LCN Article
From Trumpets to Atonement

September / October 2018

Wallace G. Smith

The last trumpet and the binding of Satan represent the beginning and end of a brief span of ten days. Those few days see momentous events in the flow of prophetic fulfillment—remarkable events that accompany Jesus Christ’s return to this earth to reign. What are those events?

When the Fall Festivals arrive, many of us reflect on the awesome panorama of prophecy God provides in His word. The days ahead—those leading up to Christ's return, the events that ensue upon His return, and the beautiful Millennium that follows those events—are laid out in remarkable detail in the pages of the Bible.

But sometimes, we can miss some of the details. God's Holy Days often remind us of the "milestones," but He gives us more details than mere milestones. In particular, the Almighty gives us a blow-by-blow account of what occurs during the short, ten-day period that begins with the Feast of Trumpets and ends with the Day of Atonement.

In this article, let's review that account and familiarize ourselves with the details of our future! They represent some of the most climactic events of all human history, past or future—some of the most tragic and most joyous days we can read about in the pages of Scripture.

A Review of the "Day of the Lord"

Let's first take the time to remind ourselves of the sequence of prophetic events leading up to the seventh trumpet blast. As we do so, you might also consider reviewing the Church's publication Revelation: The Mystery Unveiled!, which explains these things in great detail and includes an extremely helpful chart.

In the book of Revelation, the Apostle John records details of a vision he was given that included a scroll sealed with seven seals. As each seal was broken by Jesus Christ, the only One who was found worthy before God to open them, a different element of the prophesied future was revealed. The first four seals concerned the climactic ride of the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse," followed by the fifth seal, which revealed the martyrdom of the saints and the Great Tribulation.

Then, the sixth seal revealed the coming "heavenly signs"—a dramatic display of God's power in the heavens and on earth. As Mr. John Ogwyn describes in our booklet on Revelation, these signs "are the prelude to the time of the Creator's intervention, called throughout Scripture 'the Day of the Lord'" (p. 27). The announcement that God will now step powerfully into human history to begin confronting mankind directly is accompanied by half an hour of silence in heaven (Revelation 8:1–6).

The seventh and last seal announces the beginning of seven trumpet blasts that are sounded over the course of the Day of the Lord. Mr. Ogwyn summarizes the Church's understanding of this yearlong period in our booklet:

"Remember, Isaiah 34:8 and Isaiah 61:2 equate the Day of the Lord with the year of God's recompense. This period begins with the first trumpet and concludes with the last, or seventh, trump. When God gave ancient Israel His Holy Days, He ushered in the entire fall festival season by designating the first day of the seventh month as 'a memorial of the blowing of trumpets.' Since other of God's festivals received their fulfillment on the very day (note Christ's being offered as the Lamb of God on the day of Passover and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost), it seems likely that the year of God's recompense will begin and end on the Feast of Trumpets" (p. 29).

So, with the blowing of the first angelic trumpet on the Feast of Trumpets, a sequence of events is initiated that takes place over a year, climaxing in the seventh trumpet which is blown on the same Feast day, one year later.

And those trumpet blasts are devastating. The first four detail horrific ecological disasters and disorder in the heavens, followed by the fifth and sixth trumpet blasts that accompany horrific military action on the earth. The Beast power unleashes powerful weaponry against its enemies, while the gathering powers of the East retaliate with weapons of mass destruction. The exchange brings death to one-third of humanity. The earth will seem to be in its death throes, as the demonic world is released from restraint in its influence on mankind.

The Seventh Trumpet Sounds!

Then, on the Feast of Trumpets—one year after God's divine intervention began—the seventh and last trumpet blast sounds, signaling that the climax of this age has come!

Until this blast, the kingdoms of the world have officially been under the authority of Satan the Devil. During the temptation of Christ in the desert, he offered those kingdoms to Jesus if only Jesus would bow to him, saying, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish" (Luke 4:6). Jesus did not dispute this fact, but rather simply responded that only God is to be worshipped (v. 8). Indeed, by resisting such temptations, Jesus was serving as the Second Adam who would qualify to replace Satan as ruler of the world, and the seventh trumpet announces that this time has come!

We read of this final trumpet blast in Revelation 11:

"Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!'

And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying:  'We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was and who is to come, because You have taken Your great power and reigned. The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth.'

Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail" (vv. 15–19).

So many vital things are indicated here! A few of note:

  • The kingdoms of the world are now declared to be under Christ's authority, and no longer the Devil's (v. 15).
  • Christ takes up His power to reign (v. 17).
  • While the year leading up to this has been one of much wrath, there is yet more wrath to come (v. 18).
  • The time has come to reward the saints (v. 18).
  • The doors to the heavenly temple of God are opened, accompanied by numerous signs and wonders in the air and on earth (v. 19).

Other passages add details concerning this time. The Apostle Paul explains that at this trumpet blast, "the last trumpet," the faithful dead are resurrected first, before the rest of the saints are glorified with them. All the saints are granted eternal life and transformed, meeting Christ in the air (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17)! Following in the footsteps of their betrothed Husband (2 Corinthians 11:2), the Church makes the change from mortality to immortality (1 Corinthians 15:53) and, for the first time in history, the Kingdom of God will have more than two members!

