By Mark Swarbrick
Dear Marcus Rogers
You have said: “I don’t see any answers for one of the simplest things I pointed out about the trumpet…If anyone can explain how this trump is different than the 7 trumpets with Bible that would be awesome.”
I will be happy to do that for you. I will make the last trump clear to you and show you the differences between the 7th Trump and the Last Trump of the Rapture. You stated, “I have never been a big book of Revelation guy…I never did a big study on Revelation.” I take it then that you are a novice in eschatology, for one cannot begin to put it all together without being thoroughly familiar with that book. But that’s alright. We all have to start somewhere.
I would encourage you to read and study Revelation before you come to any fixed conclusions pertaining to the timing of the Rapture. You cannot possibly begin to grasp end-time prophecy without being thoroughly familiar with both Revelation and Daniel, as well as many Old Testament symbols, foreshadows, and prophecies.
I have always encouraged my congregation to read Revelation. Considering the times that we live in and the imminent return of Christ, it behooves every Christian to be very familiar with what is coming upon us. A special blessing is promised to those who read or hear the prophetic words of that book (Revelation 1:3)
The Value of Christian Scholarship
You also stated, “So I think it is so important to study the Bible for ourselves. When I started studying the Bible for myself so many things changed about how I viewed things. If people stuck to what the Bible says and had less loyalty to words not even in the Bible we could also have more unity in the body.”
It sounds from those words that you began your walk with Christ being fed by what others said, rather than directly from the word. I am glad you got that straightened out. Every Christian should be an avid reader of the word and compare everything said by any minister to what the Bible says.
We should all study the Bible for ourselves. The message of the Gospel is plain and clear such that even a child can understand it. The calls to repentance and put faith in Christ are evident to all that can read. It doesn’t take any commentary or special instruction to make those truths clear. But we mustn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Pastors, teachers, and scholars do have a valuable place in the Church.
And although the Gospel is simple and straightforward, eschatology is a different matter. The prophecies themselves tell us that. For example, Revelation 17:9 begins, “This calls for a mind that has wisdom…” And Revelation 13:18 says, “This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding…” The mysteries of end-time prophecy are not spelled out plainly as the Gospel is. These mysteries are veiled in symbolism and intended to be understood by those who study to show themselves approved.
God has set in the church pastors and teachers (1 Co 12:28). It is wise to avail oneself of the knowledge of 2,000 years of Christian scholarship when one is delving into the mysteries of the future. Primary is to know the Scripture, but important as well is to study what other men of God have gleaned from the God’s Holy Word. So know the word well, then study what others have said, and pray for God to open your understanding. To shut oneself off from the wealth of knowledge in the body of Christ is unwise.
Last day prophesies should not be studied in a vacuum. Read the word, study and contemplate the prophesies and review what other pastors, teachers and scholars have taught down throughout the centuries on the matter. When you know Revelation frontwards and backwards, know the seals, trumpets and bowls by heart, and understand which are consecutive and which are parallel, know which passages are parenthetical, and have a grounding in Old Testament foreshadows, you will begin to be in a place to start trying to put it all together.
In Bible college they teach the hermeneutical principles necessary to have a framework for understanding biblical prophecy – the Prophetic Law of Double Reference, and the Law of Prophetic Perspective. These principles, discovered by godly men of yesteryear, who studied to show themselves approved have passed these down to us. So you see, there is a lot more involved than just opening one’s Bible, reading a prophecy of the future, and taking a guess as to where it fits into the grand scheme of things.
The Olivet Discourse
Now before I address the last trumpet, let me just say a word about your comment on Matthew 24, wherein you believe that said chapter indicates a post Tribulation Rapture. You must understand that the Olivet Discourse does not address the Rapture directly. The Rapture was a mystery that was not revealed until after Pentecost. Many years later the Apostle Paul writes, “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep…” (1 Co 15:51).
