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Sound The Trumpet

Sound The Trumpet

by Jeff Thompson

Published in
The Christian Informer
April, 2000

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Last updated:
April 6, 2000.

In First Corinthians 14:8, we read, "For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?" This verse likens the responsibility of Christians to practice and correctly teach the word of God to that of a bugler in the army who sounds an alarm to alert the troops for battle. If the sound the bugler gives is not the correct one, if it is not clearly understood, if he does not know the correct notes to play, then the entire company may be caught off guard and may be overrun by the adversary.

This passage shows just how important it is for Christians to know the truth of God's will and just how important it is to convey that truth accurately to others. In Matthew 24, Jesus tells of the destruction of Jerusalem. He tells of the end of Jewish rule and authority (verse 29), his confirmation as Messiah (verse 30), and his new kingdom and how it will grow and spread over the entire earth (verse 31). Matthew 24:31 reads, "And he will send forth his angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other."

Jesus is foretelling of the "great commission" in action, The saving of the world by preaching the gospel to every creature, thus making disciples of all nationalities. This proclaims that Christ's kingdom will transcend a mere political, earthly kingdom, but rather, it will be a universal and spiritual one. The kingdom of Christ will be concerned with the souls of men and not the accumulation of territory or worldly power. This is also consistent with the prophesies of Daniel and Isaiah concerning the international constitution of the kingdom of Christ (Daniel 7:14; Isaiah 2:2,4).

Matthew 24:31 is not to be taken literally. There will be no supernatural beings armed with a literal trumpet going forth plucking saved individuals out of the sky. Also notice that the term "angels" in this passage is plural and the sound or trumpet they use is singular. If this passage is to be taken literally, how can all of Christ's angels use one trumpet, or how can they make only one sound? For a correct understanding of this passage, it should be considered figuratively.

It should be understood that the angels here represent messengers going forth spreading the gospel. These are not supernatural beings, but rather mere mortals. Christians are responsible for the teaching of the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:7). We are God's spokesmen (Ezekiel 3:17). In fact, not only are angels not going to do it for us, we are warned to beware of the teachings of so-called angels when they contradict the Scriptures (Galatians 1:8,9).

The "great trumpet" spoken of in Matthew 24:31 refers to the gospel of Christ. This is the only thing that will save the world. We find the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation...." This gospel trumpet is great because there is no sinner so vile and loathsome that it cannot save him if he will but obey its simple precepts. It is great because there is no problem of life nor temptation known to man that cannot be overcome by applying the teachings contained therein. It guarantees heaven to all who will be faithful to its doctrine.

Jesus refers to the gospel as the seed of the kingdom (Mark 4:14). That is, when it is planted and grows, the kingdom spreads. When Jesus told his disciples to go forth and make disciples of every nation, he told them to do it by preaching the gospel to everyone (Matthew 28:18-20). The singular form of the term "trumpet" refers to all these messengers speaking the same thing, sowing the same seed, and thus producing the same thing: Christians, members of Christ's kingdom (Hebrews 12:28, John 17:20-21, Philippians 3:16, Galatians 3:28).

The sober fact is that if the world is ever saved, it will be because Christians have practiced, taught, and preached the Word of God, and those who heard it, obeyed it. In light of this grave responsibility, we should ask the question-"Just how do we sound the trumpet?" Obviously it is sounded by preaching (1 Corinthians 1:21), but not everyone is a preacher. Even so, when we support those who do preach, we help sound the trumpet.

In a more personal way, we sound the trumpet when we teach the gospel personally to our friends, family, and acquaintances, God commanded that his people teach his commandments to their children (Deuteronomy 6:6,7). We also understand from the scriptures that Christ and his apostles did much teaching privately through personal work (John 4, Luke 7, Acts 8, 9, 10, 18, Galatians 2, and others).

We also sound the trumpet by our example. When we stand for the right, when we live by this ‘trumpet', we make it sound. In the first division of Paul's letter to Timothy we read admonition to "Be an example of the believers...." (1 Timothy 4:12). Notice that the apostle here did not say to, but of the believers. This indicates that our lives serve as a guide for others. The world should not only hear from us how to live the Christian life, but they should also see it.

The questions may arise, "Why bother; why sound the trumpet; what good will it do?" The answer is, for many reasons. First, the obvious answer is to call Christians to battle as referred to in 1 Corinthians 14:8. The trumpet should be sounded to point out sin and correct error.