Yet, for all that the seventh trumpet signifies, there is still so much to be accomplished before the Millennium can begin. The twenty-four elders mentioned at the trumpet blast that there was yet more wrath to come. The nations have not yet gathered at Megiddo, to then proceed to Jerusalem and fight the armies of Christ. The Marriage of the Lamb has not yet taken place. The Beast and the False Prophet are still alive, their kingdom has not yet been destroyed, and the Devil is not yet locked away for 1,000 years. These events are a part of the return of Jesus Christ, as well. Where are they in the prophetic sequence?

As we can see, there is much yet to do, and the Bible reveals the details.

A Historical Parallel

At this point, an element of Israel's ancient history can be helpful. Many have noted that the reign of King Solomon could be considered, in some ways, to picture—however imperfectly—the Millennium to come under the rule of Jesus Christ.

To be sure, Solomon's devotion to the pure faith was corrupted by his many pagan wives—a mistake that Christ and His one, pure Bride will not make! Yet, it was a time of astonishing prosperity, peace, and rejoicing in Israel (1 Kings 4:20, 24)—a time in which each man "dwelt safely, each man under his vine and his fig tree" (v. 25), just as all will in the Millennium (Micah 4:4). Solomon ruled with God-given miraculous wisdom and compassion (1 Kings 4:29–30), and people from the Gentile nations of the earth sent emissaries to Israel and to Jerusalem to learn from the wisdom of the one who reigned there (v. 34), just as nations will do during Jesus' 1,000-year reign (Zechariah 8:20–23).

Yet, Solomon's kingdom was not immediately so Millennial. In fact, between the moment he was coronated and the beginning of his gift of wisdom and miraculously empowered reign, there were a number of important things to take care of before his kingdom would ever be at peace.

Solomon was declared king by David—and, notably, at the sound of a trumpet, or shofar, and anointed with oil from God's tabernacle (1 Kings 1:39)—while an unworthy pretender to the throne and his two co-conspirators still lived. His half-brother, Adonijah, had built a network to help him possess the monarchy for himself, and he was supported in this by Joab, commander of the army, and Abiathar, the priest (1 Kings 1:7, 19). These individuals were exposed when Solomon was coronated, but they remained alive after Solomon spared Adonijah the pretender, who pleaded for his life (1 Kings 1:50–53). However, this state of affairs would prove very temporary.

We read in 1 Kings 2 that Adonijah attempted to grab the throne for himself again, which prompted Solomon to remove him from influence once and for all (vv. 22–24). At Solomon's command, Adonijah the pretender was executed, as was Joab the commander. Abiathar the priest was allowed to live, out of respect for his role as one who had carried the ark of the covenant, but he was banished from ever serving as priest again (vv. 26–34).

Though Solomon had been coronated, there was still business to take care of before his reign could begin in earnest. After this trio of conspirators was dealt with—along with Shimei, who had cursed David during the rebellion of Absalom (vv. 36–46)—we are then told, "Thus the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon" (v. 46). And it is after these things that God visits Solomon in a dream and grants him the wisdom that makes his remarkable reign possible.

Much to Do

Just as Solomon still had a trio of throne-grabbing traitors to deal with even after he was coronated king at the shofar's sound, so, too, will Jesus Christ have business to take care of. God's word provides the details of what transpires between the last trumpet—the declaration of Christ as king and the transformation of the Church of God—and the ultimate removal of Satan the Devil and his own co-conspirators, the False Prophet and the Beast. In the same way that Solomon's inauguration did not end Adonijah's schemes and plans to have the throne for himself, we find that, just because Christ has been declared king over all the kingdoms of the world (Revelation 11:15), the Devil—the former possessor of that position (Luke 4:6)—does not plan to give up all he has worked for over 6,000 years without a fight.

And since the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement occur so close to each other on God's calendar—on the first and tenth days of the seventh month—the momentous events that occur between the declaration of Christ's authority and the putting away of Satan must occur at a breathtaking pace!

Enemies to Punish

Revelation 15 tells us that, after the seventh trumpet is blown, seven plagues are to be released on the earth, in which "the wrath of God is complete" (v. 1). Golden bowls "full of the wrath of God" are given by one of the four "living creatures" that surround God's throne to seven angels (vv. 6–7), and they are commanded, "Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth" (Revelation 16:1).

Here is a summary of the first six bowls poured out on mankind. They are described in Revelation 16:2–21.

  • First Bowl: Terrible sores afflict all those who accepted the mark of the Beast.
  • Second Bowl: The sea turns to blood; all sea creatures die.
  • Third Bowl: Rivers and springs of the earth turn to blood, leaving no source of water to drink.
  • Fourth Bowl: Mankind is scorched by the sun, yet blasphemes God and chooses not to repent.
  • Fifth Bowl: The Beast's seat of government is afflicted with pain and darkness.
  • Sixth Bowl: The Euphrates River is completely dried up so that the armies of the east might physically travel to gather with all the armies of the world at Armageddon.

