The Last Trumpet / The Last Day– #1
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 incorruptible, and we shall be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
It goes without saying that in these verses Paul was predicting the consummate resurrection at the time of “the end” of v. 24. This is the resurrection of 1 Thessalonians 4, (dispensationalism notwithstanding), which is also at the sounding of the great trumpet of God. It is the end of the millennium resurrection of Revelation 20. This is the resurrection at “the last day” of the Gospel of John. While a volume could be written I want to focus on the festal reference found in these verses that give an undeniable framework to posit the fulfillment of Paul’s prophecy. In other words, when Paul spoke of the resurrection occurring at the sounding of the “Last Trumpet” I suggest that just as he had earlier in the chapter, he was echoing the language, the themes and the motifs of Israel’s festal calendar. (More on this later). Very specifically, he was referencing the Feast of Succot. We shall discuss that momentarily. In the meantime, we need to establish the fact that the resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15 is the “last day” resurrection of the Gospel of John.
The term “the last day” is found six times in the Gospel of John:
This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.
And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
** On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.
Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.
As is obvious, five of the six occurrences of the term refer to the resurrection. (Note that the exception, John 7 has to do with the last day of the feast of Succot, the feast that more than any of the others feast days foreshadowed the resurrection. ). The consensus presupposition is that these are all references to the last day of time, the end of the current Messianic age. Of course, the problem is that not one of these “last day” texts speak of, imply or demand an “end of time” scenario, and most assuredly do not suggest an end of the current endless Christian age.
All that we want to do by adducing these texts is to show that, as virtually all admit, the “last day” is the “day” of the resurrection, meaning that the last day is the time for the fulfillment of 1 Corinthians 15. This brings us to our first point: The resurrection of the last day would be in fulfillment of God’s Old Covenant promises made to Old Covenant Israel.
This may seem like a point that would be all but universally acknowledged. And yet, as a former amillennialist I can attest to the fact that at least in that fellowship of my youth, the idea that any Old Testament promises to Old Covenant Israel remain valid is all but anathema. Even among all three futurist views of eschatology, it is claimed that God was– at least temporarily– through with Israel at the cross, and that without any doubt, the Law of Moses came to an end at the cross. (Postmillennialists, Reformed amillennialists and dispensationalists see a yet future conversion of national Israel in fulfillment of God’s OT promises, but they diverge from there).
The fact is that Paul’s entire eschatology- his resurrection doctrine – was grounded in Moses, the Law and the prophets (Acts 24:14-15. He said that his gospel was nothing but what Moses and the prophets said would come” (Acts 26:21f). As we shall see, that meant that the fulfillment of Israel’s festal calendar was of paramount importance to Paul’s doctrine of the resurrection. But to our point that the resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15 was to be the fulfillment of God’s Old Covenant promises made to Israel.
Paul said this:
“So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O Death, where is your sting?; O Hades, where is your victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).
It is universally acknowledged that Paul was echoing, citing, quoting from two key OT prophecies of the end times: Isaiah 25:8 / Hosea 13:14. Of course, what that means is that Paul was indeed and in fact looking forward to the fulfillment of God’s Old Covenant promises made to Old Covenant Israel. While a great deal could be written on this, and I do in my books on Torah To Telos, for brevity, I want to move on to discuss the role of the Festal Calendar in Paul’s resurrection doctrine in 1 Corinthians 15.
The reader may be aware of the fact that in dispensationalism, a great deal of attention is given to the feast days. Dwight Pentecost observes:
The first four of the Seven Feasts of Israel have already been fulfilled. They were fulfilled in spectacular fashion. They were fulfilled right on the auspicious Hebrew calendar dates on which they have been celebrated in times past, the same dates that will be celebrated forever more. The three spring feasts were fulfilled by Jesus our Saviour. And the summer Feast of Pentecost was fulfilled as well. It was fulfilled by the Holy Spirit 2,000 years ago.”
(Citation found at: http://endtimepilgrim.org/7feasts.htm. (Accessed 8-14-10).
All you have to do is “Google” “The feasts of Israel” and you will find what seems to be an un-ending number of sites– mostly dispensational, dedicated to affirming the on-time fulfillment of the first four feasts, and the future fulfillment of the final three. Take note that the author affirms that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on that day fulfilled the events of Pentecost. This is a fatal admission. To acknowledge that Pentecost and the outpouring of the Spirit was in fulfillment of the OT promises made to Israel falsifies the gap theory. None of Israel’s prophecies were supposed to be fulfilled after the suspension of Daniel’s seventieth week, yet, here is the author affirming that Pentecost was the fulfillment of the OT promises of the Spirit! And don’t forget that dispensationalists all also agree that Psalms 102 was being fulfilled on Pentecost.
