Not only do teachers of the pre-tribulation rapture theory insist, without scriptural statements, that the first of two resurrections is in stages, but they also have to resort to claiming that there is more than one “last trumpet”. This is the subject of excerpt twenty-four of my book*
Paul, when telling the Corinthians that “we will all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51) speaking of the resurrection and the rapture, said that “the last trumpet” will sound (verse 52). Then, when writing to the Thessalonians on the same topic he mentioned “the trumpet call of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-19, esp. verse 16). Jesus, when speaking of his physical and visible return to the earth, said that he would send his angels “with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds” (Matthew 24:30-31).
Since there will be a “last trumpet” according to Paul, at which the rapture will take place, there must be previous trumpets, or a series of trumpets. We know from Revelation that there are trumpets sounded as a part of the final judgments on the earth. However, pre-tribulationists claim that the loud trumpet call which Jesus said will be sounded upon his glorious return at the end of the tribulation is a different trumpet call, or part of a different set of trumpet blasts entirely to the trumpet call Paul spoke of. They say that there is more than one series of trumpet calls, and so Jesus’ trumpet call announcing the gathering of his elect at the end of the tribulation has nothing to do with the trumpet sounded at the rapture. This has to be their claim to avoid the otherwise clear fact that Christ will return for his bride and his elect at or near the end of the tribulation.
Do they know that to be so, or is it necessary for them to invoke different trumpets or series of trumpets in order to preserve their theory? If there are other trumpets or series of trumpet blasts, and since “the”, or “a” “last trumpet” heralds the resurrection and the rapture of the living, we could rightfully ask when these other trumpet blasts or series of trumpets were or will be heard, what did or will they announce, and…which last trumpet is the last last trumpet?
Trumpets are heard from time to time throughout the Bible. However, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to find any other series of trumpets related to end times events, other than the one found in Revelation, which announces a final series of judgments. There are only two other trumpet sounds mentioned in Revelation. One is the voice of Jesus in the first chapter when he spoke to John, which sounds like a trumpet, and the second is speaking of the fact that musicians will no longer be heard in Babylon when it is destroyed (18:22). These are clearly not related to the rapture.
Zechariah tells us that “…the Lord God will sound the trumpet”, in a prophecy sounding very much like an end-times deliverance of his people Israel (Zechariah 9:14). This does nothing to alleviate the pre-tribulationist’s problem, but only adds to it, because it fits with the principle of Christ appearing in power and glory to deliver Jerusalem, to bring judgment, and to gather his people. And the fact that God was only speaking of the deliverance of Israel in Zechariah’s prophecy does not mean that the return of Christ is only to deliver Jews. This could simply be a part, a detail of the bigger picture.
Exactly what happens at the seventh trumpet judgment of Revelation anyway-is it at all relevant to this question? An angel gives us the answer in chapter 10:
“…in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished…” (10:7).
Didn’t Paul also call the resurrection and the rapture a “mystery”? (1 Corinthians 15:51). Hmm, that’s quite a coincidence isn’t it? Perhaps that’s a different mystery…
Here in chapter 10 of Revelation we’re told what will happen when the seventh-and last-trumpet is about to be blown, but in the next chapter it is actually blown, and this is the result of it:
“The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
The seventh trumpet announces that God and his Christ have taken over the world and have begun to reign. Another outcome of this seventh trumpet follows:
“The nations were angry and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name…” (11:18).
Believers, according to Paul, will appear at “the judgment seat of Christ”, and will be rewarded or shamed for what we have done while alive in the world (2 Corinthians 5:10). I wrote about this in my chapter on the resurrection.
The seventh and last trumpet of Revelation has delivered “the kingdom of the world” into the hands of God and of his Christ (11:15), and at the same time set up the judging of the dead and the rewarding of God’s people (11:18). Can it really be coincidence that Paul wrote how, upon Christ’s return in “blazing fire” and not before, that the persecutors of God’s people (and here he was referring to Church age saints) will be judged, and the persecuted rewarded (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10)? There is just too much agreement with these two accounts for them to be unrelated.
The seventh trumpet of Revelation is the last. To the unbiased this is at least reminiscent of the “last trumpet” and the “trumpet call of God” spoken of by Paul as a herald of the resurrection and the rapture (1 Corinthians 15:52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). It’s also undeniably similar to the return Jesus spoke of, when, in the space of two verses, he described both his return to the earth in power and glory, and the “loud trumpet call” upon which the angels will gather his elect (Matthew 24:30-31). At this point, the kingdom of earth will have become the kingdom of God and of his Christ.
IMMINENCE THEORY AND LAST TRUMPETS DON’T FIT TOGETHER
Warning and announcement is the purpose of trumpet blasts in Biblical and secular history. But if, as pre-tribulation believers say, the rapture and the coming of Jesus Christ is ‘imminent’, so that there is nothing to occur before it in terms of last days events, what were the previous trumpets for, and when did they sound, according to scripture? If the rapture is imminent, what could any previous trumpets possibly mean to us: surely we cannot know them or recognize them-we aren’t supposed to. And if we could, why is there nothing in scripture about them? Where are the previous trumpets described in Bible prophecy? Jesus said nothing about them in his Olivet Discourse. Paul said nothing about any trumpets previous to the “last trumpet” heard in the resurrection and rapture. In truth, they’re absent from scripture, and the only series of trumpets we’re told about is the seven trumpets in Revelation which lead up to the transfer of earth’s kingdom to our God. Some pre-tribulation teachers have attempted to attach trumpets to past events in history, such as the First World War, but this is simply guesswork and not supported by scripture. No-one can confirm such things, so how are such “trumpet” blasts of any use at all?
So then, the last trumpet spoken of by Paul when referring to the resurrection and rapture of believers could easily match the seventh trumpet- the last trumpet- described in Revelation chapters 10 and 11, which will occur at the end of the tribulation, not before it.
*ALL LEFT BEHIND: THE CASE AGAINST THE PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE”, by Nicholas Fisher, available on Amazon.