The Last Trumpet


“And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matthew 24:31)

Mike Sullivan (full preterist) asked me to write about 1 Thessalonians 4, the rapture, or “catching away.”

I agree with him that this speaks of a first century event. Partial (or “orthodox”) preterists have to dodge and weave to put this passage into our future. But the Revelation speaks of two resurrections. PPs try to spiritualize the first to say there was no physical resurrection at the destruction of the Temple, and FPs have to dodge and weave and spiritualize the second resurrection to maintain their view that there is no future judgment. Guys, there is a middle course, and one that maintains TWO physical, corporate resurrections.

From what I can tell, the “we” refers to the apostles. The Thessalonians’ question concerned the dead, which would include redeemed Gentiles. But it is quite evident that living Gentiles were not “raptured.” Well, for a start, this passage is inherently Jewish. I think I can anchor this passage in the first century quite firmly by analyzing the literary structure. Paul builds a new Tabernacle with his words.

Any questions are welcome as comments.

(Light – Sabbath – Ark – Creation)
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren,
The initiating Word is spoken to bring change and transformation

(Waters – Passover – Veil – Division)
concerning those who have fallen asleep,
lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.

Mourning and prostration are common at this step.

(Land & Sea, Grain & Fruit – Firstfruits – Altar & Table – Ascension)
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again,
even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

Jesus was the new Land, rising out of the waters. The Old Covenant desire to be buried in the Land prefigured the reality of being buried “in Him.” The saints here were not “brought” from heaven to earth, but brought with Him out of the old Land of Israel as Firstfruits. The literary structure makes this plain. Word studies on “bring” wouldn’t tell us that, would they? Structure must also be taken into account as a channel of the author’s communication. Modern interpreters see all of the Wizard of Oz in monochrome.

(Governing Lights – Pentecost – Lampstand – Testing)
For this we say to you (New Covenant Transcendence)
… the word of the Lord, (New Covenant Hierarchy)
…..…..that we who are alive [and] remain (New Covenant Ethics)
…..until the coming of the Lord (New Covenant Sanctions)
will by no means precede those who are asleep. (New Covenant Succession)
The central point is the opening of the Law, the Old Covenant mystery. The mystery was Jew and Gentile in one body by the power of the Spirit. The destruction of the Jew-Gentile divide was not complete until the Temple was destroyed. Until that happened, after the massacre of a New Covenant contingent of martyrs (possibly within the besieged city) the Old Covenant promises could not be fulfilled. The earthly country had to die for there to be a heavenly country. These five points are Initiation, Delegation, Purification (by fire), Vindication and Restoration.

(Swarms/Armies – Trumpets – Incense Altar – Maturity)
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.

This is the “Deuteronomic” step. It is the external Law repeated as internal Law. It is the fulfilment of the “Levitical” promise in stanza 3. As in Deuteronomy, and in Ezekiel 37, the subject matter is a resurrected priesthood inheriting the Land. This is the subject matter of the first resurrection: Jesus (Garden – AD30); Israel (Land- AD70); Gentiles (World – yet future). These three steps complete the Tabernacle, a river of life flowing from the Most Holy, through the Holy Place and out into the Gentile court.

(Mediators – Atonement – High Priest – Conquest)
Then we the living who remain (Transcendence)
together with them (Hierarchy)
…..shall be caught away in clouds (Ethics)
to meet the Lord in the air. (Sanctions)
And thus we shall always be with the Lord. (Succession)
On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest walked through the Veil, but it was obscured by clouds of Incense. This is the picture we are given in Daniel 7. The fragrant clouds are not a description of “the air” but of the saints, transformed by the Pentecostal fire. Their flesh was now justified before God. They were the memorial smoke rising from the incineration of Babylon, who was burned to dust, to ashes, as the daughter of an Adamic priest, a daughter who committed harlotry with the serpent/beast. In the Revelation, the final bowl is tipped out into the air. The air is the place between heaven and earth, the position of the mediators, those who are “lifted up” to take the curses. Jews wore robes with “wings,” prefiguring this ministry in the heavenly Tabernacle.

(Rest – Booths/Ingathering – Shekinah – Glorification)
Therefore comfort one another with these words.

The first resurrection put a government of human elders in heaven. It slew the bloody, earthly Bronze Altar and resurrected it as the heavenly Golden Altar. Inside the tent, blood is not shed. It is only presented as a memorial. God’s ministers now carry ploughshares instead of swords.