A mystery in the Bible refers “to something not previously disclosed.” Knowledge of the Rapture was unknown to the apostles during Jesus’ time on earth. The Rapture is an event of the Church Age. It was taught to Paul by Christ after His resurrection. When Jesus spoke of end-time events on the Mount of Olives to his disciples, he was speaking as a Jewish Rabbi to Jews, primarily about Tribulation events. Jesus spoke of things pertaining to Israel mostly, and was not addressing all events of the Church Age.
I have much more on the Olivet Discourse in my book, End of Days: What the Bible Says Happens Next. In that book I teach the principles of interpretation needed to grasp end-time prophecy and I thoroughly cover why the Rapture is Pre-Trib. You can order my book from Amazon. You can also find a link to it on my Website: ChristianAnswerman.com. Look in the table of contents for the link that says, “Books by Mark Swarbrick.” I have articles on the Rapture on that website that may help you as well. And now for the last trumpet…
The Last Trumpet
Those who believe that the Rapture happens after the tribulation often point to 1 Corinthians 15:52 where it says the Rapture happens “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.” It is argued that the last trumpet correlates to the 7th Trumpet of Revelation 11:15, because a series of seven trumpets are blown, the 7th being the last one in that series.
There are a number of problems with that theory. First of all, you can’t get a post-tribulation Rapture out of that because the Second Coming does not happen at the sounding of the 7th Trumpet in Revelation. The 7th Trumpet is introduced in Revelation Chapter 10:7, but the Second Coming doesn’t happen until chapter 19 of Revelation. There are many things that transpire after the 7th Trumpet and before the Second Coming. Here is a list of those events:
- There is an angelic war wherein Satan is thrown out of the heavenly realms.
- Satan makes war on the Jews with great wrath for he knows his time is short.
- The Antichrist persecutes Christians (those saved after the Rapture).
- 144,000 born-again Jews evangelize the earth.
- Angels warn the world not to take the Mark of the Beast.
- A great city referred to as “Babylon” is destroyed.
- Seven bowls of wrath are poured out —
- 1st Bowl: Painful sores
- 2nd Bowl: Sea becomes blood
- 3rd Bowl: Rivers and springs become blood
- 4th Bowl: The sun burns people
- 5th Bowl: Darkness falls on the kingdom of Antichrist
- 6th Bowl: The river Euphrates dries up to make way for the army of the kings of the east and demons summon the armies of the world against Jerusalem for the battle of Armageddon.
- 7th Bowl: A great earthquake levels all cities and mountains of the world.
So you see, you cannot get a post-tribulation Rapture from identifying the 7th Trumpet as the Last Trumpet, for many things happen after the 7th Trumpet and before the return of Christ to the earth.
The Last Trump of the Rapture is a single blast that happens in the “twinkling of an eye.” As soon as the last trump sounds Christians are raptured off the earth. But the description of the 7th Trump is entirely different from that. The 7th Trump is a continuous blast that carries on throughout the time of the pouring out of the 7 bowls of wrath: Revelation 10:7 says: “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished…” Note that the angel “begins to sound” and that many events happen “in the days” of the sounding of the 7th Trumpet. The mystery of God is not finished until the blast of the 7th Trumpet ends, after the bowls of wrath have completed.
Differences between the Rapture and 2nd Coming
After all this the second coming of Christ to the earth happens. This is in chapter 19 of Revelation, and when you read that chapter, you find that there is no resurrection mentioned as occurring while Jesus is in the air. We know from the Pauline Epistles that at the Rapture, the dead in Christ are resurrected while Jesus is in the air. Yet at the Second Coming described in Revelation Chapter 19, there is no mention of a resurrection. Why? It is because the saints have already been resurrected before the Tribulation ever started.
The description of the Second Coming in Revelation 19 depicts Jesus riding on a white horse. He comes to make war on the enemies of God and take control of the earth. He touches down on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:5). The Second Coming of chapter 19 makes no mention of a trumpet, a resurrection, or a rapture of saints. Yet all those things do happen when Jesus comes in the air at the Rapture. Note the description of the Rapture:
“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. Then 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 4:16)
No mention of rapture, resurrection or trumpets is made at the Second Coming in Revelation 19. The Rapture, the 7th Trumpet and the Second Coming are three distinct and separate events, as evidenced by the many differences in their descriptions.
