
The Lord Jesus makes a direct reference to this “hidden” day by using a common idiom, “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows” [Mark 13:32]. As witnesses were told to observe the night sky for the first sighting of the new moon, it was difficult to know the precise day or the hour the moon would appear, and yet they still knew when the day was near. The whole nation would be waiting and watching in quiet expectation of this “sign” in heaven, but once the moon was sighted, the people were to make a collective shout of celebration and begin the trumpet blasts to announce the new year!
The Feast of Trumpets is the first of three fall feasts that constitute the most solemn time of year for the Jewish people. The high holy day of Israel — Yom Kippur — follows 10 days after the Feast of Trumpets. For a more detailed account about the Feast of Trumpets, feel free to read the following posts — PART 1 & PART 2.
The Theophany at Sinai
When the LORD instituted His appointed feasts and commanded Israel to observe them each year, He had a two-fold purpose. First, the LORD wanted His people to always remember and never forget how He redeemed Israel from Egypt with mighty signs and wonders and entered into covenant with them on the holy mountain — Sinai.
Second, the LORD also designed the appointed feasts to be prophetic “dress rehearsals” by establishing patterns and symbolic pictures that provide detailed depictions of the coming Messiah. Once you understand the prophetic significance of these appointed feasts, you will be astonished to discover how intentional and precise God’s word truly is.
When the LORD initiated the Feast of Trumpets with Israel in Leviticus 23, He commanded them to sound the trumpet blast on the first day of the month. The significance of the trumpet blast would have been quite fresh for this original audience because of what Moses and the Israelites had just witnessed at Mount Sinai.
This amazing encounter is worth another look.
On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. 17Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. 19And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. 20The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.Exodus 19:16-20
The Feast of Trumpets is a dedicated day to remember the greatest manifestation of God ever witnessed on this earth. The trumpet blast was so intense that the people trembled and feared for their very lives in the presence of the God’s power and glory.
This was the day that the LORD God of Israel “came down” and showed Himself to His people. A day never to forget.
On the other hand, the theophany at Sinai serves as perhaps the most obvious allusion to the second coming of Jesus Christ. Just as the LORD gathered his people and came down on Mount Sinai in a cloud and with fire and lightening and trumpet blasts, so Jesus will return in like manner.
The language of the New Testament draws directly from this event to describe the return of Jesus from heaven to earth.
Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, 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. 31And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.Matthew 24:29-31
For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
The Battle of Jericho
Although there are so many types and shadows I could draw from, I want to close with another fascinating episode involving the trumpet blast — Jericho.
Many of us grew up singing the old Sunday school song, “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho … and the walls came a tumbling down.” But the truth is that it was the LORD Himself who gave Israel the victory at the stronghold of Jericho, and He did so in a most unconventional way. Once again, what may have seemed like a bizarre command from God at the time was actually another prophetic picture God was painting in real time to point us to the final Day of the LORD!
Let’s take a closer look.
First we can’t overlook the encounter that Joshua has with the LORD just prior to the battle at Jericho. I am persuaded that this was an encounter with God the Son — the Lord Jesus — in a pre-incarnate manifestation [see Colossians 1:15-17].
When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” 14And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” 15And the commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.Joshua 5:13-15
The commander of the LORD’s army is standing with His sword drawn and is clearly God in human form because of Joshua’s response in fear and worship. Now listen to what the LORD told Joshua to do.
And the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. 3You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. 4Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.”Joshua 6:2-5
Once again, the theatrics are intentional for prophetic purposes. The LORD was taking Israel through a dress rehearsal that in many ways will mirror the Day of the LORD. The fighting men were commanded to march around the city for 7 days with seven priests leading the way before the ark of the covenant, blowing 7 trumpets. Then they were to march around the city 7 times on the 7th day.
And then upon God’s command the priests were to make a long blast with their shofars and all the people were to give a great shout! Then earth would quake and the walls would crumble and their enemies would be given into their hands for total destruction.
The imagery is astoundingly prophetic. First of all, Joshua is one of the most obvious types of Christ in the Old Testament — even sharing the very same Hebrew name with Yeshua. The symbolism beyond that is simply amazing. Consider …
- The repeated use of patterns with the number 7
- The role of the ark of the covenant
- The sounding of the last trumpet
- The shouting of the people
- The walls of the city falling down
- The wrath of God poured out on His enemies
- Israel conquering and inheriting the Promise Land
Both the 7th Trumpet and 7th Bowl from the book of Revelation draws directly from this event.
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.” 16And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God,17saying,
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power
and begun to reign.
18The nations raged,
but your wrath came,
and the time for the dead to be judged,
and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints,
and those who fear your name,
both small and great,
and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”
19Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.Revelation 11:15-19
The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. 19The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath.Revelation 16:17-19
Finally, we know that the Apostle Paul also makes a direct reference to the last trumpet on the last day when Jesus returns.
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.1 Corinthians 15:50-53
So as we recognize and celebrate the Feast of Trumpets this weekend, may we first remember the mighty acts of God on behalf of His people, and may we also wait in hopeful expectation for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ when the final trumpet blast is sounded!