While the dispensationalists stress the importance of Israel’s festal calendar, amillennial and postmillennial authors mostly ignore them, at least they ignore the last three feast days. Gary DeMar for instance simply gives the feast days a passing notice:
The New Testament describes Jesus as the fulfillment of every element of the Old Covenant shadows, feasts included (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Pentecost): “And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, [Jesus] explained to [His disciples] the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. . . . That all the things which are written about [Jesus] in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (24:27, 44). Earlier in Luke’s Gospel we read “that all things which are written” about the end of the Old Covenant were “fulfilled” (21:22). Jesus is the “lamb of God” (John 1:29, 36), the temple (2:29), the bread from heaven (6:48), the high priest (Heb. 5:10), and the Rock (1 Cor. 10:4).” (http://americanvision.org/5146/defending-dispensationalism-at-all-costs/)
It seems not to have dawned on DeMar that if Christ has indeed fulfilled “every element of the Old Covenant shadows, including the feast days” that this demands that the judgment, the parousia and the resurrection are fulfilled! (I find it more than interesting to note that DeMar references only the first four feast days as shadows of the things to come. According to Paul in Colossians 2:17, it was the final three feast days that were still waiting to be fulfilled. They had not been fulfilled and thus had not passed away).
While I could say a lot about how the three views of eschatology address, or do not address, the feast days, I want to stay focused on the issue of the last day and the last trump.
For starters, there were seven feasts in Israel’s festal calendar. Those feasts are listed and defined in Leviticus 23:
- Unleavened Bread
- Feast of First Fruits
- Feast of Weeks / Pentecost
There was a four month “gap” interim (See John 4:35) between Pentecost and the last three feast days. The last three feast days were widely acknowledged to be the eschatological feast days pointing to the Judgment, the coming of the Lord and the Resurrection.
The Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:23 – Rosh Ha Shanah). The feast had ten names at least, to indicate the varying motifs and themes that the Jews associated with that feast).
The Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:23-25- Yom Kippur).
The Feast of Tabernacles / Booths (Succot- Leviticus 23:33f).
Notice the focus on the Trumpets at the first of the final three feast days. The feast of trumpets foreshadowed the Day of Judgment.
In Jewish thought, these last three feast days were bound together. While they were “different,” nonetheless, due to their temporal proximity with each other they were thought to be connected. Paul Kurtz, speaking of Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) said this:
The Feast of Atonement was thereby (due to its timing, DKP) brought into the closest possible proximity to the feast of Tabernacles, and thus furnished a fitting basis to the feast of Israel’s rejoicing by its most complete and comprehensive expiation; so that there was nothing to detract from the confidence and purity of their rejoicing, inasmuch as it rested upon the certainty, that they had obtained both reconciliation and fellowship with Jehovah. Paul Kurtz, Sacrificial Worship of the Old Testament, (Grand Rapids, Baker, 1980) 387).
Jared Callaway actually: “Yom Kippur is the culmination of Rosh HaShanah.” (Jared Callaway, The Sabbath and Sanctuary, (Tubingen, Germany, Morh Siebeck, 2013), 166). This effectively means that the sounding of the trumpet for Rosh Ha Shanah was to bring the heart of the people into repentance for the judgment, and prepare them for the Atonement. In fact, from Rosh Ha Shanah to Yom Kippur was ten days, and that period of time was called the days of repentance.
Edershiem notes how the theme of judgment was intertwined with four of the feast days: “According to the Mishnah there are four seasons when judgment is passed upon the world. Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles, Atonement.” (Alfred Edershiem, The Temple Its Ministry and Services as They Were In The Times of Jesus Christ, (Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 1972) 296).
I give these citations to show that common themes and motifs ran through several of the feast days. Some emphasized certain motifs more than others so as to make them distinct, and yet, one cannot divorce those feast days from the common themes that run through them. And the fact that the Trumpet was blown on Rosh Ha Shanah to emphasize the time of judgment is one such theme.
While we could focus on the theme of judgment at length I want now to focus on the concept of the sounding of the trumpet for the resurrection, the sounding of the last trump, the time of the harvest.
In Isaiah 27:13 we find this promise:
So it shall be in that day: The great trumpet will be blown; They will come, who are about to perish in the land of Assyria, And they who are outcasts in the land of Egypt, And shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem.
It is important to notice the reference to “in that day.” What day was that? The context is clear:
Has He struck Israel as He struck those who struck him? Or has He been slain according to the slaughter of those who were slain by Him? In measure, by sending it away, You contended with it. He removes it by His rough wind In the day of the east wind. Therefore by this the iniquity of Jacob will be covered; And this is all the fruit of taking away his sin: When he makes all the stones of the altar Like chalkstones that are beaten to dust, Wooden images and incense altars shall not stand. Yet the fortified city will be desolate, The habitation forsaken and left like a wilderness; There the calf will feed, and there it will lie down And consume its branches. When its boughs are withered, they will be broken off; The women come and set them on fire. For it is a people of no understanding; Therefore He who made them will not have mercy on them, And He who formed them will show them no favor.
