There are two types of wind instruments or air horns mentioned in the Bible that the Hebrews used for religious ceremonies and as a signal for the congregation to assemble, or as a call to battle. One is the trumpet and is first described in Numbers 10:2-4. “Make two silver trumpets for yourself; you shall make them of hammered work, you shall use them for calling the congregation and for directing the movement of the camps. And when both are blown, all the congregation shall gather themselves to you at the entrance of the tabernacle of meeting.” The Hebrew word for trumpets is ‘chatzotzerah.’
The silver trumpets could only be blown by priests (vs.8) and were used to call the people to gather at the door of the tabernacle of meeting (vs. 3) or for setting the camps in motion to move out (vv. 5-6). They were also to be used in war against their enemies as an alarm or warning system, and to alert God for His help. “And you will be remembered before the Lord your God, and you will be saved from your enemies” (Numbers 10:9). Also, they were to be blown in their appointed feasts (Feasts of the Lord) and at the beginning of their months (new moons) when they offered their burnt offerings and peace offerings (vs. 10).
Here are a few examples of silver trumpets (chatzotzerah) being blown in the Old Testament: “Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests regularly blew the trumpets before the ark of the covenant of God” (1 Chronicles 16:6). “And when Judah looked around, to their surprise the battle line was at both front and rear; and they cried out to the Lord, and the priests sounded the trumpets.”
The second trumpet or bugle is known as the ram’s horn and is actually made from the horn of a ram. The Hebrew word for this horn is ‘shophar’ or ‘shofar.’ This horn makes a loud blasting sound that is guaranteed to get one’s attention. The first undoubted use of the shofar in Jewish ritual is found in Leviticus 25:9 and was used to declare the year of Jubilee (50th year of redemption).
“Then you shall sound the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet throughout all your land” (New King James translation). As you can see, in the NKJ translation (and many others), the word is translated ‘trumpets,’ but in other translations, the word is translated as ‘ram’s horn’ or ‘shofar.’ For instance, here is that same verse in the Complete Jewish Bible translation (and others): “Then, on the tenth day of the seventh month, on Yom-Kippur, you are to sound a blast on the shofar; you are to sound the shofar all through your land.”
So, did the sound come from a trumpet or a ram’s horn/shofar? Which translation is correct? To be precise, you must look at the Hebrew word since that is the language that Leviticus and the Old Testament were written in.
The actual Hebrew word that is used for this horn is ‘shophar’ and is described as a cornet or curved horn. In this instance, the CJB is the best translation, and the horn that is used on Yom-Kippur is a ram’s horn or shofar and not an actual silver trumpet. Also, in Hebrew (as well as Greek), nouns and adjectives are classified as feminine and masculine (sad news for the woke crowd, Lol). Without going into all the details, in the Old Testament, a trumpet is classified as feminine, and a shofar is classified as masculine. In the Greek New Testament, every horn (air blown) that is mentioned is called a trumpet, and the word is feminine. The only translation (out of 53 different ones) that calls it a masculine shofar is the Complete Jewish Bible.
In the Old Testament, both the shofar and trumpet were used for various functions or events, sometimes by themselves, and other times together. Here is an example where they were both used: “Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn (shofar), with trumpets and with cymbals, making music with stringed instruments and harps” (1 Chronicles 15:28). Shofars were also used in battle as a call to arms and in religious ceremonies. One of the main differences between the shofar and the trumpet is that while everyone could blow the shofar, only the priests were allowed to blow the silver trumpets.
The most famous example of man-made trumpets/shofars used in war was at Jericho when the Israelites first entered the land of Canaan. I wrote in detail on this matter and the Biblical significance of the number 7 in my article, Seven: God’s Perfect Number and its Biblical Significance :: By Randy Nettles – Rapture Ready, so I will just add a few more thoughts.
The Lord instructed Joshua and the men of war to march around the city once for six days. “And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day you shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. These trumpets are actually shofars (ram’s horns). The 7th and last time around the city, it happened exactly as the Lord told Joshua, “And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him” (Joshua 6:2-5).
The wording of Joshua 6: 5 has always intrigued me. It reminds me of the rapture verse of 1 Thessalonians, although it is not a rapture event. “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” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). However, they are both great victories for the Lord and His people.
This great victory at Jericho occurred at the last trump (by the priests’ 7th and last time around the city), and there was a great shout (by the people and not by Jesus and the archangel – although I think the Lord might have shouted at Jericho also) which brought the walls down (the walls of gravity will come down at the Rapture). The warriors of Israel go up into the city of Jericho (like the army of the Church will go up into the city of New Jerusalem) every man straight before him.
