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What is the "trumpet" in Matthew 24.31, and is it the same as that of 1 Thessalonians 4.16?

It is very important for us to see three different trumpet sounds in the Word of God. If we understand the differences between these we shall be rightly dividing the Word of God and will avoid being confused by thinking that the trumpet of Matthew 24 is the same as in 1 Thessalonians 4. The trumpet in Matthew 24 has to do with the restoration of the nation of Israel. It is identical with that which is mentioned in the Old Testament prophecies, and refers to God's gathering Israel back to the land. Compare, for example, Isaiah 27.13, 18.3 and Zechariah 9.14. In Isaiah 18 God calls the inhabitants of the world to hear the trumpet, and the result is that a present (v.7) is brought unto the Lord of a people "scattered and peeled", to the place of the name of the Lord in Mount Zion. We read in Isaiah 27.13 that "It shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria". The passage in Zechariah cited above points to the same time.

Matthew 24.15-35, I think, has a special, if not exclusive, reference to Israel and the land of Judah. The elect nation will be saved and gathered through angelic agency, and the trumpet is to be the token.

The trumpet mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4 is associated with very different circumstances, namely the gathering of the heavenly people to meet the Lord in the air. This event is the rapture of the Church. The great trumpet will close the "times of the Gentiles" and bring in the millennial reign on earth, and with this synchronizes the period of the seven trumpets in Revelation. The last trump of 1 Corinthians 15.51 must not be confused with the seventh trumpet in Revelation 11.15. If we learn to distinguish between these three trumpets we shall be helped.

To summarize, the trumpet of 1 Thessalonians 4 relates to the RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH, the trumpet of Isaiah 27 relates to the RESTORATION OF ISRAEL, and the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11 relates to the REIGN OF CHRIST on earth.

John J Stubbs

We read, "But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 19.14), and then, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God" (Mk 10.14). Are "the kingdom of heaven" and "the kingdom of God" the same, or is a distinction intended?

In the Gospels, these two expressions, "the kingdom of heaven" and "the kingdom of God" refer to the same thing, but viewed from a different standpoint. When we read of "the kingdom of the heavens" (lit), the seat of the authority is emphasised – it comes from "the heavens"; whilst in the phrase "the kingdom of God", the one who exercises the authority is the foremost thought.

The term "the kingdom of heaven" is used only by Matthew who also on five occasions employs the phrase "the kingdom of God". Indeed he uses them interchangeably in ch.19: "a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven" (v.23); "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" (v.24). The parallel passages in the three synoptic Gospels leave no doubt that the terms are synonymous, as illustrated in the Scriptures cited by the questioner.

Sometimes the kingdom is spoken of as a sphere of profession, including the true and the false; thus, "the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they...gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away" (Mt 13.47-48).

To come into the good of the real thing, the new birth is necessary: "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (Jn 3.5). "The kingdom of God" in this aspect "is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost" (Rom 14.17).

Evidently the kingdom of God includes the church, but is wider than it, for "many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 8.11), but these patriarchs are not part of the church. Thus the kingdom will continue after the church has been taken, but will only be visibly established when the King Himself returns.

David E West

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