In previous installments of this series of articles, considerable emphasis has been placed on examining some of the details of the Gog/Magog War of Ezekiel 38-39 and its possible, perhaps probable, connection to World War 3 which currently seems to be ratcheting up quickly. We also spent time examining the details revealed in Scripture in describing the opening of the Sixth Seal and how all three events may unfold within the same short segment of time. In this installment, we will deal with the subject of the Rapture or Catching Up of the Church and how it may also be connected to the opening of the Sixth Seal.
One of the most well known Catching Up passages is found in 1 Corinthians 15, with some additional details found in 1 Thessalonians 4.
51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — 52 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
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
In these passages we find reference to the Trumpet of God (Trump of God in some versions). There are similarities between these two Scriptures that should be noted.
- Both passages inform us that the dead in Christ, believers that have died throughout history, will be resurrected.
- Both passages speak to a special trumpet call just before this resurrection of the dead.
- Both Scriptures indicate a second group of believers who are alive at the time of the trumpet call.
- Both the dead and those alive experience a supernatural act of God at the trumpet call; resurrection of the dead and transformation along with those living at the time.
The Apostle Paul is referring to the same event in both Scriptures. Naturally, this makes it reasonable to conclude that the “last trumpet” sounding just before the resurrection of the dead in 1 Corinthians 15:52 is the same as that in 1 Thessalonians 4:16.
It is of interest to note as we look into this subject that the Greek word for “trumpet” used in both passages is “salpigx.” According to Strong’s concordance “salpigx” is derived from several different words used in the New Testament to describe motion, shaking, billowing, or reverberation. The Greek “sismos”, a violent shaking or earthquake, is derived from the primary verb “seio”, which has its roots in “salpigx.” Something discussed, at least to some degree some time ago in a previous writing, has to do with God’s voice and what it may have to do with the Trumpet of God (or ‘Trump’ of God).
God’s Voice — A Trumpet?
So, what was Paul talking about? It’s hard to imagine the Almighty, the Creator of the entire universe lifting a literal ram’s horn or even a metal trumpet to His mouth and blowing it. Could it be that the Trumpet of God is actually His voice? Let’s see what we find in Scripture.
An interesting story in Exodus 19 is a good place to start. The storyline is God preparing to enter our three-dimensional world to meet Moses on Mount Sinai in order to give him the ten commandments. God told Moses to bring the people to the mountain and gave him detailed instructions on how the people were to prepare themselves, with specific instructions for no one to approach the mountain or even touch its base on penalty of death. So, the people spent the next three days in preparation including washing their clothes and consecrating themselves for God’s arrival on the mountain. When God did descend, He came within a thick cloud, with thunder and lightning, earthquakes, and a long trumpet blast. The smoke from the fire was described as from a giant furnace. The entire mountain shook violently from the quakes and the trumpet blast became continually louder. The terrified reaction of the people is described in Exodus 20:
18 Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. 19 Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” Exodus 20:18-19
(Note: I wonder how our generation would respond to a literal appearance of God? Oh wait…we do have an example of that in Revelation 6:16-17 when the sky rolls back like a scroll, removing the veil between our 3-dimensional world and God’s Throne Room, when God the Father is visible on His Throne with the Son of God (the Lamb of God), standing at His side. On seeing this, arrogant and Christ-rejecting men are scared out of their minds and ask for the rocks and mountains to fall on them to hide them from the face of the One on the Throne and His Messiah!)
There was something the people in Moses’ time heard that is crucial for us to recognize. In Exodus 19:16, we have the phrase “and the sound of the trumpet.” In the Hebrew two words are used, “qol” which is used 383 times as “voice”, and the second word, “sopar” or “shopfar” which is used 68 times as “trumpet.” In Exodus 19:19 we are provided with a little more detail.
And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice.
Here we see that the sound of the trumpet was in fact the voice of God communicating with Moses directly. As we already noted in Exodus 20:18-19, the people never wanted to hear God speak to them directly again and asked Moses to be the intermediary.
We find a couple more references in Deuteronomy:
And the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of the words, but saw no form; you only heard a voice. Deuteronomy 4:12
These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly, in the mountain from the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness… Deuteronomy 5:22a
The writer of Hebrews (which I believe was the Apostle Paul) also referred to this event, corroborating that the voice of the lord was associated with the reverberating sound of a trumpet.
