The Feast of Trumpets was one of the 7 main festivals of Israel. It was the first of the fall or harvest festivals. It occurred in the 7th month of the religious calendar on the 1st day of the month. It is more commonly known today by its alternate name in Hebrew Rosh Hashanah which means Head of the Year. The Feast of Trumpets has this name because it is also the first day of the civil Jewish calendar and marks the start of a new Jewish year that is numbered from the considered time of creation which is thought to have occurred on Rosh Hashanah in the Garden of Eden. The Feast of Trumpets also always occurs at a new moon usually in the western month of September. The Feast of Trumpets or Rosh Hashanah is the first Feast in the Jewish year since the Feast of Pentecost or Feast of Weeks called Shavuot in Hebrew that usually occurs in May.
One of the main features of Rosh Hashanah or the Feast of Trumpets is the blowing of Trumpets in this case a shofar or ram's horn. This ram's horn or shofar has a very sombre or wailing sound and is associated with a call to self- examination before God for the previous year and a look ahead to the coming year. This period of self-examination or reflection continues for ten days until the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. A popular Jewish greeting at the Feast of Trumpets is "May you be inscribed in the Book of Life". The 7 Feasts of the LORD including the Feast of Trumpets are found in Leviticus 23. The section about the Feast of Trumpets is as follows:
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, shall ye(you) have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. Ye shall do no servile (livelihood) work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. Leviticus 23:23-25
One main reason evangelical Christians associate the Feast of Trumpets with the Rapture is that in most of the main New Testament passages about the rapture the description includes reference to a trumpet. Also evangelical or born again Christians are aware that the Feast of Trumpets was the first of the Harvest Festivals and occurred after the summer of growing crops and fruit and that it was the first Jewish Feast since Pentecost. One additional reason for considering the Feast of Trumpets as the Rapture is that a passage in the Gospel of John talks about 4 months until the harvest and that the present Church Age is the time of sowing and reaping. The 4 months probably refers to the 4 months between Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks which was in the third month and the Feast of Trumpets which was in the seventh month. The passage in the Gospel of John is as follow:
Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathering fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. Gospel of John 4:35-36
The rapture doesn't mean as some think a reference to extreme joy although that will also occur at that time, but is a reference to the Latin term "raptare" which means to "to seize and carry off, drag away; to drag along; to plunder;" (The New College Latin & English Dictionary, John C. Traupman, Bantam Books). This term for rapture could also explain the coming of Jesus Christ for the Church as coming as a thief in the night in 1 Thessalonians 5.
The rapture is the time for Christians who have personally trusted in God and His Son Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Saviour from our sin and giver of eternal life through His resurrection and thus become indwelt of God's Holy Spirit to have our bodies resurrected and changed for believers who have died or our bodies changed for believers living on Earth at the Rapture. Our bodies will be changed into heavenly, spiritual, incorruptible and glorious bodies from our present earthly, fleshly, corruptible and lowly bodies. We will be free from the constraints of gravity and physical conditions like lack of air or radiation in space although at times we will also be able to eat and sense the physical realm.
