The Resurrection Promise / The Trumpet Voice of GOD
1 Corinthians 15:50-58
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 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. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. Verses 50-53
What does this passage tell us?
The Apostle Paul is telling us that flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom of God. Is he saying that no material substance can enter into God’s kingdom? No, because Jesus’ resurrected body was a material body. Flesh and blood, as it is used here, is referring to “our present physical bodies.” Jesus’ resurrected body was not a “pure spirit” body, but a material body described as flesh and bones instead of flesh and blood.
38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” Luke 24:38-39
To us, this may seem like it is insignificant, but the difference must be important to God for it to be included in His inspired Word.
The Apostle goes on to say that corruption cannot inherit incorruption. The word “corruption” isn’t referring to moral or ethical corruption, but physical, material corruption. Our physical bodies which are subject to sickness, disease, injury, and eventual decay—being under the curse of our fallen world—is not designed for heaven. Corruption cannot inherit incorruption.
Then Paul goes on to say: I tell you a mystery. A mystery, in the Biblical sense, is just something that needs to be understood in a spiritual rather than in a physical sense. The Apostle was telling the Corinthian Christians something new—something they could not have known by their own reasoning, nor by research. It was something needing to be revealed to them by God.
In his next phrase, Paul said: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. Paul uses the word “sleep” here, as Jesus often did, to subtly refer to death. This is the way Jesus described Lazarus after he had died but before He had raised him from death. Paul is telling us that not all Christians will die, but there will be a “final generation” who will be transformed into resurrection bodies at the return of Jesus before they ever face death.
Some think that Paul was predicting Jesus’ return in Paul’s lifetime. All Paul was saying is that Jesus could return at any time, no matter how many generations removed from his place in time. Paul was not making a prediction. He really had no idea when these events would take place, and he never made a claim to know. When he says “we”, he means “we believers.” but made it clear throughout his teachings that all followers of Jesus Christ should live their lives with the thought in mind that Jesus could come at any moment. This Christian doctrine of “imminence” is crucial to our walk with God.
Paul goes on to say: In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet…the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. In a split second, Jesus will gather His people, both dead and alive on the earth. This is what the Bible calls the first resurrection.
The Apostle Paul refers to the same event when he wrote to the Thessalonian Church. This extraordinary, instant gathering of God’s people unto Jesus in the clouds has been called the Rapture, after the Latin word meaning caught up.
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who are asleep.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.18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
There are at least four important points that show consistency between our passage in
1 Corinthians:15 and this verse in 1 Thessalonians. They are:
- Both passages reveal that the dead in Christ, believers who have died throughout history, will be resurrected.
- Both passages reveal that there will be a trumpet sound that immediately precedes this resurrection of the dead.
- Both passages reveal that there will be a separate group of believers who have not died, but are alive and remaining at this future resurrection event.
- Both passages reveal a supernatural act performed upon those alive and remaining believers at the time of, or just after, the resurrection of the dead.
There is no doubt that the Apostle Paul was referring to the same event in both passages. Additionally, the “last trumpet” sounding prior to the resurrection of the dead referred to in 1 Corinthians 15:52 is the same as the “trumpet of God” sounding prior to the resurrection of the dead referred to in 1Thessalonians 4:16.
A day is coming (very soon, by the way) when God, in His eternal plan, will give those who have died having chosen Him, a resurrection body; then, in an instant, He will gather all of His people to meet Jesus in the air. All the redeemed on this fallen planet will at that time rise up to meet the Lord in the clouds, and will also receive their resurrection body.
You might ask, where are all the dead in Christ today? Are they lying in the grave, in some kind of soul sleep, or suspended animation? No! The Bible makes it clear that to be absent from the body means to be present with the Lord.
We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8
The dead in Christ are with the Lord in a spiritual body awaiting their final resurrection body. They are only “dead” in the flesh. They are very much alive in temporary spiritual bodies in heaven awaiting the time when they, as well as we, will receive their eternal glorified bodies.
Verse 52 also mentions “the last trumpet.” What is “the last trumpet?” Some believe that the last trumpet is referring to the 7th trumpet of Judgment poured out by God during the Great Tribulation. This bears some scriptural examination.