The 7th Trump is blown by an angel while the last trump is called the trump of God. At the Rapture Jesus comes for the Church and waits for them in the air and returns with them to heaven. This is in fulfillment of His promise in John 14:3, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” But at the Second Coming Jesus descends all the way to earth to the Mount of Olives and makes war against His enemies.
At the Second Coming Jesus does not come for His saints, he comes with His saints. Scripture is very clear on that point. Previously raptured saints come with Jesus from heaven at the Second Coming. Rev 19:14 says, “the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following Him on white horses.
Note the apparel of this army from heaven – “fine linen, bright and pure.” The saints are spoken of repeatedly in scripture as being so arrayed while we never find a description of angels with such apparel. In fact, in the same chapter of Revelation, just a few verses prior to the description of this army coming with Jesus, we have a description of the Church being so attired. Revelation 19:8, speaking of the Church, says: “it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.” That is the exact description of the army from heaven “arrayed in fine linen, white and pure.” The exact same wording is used for the army from heaven and for the saints of God.
Thus we see plainly that the previously raptured saints are the army that comes with Christ from heaven at the Second Coming. This is in line with the Old Testament prophecy of the Second Coming found in Zechariah 14:5: “the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with Him.” The only way the saints can come with Jesus, is if they were previously raptured.
When is the Last Trumpet?
So when is the Last Trumpet? To understand this, it helps to have a background of how trumpets were used in the Old Testament. Trumpets were blown at special festivals, and to herald the arrival of special seasons. Most significantly, a trumpet call was used to direct the people of Israel after they escaped from Egypt.
When the pillar of cloud moved out, Israel was to follow and this movement was organized by trumpet calls. Getting two million people on the march in an orderly fashion required some organization, and for this God designated the use of trumpets. Numbers 10:2-3, “Make two trumpets of hammered silver, and use them for…having the camps set out.”
Each of the twelve tribes could be signaled with a specific trumpet call to order them to move. There may have been hours between the movement of each tribe. The sounding of the last trump meant that the last tribe had joined in the formation and all of the people were now traveling together and in the proper order; following God towards the promised land.
This Old Testament last trump is a foreshadow of the Rapture and symbolic of when the Church moves out in unison to meet to Lord in the air. When the people of Israel reached the promised land, the last days march was heralded with a last trumpet of special significance, which again symbolizes the Church’s rapture into heaven, when we march into our promised land, the place which Christ has prepared for us. That will be the real Last Trump, of which the last trump in the Old Testament was but a foreshadow.
Last Trump of the Church Age
The Last Trump that sounds at the Rapture is not the last trumpet that will ever sound. Just as trumpets were used in worship in the Old Testament, so in heaven there will be all manner of musical instruments to glorify God, including trumpets. So when is the last Trump of the Rapture and why is it called the last Trump if their will be trumpets in the millennium and in eternity?
The Last Trump of the Rapture is so designated because it is the last trumpet call of the Church Age. There are other trumpets to sound, trumpets of wrath and judgement on the world, but the redeemed have nothing to do with that, “for God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10)
The last trump for Christians sounds at the Rapture, signaling the end of the Church Age. It heralds the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week, the “time of Jacob’s trouble,” aka, the Tribulation, wherein God deals primarily and specifically with the nation of Israel. The Last Trump of the Rapture correlates to Revelation 4:1 where we read:
“After these things I looked, and behold, a door was standing open in heaven, and the first voice that I heard like a trumpet was speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here, and I will show to you what must take place after these things.'”
This is a symbolic picture of the “trumpet call of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:16) that occurs at the Rapture wherein all the Church is called to “come up here.” After that transpires the events of the Tribulation take place “after these things,” that is, after the Church Age. After Revelation 4:1 the Church (as being on earth) is not mentioned again in Revelation, for the Church is in heaven and the Church Age has ended.
