In ancient Israel, each city had a person positioned upon the
wall in order to call out a warning about the approach of unexpected and
possibly hostile people. This watchman had to "sound the trumpet" if an enemy
was approaching, so that the townspeople could get ready for an attack. Prophets
in Israel took on the function of spiritual "watchmen" (Eze 3:17; Jer 6:17),
warning the people of impending punishment by God unless the nation changed its
But trumpets figure prominently in a variety of ways in
Scripture -- all of which have some bearing on our use of the symbol in this
1. Trumpets summoned Israel to assemble before God:
"The LORD said to Moses: 'Make two trumpets... for calling the community
together... When both are sounded, the whole community is to assemble before
you' " (Num 10:1-3, NIV).
What was true for Israel in Old Testament times will be true
for spiritual "Israel" in the day when Christ returns. Then God's people in
captivity who have been waiting for His deliverance will hear the trumpet of
assembly once again:
"And in that day a great trumpet will sound. Those who were perishing in Assyria
and those who were exiled in Egypt will come and worship the LORD on the holy
mountain in Jerusalem" (Isa 27:13).
And all those who belong to Christ, even those who are in the
graves, will also hear the trumpet calling them to assemble before
"At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the
nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the
clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with
a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from
one end of the heavens to the other" (Mat
2. The feast of trumpets called Israel together on the first
day of the seventh month, to prepare them for the Day of Atonement: the national
offering for sin, the national day of repentance, and the time for a collective
forgiveness of sins:
"Say to the Israelites: 'On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a
day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts' " (Lev
Does this have a spiritual counterpart? Yes. For the believer
in Christ, any time (but especially the time of the partaking of the memorials
of the body of Christ) is the time for self-examination and repentance (1Co
11:26-31). Think of the "trumpet" as a personal call to come into the presence
of God, to look at yourself, to acknowledge your sins, and to seek the
forgiveness and cleansing and renewal which only God can provide.
"On the first day of the seventh month hold a sacred assembly and do no regular
work. It is a day for you to sound the trumpets" (Num 29:1).
"Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month;
on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land" (Lev 25:9).
"Sound the ram's horn at the New Moon, and when the moon is full, on the day of
our Feast" (Psa 81:3).
3. The trumpet of "jubilee" proclaimed freedom to slaves and
the restoration of their inheritance:
"On the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. Consecrate the
fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.
It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family
property and each to his own clan. For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for
you... In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to his own property" (Lev
The trumpet of God's message proclaims, to those who will hear
and act in faith, that they can be "freed" from their past sins, and that they
can become heirs of the Promised Land. When the final "jubilee" trumpet sounds,
then all those who have believed, living and dead, will be freed from their
shackles of mortality or death and will enter into the glorious inheritance
provided by the Father to His beloved children.
"Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly" (Joel
2:15; cp Isa 58:1).
4. Trumpets warned of approaching armies:
"When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of
their men and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming against the
land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet
but does not take warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will
be on his own head. Since he heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take
warning, his blood will be on his own head. If he had taken warning, he would
have saved himself" (Eze 33:2-4).
We should not be so much interested in accurately predicting
future events as in warning ourselves and others to be ready when Christ comes.
And so we look at the world around us in light of Bible prophecy. All that we
see -- and all that we might understand, even after the fact -- strengthens us
in the resolve to DO the things we should. Christ is coming in the clouds of
heaven and with his holy angels (Mat 24:30,31); they are coming as an army, to
take terrible vengeance on God's enemies (Rev 19:11-16). If we hear the warning
"trumpet", and thus are waiting, and watching, and DOING, then they will not
come as an army to destroy us!
"Moses sent them into battle, a thousand from each tribe, along with Phinehas
son of Eleazar, the priest, who took with him articles from the sanctuary and
the trumpets for signaling" (Num 31:6).
5. Trumpets signaled the approach or coronation of a
"There have Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel.
Blow the trumpet and shout, 'Long live [the king]!' " (1Ki 1:34).
Likewise, our "trumpet" hopes to signal the approach of the
great King, the Lord Jesus Christ, when he comes back to the earth to sit upon
"Jehoiada brought out the king's son and put the crown on him; he presented him
with a copy of the covenant and proclaimed him king. They anointed him, and the
people clapped their hands and shouted, 'Long live the king!'... and all the
people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets" (2Ki
"The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven,
which said: 'The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of
his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever' " (Rev 11:15).
6. The trumpet was sounded to assemble an army:
"When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing
you, sound a blast on the trumpets" (Num 10:9; cp Num 21:6).
7. And, finally, trumpets are directly connected with the
resurrection of the dead:
"God is with us; he is our leader. His priests with their trumpets will sound
the battle cry... Then they cried out to the LORD. The priests blew their
trumpets and the men of Judah raised the battle cry" (2Ch
"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the
voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ
will rise first" (1Th 4:16).
The sound of the trumpet conveys, above all else, a sense of
urgency, of excitement, of immediacy, of the "here and now". A trumpet blast
never lulls its hearer to sleep; it shocks him out of his slumber to sit bolt
upright -- eyes wide open, thoughts racing, and pulse pounding.
"Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed
-- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet
will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed" (1Co
Listen! Get ready! The King is coming!
He's coming for you!