The Sound of the Trumpet
For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle? (1 Cor. 14:8).
The apostle Paul used the Roman military trumpet as a metaphor for spiritual battle. First-century historian Josephus wrote that the Roman army did nothing, except by trumpet signals. He listed three specific trumpet sounds, all of which can be devotionally applied.
The first trumpet was a signal to prepare to depart: “Now when they are to go out of their camp, the trumpet gives a sound.”1 The Bible believer should be ready to depart swiftly for any field of conflict as ordered, always ready to fight the good fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Tim. 4:7).
The second trumpet was a signal to form up: “Then do the trumpets sound again, to order them to get ready for the march.”2 At this stage, a believer should have on the whole armor of God. The Lord wants skilled warriors, lined up with others, who will do battle against the wiles of the Devil (Eph. 6:11).
The third trumpet sound was the order to march: “Then do the trumpets give a sound the third time, that they are to go out.”3 Some have suggested that this is the equivalent of “the last trumpet” that Paul referred to in 1 Corinthians 15:52 concerning the Rapture of the church:
Behold, I tell 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 trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed (vv. 51–52).
This trumpet may also point to the personal resolve of a believer to march out to serve Christ, to stand against all challenges to God’s Kingdom, and to be willing to endure hardships like a good soldier (2 Tim. 2:3).
Josephus also noted that before the army marched out, the soldiers raised their right hands high and shouted in martial fury, “We are ready!” Are you?
- Josephus War of the Jews5.4.