From Armageddon, we know that the world's military—under the command of demonically guided and empowered leadership (Revelation 16:13–14)—will then travel to Jerusalem as one massive force, prepared to battle against the army of the Lord (Zechariah 14:1–2).

Ironically, mankind will finally have fulfilled its lifelong dream: a united humanity. Yet the unifying purpose of this military, composed of all the nations of the world (Revelation 16:14), will be to fight against its Savior!

Clearly, these last plagues that cause such suffering after the seventh trumpet blast are devastating on a scale mankind has never before experienced in all of human history. Some elements of the plagues take time to develop, such as the gathering of the armies at Armageddon and their consequent trip to Jerusalem. Yet others could not last longer than a few days—such as having nothing but blood to drink (vv. 4–7)!

The days between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement could scarcely be any further apart on the calendar than they are, for those days are, indeed, filled with the wrath of the Almighty!

Before we discuss the seventh and final bowl that completes God's wrath (Revelation 15:1), we need to ask: What of the glorified saints during this time? They were resurrected and transformed, given eternal life at the seventh trumpet, just before the bowl judgments began. Where are they during this period when these six bowls are poured out and the armies of the Beast and the kings of the earth are marching to Armageddon, and then to Jerusalem?

A Bride to Wed and a Pretender to Banish

As the bowl judgments begin, Revelation 15:2–4 describes the newborn members of the Family of God appearing before their Father's throne on a "sea of glass" (cf. Revelation 4:6) and singing "the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb."

As always, Jesus Christ set the pattern for us.

At the end of His ministry, after He was resurrected from the grave and glorified, Jesus still had work to do on earth. Acts 1:3 records that He spent forty days on earth before His ultimate ascension, teaching the disciples about "things pertaining to the kingdom of God." Yet between His resurrection and His remaining earthly work, the glorified Christ appeared briefly before His Father in heaven to be accepted by Him, fulfilling the symbolism of the wave sheaf offering that takes place on the first day of the week during the Days of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:11). We see this when we carefully compare John 20:17 ("Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father") and Matthew 28:9 ("they came and held Him by the feet and worshipped Him").

If even the resurrected Jesus Christ was required to ascend to His Father's throne before beginning His remaining work on earth, why would we rationally or biblically expect it to be any different for His resurrected brothers and sisters? God's word shows that the resurrected saints and newly minted Children of God will do just as their Elder Brother did before them.

For Christ is not to reign alone, but with His wife by His side! While the rebellious and unrepentant are experiencing "their just due" (Revelation 16:6), the saints of God are experiencing their reward, as well, and the marriage of the Lamb: "And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, 'Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready'" (Revelation 19:6–7). The saints are granted fine, white linen, representing their righteous acts (v. 8; cf. Matthew 22:10–14)—lives lived in submission to the will and law of God, their Father.

After this celebration, the temple in heaven is opened up, and the armies of Jesus Christ, King of Kings (Revelation 19:16), are revealed, ready for battle:

"Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses" (Revelation 19:11–14).

By this time, "the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies" have completed their journey to Jerusalem and are gathered there to resist the coming of the new King and His army (v. 19).

But their efforts are futile. The resulting destruction of these rebellious armies is described in God's word in many places. Revelation 16:17 says that the seventh angel bearing the final plague on a rebellious mankind simply pours his bowl into the air as a loud voice from God's throne declares "It is done!" The verses that follow describe the destruction of God's enemies and the final fall of cities, including Babylon—the "great city" violently rent into three different pieces—as the greatest earthquake in the history of man occurs (vv. 18–20). As Mr. Ogwyn notes in our booklet on Revelation, "Very likely this earthquake is the same one that is described in Zechariah 14:4, when the feet of Jesus Christ finally stand once more upon the Mount of Olives, located just east of Jerusalem" (p. 39).

With the rebellious armies destroyed, the meaning of the Day of Atonement can be fulfilled: The Beast and the False Prophet are thrown into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 19:20), and the now-illegitimate pretender to the throne, Satan the Devil, is locked in a bottomless pit for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:2–3).

A New Beginning

The period from the Feast of Trumpets through the Day of Atonement comprises some of the most harrowing days in human history—tales that likely will be told over and over to those in the Millennium for the lessons they teach. But they are not the end. Rather, they are the beginning.

The Day of Atonement is not just about the putting away of Satan the Devil. It is also about the proclamation of liberty to the captives, and the return of Israelites to their homeland (Leviticus 25:9–10; Ezekiel 20:33–34). Mankind, in his rebellion, will have made ashes of the world, but Jesus Christ and His bride "will give them beauty for ashes" (Isaiah 61:3).

King David rhetorically asked, "If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (Psalm 11:3). The Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement remind us that Jesus Christ will not build tomorrow's world on today's foundations. God will intervene and bring the greatest powers of humanity to nothing—and He will do this so that He can give humanity everything.