When the Apostle used the term, “trumpet of God”, do we get the idea that Almighty God lifts a literal ram’s horn or golden trumpet to His mouth? Given the fact that He is the Creator of the universe, that seems unlikely. Fortunately, there are a number of Scriptures that shed some light on the subject. One of these is found in Exodus 19. Here we find the living God making His presence known in our 3-dimensional world by descending on Mount Sinai in Arabia under the cover of a dense cloud, with thunder, lightning, fire, earthquakes, and a long and loud trumpet blast. The Lord made sure Moses had specific instructions for His arrival three days ahead of time, including setting up boundaries to keep the people away from the mountain, how the people should prepare themselves for the event, and when Moses would come to speak with Him, and when He would reveal Himself to the people.
When the people saw God come down on the third day, they saw the fire, the cloud and smoke, and they heard the exceedingly loud sound of the trumpet—which in Hebrew was described as the “voice of the trumpet”. As a result, they trembled with great fear.
Let’s look at the passage in Exodus 19:
16 Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain, and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. 19 And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him by voice.
It is confirmed by a number of Scriptures that the LORD spoke to the people. It was not just the sound of a trumpet. Two Scriptures out of Deuteronomy make this clear, among others.
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 then thick darkness, with a loud voice. Deuteronomy 5:22a
We find this important event on Mount Sinai described in the New Testament as well. In Hebrews 12, Paul provided confirmation for the voice of the Lord being associated with the great sound of a trumpet. Paul, as he was contrasting the first covenant established through Moses with the new covenant established through Jesus Christ, described the scene like this:
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
Paul was explaining that the blast of the trumpet was connected to the voice that was uttering words, meaning God’s voice speaking was the trumpet blast heard on Mount Sinai. This is important confirmation for the Exodus 19 description of the trumpet blast yielding a voice uttering words, a voice which the people begged to stop because it was extremely loud, but more importantly for the sake of our study today, because it shook the surrounding landscape.
We should be able to recognize now that the Lord has a voice that was demonstrated with the force of a loud, reverberating trumpet sound. The Apostle John, while imprisoned on the isle of Patmos twice heard the voice of the Lord speaking to him with the sound of a trumpet.
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last… Revelation 1:10-11a
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
God’s voice can, of course, be heard other than as a trumpet sound. His voice is also described as sounding like many waters, but then Elijah the prophet heard God speaking in a still small voice in a cave of the same mountain, Mount Sinai. As we will see, however, God is reserving his trumpet voice for the shaking of the earth and the heavens described in 1Corinthians 15:52!
King David made comments about God’s presence on Mount Sinai also, describing it 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
Hebrews 12 reads: 26a Then his voice shook the earth… What was the Apostle referring to when he said “then”? He was directing the reader’s attention back to the event on Mount Sinai which he described in earlier verses. 21 And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”
Paul confirms the supernatural event, the audible sound of the trumpet voice of God, was what shook the earth at Mount Sinai. Yet, that trumpet voice that caused such a shaking of the mountain territory around it uttered words to Moses that he understood.
This brings us to “The Last Trumpet” and the “Once More” of Hebrews 12:26b. It is clear now that:
- The “last trumpet” is equal to the “trumpet of God”
- This trumpet of God will be sounded just before the resurrection of the dead in Christ
- The trumpet of God is His voice uttering words, and when sounded, it shakes the earth.
After describing the effect of the trumpet voice of God and how it shook the earth at Mount Sinai, Paul made a sobering statement about the next time—the last time—that it will shake not only the earth, but also the heavens!
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 will shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Hebrews 12:25-26
We now know that God shook the earth at Mount Sinai; once again, God’s trumpet voice will shake the earth, as well as the heavens; and, this will be the last time God’s trumpet voice shakes the earth and heavens. When Paul said, One last time: the trumpet voice of God, he was quoting Old Testament Haggai who connects his prophecy to the exodus from Egypt and a promise the Lord made to them at Mount Sinai:
5 ‘Do not fear, because I made a promise to your ancestors when they left Egypt, and my Spirit even now testifies to you.’ 6 Moreover, the LORD who rules over all says: ‘In just a little while I will once again shake the sky and the earth, the sea and the dry ground. Haggai 2:5-6
What is meant when the statement is made, “Once more?” We know first of all that it happened before, at least once. We also know that it will happen exactly one more time. The “last trumpet” fits this exactly. It however eliminates the possibility that it is the 7th judgment trumpet in Revelation 11 because the 7th trumpet is not blown by God, but rather by an angel. In addition to this, the seven trumpet judgments were part of the revelation given to the Apostle John on the penal island of Patmos, many years after the Apostle Paul wrote about the Trumpet of God to the Corinthian Church.
