A Christian friend believes in a mid-tribulation Rapture because of 1 Corinthians 15:52. Is this last trump one of the seven judgment trumpets?
Also, please comment on Revelation 22.2–5. Why is there a need for healing of nations and for reigning? Hasn’t the Millennium already passed by the time of this passage? Will other people be on the earth for all eternity while believers are in Heaven?
First Corinthians 15:51 and 52 read,
Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
The “last” trump referred to here causes confusion because it appears to match the last trumpet mentioned in Revelation 11:15–19. However, 1 Corinthians 15 should not be associated with this particular passage but rather with 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18, the Rapture of believers just before the Tribulation.
The word “last” in 1 Corinthians does not mean the last one of a series as in the series of trumpets in the Revelation. Rather it refers to the last time God will speak to believers in the state they are in just before Christ raptures them. After that moment all believers, dead and living, will be changed. At other times the word “last” is used not as the final act, point, or event in a series but as a relative designation, so this use does not need to seem unusual.
Furthermore, the word “trump” doesn’t necessarily mean that the Lord is going to blow a literal trumpet as we know that brass musical instrument. Rather we should consider the word “trump” as a “call” to believers at the Rapture to come to meet the Lord Jesus in the air. He may use a literal trumpet, but this word is also used symbolically to describe a summoning, a communication, a call. At the Rapture, believers will be called into Christ’s presence. I like to think that the trump or trumpet is Christ’s own voice calling His own, you and me, into His presence. We shall learn what it is one of these days, praise the Lord! Perhaps, like Lazarus, we will receive a personal “Come forth!”
Note that Jesus’ coming at the Rapture will be “in the air,” according to I Thessalonians 4, not “to the earth,” as will be the case with the Second Coming of Christ at the close of the tribulation period when Christ fights the Battle of Armageddon and sets up His millennial reign. Those who hold to the mid-tribulation position use the Revelation passage to “prove” their point, but the trumpet in Revelation 11:15 sounds at the end of the time of wrath, just before the Second Coming (not Rapture). The trump of 1 Corinthians 15, in contrast, occurs (even as mid-trib people have to agree) before the wrath of God descends. Thus 1 Corinthians 15:52 cannot be teaching a mid-tribulation Rapture.
Concerning Revelation 22:2, the term “healing of the nations” is simply a way of stating that there will be perpetual health. The term does not imply that there will be sickness and therefore a need for healing. (Chapter 22, by the way, refers to believers’ eternal abode, not to the Millennium.) Also, the phrase “they shall reign for ever and ever” (v. 5) indicates perfect glory. Eternity will have only one Ruler, one Governor—the Lord Jesus Christ. Eternity will have only one throne, the throne of God. The phrase does not need to mean that nations will exist throughout eternity, although some scholars—even conservative ones—hold to this idea. What we do know is that Christ will continue to reign for all eternity as King of kings and Lord of lords. We shall reign forever.
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