Resurrection and Trumpets
The priest blew the trumpet on Rosh Hoshana to mark the new year on the first day of the seventh month. Recall that from Adam to Moses this was the start of the first month on the biblical calendar. Then God told Moses to change the first month to Abib, the month of Passover (Exodus 12:2, 3).
This meant that New Year’s Day, or Rosh Hoshana, was suddenly the first day of the seventh month.
The Origin of Trumpets
The feasts of the Lord were celebrated each year on specific days, because they memorialized certain events that occurred during the days of Moses. Passover was when Israel was redeemed from the house of bondage in Egypt. The wave-sheaf offering memorialized the day Israel crossed the Red Sea. Pentecost was the day Israel received the law at Mount Horeb.
A few months went by, and then more events occurred which were later memorialized by the second cluster of feasts. The twelve spies were sent to spy out the land of Canaan for 40 days (Num. 13:2, 25). They began their mission on the first day of the sixth month and returned on the tenth day of the seventh month.
While the 12 spies were gone, God instructed Moses to build two silver trumpets (Num. 10:2). Although no date is given in Scripture, this is obviously the origin of the feast of Trumpets. Perhaps Moses finished building these trumpets in time to blow them on Rosh Hoshana, the first day of the seventh month.
At any rate, Moses invented metal trumpets, according to Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian, who wrote,
“Moreover, Moses was the inventor of the form of their trumpet, which was made of silver. Its description is this: In length it was little less than a cubit. It was composed of a narrow tube, somewhat thicker than a flute, but with so much breadth as was sufficient for admission of the breath of a man’s mouth; it ended in the form of a bell, like common trumpets.” (Antiquities of the Jews, III, xii, 6)
In Numbers 10:2-4 God told Moses,
2 Make yourself two trumpets of silver, of hammered work you shall make them; and you shall use them for summoning the congregation and for having the camps set out. 3 And when both are blown, all the congregation shall gather themselves to you at the doorway of the tent of meeting. 4 Yet if only one is blown, the heads of the divisions of Israel, shall assemble before you.
One trumpet was used to summon the leaders and two to summon the whole congregation.
The fact that Moses was led to build two trumpets was prophetic of two resurrections, one to raise the leaders (i.e., those who would reign with Christ for a thousand years), and the second to raise the entire congregation (at the end of the thousand years).
Whenever Paul spoke of the resurrection of the dead, which summoned the people to stand before God, he spoke of a single trumpet. He never mentioned two trumpets, because he was referring to the summoning of leaders only. In 1 Thess. 4:16 he writes,
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.
Again, he writes in 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52,
51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment [atomos, an atomic change], in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
One trumpet summons the overcomers; two trumpets will summon the church as a whole. The fact that Moses was told to build two trumpets prophesies of things yet to come. John explains this best in Revelation 20, when he writes of two resurrections.
Paul says nothing about two trumpets, because his focus was upon the high calling of God (Phil. 3:14). This high calling was described a few verses earlier in Phil. 3:11, “in order that I may attain to the resurrection [ek-anastasia, “the out-resurrection”] from the dead.”
Dr. Bullinger’s notes on this verse tell us the meaning of the ek-anastasia:
“of the dead. All the texts read, “the one from (Gr. ek) the dead,” making the expression emphatic… The term resurrection of the dead (anastasis nekron) is of frequent occurrence… and includes the resurrection to life, of the just, and the resurrection to judgment, of the unjust… Resurrection from the dead (ek nekron) implies the resurrection of some, the former of these two classes, the others being left behind.
Bullinger recognized that there was more than one resurrection. He says further that Paul did not assume that he had yet secured this resurrection out from among the dead (Phil. 3:13), though he was certain that he had already attained at least the resurrection of life at the general resurrection. It was only later, when Paul was ready to die as a martyr in Rome that he was sure that he had attained the crown that was reserved for the overcomers. He writes in 2 Tim. 4:6-8,
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
It is clear, then, that Paul understood the concept of more than one resurrection and that he understood that to attain the first resurrection he had to finish the course and keep the faith. He could not follow the examples of the congregation of Israel, which refused to finish their course when they first arrived at the border of Canaan. At that time, all of them were justified by faith in the blood of the lamb (through Passover), but only two finished the course—Caleb and Joshua.
Paul’s message was to stir up the believers into finishing the course and keeping the faith, and this motivated the apostle to write his letters.
We may conclude, then, that the first resurrection will occur when a single trumpet is blown, and that the general resurrection will occur when two trumpets are blown to summon the entire congregation (church). The first summons (resurrection) will bring immortality to those called to “reign with Him for a thousand years.” The second will bring immortality (i.e., “a resurrection of life,” John 5:29) to the non-overcomers in the church as a whole.
The Overcomer Ministry
The overcomers will be God-appointed rulers in the Messianic Age. As immortals, they will be able to do their work without dying, whereas the rest of the believers will grow old and die. Even so, life spans will be increased, because the earth will be cleansed of its chemical pollutants, and because man-made medicine will be replaced by nutritious food and a clean environment. Where necessary, divine healing will also be readily available.
These will be the days when the “stone” (kingdom) in Dan. 2:35 grows until it fills the whole earth. Even after a thousand years, however, there will still be enemies, known prophetically as Gog and Magog (Rev. 20:8), who live in outer darkness outside of the Kingdom of light. These people (nations) will be allowed to remain outside of Christ’s Kingdom during that age, but their freedom of choice ends with the second resurrection. When all are arrested and summoned to the throne, the law imposes its will upon all remaining enemies.
At this point, when the full church receives immortality, they will be given authority under the overcomers, for the overcomers will be like elder sons, having come to maturity first. Jesus Himself will be the highest Authority on earth, because He was first to be raised from the dead (Col. 1:17, 18).
I believe that this second resurrection is where believers will be given rewards according to how they conducted themselves during their life time. Luke 19:17-19 says that some will be given authority over ten cities or five cities. It is certain that one’s level of authority will be set according to a person’s faithfulness to Christ.
The good purpose for creation will be fulfilled. The earth will not be destroyed but will become one with heaven. Heaven and earth will never be merged into one entity, but it will be like a marriage, where there is unity in duality. The Greek view of a cosmic divorce will fade away as people begin to understand the great marriage between heaven and earth. In the end, Christ will deliver the perfected Kingdom to the Father (1 Cor. 15:24), and God will be all in all.