Through our new heart or spirit in which the Holy Spirit indwells we will hear the sound of the trumpet of God at the rapture and rise to meet the Lord Jesus Christ in the air (Earth's upper atmosphere or near outer space) and be brought with Him to the homes God has prepared for us in the Third Heaven. We will thus be brought beyond the first heaven of the birds, clouds and airplanes and the second heaven of the planets, stars and galaxies. This rapture or catching away is the next great event to occur according to Bible prophecy and will occur without warning and will likely happen very soon. Although the rapture will happen without warning the signs leading to The Great Tribulaton or 70th week of Daniel on Earth that will start immediately after the rapture are more and more evident and in a very advanced stage including global government and the preparation of Israel to build a Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
There is no denying that one of the significant elements in popular culture for some time in North America and to some extent around the world is belief that there is intelligent extraterrestrial life on other planets if not in our solar system then around other stars. Although there are some scientifically or rationally minded people than believe this and don't believe that UFOs (unidentified flying objects) are really extraterrestrial or even real there are many people today who do believe this or even claim to have seen them or even so called aliens or been abducted onto a UFO. Myself as a bible believing Christian believe that some of the UFOs and alien phenomena could be mistaken for natural or man-made objects but I think some of it is real but demonic. I think these things including the so called disclosure and efforts of high authorities like the UN, the Roman Catholic Church and officials in United States to come closer to admitting something significant with contact with aliens could be preparing for the day of the rapture. At that time people that don't want to admit the biblical and true explanation of Christians indwelt by the Holy Spirit being caught up to heaven to be with Jesus and God in our resurrection bodies will have a preferred explanation. This main explanation is that true Christians at the rapture will be caught up by aliens to another planet with some like New Agers thinking we have to be reeducated into their mystical world view and deny our belief in a personal God and salvation by the death of God's Son Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins. With the increasing UFO phenomena, media attention and openness of authorities on this subject I would encourage the reader if he or she hasn't done so already to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ that he died on the cross for your sins and rose from the dead to give you new life so you can be taken in the rapture and be part of God's family and have a wonderful home in heaven forever and also have access to the renewed and new earth and heavens and not be left on earth for the tribulation and possibly hell for those who don't turn to Jesus by the time of the end of the tribulation. This emphasis on UFOs and aliens could also be preparing the world for the Antichrist or Beast out of the Sea and the False Prophet or Beast out of the Land to present himself as having ties to aliens from another planet which would probably be quite popular to many people around the world these days. Two scriptures related to signs in the heavens that could include UFOs as well as natural phenomena in the last days before Jesus' second coming are the following: Luke 21:11 and Joel 2:30.
The condition for taking part in the rapture is not that people or Christians be super Christians but that we genuinely believe in our heart that the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins on the cross and rose again. Those who sleep in Jesus are those who have died physically but believed in the Lord Jesus Christ between Pentecost and the rapture that is in the Church age. Their bodies sleep but their spirits and souls are very alive in heaven. Their spirits and souls will at the time of the rapture be brought from heaven to join their resurrected and changed body that will be turned into a spiritual body. The Christians who are physically alive on earth when the Lord Jesus Christ comes for the rapture of the church will be affected by the rapture after but not long after those in Christ who have died physically or who are asleep. This will take place at the trump of God which is the last trumpet of the church age not the last trumpet of the tribulation when God is dealing with Israel and not the Church. This will be the Lord Jesus Christ himself that will descend from heaven although his voice might sound like that of an archangel or an archangel might accompany Jesus. We Christians or the true Church that are alive shall meet with Christians or part of the true Church that have already died physically will meet together next in the air in the clouds. These clouds are in the air or in the earth's atmosphere and are physical clouds not spiritual such as of God's glory. An another example of physical clouds in the New Testament is clouds out of the west in Gospel of Luke 12:54 where Jesus is obviously talking about physical clouds in earth's atmosphere. This is the same Greek word as in 1 Thessalonians 4. It is true that clouds are mentioned about Jesus' second coming and that they are also the same Greek word but they are called clouds of heaven, I think the third heaven or abode of God, not of the air and the references in Matthew 24:30, 26:64 and Mark 13:26 and Mark 14:62 mention the right hand of power with the power I believe being God the Father and the clouds being associated with His glory. This meaning of clouds is definitely in mind in 1 Corinthians 10:1 and 2 where God directs the apostle Paul to reflect on some of the experiences of the Israelites or Jews in the Old Testament especially when they were going through the wilderness. The cloud is mentioned in that passage in 1 Corinthians 10 and is the same Greek word as these other references and I believe has the same basic meaning as in Matthew and Mark but definitely not the same as in 1 Thessalonians 4. I believe the Gospel of John 14:1-3 is a parallel passage to 1 Thessalonians 4 and clarifies 1 Thessalonians 4. That is that where Christians will immediately go to be with the Lord will be where Jesus is in the Father's house in heaven. We will continue to be with the Lord after that but will come with him at his second coming to rule with him on the Millennial Kingdom earth and then to be with Him and God the Father in the New Jerusalem and in general in his blessed creation including the new earth and new heavens in eternity. The scripture reference about Christians being caught up to the air to start to be with the Lord Jesus Christ to start our full realization as God's heavenly people to make way for God to resume dealing with His earthly people the Jews in the tribulation in 1 Thessalonians 4 is as follows:
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep(those who have died in faith in Jesus Christ), that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God : and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up (raptured) together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
It is also important to note the simple condition for taking part in the rapture from scripture. If we believe in our heart that Jesus died and rose again. To take part in the rapture one doesn't have to have an ongoing record of splendid Christian service but only to believe with all one's heart and committing one's life to Jesus in recognition that He died for our sins and rose again to give us new life.