18 For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, 19 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. Hebrews 12:18-19
What is important to understand is that they heard God’s voice uttering words, sounding like a trumpet blast which was so loud that the people begged never to hear it again. The Apostle John witnessed the same, while on the prison island of Patmos, when he was brought into the presence of the resurrected Jesus.
10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet 11 saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last … 12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man… Revelation 1:10, 11, 12, 13 (emphasis mine)
We have another example in the fourth chapter when John was called up to heaven to be shown what was yet to come to pass.
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this. Revelation 4:1 (emphasis mine).
Yet another description is found in Job 37:
1 At this also my heart trembles, and leaps from its place. 2 Hear attentively the thunder of His voice, and the rumbling that comes from His mouth. 3 He sends it forth under the whole heaven, His lightning to the ends of the earth. 4 After it a voice roars; He thunders with His majestic voice, and He does not restrain them when His voice is heard. 5 God thunders marvelously with His voice; He does great things which we cannot comprehend. Job 37:1-5
The Trumpet Voice of God Shook the Earth
This is of course not the only form God’s voice takes when communicating with man. Elijah the prophet, when he was in a cave on the same mountain where Moses met God, heard God’s voice as a still, small voice. But we do have more examples in the Old Testament in which God’s voice is described as supernaturally powerful, including shaking the earth. One such passage is found in Psalm 29:
3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders; the LORD is over many waters. 4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. 5 The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars, yes, the LORD splinters the cedars of Lebanon. 6 He makes them also skip like a calf, Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild ox. 7 The voice of the LORD divides the flames of fire. 8 The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the Wilderness of Kadesh. 9 The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth, and strips the forests bare; and in His temple everyone says, “Glory!” 10 The LORD sat enthroned at the Flood. Psalm 29:3-10a
Another Scripture that supports the description of the event on Mount Sinai is found in Psalm 68:
7 O God, when You went out before Your people, when You marched through the wilderness, 8 the earth shook; the heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God; Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel. Psalm 68:7-8
The exodus from Egypt was described as the “march through the wilderness” when the people of God were led to Mount Sinai and the earth and the mountain were shaken. Question: Was the shaking from the descent of God in fire or by the sound of the trumpet — or both? Paul’s conclusion in Hebrews 12:26a leaves us no doubt as to what caused the shaking:
Then His voice shook the earth.
18 For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, 19 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. 20 (For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow. 21 And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”) Hebrews 12:18-21
The “Last Trumpet” — The “Once More”
We find the connection between the “Last Trumpet” and the “once more” in Hebrews 12:25-26:
25 See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, 26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake, not only the earth, but also heaven.
Paul makes it clear that the supernatural catalyst for the shaking of the earth at Mount Sinai was the trumpet voice of God. And, as we have already established, the voice of the Lord speaking to Moses sounded like a trumpet reverberating when blown, yet He was uttering words. In Hebrews 12:25-26, Paul now makes it clear that not only was it the trumpet voice of God that shook Mount Sinai and the earth in Exodus 19, but it will also be His trumpet voice that will shake the earth and the heavens at the end of the Church Age. This is the key that helps us understand what is meant by “once more”. It is the same event as “The Last Trumpet” blown in 1 Thessalonians 4:16. It is “The Last Trumpet” that is responsible for the resurrection of the dead in Christ and also for the instantaneous transformation of those alive in Christ into their glorified eternal bodies.
The Apostle Paul was quoting the Old Testament Haggai in the Hebrews 12:26 proclamation. Haggai put it this way:
5 According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear! 6 For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Once more it is a little while, I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; 7 and I will shake all nations… Haggai 2:5-7a
We can come to at least two conclusions from Haggai’s “once more” statement:
- Something took place in the past — at least once
- It will happen again — exactly one time.
Paul was well learned in the Old Testament. He knew exactly what happened on Mount Sinai and he knew the writings of the Old Testament prophets as well. He had taught the Corinthian church these things and they were well versed. Those of us in this generation are especially blessed because we have all the pieces of the puzzle available to us.
Now the question is: Where in the chronology of Revelation does the resurrection of the dead in Christ fit? We know that it must happen before the Day of the Lord’s Wrath. We find the answer in the events which take place at the opening of the Sixth Seal.