A Challenge – No One Knows the Time
You threw out a challenge, saying that it would be awesome for someone to explain the difference between the 7th Trumpet and the Last Trumpet. I have done so. Now I reply with a challenge. Explain how you are going to get an unexpected return of Christ at the conclusion of all the horrific events of the 7-year Tribulation.
Jesus made it clear that not even his followers would know when He is coming, that it would be unexpected. “The Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:44) Jesus said that when he comes people would be working, cooking, eating, getting married, buying, and selling as usual (Luke 17:27). The picture Jesus paints is a life that is proceeding normally. But then…
“While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:3)
Jesus said the Tribulation would be the worst time on earth ever. Let us review again what Jesus said about that time:
“For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved…” (Matthew 24:21-22). Furthermore, Jesus said it would come upon everyone on earth: “For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.” (Luke 21:35)
Revelation 16:17-20 reports an unprecedented earthquake occurs during the Tribulation.
No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake…the cities of the nations collapsed. Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men.
Imagine it: All the cities of the world collapse. Islands and mountains disappear. Hundred-pound hailstones fall on the world. Now here is the point: How could Jesus come during or after the Tribulation and still come at a time that no one suspects? Jesus told us that life would be going on as usual when he comes. There is nothing ordinary about the Tribulation. How do you buy and sell and get married while all the cities are turned to rubble? According to Jesus’ own words, the Tribulation will be the worst time in all of human history.
If I were living during the Tribulation and I see the sea turn to blood, the sun darken, and I behold flying scorpion-locusts tormenting people who are unable to kill themselves, and one-hundred-pound hailstones begin to fall from the sky, and an earthquake levels every city in the world, then I think I would have a pretty good idea that the Second Coming of Jesus is happening real soon.
So how does Jesus come at a time we do not expect? The only way for the Rapture to come unexpectedly is for it to happen before the Tribulation. I have never heard a satisfactory explanation from a Post-Trib advocate as to how Jesus could come unexpectedly during or after the Tribulation.
Speaking of His return, Jesus said: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matthew 24:36) Jesus was referring to his coming at the Rapture. However, if the Rapture happens at the midpoint or the end of the seven-year Tribulation, then it would be possible to know the day, thus invalidating Jesus’ own words.
Let me explain. The 7-year Tribulation begins when the Antichrist makes “a covenant with many.” (Daniel 9:27). At the exact midpoint of the Tribulation, three and one-half years into the Tribulation, the Antichrist violates that covenant and sets up the abomination of desolation in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem (Daniel 9:27, 2 Thessalonians 2:4, Revelation 13:14-15). The Antichrist will sit down in the Temple and proclaim that he is God. (2 Thessalonians 2:4). This happens precisely three and one-half years from the beginning of the Tribulation. (Daniel 9:27)
Therefore, anyone would be able to predict Christ’s return at the end of the Tribulation to the very day. They can count seven biblical years of 360 days from the day that the Antichrist makes his “covenant with many” In other words, it would be 2,520 days from Antichrist’s covenant to a Post-Trib Rapture. People can also count from the Abomination of Desolation in the middle of the Tribulation. It would be 1260 days from the Abomination of Desolation to a Post-Trib Rapture. So you see, a Post-Trib Rapture is impossible because Jesus said people would not know when he was coming. A Post-Trib Rapture is entirely predictable, right down to the very day. Therefore the Rapture must be Pre-Trib. Incidentally, a Mid-Trib Rapture is ruled out as well, since one could count 1260 days from the making of the covenant to a Mid-Trib Rapture.
There is no way to explain an unexpected Rapture if it happens after the predicted events of the 7-year Tribulation. There is no way that people will be saying “peace and safety” during the horrors of the Tribulation. The Post-Trib Rapture theory makes an absolute train wreck of the prophecies of Christ’s return, rendering many passages of Scripture irreconcilable. But it all makes sense if you understand that the Pre-Trib Rapture could happen at any moment and “then sudden destruction will come upon them.”