Starting at verse 42 of 1 Corinthians 15 God through the Apostle Paul provides a series of contrasts between this present earthly body including of the Christian after we are born again and that we receive from physical conception with the heavenly, spiritual or unto resurrection life body. First the apostle Paul mentions this earthly body it is sown in corruption which means that our earthly body from the moment of conception is subject to corruption or the aging process leading to physical death in most cases. However for all people in this Church Age who trust in God's Son the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Saviouor and get a new heart from God energized by His come to be indwelling Holy Spirit we will at the very near rapture of the Church get an incorruptible body or a body that will be eternal and will not age at all. These bodies are also sown in dishonour which means they are just made up of the elements of the ground and are subject to decay back to those elements. However at the rapture or resurrection or transformation of all Church Age saints our bodies will be raised in glory which possibly could include the idea of having some radiance around them like Jesus' resurrection body certainly has now and will have when He returns to glory to judge this world. This promise to Church Age Christians that our bodies will be raised in glory likely includes the idea that our resurrection bodies will last forever and be able to endure the full glory of God including His divine Son Jesus Christ in His main visible residence in the Third Heaven. Our current earthly bodies are also sown in weakness which means again that they are subject to death and decay from conception and birth. The Greek work here for weakness is also translated elsewhere including in the Gospels as infirmity(ies) some of which Jesus healed in people when He was on earth. If our weakenss (physically or mentally) that we have in this life is not healed by Jesus or the Holy Spirit in this life we can be assured they will be totally and permanently healed at the rapture that is very soon when the Lord Jesus Christ comes from heaven to meet His Church in the air and take us in our new powerful bodies to be with Himself in the Third Heaven. Part of the power of the new bodies is that they will never die or wear out and be able to go through space without damage from radiation or adversely affected by lack of air or limited by gravity. Our new resurrection bodies will probably travel through extra spiritual dimensions when we travel through space starting with the rapture to the third heaven that is beyond the 1st heaven (the atmosphere of earth) and the 2nd heaven (the celestial heavens extending at least 13 billion light years in the dimensions of time and space we can see with our natural bodies with physical equipment such as telescopes. The scripture reference from 1 Corinthians 15 of the contrast of our present earthly bodies with the eternal resurrection bodies we will have after the rapture of the Church is as follows:
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 1 Corinthians 15:42-43
The rapture with a reference to a trumpet with emphasis on the changing of the believer's body is also mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15 as follows:
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth (does) corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I show 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruption must put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy(your) sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:50-58
In the early first earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ a main focus of His ministry was the miracles He did in the name of God the Father. These miracles were done particularly to the Jews who saw miracles (signs) as evidence a person was sent from God and could speak for God. A main type of miracles Jesus did was to heal the sick or infirm concerning which He was able to heal virtually any type of sickness including to raise some people from the dead. In the context of this reference in Luke 5 it was just after Jesus had healed someone of their leprosy but was a reference that He also healed many other people of different types of infirmities, weaknesses or sickness. The word used many times in the gospels for the sickness or infirmities Jesus healed was the Greek word astheneia which is the same Greek word translated weakness in 1 Corinthians 15:43. In 1 Corinthians 15:43 the physical body in this life of the Christian is mentioned as sown (from conception