"According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." (1 Thessalonians
Trumpets, trumpets everywhere...throughout Scripture we see them mentioned quite a bit, 114 times to be exact. Trumpets signaled the beginning of certain feasts, assemblies and celebrations. (Leviticus 23:24, Numbers 10:2) They were used in battle to signal the time to start marching, (Numbers 31:6) as pleas to God for victory in battle (Number 10:9), and even as the sole weapon in battle...think wall of Jericho (Joshua 6) and Gideon's nighttime charge (Judges 7). Trumpets are synonymous with kings and royal assemblies (1 Kings
). They are referred to over and over again in worship as a means to praise God (2 Chronicles
). All these uses of trumpets are awe inspiring and dramatic, but none so much as when the trumpet is used to signal the presence of God (Exodus 19, 20).
While I have never had any aversion to trumpets, I haven't given them much thought either. All the Biblical references to trumpet blasts, calls, and sounds make sense, but the only time I really ever hear them is at band concerts and church services; they are not really a significant part of my life. Last Easter changed that.
My husband and I were once in
Spain for Holy week. We observed Maundy Thursday and Good Friday by visiting cathedrals, studying ancient Christian artwork and watching the Semana Santa processionals depicting the events of Holy week. After a busy weekend of enjoying the culture and art we were worn out and exhausted on Saturday night. Our hostel was one of the back-packer crash pad variety, so there were several bunk beds in a room. We quietly crawled in our bunks, as to not disturb anyone and went to sleep. In my sleep I heard trumpets. The music was bright, powerful, and glorious. It conveyed a mood of life, rejoicing, and realized joy. I am not a morning person at all, so it was especially significant that as I heard the music, I opened my eyes and woke up happy, even joyful. The music wasn't in my dream, it was real and it was coming from the street outside my window. I went to the window, where an Italian man was already looking out. With a heavy accent he said, "Where there is music, there is processional." The trumpets signified that the huge carving of the Risen Christ was being carried through the city. What a glorious way to wake up on Easter morning! For me, trumpets will be permanently tied to the procession of the Risen Christ from now on. I can't remember the notes of that music, but the sound of it and the excitement it conveyed will ring in my ears. For me, in a very real way, trumpets mean resurrection and signify God's presence in a way that I will never forget.
Our God shows Himself to us is such real ways. He knew that using an actual physical sound, like that of a trumpet, would be real and relatable to His people in the Old Testament. He instructed them to use it to signify His presence on the mountain, in worship, and even in battle. God does the same for us today--He allows us to see, touch, and taste His presence in Holy Communion. He allows us to actually feel the waters of baptism on our head and hold in our hands His written Word. He gives us real, physical assurance of His continued presence in our life in many other ways as well. The healing touch of a friend when we are hurting, the sound of the spoken absolution after we have confessed our sin, and the sound of trumpets on Easter Sunday to signify victory over death and eternal presence with us.
Trumpets not only play a part in our Biblical past and musical present, they will play a role in our future.
We read a number of times in Scripture that trumpets will signify the return of Christ, the defeat of death and the eternal kingdom of heaven (1 Corinthians 15:52, 1 Thessalonians 4:16). God uses the sound of trumpets to help us understand the joy and glory of His return. He doesn't compare His return to that of a mellow clarinet, soft violin, or melodic piano...no, He will return in a very real way to the sound of the blaring, blasting, sounding trumpet! Life, power, and glory! Our King will return in all His power and take us home. No sin, death, or demon can stop Him. Our hope is sure! Our hope is as real and concrete as the sounding of trumpets.
Published December 2008
Jessica is a forgiven child of God. Nothing else matters as much as that. God has additionally blessed her with the opportunity to serve as the LYF and Young Adult Ministry Coordinator for LCMS Youth Ministry and DCE at Timothy Lutheran Church in St Louis. Jessica earned a BA in Elementary and Middle School Education at Concordia University Wisconsin and MA in Systematic Theology at Concordia Seminary, St Louis. She has served in congregational, educational, and outdoor ministries since 1999. Jessica lives in St Louis with her best friend and husband, Adrian.