The first mention of a trumpet (according to many translations) in the Bible is in Exodus 19, which describes the children of Israel’s encounter with God at Mount Sinai. This miraculous event occurred in the third month after the Israelites had gone out of the land of Egypt. “On the same day, they came to the Wilderness of Sinai” (Exodus 19:1).
They left Egypt on the 14th day of the first month of Nisan, so they must have come to Mount Sinai on the 14th day of Sivan. The Lord told Moses to get the people ready, for in 3 days the Lord would come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people (vs. 11). The Lord said, “When the trumpet (chatzotzerah/shofar) sounds long, they shall come near the mountain” (Exodus 19:13). This was no man-made trumpet but was the supernatural trumpet of God. In this chapter and verse, the “trumpet” is actually a shofar.
On the third day (Sivan 17), Moses obeyed the words of the Lord and brought the people out of the camp to meet with God at the foot of Mt. Sinai. “There were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain, and the sound of the shofar was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled” (Exodus 19:16). Mt. Sinai was completely in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly (vs. 18). Exodus 19:19 describes the shofar of God sounding long, and it became louder and louder, and God spoke to Moses and gave him further instructions.
Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and then he built an altar and offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded with, “All that the Lord has said, we will do, and be obedient” (Exodus 20:7). Of course, we know this didn’t last long. Moses took the blood from the sacrifices and sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you according to all these words” (Exodus 20:8).
On Mt. Sinai, God sounded His heavenly shofar to summon the people so they could witness His power and glory. The children of Israel would then truly realize who they were making a covenant with, and they would realize the consequences of disobeying the Law and His statutes.
To be sure, this exposure to God, with the shofar sounding and the smoke, fire, thunders, lightnings, and shakings was a terribly frightening experience for the children of Israel. Although the shofar was a call for the people to assemble, it was also a warning not to come up the mountain or even touch its base. They could only come near the mountain and not up the mountain lest they be killed. Only Moses was allowed to go all the way up the mountain to meet with God “face to face” (actually face to backside). This experience at Mt. Sinai was the first time humans have heard the trumpet call of God, but it will not be the last.
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul lists three last things – the last enemy to be defeated (death), the last Adam (Jesus), and the last trump (trumpet). The first trumpet of God, as recorded in Exodus 19, was for the purpose of assembling God’s people to establish His Law, which Paul called a ministry of death (2 Corinthians 3:7-9). The last trumpet of God, as described by 1 Corinthians 15:52, is for the purpose of calling Jesus’ people to Himself by way of resurrection and translation. This calling by the last trumpet of God is a ministry of life. “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
This contrast is made in Hebrews 12:18-24: “For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet (shofar) and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. (For they could not endure what was commanded: ‘And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.’ And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.’)
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men (Old Testament saints) made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.”
People throughout the ages have wondered why this trumpet of God at the Rapture is called the last trumpet. Many post-tribulation adherents justify their views because they think this last trumpet of 1st Corinthians 15:52 is the same trumpet blown by an angel in Revelation 11:15 at the 7th trumpet judgment during the Tribulation period. This is wrong on many levels. In Revelation, the trumpet is blown by an angel and not God/Jesus. The Rapture will precede the Tribulation by at least 7 years.
Will there be other trumpets of God that are sounded after the Rapture?
Yes, there will be more trumpets that are blown by God, such as in Isaiah 27:13, Zechariah 9:14, and Matthew 24:31.
So why is this particular one in 1 Corinthians called the last trump?
The last trump doesn’t necessarily mean it is the last trumpet to ever sound by God. It could be the last trump blast of a series of blasts, maybe two or more. Also, there could be two trumpets that are used, and the second one that is blown could be the last trumpet.
Remember in Numbers 10, God commanded Moses to make two silver trumpets, and when they were both blown, the congregation was to assemble at the entrance of the tabernacle (worship center). This could be a typology of the trumpet call of God at the Rapture. Numbers 10:4 doesn’t specify that both trumpets were blown simultaneously. Perhaps they had different sounds and were blown separately, one after the other. When the second or last trumpet of God sounds, the congregation of Christian saints will gather at the entrance (in the air) of their new worship center (the New Jerusalem).
However, I believe the main reason the Rapture trump is called the last trumpet is because it occurs on the last day (as mentioned in the book of John) of the Church. The Church began on the day of Pentecost and will end on the day of the Rapture. It will be the last day for Christians on the earth in our earthly bodies and the last day for Christians in heaven without a body. It will be such a magnificent and joyous event that even Jesus and the archangel will give a great shout of victory.