When Nehemiah undertook the task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, he made sure he had someone on hand to sound the trumpet in case of an attack. Since the workers were spread out, he made it known that in the case of an attack, the trumpet would be sounded at the place where the assault was taking place. When the people beard this, they were to rally to that point and fight off the attack (Nehemiah 4:18-20). Too often today God's people and His pulpits are silent on the issues that are destroying congregations and causing souls to be lost. Many issues that need to be taught, and many principles that must be insisted upon are not mentioned for fear of offending the guilty. It seems today that political correctness has crept into the church to the point that sound doctrine is not appreciated as much as it used to be, and among some individuals, it is not appreciated at all! As a result, some people live in ignorance or sin concerning God's will or both. The ultimate consequence of this false sense of peace is souls being lost. Not only the souls of those practicing the error, but also of those who know better but fail to act to correct the situation.

Second, we need to sound the trumpet to get God's attention, to secure his help, and to get him to accept our worship. Numbers 10:9,10 teaches this concept. When there was an enemy to fight, the trumpet was to be sounded and the Lord promised to hear it and deliver his people from their enemies. Also they were to sound the trumpet over their burnt offerings, sacrifices, and peace offerings and the Lord would accept them.

This concept still remains true today. If we want the Lord's help in our times of need, we must sound the trumpet that is, live by his word! Peter wrote, "For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous and his ears are open to their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil" (1 Peter 3:12).

If we desire God's help in our lives, we must be his people in obedience. Humanism, and popular theology teach that we can live any way we want to and when we want the Lord's help just call on him and he will rush to our aid. This erroneous concept can be seen in the entertainment industry, politics, and even in the doctrines of so-called Christian groups. It cannot, however, be found anywhere in Gods Word! In fact, just the opposite is taught.

In John 9:31 we read, "Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshiper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth." The book of Exodus records that when the people came together to worship, and the trumpet sounded louder and louder, God answered (Exodus 19:10-19). If our worship is to be accepted by God, we must worship according to his word (John 4:24; John 17:17).

Another reason to sound is to send a message to the brethren. As we have noted, the trumpet was sounded to call to battle and to worship, but it should also be sounded to inform. In Judges 6, Gideon sounded the trumpet to call people together and to inform them. Our lives send a message to our brethren. When we sound the trumpet, it lets our brethren know what we stand for and how committed we are to doing what is right. Conversely, when we fail to stand fast on certain issues, the silence of our trumpet is also heard.

In 2 Samuel 2:28 we read that a trumpet was sounded to indicate peace between brethren. It is safe to say that any time there is a conflict among brethren or a division in the church, or family, (divorce etc.), there is ALWAYS SIN INVOLVED! It may be on the part of one or all parties involved but there is always sin. The Scriptures teach that, "God is not the author of confusion but of peace" (1 Corinthians 14:33, James 3:16). Therefore, when there is no peace, God is not there but sin is. If you want peace, sound the trumpet! If all parties in the family or church do what is right, what is there to fight about?

Finally, the trumpet should be sounded so that we may rejoice. In Leviticus 25 we read of the jubilee which occurred every fifty years. It was a time when things that had been lost over the past fifty years could be redeemed. There would be no work in the year of the jubilee for it was holy and a time for rejoicing. The people would be provided for. The people would not oppress each other and all would be joy and happiness. Verse nine of this chapter says that the trumpet was sounded to mark this great event and that the trumpet would be sounded throughout the whole land. This serves as a parallel of heaven and the rejoicing that awaits the righteous there. Paul writes in Romans 5: 1,2, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." From this passage we learn that we can only hope to rejoice in the glory of God when we remain faithful to his will. Just as the trumpet was sounded throughout the land and among all those who enjoyed the jubilee, the trumpet will sound throughout heaven and it will be prevalent in the lives of all who are there. No one who is resentful of the preaching of the gospel will be there, but only those who love it and openly embrace its teachings. Those who are angered at the sound of this trumpet will not be in heaven (Matthew 7:21-23).

In conclusion:

  • If we would be successful in our fight against sin and the devil;
  • If we ever lead the lost to Christ;
  • If we have God's help in times of trouble;
  • If we overcome temptation and the fiery darts of the wicked;
  • If our worship is accepted by God;
  • If we have peace, love, and unity in our families and among our brethren; and
  • If we ever rejoice in heaven when this life is over, then