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)
…..by 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.