Unveiling of Jesus Christ
THE SEVEN TRUMPETS
"BLOW the trumpet in Zion . . . For coming is the day of Yahweh!
For it in near! A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of cloud and
murkiness . . . " (Joel 2:1,2). The trumpet was blown in Israel
both in war and in peace. Moses gave them the statute that "In case
you enter a war in your land with the foe who is distressing you then
you will blast on the bugles" (Num.10:9). And again "And in
the day of your rejoicing . . . you will blow on bugles"
(Num.10:10). How fitting, then, that God's great conflict with the
nations should be set forth under the symbol of seven trumpets!
Yet we must not let these dreadful alarms rob us of the delightful
anticipation of that joyful blast which will transform us into His
likeness and call us to Himself. For us the trumpet is a gladsome sound,
the most welcome that our ears can hear, the signal of our deliverance
from every ill and the fulfillment of every expectation. It will summon
us into His presence beyond the sphere of judgment. The seven trumpets
are the very opposite of this. They usher in earth's darkest hour with a
train of woes unparalleled.
The seventh is the last of the trumpets. Hence it has sometimes been
identified with "the last trump" which will change the living,
at the Lord's coming (1 Cor.15:52). If this be so, our entire
interpretation so far is faulty. Then the saints of this economy of
God's transcendent grace are called upon to endure the raging of His
wrath. Instead of participating in the untraceable riches of Christ
(Eph.3:8) we are identified with the wrath which was revealed through
the prophets. Instead of being blessed with every spiritual blessing
among the celestials, we are subjects of His severest indignation, upon
the earth. The consequences of identifying the seventh with the
"last" trump are so disastrous that it behooves us to examine
each more minutely and see if the accounts contain sufficient detail to
establish their identity or distinctness, apart from any system of
We have already noted the marked difference in the dispensation of
grace and judgment. In His delight to deal out grace, He brooks no
intermediaries or agents. In judgment, however, He stands back, and
sends His messengers to execute His will. The seventh trumpet is sounded
by a messenger. Voices in heaven proclaim the advent of
the King and His kingdom. Not so when He comes for us. The Lord Himself
will be descending from heaven with the shout of command, with the voice
of the Chief Messenger, and with the trumpet of God (1 Thess.4:16). The
trumpet is indeed sounded by a Messenger, but it is the Lord Himself,
not another. In all He has the pre-eminence. He is the Chief Messenger.
His voice alone can wake the dead. His blast alone can change the
This fact forever fixes a chasm between the last trump and the
seventh judgment blast. One is blown by the Lord Himself; the other is
the trumpeting of His messenger. "For He will be
trumpeting" is a statement which explains the foregoing without any
reference to any trumpeting mentioned elsewhere in Scripture. It is a
part of the secret here revealed.
But why is it called the last trump? This cannot be taken in
an absolute sense, for even the seventh trumpet which ushers in the
kingdom is not the last time a trumpet will be blown. In the temple
ritual and the festivals and jubilees, the redeemed earth will often
bear the trumpet's tones. The seventh is the last of the series. So also
the last trump is the last peal of a prolonged blast.
The insistence of the apostle on the point that our change will occur
in a single instant of time has produced the impression that the whole
procedure of His advent is instantaneous. On the contrary, we are
distinctly told that the dead in Christ shall be rising first.
There is a definite order to the rapid events of His presence. First
comes the resurrection of the dead. Then the transfiguration of the
living (Phil.3:21). Then both, at the same time, shall be snatched away
together (1 Thess.4:17) for meeting the Lord in the air.
Time was, not long
when the idea of a trumpet blast reaching all over the earth was
accounted a silly superstition. Sound is very slow. Its speed is not
much over a thousand feet a second. It would take the greater part of a
day to reach every spot on earth from a given point. Its force is soon
dissipated, so that the ear cannot hear it. How impossible, that the
saints should respond to its appeal in an instant of time! Faith would
reason that it is just as impossible to wake the dead. To believe one
and not the other would be irrational indeed.
all such oppositions of pseudo science have
long since been withdrawn. Sound can
be carried at the speed of light and travel to the ends of earth in less
than a tenth of a second. How
easy, then, for the Lord to call His own!