Volumes could be written in exegesis of these texts but certain things stand out.
✦ Isaiah says that the Lord had “struck” (i.e. “slain”) Israel.
✦ He had slain Israel “in measure.” This pretty effectively means that it is not talking about physical death, since it is impossible to kill some one partially, “in measure.”
✦ He had slain Israel by “sending her away” into Assyrian captivity. This concept of death through captivity is one that is sorely missed by many Bible students, who seem to think that the only kind of death that the Bible talks about is physical death. That is a thoroughly false idea.
✦ That time of judgment was to be the time of, and in some measure the means by which, the Lord would take away Israel’s sin. That was not some divine fiat act of forgiveness, but the judgment was for the purpose of bringing Israel to repentance.
✦ That time of judgment is when the “fortified city” (Jerusalem) and the temple would be laid desolate.
✦ It would be the time when (in fulfillment of Deuteronomy 32:28f) the people of “no understanding”, the people whom the Lord had created, would no longer be given mercy.
So, Isaiah 27:13 and its allusion to “in that day” when the Great Trumpet would sound, is undeniably posited at the time of the judgment on Jerusalem. The Great Trumpet would sound for the gathering of the elect– “those ready to perish” – from the four winds. These are in fact those that had been “slain” by being taken into captivity (Cf. Hosea 5:15-6:1-6 / Ezekiel 37). Thus, the Great Trumpet was to sound for the resurrection!
This is the Ingathering for the Feast of Tabernacles. This is the Feast of Harvest. And again, this is the resurrection. Make no mistake, this is how the commentators, with few exceptions, have viewed Isaiah 27:13.
Mitch and Zhava Glaser, citing Eliyahu Zuta 2, offer this: “The holy one, Blessed be He, will sound the shofar at the time of the ingathering of the exiles of Israel to their place (Isaiah 27:13). (The Fall Feasts of Israel, (Chicago, Moody Press, 1987), 22, 23). While some commentators do not take notice of the Festal reference of the threshing and the ingathering, those tenets are clearly in the text.
The commentators Keil and Delitszch comment on Isaiah 27:12-13 as reference to the end time resurrection. The fact that they see that event as a literal resurrection of human corpses does not alter the fact that they see it as a resurrection text. What is interesting is that they realize that this prophecy is posited by the prophet at the time of the judgment on Jerusalem. (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Vol. VII, Isaiah, (Grand Rapids; Erdmans, 1976), 459+).
John D. Watt recognizes that Isaiah 27:12-13 is about resurrection, but he also recognizes that “the dead” are not biologically deceased: “The reference here is to those for whom existence in exile, cut off from contact and relation to the worship of God in Israel, is like a living death. Life for them is unthinkable without a sense of the presence of Yahweh and an opportunity to worship him. This was the “living hell of exile (Cf. Psalms 137)” (John D. Watt, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 24, Isaiah 1-33, (Waco, Tx; Word Publishers, 1985), 351).
Other commentators that could be cited who hear the echo of Isaiah 27:13 in Matthew 24:31 are:
Dale Allison and W. D. Davies, International Critical Commentary, Vol. III, Matthew 19-28, ( New York; T and T Clark, 1997), 363, say that Matthew 24:31, “may allude to Isaiah 27:13 (‘in that day a great trumpet will be blown’) has many parallels: (1 Corinthians 15:52 – ‘at the last trumpet…” They chronicle from Rabbinic writers that Isaiah 27:13 was predictive of the resurrection. They cite the Apocalypse of Abraham 31.1; the Shemoneh of Esreh, benediction 10; Quest. Ezra B 11 9; Ezra 4:36, the last of which says “After these things a trumpet, and the graves will be opened.”
Donald Hagner, Word Biblical Commentary, Matthew 14-28, Vol. 33b, (Dallas, Word Publishers, 1995), 714 – “The reference to the blowing of the Great Trumpet in connection with the gathering of the righteous is found in Isaiah 27:13 (in the NT reference to the eschatological trumpet occurs in conjunction with the descent from heaven in 1 Thessalonians 4:16; there, as in 1 Corinthians 15:52 the trumpet is associated with the resurrection of the dead, which Matthew makes no mention of here.” Note that Hagner sees a direct connection between Isaiah 27:13–> Matthew 24:31—> 1 Corinthians 15:52.
Richard Hayes, Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels, (Baylor University Press, 2016), 137: “Matthew’s direct allusion to the trumpet of Isaiah 27 emphatically drives home the point that Jesus is prophesying a final re-gathering of the people of Israel who have previously been in exile, and the final restoration of right worship in Jerusalem.”