The “last day” (not last days) is mentioned 7 times in the New Testament, all of them in John. Many scholars believe John is referring to the Rapture (in most of these verses) and not Jesus’ 2nd Coming. John wrote the book of Revelation in 95 AD and later wrote his Gospel titled John. The last books of the Bible to be written were 2 John and 3 John between 96 and 98 AD. John was familiar with the teachings of Paul and his writings and letters, such as 1 Corinthians, which was written in 56 AD, so he would have also been familiar with the concept of the Rapture. John’s audience was not limited to one nation or people (Israel and the Jews); rather, he presents Jesus as the Christ and Lord over all nations and peoples. Here are the 7 references to the last day (rapture):
- John 6:39 – This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.
- John 6:40 – And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
- John 6:44 – No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
- John 6:54 – Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
- John 7:37 – On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. (Note: this verse is not about the last day of the Rapture but is referring to the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Jesus is talking about the giving of the Holy Spirit, which comes approximately 220 days later on Pentecost.)
- John 11:24 – Martha said to Him, “I know that he [Lazarus] will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” (Note: Martha was probably referring to the last day before the Millennium Reign of Jesus when the Old Testament saints will be resurrected. However, I believe Lazarus lived long enough to receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and he will be one of the saints that will be resurrected at the Rapture.)
- John 12:48 – He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him – the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. (Note: A non-believer will be judged for their lack of faith and will not be raptured into heaven. Instead, they will have to endure the hardships of the New World Order and the Tribulation.)
So, I know what you’re wondering. Is the last trumpet of God, at the Rapture, a shofar or an actual trumpet?
I don’t know for sure, but I have my opinion and the reasons for it. If you ask a Gentile Christian, he/she would probably say a trumpet. If you ask a Messianic Jew, he/she would probably say a shofar. The New Testament was written in Greek. The word for the air horn used in 1 Corinthians 15:52 is ‘salpingi,’ which is described as a trumpet and not a shofar. It is also a feminine noun, which is a good reason for it to be a trumpet. I suppose it doesn’t really matter. What really matters is that you hear it and assemble with the group.
The last day for Christians at the Rapture is not the last day for the rest of the non-believing world. The remaining population of the world will have to experience the horrors of the 7-year Tribulation before the 2nd Coming of Jesus to the earth. Here is how the Old Testament Zechariah describes His return. “Then the Lord will be seen over them, and His arrow will go forth like lightning. The Lord God will blow the shofar and go with whirlwinds from the south. The Lord their God will save them in that day, as the flock of His people” (Zechariah 9:14-16). Once again, God’s shofar will sound; only this time, it will be a call to war. Zechariah tells us who wins the war in Zechariah 14:9. “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be – The Lord is one, and His name one.”
The Jews have always required a ‘sign’ (supernatural) before they would acknowledge God. Jesus declared this fact in John 4:48, and Paul did likewise in 1 Corinthians 1:22. The Jewish people asked Jesus twice to show them a sign so they could believe in him, once in John 2:18 and again in John 6:30. I don’t know what kind of a sign they were looking for because Jesus performed many miracles during his earthly ministry. John recorded 7 (perfect and complete) signs in his Gospel that proved Jesus’ deity. They are called (anonymously, as far as I know) THE SIGN. Here they are:
T – turning water into wine (John 2:1-11)
H – healing the official’s son in Capernaum (John 4:46-54)
E – elevating the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-19)
S – supper for 5,000 near the Sea of Galilee (John 6:5-14)
I – interim on the sea (walking on water – Sea of Galilee (John 6:16-21)
G – giving sight to the blind man in Jerusalem (John 9:1-7)
N – notification of Lazarus to “come forth” from the grave… perhaps Jesus’ greatest miracle (John 11:1-45)
After all the miracles and signs Jesus accomplished (and His own resurrection), the majority of the Jewish people still did not believe He was their long-awaited Messiah. Even to this day, they are still awaiting the Messiah’s arrival. Before Jacob’s trouble begins, Jesus will oblige them with one last great sign – the Rapture of the Church.
The Rapture is the supernatural sign that the Messiah (Jesus) is coming (again) to establish His Millennium Kingdom and to fulfill all the prophecies written about Him and the Kingdom of God. Let’s hope and pray the Jews recognize this sign and finally accept Him as their Messiah and call for His return. “I will go away and return to My place until they (Jews) acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me” (Hosea 5:15).
“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28). While you are looking up, you might also want to listen for the sound of a trumpet.