We shall by no means outstrip those who are reposing in Christ (1
Thess.4:15). The present apostasy makes this solemn assurance seem
superfluous. If all "go to heaven when they die," what chance
have we to outstrip them? Paul never sent anyone to heaven at death. He
postponed that until the resurrection. To understand the last trump,
however, we must remember, that, instead of our outstripping the dead,
they are first to respond to the trumpet call. They shall be rising first.
Another phase of the apostasy seeks to separate the saints at this
point. We are told that many of the dead are raised years before others,
who are still alive, will join them in the resurrection. Not so is the
record. Both the raised and the living shall be snatched away together, at
the same time, to meet the Lord in the air. Our versions, both
Authorized and Revised, entirely ignore this in their renderings. They
probably thought that "together" would imply as much. But the
spirit of God is very insistent on this point. The living and the raised
are snatched up at the same time, together. The C. V. sublinear
is SIMULTANEOUSLY TOGETHER. If there is redundancy here
it is inspired. The present apostasy shows that it is needed.
The meaning of hama, the Greek word which is ignored in our
versions, is clear from its first occurrence. In the parable of the
wheat and the darnel (Matt.13:24-30) the question arises, When shall the
darnel be removed? If the darnel is culled out before the harvest, the
wheat will be rooted up at the same time. This is the meaning of
the archaic withal, which the A. V. uses thrice (Col.4:3; 1
Tim.5:13; Philemon 22) as the equivalent of hama.
Nothing associated with the seventh trumpet which ushers in the
kingdom is present at the last trump. The Lord does not descend to the
earth, no kingdom is set up, no judgment of the nations follows. Nothing
associated with the last trump finds a place under the seven trumpets.
No dead are raised, no living are changed. Under the trumpets many are
killed, rather than raised. Israel's resurrection does not take place
till forty-five days after the seventh trumpet sounds.
It is of prime importance that we identify the section of mankind
affected by the seven trumpets if we wish to enter into God's thoughts
concerning them. Such inflictions as these upon those who are
"saved for grace" (Eph.2:5) would be inexplicable. The
saints of this economy are God's ambassadors, proclaiming peace, hence
have been withdrawn before this warfare commences. Even the faithful in
Israel are sheltered from its fury. The hundred and forty-four thousand
and the vast throng are enabled to stand. The unfaithful in Israel are
subject to the severer infliction of the bowls, which, it may be, are
simultaneous with the seven trumpets, but intensified and localized.
Hence the seven trumpets are concerned with the nations, or gentiles,
who have taken political possession of the earth. Certain it is that
they lose their political supremacy when the seventh trumpet ushers in
the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ (11:15).
The seven trumpets are an expansion of the seventh seal, hence they
deal with the double aspect of man's possession and rule of the earth.
Just as the Lord, as the Son of Abraham, has the right to possess the
promised land, and, as the Son of David, has the right to rule it, so
the seals cope with the nations as countries, occupying the earth's
surface, the trumpets deal with them as governments, sharing its power
In the last analysis, no nation has a right to its territory nor any
government to its authority. There have been exceptions to this, when
God delegated rule to such men as Nebuchadnezzar, or when He gave lsrael
their land and chose their king. But there is not a nation today that
can give a perfect title to any of its territory, or a valid basis for
its authority. All of us are "squatters" or usurpers, living
on Another's soil and using His authority.
