Jack M. Lane
The Feast of Trumpets represents probably the most powerful, dramatic, catastrophic day in the history of humankind, and yet, at the same time, the best day in all of human history.
Right on the heels of the most destructive and cruel tribulation in history, God will send the most devastating plagues on those human beings who have “the mark of the Beast.” At the same time, God the Father will send Jesus Christ to intervene personally in the direction world history is taking. And, as we know, Christ’s return will be announced by a tremendous trumpet blast that will shake the inhabitants of the earth to their core.
There is one occasion in the Bible where we can see, on a small scale, how the supernatural sound of a trumpet, blown to announce the Lord’s presence, had a profound effect on Israel. In Exodus 19, the Eternal God visited Israel personally, and spoke out the smoking, quaking, thundering Mount Sinai, before giving Israel the Ten Commandments, in chapter 20. God really knows how to soften up a crowd, and make them more receptive.
In Exodus 19, God instructs Moses: “When the trumpet sounds long, they shall come near the mountain. ... And the sound of the trumpet [the Hebrew word here is shofar, referring to a ram’s horn made into an acoustic instrument] was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. ... And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long, and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice” (Exodus 19:13, 16, 19).
This episode is recounted in the book of Hebrews, where we are reminded of “the mountain ... that burned with fire, and ... blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. ... And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I am exceedingly afraid and trembling’” (Hebrews 12:18-21).
Israel at Mount Sinai heard the deafening supernatural sound of a shofar, a ram’s horn, which caused such fear and trembling that no one could stand when the voice of God was heard. That seems to pre-figure how the world will react in terror when the Voice of God -- the Word of God -- again comes bodily and stands on a mountain.
One of the best-known places to read about end-time events is the 24th chapter of the book of Matthew. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Matthew 24:29). This is describing the Great Tribulation, which is the fifth seal of Revelation, and is apparently to include a “nuclear winter,” then the sixth seal, which is the heavenly signs.
“Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, 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 His angels with a great sound of a trumpet [that’s the seventh trumpet, part of the seventh seal], and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:30-31).
Now there’s an interesting picture. The angels will have to come and get us. We’ll just be hanging there all over the sky, from one end of heaven to the other. As newborn baby Gods, we won’t know how to fly yet. We’ll just be suspended in the air, kicking our legs, not going anywhere, and the angels will have to gather us together. That’s not such a far-fetched idea to picture; did you know how to walk when you were first a baby Adam?
“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. [At the what? At the last trumpet! The seventh trumpet of the seventh seal.] For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
“Therefore [as a result of this, because of this], my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (verse 58).
As long as we know that our labor, our work, our struggle, our fight to hang on is not in vain, not useless, not empty, we will be steadfast and immovable. As long as we remember.
“Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion and with Him 144,000, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. ... And they sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the 144,000 who were redeemed from the earth” (Revelation 14:1, 3).
What’s the song?
They tell a story that only they could know, based on the experiences they had, the things they suffered, the persecutions they endured, the trials they lived through, the hope that kept them going, the strength and deliverance they received from God, the joy they felt in their hearts, the willingness to give up their lives rather than their crowns, the excitement that permeated their being, their assurance in their hope of the resurrection, the comfort they felt knowing God’s Spirit was in them and around them, and, of course, the knowledge that they had finally triumphed.
“These are the ones who were not defiled with women [symbolically, other churches, other religions], for they are [spiritual] virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb” (Revelation 14:4).
This is what we’re waiting for. We’re waiting for Christ to return and “transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body” (Philippians 3:21).
“The Spirit [it]self bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs -- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ [whatever He inherits, we inherit], if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:16-17).
Do you see what this is saying? Before we can be glorified, we have to suffer a few things. Has anybody here been suffering lately?
Peter wrote, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12-13).
But let’s finish our thought back in Romans 8:18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
How do you compare suffering to glory?
When I was first studying this passage as a boy in high school, I put it together with the concept of the number line, which I had learned in math classes. By using the number line, I was better able to appreciate what Paul was talking about here.
Imagine a line running horizontally. Along this line are slash marks every inch or so, representing numbers. You’re standing at the middle of the line, at zero. From zero, positive numbers go to the right: positive one, positive two, etc. The farther we go to the right, the larger the positive value.
From zero, negative numbers go to the left: negative one, negative two, etc. The farther we go to the left, the larger the negative value.
“The sufferings of this present time” are a negative value. Negative values go to the left. However much suffering you’ve had in the this life, or are now having in this life, or will have in the future in this life, imagine your number value going farther and farther to the left. The farther to the left, the bigger the negative value.
How far do you go? I don’t know; how much suffering have you had? A lot? Go way down to the left. Tremendous? Keep going. Horrible, awful, insurmountable suffering?
How far down the number line to the left can you go? The number line never ends. It goes on forever! Here’s the good news: Our suffering does not!
“The glory which shall be revealed in us” is a positive value. It goes to the right on the number line. Now, do you start at zero and go to the right? Or do you start at where you ended up way down to the left, and then go to the right from there?
The answer is, it doesn’t matter. Because the sufferings are not even worthy to be compared. They are nothing by comparison. Being a son of God is so far down the right we can’t even begin to see it fro here. Because the number line goes to the right forever. And, so does the glory which shall be revealed in us!
How can we know? The very next verse says, “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19). That’s us!
“Because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (verse 21).
That’s right. The creation. The universe!
In the future, we will rebuild and perfect and repair the present disorderly state of the universe. The universe isn’t disorganized -- it’s disorderly. Dead planets and lifeless stars have been waiting for us to go out to both colonize and rule the limitless vastness of space.
You have to admit, if the sufferings of this life can’t compare to the glory later on, it must be a glorious life indeed. What kind of life do you suppose it will be? That’s a big subject, but here are a few little clues:
“For You will not leave my soul in Sheol [the grave], nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:10-11)!
When Christ returns, when the trumpet sounds, when we are resurrected, it will be to the most fantastic, wonderful, exciting, fun, fulfilling, rewarding life possible. Right now, only God can imagine it. It’s so far out to the right on the number line, we can’t even begin to see through a glass darkly with our puny human minds.
In Matthew 25, we can read the parable of the talents. In verse 21, “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into ...’” -- what?
Enter into government service? Ruling five cities?
“Enter into the joy of your lord.” Enter into your Lord’s joy. Take part in your Lord’s joy. Participate. Join Him in it.
What is the Lord’s joy?
“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and [because He did that] has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
Even though Jesus begged the Father, to the point of blood, sweat and tears, to find some other way, Christ still willingly took up His cross. Jesus knew, because He’d been there, that the sufferings of this life -- even the horrors of crucifixion -- couldn’t compare to the glory of being the Son of God!
He came from the right end of the number line! And He knew He was going back. And the most awe-inspiring thing imaginable: The Father is inviting us to go there, too!
“In Your presence is fullness of joy. At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” “When His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” “Enter into the joy of your Lord.”
Isaiah 9:7 says, “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, ... from that time forward, even forever.” Not just that there will be no end of His government, or of His peace, but that there will never be an end to the increase. His government will always grow and expand, deepening, broadening, forever.
But so will His peace. The peace of God, the love of the Father, the brotherly love of Jesus Christ, will spread through the universe forever, making the universe -- the only universe there is -- the happiest place in -- well, in the universe!
The number line goes on to the right forever. And so do we. And as the Kingdom and Family of God continues to grow throughout eternity and infinity, we will always, gratefully, say to the Father and to Jesus, “At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”