12 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and beheld, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. 13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. 14 Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. Revelation 6:12-14
Here we have a massive shaking of the earth and the heavens. And, it happens before or as the Day of the Lord’s wrath begins. Notice the comment that will be made by those on earth at that time in verse 17:
“…the great day of His wrath has come and who is able to stand.”
As we connect the Exodus Mount Sinai experience, Haggai’s prophecy, and Paul’s connection of both passages in Hebrews 12, we are able to come to a conclusion. The “Last Trumpet” is a reference to the Trumpet voice of God, sounding once more in the future, at the resurrection of the dead in Christ, shaking the earth and the heavens, and fulfilling Haggai’s prophecy. Could it be that the Trumpet Voice of God at the sound of the ‘Last Trump’ is the source of the colossal Sixth Seal earthquake?
Note: The fact that it is the “Trumpet Voice of God” that initiates the Rapture / Catching Up event described in 1 Corinthians 15:52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16, dispels the long-standing confusion caused by the erroneous teaching that the Rapture event is triggered by the Seventh Trumpet Judgment foretold in the eleventh chapter of Revelation. The Seventh Trumpet Judgment is set in motion by the blowing of the trumpet by an angel, not God. Additionally, the Apostle John was given the revelation of the Trumpet Judgments decades after the Apostle Paul had taught his revelation of the Rapture / Catching Up Event with the churches in Corinth and Thessalonica. Paul had no knowledge of the Trumpet Judgments.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Old Testament Saints
We may have some hints in Scripture that many have overlooked over the years. Although most of us are familiar with the Resurrection story, the accounts given in the four Gospels of the New Testament do not present a record of the very moment of Jesus’ resurrection. In all reality, what we have in Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20 are accounts of those who found Jesus’ tomb empty. However, we do have some interesting facts presented to us in the 27th chapter of Matthew that are not mentioned by any of the other writers. These unique details are actually found in a parenthetical statement right in the middle of details given about the scene surrounding the crucifixion.
51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and then earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, ”Truly this was the Son of God!” Matthew 27:51-54
The accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were much the same, except for some interesting details given by Matthew that the others did not mention. A centurion is mentioned by all three writers and the man was said to make a proclamation about Jesus being righteous, and being the Son of God. Matthew, however, is the only writer who inserted details in the narrative describing the shaking of the earth which caused the tombs of many saints to open following their resurrection from the dead.
John’s detailed narrative of the entire crucifixion scene mentioned no earthquake, neither before or after the crucifixion. One would expect John, of all the disciples, because he was the one who stayed closest throughout the entire event, to say something about a major earthquake after Jesus’ death. Yet, he didn’t mention a word about it. He did record Jesus’ last words while on the cross, including when He cried out, “It is finished!”, bowed his head, and died. John even included the soldiers coming to break the legs of the prisoners to speed up their deaths. When the soldiers got to Jesus, they found Him already dead. Were these soldiers running in fear due to a massive earth shattering quake? No. Nor was anything said about the rocks splitting. In fact, one of the soldiers had time to thrust his spear into Jesus’ side to make sure He was actually dead. Later on, we even find that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemas came and took Jesus’ body off the cross after receiving Pilate’s permission.
Earthquake at the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
The only explanation that seems logical and reasonable is that the earthquake mentioned by Matthew in his narrative in chapter 27 happened at the resurrection of Jesus Christ followed by the resurrection of the many saints whose graves had opened at the quake. Verse 54 appears to be a summary of the reaction of the centurion and the guards of the entire death and resurrection sequence as told within Matthew 27:51-53. One must assume unless the many saint’s tombs came open without the shaking of the earth, there had to be an earthquake at the moment of Jesus’ resurrection, not at his death. Otherwise, their tombs (or graves) would have been open while their dead bodies remained in place during the entire three days and three nights Jesus was also dead in the tomb. Matthew recorded that the saints did not come out of their graves until Jesus had been raised from the dead. If they had been raised any earlier, they would have been raised to immortality before Him, and He would not have been the first-fruits of the resurrection of the dead as Paul made clear in 1 Corinthians.
