We must take on the same attitude toward sin that God has!
The concept of God confronting sin permeates Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. But the Feast of Trumpets is also about God confronting sin! And comparing these holy days shows some important similarities, and sobering differences.
It is one of the most dramatic stories in the Bible.
There was a slave nation of about 3 million—driven hard by their taskmasters, crying out for deliverance. One day, their deliverer came—and brought with him a host of terrifying plagues from the Almighty God: Water turned to blood, frog infestation, insects, boils. Plague after plague hammered their captors, yet they were protected.
Finally, one night, all the firstborn of the Egyptians died. The plague was so horrifying, so intense, they relented and granted the slaves their freedom.
The Israelites left with a high hand—escaping Egypt and starting their journey to a Promised Land.
This is history that God’s people memorialize each year during the spring holy days. It provides us a dramatic picture of our dealing with sin—how we must come completely out of it.
On Passover, we memorialize Christ’s sacrifice, which purged our sins and reconciled us to God. We remember how, if the Israelites hadn’t put the blood of the lamb on their doorposts, the death angel would have killed their own firstborn along with the Egyptians; by this we learn that it is only the blood of the Lamb—Jesus Christ—that saves us and removes that death penalty. We also remember how God inflicted the Egyptians with a series of plagues that, really, was a punishment on them for their sins.
Prior to the Days of Unleavened Bread, we get leaven out of our homes, which pictures getting sin out of our lives. We remember Israel’s exodus from Egypt, a type of our coming out of sin. At the end of seven days, we remember Israel passing through the Red Sea, a type of baptism, and the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit. We remember the drowning of the Egyptians in the sea, just like our sins are left buried in the baptismal waters.
Through this rich history, God has given us a spectacular illustration of what we go through during repentance, baptism and conversion.
The spring holy days show us just how serious God is about our getting the sin out of our lives. They force us to ask the important question: What is our attitude toward sin?
God commands that we examine our lives each Passover season (1 Corinthians 11:26-29). We must realize just how much Christ went through so we can be cleansed of our sin and reconciled to God—physically and spiritually. We go through this examination process year round, finding ourselves wanting, coming before God, confessing those sins, seeking forgiveness, and then living anew. Those in God’s Church are well acquainted with the process of repentance.
Now, what does all of this have to do with the Feast of Trumpets?
Spring and Fall Parallels
There are tremendous parallels between what we memorialize during the spring holy days and what is pictured on Trumpets! The story of the Israelites’ delivery from Egypt was not only a type of our coming out of sin: There will be a future fulfillment even more dramatic.
As we examine these parallels, we will see that both holy day seasons picture God confronting sin.
Again: What is our attitude toward sin? Do we hate it as much as God does?
The spring holy days show how God purges sin from His people. The fall holy days, beginning with the Feast of Trumpets, picture how God will purge sin from the world. The process is similar in many ways—but there are also some important contrasts.
The First Six Seals
The book of Revelation describes the end-time events culminating in Christ’s Second Coming and the establishment of God’s Kingdom. Let’s look briefly at this chronology.
First, the Apostle John describes in the opening verses of Revelation 5 his vision of a book sealed with seven seals. Jesus Christ is the only one worthy to loose these seals and open the book, which He does.
In chapter 6, we see that each seal being loosed represents the fulfillment of a terrifying prophetic event. Within this one chapter, the first six of these seals are described. They begin with the four horsemen of the apocalypse—false religion, war, famine and pestilence—which are riding even now in their early stages of fulfillment (verses 1-8).
The fifth seal describes the Great Tribulation and the martyrdom of the Laodicean saints (verses 9-11). This is the full expression of Satan’s greatest wrath. Here at the end of this 6,000 years of the age of man, God allows him virtually free reign. His most powerful instrument, the Holy Roman Empire, will be at the height of its power, wreaking excruciating suffering upon both physical and spiritual Israel for a period of 2½ years. During this time, the nations of Israel will go into captivity and slavery in Gentile lands.
Then, the sixth seal introduces the fact that something totally different is going to happen next. A sequence of supernatural events—a great earthquake, a darkened sun, a blood-like moon, falling stars—petrify the inhabitants of the Earth with fear, so much so that they cry out for death: “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (verses 15-17).
The seventh seal is about to be opened, which will propel the world into the Day of the Lord.
Two Groups Spared!
But before that seal is loosed, something else happens. Revelation 7 is the chapter of the “two companies”—the 144,000 and the great multitude.
In verses 1-8, the 144,000 Laodiceans are “sealed.” Malachi’s Message says that means their eternal salvation is placed beyond doubt—they have made it. At that point, the Laodicean era ends. The Tribulation, terrible as it was, was successful in turning half of the Laodiceans back to God, to rise in the first resurrection and become a part of the bride of Jesus Christ.
Then it talks about a great, innumerable multitude. “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands” (verse 9). These are the people who will repent in the Tribulation (and, as we will see, even the Day of the Lord) and live over into the Millennium. Many of them will have heard the pcg’s message. They will have recognized the fulfillment of the very things Herbert Armstrong and Gerald Flurry prophesied about! As Mr. Armstrong wrote, “We of this ministry well know that our real reward in the harvest of precious lives will mostly come after our labors are finished!” (The Book of Revelation Unveiled at Last!). This is why it’s so important to reach the largest audience possible right now, even if we can’t see the fruits.
Among these people will be Israelites captive in Assyria, Egypt and other Gentile nations. God protects them from the punishments that are about to happen, even though they will still be in the middle of it—just as the Israelites in the middle of Egypt while it was being besieged by plagues were protected.
In all these events, God’s goal is to have as many people repent as possible.
We’ve already seen that there will be a significant number who repent during the Tribulation. So although the lesson was painful, God must consider that a success. The angels rejoice when one sinner repents (Luke 15:10). This will be multiple tens of thousands—innumerable persons, in fact—who, while experiencing the agony of the Great Tribulation, will accept the correction, and will then repent and begin submitting to God. That’s what He wanted all along from them. It took the Tribulation, but they made it.
Now, as great a success as that will be, God isn’t finished. He wants to see if He can possibly convict the hearts of a few more individuals before Christ returns and forces this evil age of man to a crashing end.
The Day of the Lord
“And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets” (Revelation 8:1-2). The Day of the Lord lasts for one year, and includes these seven trumpets.
Mr. Armstrong explained, “These symbolic trumpets portray, then, the Day of the Lord—the day of God’s wrath! The day God intervenes in world affairs to punish this world for its evil—the day God pleads with all flesh in the physical language it can understand!—and, as Zephaniah 1:16 says: ‘A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced [that is, fortified, or defended] cities, and against the high towers [that is, military fortifications].’
“The trumpet was always blown as a warning of war, or approaching armies. It signifies war and destruction. When Israel turned a deaf ear to all God’s prophets—rejected God’s loving pleading through preaching—God punished ancient Israel by sending the armies of Assyria to conquer them. When Judah disobeyed worse than Israel, God Almighty sent the armies of the Chaldeans to conquer them. As God steps in to punish the whole world—yes, all nations, for their evil, which is destroying them and bringing such suffering and unhappiness on all their peoples—the trumpets, or alarms of war, are sounded” (ibid).
This is no longer Satan’s wrath. This is God’s wrath poured out on mankind for all their sins.
Here is where we begin to see how God purges sin from mankind.