The second resurrection will be much like this one, but it won’t herald the end of the Land. It will bring the end of the World. The key to all of this is the Tabernacle architecture and its Covenant hierarchy.

Next post I will look at 2 Thessalonians 2, as it sheds some more light on this historical event.

See also That Which is Perfect, Three Resurrections, The End is Not Yet, 50 Failed Predictions? – #9, Ten Days of Awe, The End of Shadows, End of the Abrahamic Rift, The First Resurrection, In the Flesh, Jesus’ New Broom, Big Government and Communion of Saints.

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7 Responses to “The Last Trumpet”

  • sam Says:

    So, are you suggesting a J.S. Russell like “rapture” in AD 70?

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Hi Sam
    It’s decades since I read Russell, so not sure. Jordan shows that the OC saints and firstfruits (martyrs) of the New entered into heaven. I simply think it was a bit more fleshy than he does, based on the previous historical and sacrificial patterns.

  • kingneb Says:

    Mike, i think you are on to something here. I have shared this with Sam, and he is not in agreement with me yet, but it is very hard for me to get around the “first resurrection” of Re 20 as referring to a resurrection in ad70; instead of making the 40 years the “millennium”.

    “I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. THEY CAME TO LIFE AND REIGNED WITH CHRIST FOR A THOUSAND YEARS. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. THIS IS THE FIRST RESURRECTION. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such athe second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.”

    This seems to parallel those that were under the altar in chapter 6.

    “When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servant3 and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.”…..Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

    “Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads..These have been redeemed from mankind as FIRSTFRUITS for God and the Lamb, 5 and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.”

    I am understanding the “first resurrection” as a physical resurrection of the sealed martyrs. And this happened after the great tribulation, inaugurating the 1,000 years.

    That would then put us in the 1,ooo year period, awaiting the end in which the “rest of the dead” are then physically resurrected.

    Is that basically how you see it as well?

    Also, what do you think about the two witnesses who are physically resurrected and ascend in a cloud from Jerusalem? It is hard for me to just poo poo away all this emphasis on their death, dead bodies laying in the streets of Jerusalem, and then coming back to life and ascending in a cloud as just merely figurative language, as many commentators do.


  • Mike Bull Says:

    Hi Jason
    Good points.
    We have to go back to Genesis – briefly.
    The progression from Adam is Garden, Land, World. All three domains were corrupted. God calls Noah and the animals as a new “Land” and the story ends in a Garden with wine and judgment, a flaming sword and the tree of wisdom.
    The Revelation has the same progression. The Word begins in the Garden (seven “watcher” almond trees, the Lampstands), then moves out into the Land and World, like soundwaves. It slays Israel and resurrects her.
    The new church is then pictured three times, as New World, New Land and New Garden. The world picture is an army crossing the Euphrates as Abraham did. The Land picture is the angel standing on Land and Sea, and John speaking the Words that will end the dividing wall, bringing down the Temple. Then we have the Garden picture, the apostolic witness as two cherubim in the Most Holy.
    Historically, it seems there was a conversion of Jews within the beseiged Jerusalem, who were converted and slain. Whether their resurrection here is literal or symbolic, who knows. But the significance is structural, liturgical. They complete the sacrificial pattern. The Head of the “nearbringing” ascended in Christ, and now it was time for the Body.
    So, as usual, all the answers are in the TORAH.

    Glad I can talk about this with someone! I really recommend Jordan’s book “Vindication of Jesus Christ,” and beyond that his lectures on Revelation. Email me your address and I’ll send a sealed copy of the lectures. Gregg Strawbridge kindly sent me some copies cause I did the cover art.

  • kingneb Says:

    Mike, i have been meaning to get that book from Jordan, but forgot about it. Thanks for the reminder…i just ordered it from Amazon. I actually had a copy of those lectures and lost them somehow when i moved to TN. If you don’t mind sending me those, that would be awesome!


  • Jason Lollar Says:


    Mike, any chance I could get a copy of the lectures…if any are still available? I agree with the AD70 resurrection…just tend to lean towards a “spiritual” one (although not in the usual neo-Platonic version of non-material souls hovering in space)… Instead, as a described, yet undefined ruling from heaven, awaiting a universal second, bodily resurrection at the final glorification of the universe.


    Also have heard of these lectures on audio. Where’s the best place to acquire?

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Thanks Jason. If you’re in the States, you can get them here: