10 Sep The Last Trump
In the 23rd chapter of Leviticus, we find the instructions for the feast day of Yom Teruah (Day of Trumpets). It reads like this:
“Speak to the people of Israel, saying, in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, and you shall present a food offering to Adonai.” (Lev 23:24-25)
And that’s it! There’s no reason given for the day. Even in the Hebrew language, it says that the day shall be a “Shabaton (complete rest) zikaron (memorial) teruah (trumpet blast)”, and that’s it. So Yom Teruah is a day of memorial, but the Scripture doesn’t tell us what its a memorial of. So what do we do? We look to the Scripture to fill in the blanks.
In the Scripture, we are instructed to blow the trumpets at the new moons, at the festivals, at the times of gladness, and when it’s time to go to war or just call an assembly together (Num 10:1-10). Essentially, the trumpet says “Wake up! It’s time to gather!” The gathering of the assembly is the common denominator among all these events. So when we think of the Day of Trumpet Blowing, we know that it’s going to involve a gathering of some sort. Now this is where an interesting Jewish legend comes to play.
The legend says that when Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac to Adonai on Mt Moriah, that God gave Abraham a ram in the thicket for a substitute (I know, that part’s not legend). After Abraham sacrificed the ram, somehow the two horns of the ram ended up in the hands of God. Several centuries later, when God gathered the Children of Israel at the foot of Mt Sinai, we read this:
“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…And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder.” (Ex 19:16, 19)
The legend claims that this shofar blown on Mt Sinai was one of the ram’s horns from Abraham’s sacrifice. It’s called the “First Trump”. The legend claims that the other ram’s horn, called the “Last Trump”, will be blown on some future Yom Teruah in order to call the exiled Jewish people from among the nations back into their homeland. We find this legend alluded to in the Talmud (a rabbinical commentary) in this manner:
Rabbi Abbahu said—
“Why do we sound the shofar? Because the Holy One, blessed be God, said: Blow me a ram’s horn that I may remember to your credit the binding of Isaac, the son of Abraham, and I shall account it to you as a binding of yourselves before Me. The Torah tells us: Abraham looked up and behold, he saw a ram caught in the thicket by its horns [Gen 22:13]. This teaches us that the Holy One, blessed be God, showed our ancestor Abraham the ram tearing himself free from one thicket and becoming entangled in another. Said the Holy One, blessed be God, to Abraham: Thus are your children destined to be caught in iniquities and entangled in misfortunes, but in the end they will be redeemed by the horns of a ram. Therefore the prophet Zechariah said of the time of redemption: And the Lord shall be seen over them, and His arrow shall go forth like the lightning; and the Lord God shall blow the shofar, and shall move in stormy winds of the south [Zech 9:14].” (Rosh HaShanah 16a)
If that term, the “Last Trump”, sounds familiar to you, it’s because it should! In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul tells us:
“Behold! I tell 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 trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” (1 Cor 15:51-52)
That’s right! Paul actually referred to the last trumpet! You see, when Paul was a little boy, this legend of the Last Trump was already old. He would have been raised hearing this story over and over. So just as the Sages looked forward to the gathering of the exiles on some future Rosh HaShanah, Paul “showed us a mystery” by proclaiming that our resurrection at Yeshua’s return would occur on Rosh HaShanah. This fits more closely with Paul’s Jewish background and the running theology of his day than to purport, as some do, that Paul was referring to one of the trumpets in the Book of Revelation that hadn’t even been written when he wrote this epistle. This reference to the last trump had nothing to do with John’s Book of the Revelation. Paul was referring squarely to the Jewish legend that was prevalent in his day.
But this reference by Paul isn’t the only place that he connected the return of Yeshua with the blast of the trumpet. In 1 Thessalonians 4, we read:
“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 [have died]. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Messiah 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 Thess 4:15-17)
But even this isn’t all we have concerning this time of Yeshua’s return. We have the testimony of our Rabbi Yeshua Himself on the subject:
“Then 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. And 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.” (Mt 24:30-31)
See a pattern here? Of the many things that Yom Teruah speaks to us of, one is return of our Messiah Yeshua. When we hear the trumpet blast on this great day, it is to be a rehearsal of the blast of the “Last Trump” that will signal the return of the exiles from among the nations. When this trumpet blasts, our Master will send His angels to gather us from the four winds of the earth. And how exciting that will be!