Why is this long explanation of the “Last Trumpet of God” so important? It is because when Paul wrote these words in his letter to the Church of Corinth, they well knew about the event on Mount Sinai during the Exodus. Most people today, even avid church attendees, aren’t aware of the significance of that event. Fortunately for us, all the pieces can be put together reading and studying the Word of God that has been given to us. Understanding the meaning of “The Last Trumpet” and the fact that it is equivalent to the “Trumpet (voice) of God” helps us understand the chronology of events that the Apostle Paul was describing in 1 Thessalonians concerning the timing of the first resurrection. We live in the generation that will experience this glorious event; in fact, we are at the very end of the Age of Grace. This event must happen both before the appearance of resurrected and caught-up believers in heaven, and before the Day of God’s Wrath. This event is described in Revelation 6:12-14.
12 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, 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 like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place.
There is much reason, both Biblically as well as scientifically, that this event is very near. Does the Great Tribulation begin with the opening of the first seal in Revelation 6:1, or does it begin with the sixth seal in Revelation 6:12-17? It is controversial among Bible scholars, but is worth a close examination. That is, however, the subject of a separate writing. No matter our opinion on the subject, we should be prepared for the fact that the culmination of the Age of Grace is probably much closer than most of us think!
As we finish the last portion of 1 Corinthians 15, we find that the resurrection is the final defeat of death.
54 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. 55 O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
What does it mean that death is swallowed up in victory? A resurrected body is not just a corpse that has been raised from the dead. It has been called a brand new order of life, one in which we will never die again. Death is GONE! Many have tried to find ways of defeating death, including the great magician, Houdini, but none have found a way. In our generation, there is a social and philosophical movement devoted to promoting the research and development of powerful human enhancement technologies, but inevitably they will not be successful. Only our Creator God has ultimate power over life and death. Death’s defeat will only come through Him.
O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? Because Paul knows that death’s defeat is the completion of Jesus’ work, he can poke fun and ridicule death. Death has no power over the person found in Jesus Christ!
The 19th century British evangelist, Charles Spurgeon, had these things to say about death:
“I will not fear thee, death, why should I? Thou lookest like a dragon, but thy sting is gone. Thy teeth are broken, oh old lion, wherefore should I fear thee? I know thou are no more able to destroy me, but thou are sent as a messenger to conduct me to the golden gate wherein I shall enter and see my Savior’s unveiled face forever. Expiring saints have often said that their last beds have been the best they have ever slept upon.”
“For those who are not in Jesus Christ, death still has its sting. The sting of death lay in this, that we had sinned and were summoned to appear before the God whom we had offended. This is the sting of death to you, unconverted ones, not that you are dying, but that after death is the judgment, and that you must stand before the Judge of the quick and the dead to receive a sentence for the sins which you have committed in your body against him.”
The resurrection experienced by those who have accepted the free gift of salvation and forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ, proves that we are no longer under the law of death. The penalty of sin is death and we are set free from sin. Sin is what has brought death.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God Is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:17
This defeat of death is only possible for those who live through our Lord Jesus Christ. For others, there is resurrection and eternal life, but unto damnation. If you are an unbeliever, death is not your friend, it is your enemy.
The last verse of 1 Corinthians 15 contains an important exhortation:
58 Therefore, 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.
We know death is defeated and our destiny eternal through the resurrection we will experience; through the victory won over sin and death through Jesus our Lord. We have every reason to stand firm and unshakeable. It is especially important in this time period that God has chosen to put us all into. The return of Jesus, our Messiah, is imminent and right now counts forever!
Nothing we do in our life as Christ-followers, when led by the Spirit of God, is ever in vain—even if it feels like it. It does not matter if others see our efforts in serving our Lord; He sees all. It doesn’t matter if we get credit from anyone on this side of eternity. We live as Ambassadors of the Kingdom of God and it is His approval we live for, and He doesn’t miss a thing!
10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered in the saints, and so minister. 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end. Hebrews 6:10-11
35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise. 37 “For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” 39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. Hebrews 10:35-39
Forever in HIs Service,