I well remember the remark of a famous law specialist concerning the
title to a piece of property. He declared that, in a large city whose
valuation would reach to the billions, not a single title deed was
incontestable. He did not go far into the past. Many of the land titles
in the United States go back to patents from the King of England or to
grants of the King of Spain. But what real right had they to the land
they gave to others? If it be the "right of discovery" then
anyone with sufficient power can "discover" anything in the
possession of one weaker than himself and take it for his own.
William Penn saw this, and bought Pennsylvania both from the king and
from the Indians. Yet, even so, what title had the Indians? Even if they
had found it unused and untenanted by man, we are hardly prepared to
admit that a vacant piece of property or one unused is subject to
seizure by anyone who can hold it, and that such a one can sell it to
others and give a valid title.
No matter how many intervening steps there may be, we must finally
come to the Psalmist's conclusion that the earth is the Lord's, and that
which fills it. When Israel dwelt in the land they acknowledged this by
paying a tithe of its produce to sustain His worship. They were simply
His tenants. Holding property in fee simple, or absolute ownership, is a
fiction which will come to a sad end when the seven trumpets sound.
So also with government. The right to rule is divine, and no man can
have it except as it is delegated to him by God. The great cry of this
day is democracy, or the rule of the people. Republicanism is but a
modified form of it. It has proved itself most unstable and corrupt, as
all mere human government is bound to be. When the mass of mankind
arrogates to itself the authority which is God's they soon desire
independence, not only from earthly despotism, but divine sovereignty.
So that today the most perfunctory acknowledgement of God is only
tolerated as a superstition.
Democracy often ends in despotism and a dictator. In times of stress
a strong hand is needed at the helm of the ship of state and the crew
are glad to obey the one who can guide them through the storm. So it was
in Rome when Caesar came upon the scene.
So it will be in the time of the end, when the last great monarch of
Christendom will accept from Satan the scepter that our Lord refused. He
will take a definite stand against God and His authority and seek to
banish Him from the earth. He will demand divine worship for himself.
His success would mean the utter alienation of the earth from every
divine influence. It would be a blight that would sink the whole in
corruption and death.
Let no one imagine that these awful inflictions are merely the blind,
vindictive rage of a furious god who would destroy what he cannot set
right, whose only purpose is to punish his opponents. Grace may be
unmeasured and overflowing, but judgment is always meted out with
restraint. In measure and character it is suited to the correction and
removal of evils far more serious than it is. Man's misrule will have
come to a crisis where it is no longer tolerable to God or man. Severe,
decisive measures are, in reality, a mercy. There can be no millennium
This is the setting of the seven trumpets. Severe as the inflictions
are, they fend the earth from a far worse fate. They remove the cause of
its corruption. They cleanse and renew it for the righteous reign of the
Son of Mankind.
The seven trumpets, like the seven seals, group themselves into four
and three. The first four invoke the forces of nature, the last three
introduce sentient, living creatures as the agents of destruction. The
first four are indirect, the last three are direct inflictions on
mankind. The first four affect a third of the earth, the sea, the
rivers, and the air. The last three are the terrible woe trumpets, under
which more than a third of mankind are killed.
These are the closing judgments on mankind as a whole before the
kingdom is established. The judgments of the bowls are more severe, but
are confined to the apostates of Israel. When the seventh trumpet sounds
the kingdom comes. Indeed, the seventh trumpet consists of the judgments
which take place in the kingdom itself.
The specific object of the seven trumpets is evident from the worship
of the elders when they are finished. Yahweh has taken His great power
and reigns. The nations were angry and He was indignant, so He blights
those who are blighting the earth. As a result the prophets and the
saints receive their rewards and the earth becomes a part of the kingdom
of the heavens.
We shall now consider the marvelous silence that
precedes them, and their immediate cause, as well as the warfare of the
elements in the first four inflictions, and the terrible woe trumpets,
the supernatural locusts, the horrible cavalry, and the still sorer
judgments of the kingdom which are not detailed in this book. We shall
more deeply appreciate His grace to us as we see the awfulness of His
wrath when He arises to shake terribly the earth.