20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order, Christ the firstfruits afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 1 Corinthians 15:20-23
So, once again, the only logical understanding is that the resurrection of these saints happened after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and so, the shaking of the earth which also caused their tombs to open must have taken place at the moment of Christ’s resurrection. This understanding of the actual timing of the earthquake does not put into question any of the other important details recorded in the Gospels, for example the tearing of the veil in the temple and the Holy of Holies being totally exposed. The three hours of darkness also had nothing to do with the great earthquake in Jerusalem. That darkness was likely caused by the passage of a large planetary body eclipsing the sun between the sixth and ninth hours.
Earthquake at the Resurrection of the Two Witnesses
Another example of a great earthquake at the time of a resurrection from the dead is found in Revelation 11. The two witnesses who will have just completed their prearranged 42-month testimony from the temple in Jerusalem during the first half of the Apocalypse, will be killed by the Beast out of the abyss. Their bodies will be left on the street for the next 3-½ days while the whole world celebrates the fact that they are finally dead. Then, they are raised from the dead.
11 Now after the three and a half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. 12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here”. And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them. 13 In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven. Revelation 11:11-13
The Apostle Paul made mention of the immense energy needed for resurrection in Ephesians 1:
19 …and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places. Ephesians 1:19-20
A very literal example of this power may be found in Jesus’ burial linen that was provided by Joseph of Arimathea. This burial cloth, now referred to as “The Shroud of Turin” has been preserved through the centuries and although there are naysayers who deny that it could possibly be Jesus’ actual burial cloth, many experts have a much different opinion. It is not my purpose to debate the issue in this writing. The cloth, however, has stunning details imprinted on the cloth that appear as a photograph of a badly beaten and crucified man. Whether or not the reader believes the shroud is the genuine burial cloth of Jesus or not, it should have no bearing on our Christian faith.
Note: A good source that I would recommend for a brief summary of the history and supernatural characteristics that lead to the conclusion that the Shroud of Turin is the actual burial shroud of Jesus, is found in chapter six of author David W. Lowe’s excellent 2004 book, “Earthquake Resurrection”: “Dr. Alan Whanger, professor emeritus of Duke University Medical Center and Director of the Council for the Study of the Shroud of Turin, stated that some scientists have suggested that “a controlled nuclear event” occurred at the moment of the resurrection in which the Lord’s body gave off a massive amount of radiation, then “dematerialized and passed through the Shroud, leaving a kind of negative photograph with an X-ray component.
Question: Is it possible that this resurrection power necessary to raise Jesus, the many saints, and the two witnesses caused the earthquakes that were associated with each of their resurrections? I suspect so! What about the “harpazo”, the “catching up of the saints at the Rapture?” Think about it, hundreds of millions, if not billions of believers and followers of Jesus Christ who will be resurrected from the dead — people who have died and been buried — or, left unburied on every continent, islands, within mountains, valleys, caves, in lakes, at the bottom of oceans, and every other conceivable location. Can you imagine the supernatural power within God’s voice of command that will bring this astounding event to pass?
Question: With all this supernatural activity happening in a moment of time, might it be possible that severe geologic activity will result, causing a magnetic disturbance and changes to the structure of the earth’s surface?
The opening of the Sixth Seal in Revelation 6:12-14 describes an enormous earthquake and movement of every mountain and island from its current position on the earth. This is exactly the seismic activity and magnetic or partial crustal pole shift that would be expected from a scientific perspective. It is for these reasons that the opening of the Sixth Seal is the perfect scenario for the moment of the resurrection of the dead in Christ at the sounding of the Last Trumpet of God’s voice, causing the shaking of the entire earth and heavens as described in Haggai 2:6, Hebrews 12:26, and Revelation 6:12-14. It will happen suddenly and the result will be a world-wide quake causing a catastrophic crustal displacement that will change the entire surface of the earth.
Jesus warned us of the sudden destruction coming at the end of the age, as did the Apostle Paul who told the Thessalonian believers that the Day of the Lord’s Wrath would be ushered in by “sudden destruction.” We are much nearer to the unfolding of this event than most people realize.
So the truly important question now is, are you ready to meet the One who created you? There is only one way to escape the judgment that is coming upon this fallen Christ-rejecting world. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father except through Me!” TODAY is the day of salvation!
–To Be Continued in Part Fourteen–