As the Feast of Trumpets is almost upon us, we can refer to the prophet Joel who said it best:
“Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; For the day of the Lord is coming, For it is at hand” (Joel 2:1)
The Feast of Trumpets is a “blast of the horn” that signals an awakening of God’s people to remembrance and readiness:
“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold”(Psalm 18:2).
It is also an announcement that the King is coming to gather His army to wage war against the enemy and to establish His reign on earth:
“Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God”(Rev. 19:15).
These Fall Feasts are honored and celebrated as “dress rehearsals” so our hearts are in sync with the Lord’s redemption plan. So what happens when the Feast of Trumpets goes “live” after the sound of the trumpet?
“For the Lord Himself will descend form heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first (1 Thes. 4:16).
One of the most remarkable signs that will happen when this Feast is fulfilled is that the dead in Christ will rise from the grave. Most Christians assume ALL those who are believers that have died will rise at this resurrection. But after studying scriptures, I see a different pattern to examine as we define the purpose of the two resurrections the Bible refers to:
“Blessed and holy is he who has a part in the FIRST resurrection. Over such the SECOND death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Rev. 20:6).
The fact that the scripture indicates there is a first resurrection mandates that there is a second. God has a trumpet call for two occasions, and it is clear from Rev. 20 that the FIRST is for those who will reign with Him during the Millennium.
Let’s go back in the Bible and find the purpose of the blowing of the silver trumpets and see how it ties into these two resurrections. In Numbers 10, God instructed Moses to make two trumpets from hammered silver:
“Make two silver trumpets for yourself; you call make them of hammed work; you call use them for calling the congregation and for directing the movement of the camps. When they blow both of these, all the congregation shall gather before you at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. But if they blow only one, then the leaders, the heads of the divisions of Israel, shall gather to you”(Numbers 10:2-4).
Notice that when the Lord said to blow ONE trumpet, He was calling forth the HEADS (those chosen for rulership) to the door of the tabernacle of meeting. But when the two trumpets were blown, it was to gather ALL.
1 Cor. 15:51,52 shares scriptures that reveal some details of Christ’s return, and the unfolding events after the trumpet is sounded:
“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.”
Notice it doesn’t say trumpets. This is because the purpose of this first resurrection is to call forth those who have been chosen as “HEADS” to reign with Christ in the Millennium. This is also confirmed in 1 Thes. 4:16. Both scripture references say one trumpet is blown when the dead in Christ rise. Therefore, all those who are dead in Christ won’t arise in this first resurrection. Those who remain dead will rise and get their glorified bodies in the second resurrection.
The bible makes it clear that God has set aside a “remnant” of 144,000 who are chosen to reign with Him in the Millennium. This number is not actual, but symbolic, and makes it clear that ALL aren’t chosen to reign with Him.
“Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads”(Rev. 14:1).
In John 5:28,29, Jesus did however talk about a general resurrection in which ALL who were dead, both good and evildoers, will be raised at the same time and hear His voice – NOT just those who are “dead in Christ” as the previous scriptures indicated.
“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which ALL who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth-those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation”(John 5:28,29).
The above scripture is a picture of the SECOND resurrection that includes both believers and unbelievers.
Looking at all these scriptures, it is safe to say that the FIRST resurrection is NOT the time for the resurrection of salvation. It is the time Jesus is coming back, with the 144,000, to rule over the nations and to secure and establish His governmental authority in the earth. The issue of salvation is the purpose of the SECOND resurrection, which is explained in Rev. 20:
“And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books (The law).
And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.
Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:12-15).
So again we can see that the sole purpose of the FIRST is to call forth those believers who are “rewarded” with the responsibility to reign with Christ for 1,000 years (Gen. 14:18-20; Heb. 7; Rev. 20:6).
When talking to the disciples about the rewards of leaving all to follow Him, Jesus said to the disciples that they would be repaid at the “resurrection of the just.” We can further conclude that Christ is referring to the FIRST resurrection since there is no reference of the second, and the “just” can ONLY signify believers since no one outside of faith in Christ alone are “just” (Rom. 5:1).
“And you (disciples who gave ALL) will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just (Luke 14:14).
This reward given at the FIRST resurrection that Christ was referring to doesn’t equate to be a more “powerful or important position” in the body of Christ. That kind of thinking is what our world thinks, so it’s hard to grasp that this doesn’t mean a person chosen that is “special” or “better than” other Christians.
On the contrary, these who are rewarded are “bondservants of Christ” like our example of the Apostles Paul and Peter, who laid their lives down to serve Christ (Rom. 1:1).
“For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake” (2Cor. 4:5).
In humility of heart, they followed His voice out of obedience to serve and faithfully steward the talents God had given them. “Bondservants” of Christ have allowed the sanctification process to crucify their flesh so that they think and act like Christ. Christ can then entrust them with His authority of rulership which is His reward:
“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works” (Matt. 16:27).
In the letters to the 7 Churches in the Book of Revelation, God first praises and acknowledges each Church for the things they were doing well. But He goes on to chastise each church in the areas they were in error or had veered off course. In every letter the Lord addresses, He states that those who had an ear to hear would be rewarded when He returned for following His instruction. These would be known as His “Overcomers;” the one’s who embraced the sanctification process. Here is a list of rewards for those who OVERCOME:
- “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give to eat from he tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God”(Rev. 2:7).
- “He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death” (Rev. 20:2:11).
- “He who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it”(Rev. 2:17).
- “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations- He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’- as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star”(Rev. 2:26-28).
- “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels”(Rev. 3:5).
- “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the NEW Jerusalem which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name”(Rev. 3:12).
- “To him who overcomes, I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne”(Rev. 3:21).
If you read the entire chapters of Rev. 2 and 3, the Lord makes a distinction between those Christians who will overcome, and those who don’t repent. It is important to emphasize that becoming an “overcomer” has nothing to do with salvation, for the letters were addressed to ALL who were saved by grace.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Eph. 2:8,9).
But Christ does lay out the rewards for those who overcome through this sanctification process. They enter into the FIRST resurrection, while the others continue on with the sanctification process until the SECOND resurrection.
In the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus shares how rewards, concerning the kingdom of heaven, have to do with rulership. The man traveling to a far country in this parable is symbolic of Jesus. He gives to each servant (Christians) talents according to their ability to steward them until He comes back. What does He say to the servant who gained from the talents given:
“Well done good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you RULER over many things. Enter into the joy of the Lord” (Matt. 25:21).
Rulership is a product of faith, obedience, and the sacrifice of self. No one bi-passes this sanctification process. Even Christ couldn’t bi-pass the process that led Him to the cross. But there are a “firstfruits” remnant whose hearts will be ready first at the time of Christ’s return.
Think about the difference between King Saul and King David. Both kings served the Lord. Both weren’t perfect leaders, nor perfectly obeyed the Lord’s commandments. But Saul never fully surrendered his heart to the Lord. Instead, he was led more by his own ambitions, needs, and pride. David however was on his knees asking for the Lord’s help. David was one in whom God could entrust with His anointing of rulership.
Kingship “rewards” are a product of our choices whether we lean into God’s voice as Moses did, in obedience to His commandments, or run away and do our own thing. Those who have learned obedience by the things they suffer will find their reward as Christ did (Heb. 5:8).
“And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with Me, to give to every man according to his work” (Rev. 22:12).
In the final blog on the Feast of Trumpets, I will finish sharing about what transpires when the “dead in Christ” rise.