Last week I shared about the ‘Feast of Trumpets’ that celebrates the resurrection of the righteous dead and the changing of the righteous living at the sound of the ‘last trump’. This feast occurs at the new moon which is a type of the hiding away of the righteous with Messiah. I will get into more detail, but first…
What if we could get inside the head of the apostle Paul? What if we could go back to the first century, understand his Jewish upbringing, his vast knowledge in the Jewish Oral Law and Rabbinical teaching, to understand what he believed? That is what I’m trying to do here. Paul was chosen by the Lord to write most of the New Testament, so his perspective is now scripture.
How was Paul trained?
Besides learning the Word, our Old Testament, Paul was trained in the oral history & traditions of his faith passed down through the generations, which is called the Talmud. Part of the Talmud is called the Mishnah, which is the oral word (oral Torah). This is the oral history of the Jewish people and teachings of Rabbi’s through the centuries. Paul was educated in all these things.
You may not realize it, but the Oral History/word is woven throughout our New Testament, so at least some of it but not all, is taken to be as solid as scripture. I’ll give you 2 examples here and 1 later:
1) Genesis 12:1 says: “Now the Lord had said to Abram, Get out of your country, and from your family, and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.”
That is all the scripture says – the Lord told him. But Steven in Acts 7:2-3 said this: “The God of glory appeared to our Father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him: Get out of your country, and from your family, and come to the land that I will show you.”
How did Steven and his listeners know the Lord appeared to Abraham when He told him to leave his country? They knew through the oral history, the Mishnah – which had been passed down since Abraham concerning the events of his life, and that part of the oral history became scripture.
2) Matthew 2:23 says of Joseph moving his family: “And he came and lived in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.”
Here is the trouble – there is no prophecy in our Old Testament about Messiah being from Nazareth. But it was part of the oral history that Messiah would be known as a Nazarene, and became scripture.
What Paul understood happens during the Feast of Trumpets
All Paul had learned from the Old Testament scriptures, the Oral Word, and revelations from the Lord after his salvation made the man who became the apostle Paul. Knowing all these elements to his brilliant mind, let us look at the Word and Oral Word to gain the understanding Paul had about the Feast of Trumpets.
In Judaism as shared in part last week, there are 3 shofars: The First Trump, the Last Trump, and the Great Trump (Shofar). According to a Rabbinic writing called Pirke deR-Eliezer among others, the left horn of the ram caught in the bush when Abraham was set to offer Isaac is the First Trump, and was blown at Mt. Sinai. The right horn, the Last Trump, will be blown at the new moon at Rosh haShanah to awaken the righteous dead and transform the righteous living.
The Great Trump, or Great Shofar, will be blown at the conclusion of Yom Kippur to welcome the in-gathering of people whose sins were forgiven as the gates of Jerusalem swing shut and the time for repentance ends: This is a type of the return of Christ.
Here again are the names of the feast called the Feast of Trumpets: Rosh haShanah (Head of the Year), Yom Teruah (Day of Awakening Blast), Yom haDin (Day of Judgement), and Yom haZikkaron (Day of Remembrance).
The Awakening Blast – Yom Teruah
I shared last week Paul taught Rosh haShanah or the Feast of Trumpets, when he said the dead in Christ will rise and the living changed at the Last Trump - his use of ‘last trump’ forever links the ‘rapture’ with Rosh haShanah. But I Corinthians 15:51-53 isn’t the only place he teaches this.
Here is the Temple exhortation spoken for centuries at Rosh haShanah to the people, and you can see the reference to the righteous dead in the opening words and spiritually asleep as well.
“Awake you sleepers from your sleep, and you slumberers arise from your slumber. Examine your lives, repent and remember your Creator. Those of you who forget the truth in the vanities of the times and live all year with vanity and emptiness, look into your souls, change your ways and lives, let each of you forsake his evil path and his thoughts which are not good…” (Rambam, Hilchot Teshuvah)
Paul in Ephesians 5:14-17: “Therefore it says; Awake you who sleep, and arise from the dead, and Messiah shall give you light. See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understanding in what the will of the Lord is.”
Clearly Paul referenced and paraphrased this Rosh haShanah exhortation when he told the Ephesian believers to live uprightly because a future awakening blast was coming…This means as we look at his letters to the Corinthians, the Ephesians, the Thessalonians – we understand Paul taught Rosh haShanah and the Last Trump to the first century believers, and his teaching became our New Testament scripture.
What he told the Thessalonians
Paul told them in I Thessalonians 1:10: “And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, who has delivered us from the wrath to come.”
Notice his reference to Rosh haShanah and the Last Trump in 4:14-18, which is what he told Corinth:
“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so those who have died in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say to you by the Word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord will not come before those who have already died. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; So we will forever be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
And look at what he wrote immediately after this
“But of the times and seasons brethren, you don’t need me to write you. For you know perfectly well the day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night. For when they will be saying, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction will come upon them, as birth pangs, and they will not escape.
But you brethren are not in darkness that the day should overtake you like a thief. You are children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness….For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us that whether we wake from death or are alive, we will live together with Him. Therefore comfort yourselves and edify one another with these words…” (5:1-11)
Notice for the 2nd time in this letter he tells them God has not appointed us to the wrath to come. He also says the day will come as a thief in the night to unbelievers, but not to us. Consider the word picture of a thief in the night. It is a picture of someone asleep in their home, and a thief breaks in to take what doesn’t belong to him.
THAT is how the world will view this catching away. They will understand Jesus as a thief taking what doesn’t belong to Him – their child, their spouse – but in fact He is coming for those He bought and paid for.
And this brings us to what happens on earth during Rosh haShanah – what is the ‘wrath to come’? And to Paul’s 2nd letter to the Thessalonians and Anti-Christ…until next week then, blessings,