See also: John Nolland, New International Greek Text Commentary, Matthew, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, Paternoster, 2005), 985.
The implications of the connection between Isaiah 27:13 and Matthew 24:31 are profound and far reaching for futurist eschatologies. Here is what I mean.
Amillennialists and postmillenialists, as a general rule, believe that Matthew 24:29-34 speak of the first century events consummating in the Lord’s “historical” coming in the judgment of Old Covenant Jerusalem. (I will not take the time or space to document this, since it is so widely recognized and known). With that in mind consider then the following:
The Sounding of the Great Trumpet of Isaiah 27:13 would be at the end time resurrection– so say the ancient rabbis and the commentators- the text agreeing.
But, Jesus applied the prophecy of the sounding of the Great Trumpet of Isaiah 27:13 to the event of his coming in the judgment and destruction of Old Covenant Jerusalem in AD 70.
Therefore, the time of the end time resurrection was to be in the first century, in the judgment and destruction of Old Covenant Jerusalem in AD 70.
Now, the only way to counter this argument is to prove that Isaiah 27:13 was not a prediction of the resurrection, or the end times. If one goes back above and examines the constituent elements found in this context however, it becomes more than apparent that this entire context is indeed about the last days and the final defeat and destruction of Satan, the Great Leviathan, the Devil (27:1). Furthermore, the fact that Isaiah 27:9f draws from the Song of Moses, the prediction of Israel’s last days, her “latter end,” should be the definitive answer.
So, at the risk of redundancy- but some additional input – let me offer this:
The Sounding of the Great Trumpet of Isaiah 27:13 would be at the end time resurrection – which would be on “the last day” (John 6:39, 44, etc).
But, Jesus applied the prophecy of the sounding of the Great Trumpet of Isaiah 27:13 to his coming in the judgment and destruction of Old Covenant Jerusalem in AD 70– (Matthew 24:31-34).
Therefore, the Sounding of the Great Trumpet of Isaiah 27:13 the time of the end time resurrection on “the last day” (John 6:39, 44, etc) – was to be in the first century, in the judgment and destruction of Old Covenant Jerusalem in AD 70 (Matthew 24:29-34).
It becomes more than evident therefore that when the amillennialists and postmillenialists posit the sounding of the Great Trumpet of Matthew 24:31 at the end of the Old Covenant age of Israel in AD 70, that they are tacitly admitting that the resurrection on the last day occurred in AD 70. To reiterate, unless one can prove that Isaiah was not a prediction of the last day resurrection, then the admission that Jesus was anticipating the fulfillment of Isaiah 27 in his generation is a powerful testimony to the fulfillment of the resurrection in AD 70. And thus, futurist eschatology is falsified.
To direct our attention back to the festal context, the citations above demonstrate that the rabbis and commentators realized that Isaiah 27:13 (and Matthew 24:31) are echoes and allusions to the fulfillment of Succot, the Feast of Harvest. This is extremely important.
Jesus said that not one jot or one tittle of the Law would pass until it was all fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-18). Paul pointed to the “New Moons, Feast Days and Sabbaths” as still, when he wrote, shadows of the good things “about to come” (Colossians 2:17). His allusion to the “New Moons” is a direct reference to Rosh Ha Shanah. That means that he had the last three of Israel’s feast days in mind when he spoke of the present tense reality of their typological, unfulfilled praxis.
To express it another way,
Paul was anticipating the consummative fulfillment of Israel’s last three feast days, including the feast of Succot, the feast of harvest, which was a typlogical foreshadowing of the last day resurrection (Colossians 2:16-17).
Jesus posited the fulfillment of that Harvest / Ingathering for his generation, at the cataclysmic downfall of Jerusalem (Matthew 24:29-34).
Paul therefore, writing just a few years before that knew that the feast days were “about to be” fulfilled at the sounding of the Great Trumpet. He knew that the resurrection was “about to be” fulfilled.
Let me make a final note on this before closing out this first article: There can be no doubt that Isaiah is in fact a prediction of the last day resurrection since it would be at the time of the destruction of Satan / Leviathan (Isaiah 27:1). I know of no one that denies that the crushing of Satan (which Paul said was imminent 2000 years ago- Romans 16:20) is the time of the last day resurrection (Revelation 20:10f). Thus, since the sounding of the Great Trumpet is at the time of the destruction of Leviathan / Satan, and since the sounding of the Great Trumpet was at the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, that demands, logically, that the last day resurrection, when Satan was destroyed, was in AD 70.
I will have more on “the last day” and the sounding of the Trumpet for the resurrection as we continue. In the meantime, be sure to get a copy of my book, The Resurrection of Daniel 12:2: Future or Fulfilled?