and birth and physical death) in weakness but raised in power at the rapture and resurrection to life of Church age saints at the very close end of the present Church age. Although Jesus can and does still particularly in answer to prayer in His name to God the Father heal sicknesses or infirmities sometimes He allows even Christians or believers in the true God in this age to maintain sicknesses or infirmities to be healed or delivered of them totally and permanently when we get the resurrection body either through bodily resurrection or by our current physical bodies being changed into spiritual bodies if we are still physically alive on earth when the Lord Jesus Christ comes to take His Church of all true or born again Christians to Himself to heaven. The scripture reference from Luke 5 of the Lord Jesus Christ healing many people of their infirmities (weakness or sickness) as part of His first earthly ministry is as follows:
But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. Luke 5:15
The background of this passage is that the Lord Jesus Christ was teaching in a local synagogue in Galilee on the Sabbath (Saturday) as He often did in His public ministry. The focus of this account is a woman that was present in the congregation who had an infirmity (same Greek word as weakness or sometimes used for sickness that is the word astheneia. This is the same word as is translated weakness in 1 Corinthians 15:43. This is another example that if God the Father through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ and by His Holy Spirit does not heal those of us who are or who become Christians or born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ in this life of infirmities or sickness, we will be fully healed of all remaining sickness when we are changed from this earthly body of weakness to our resurrected powerful spiritual body at the very soon coming rapture of the Church or for those Christians who die physically before the rapture those who are resurrected to the new powerful spiritual bodies at the rapture compared to the earthly bodies of weakness they had until they physically died when they bodily lived with their earthly bodies on earth.)
This woman who had the infirmity had it for eighteen years and she could have been a regularly attending member of that synagogue or she could have specially come there when she knew or heard that Jesus would be in attendance in the hopes of being healed of her infirmity by Him. This woman was physically crippled since the scripture says she was bowed over and couldn't lift herself up which means she was bent over with a damaged backspine and probably had some problems walking normally. She must have made eye contact or called out to Jesus because Jesus was aware of her in the congregation and that she wanted to be healed by Him. Jesus then announced to her that she was healed of her infirmity or weakness by His miraculous power and her trust in Him that He could heal her. Jesus then laid His hands on her and she was made stright or I think her backspine was made straight including Jesus' healing any limitations her curved spine might have given her in proper walking etc. or in backpain. This woman then glorified God which would be likely God the Father that she would think sent Jesus as the Messiah, Christ or Annointed one of God and the Lord Jesus Christ Who she might have realized is God the Son but Who together with the Holy Spirit are One God in Being but Three in Persons the Divine Trinity. Instead of glorifying God including Jesus the ruler of the synagogue criticized Jesus for healing on the Sabbath that the Pharisees who managed most of the synagogues in Israel considered work in their interpretation of the Law of Moses and that should not be done on the Sabbath. The ruler of the synagogue probably would not have had a problem with Jesus healing the woman if He had done it on some other day of the week but Jesus healed her on the Sabbath to try to persuade the people including the Pharisees that good such as healing could be done on the Sabbath.
(In Exodus 23 the word of God says that the Israelites were to rest on the Sabbath that their animals including ox or ass (donkeys) could rest in verse 12. However Exodus 23 also says in verse 4 of the same chapter that the Israelites including the Jews were to immediately help an animal including of a neighbour, even of a neighbour they despised, either to return a straying animal to their neighbour or the animal under an excessive burden to lighten the burden of the animal. The Israelites including the Jews of Jesus's day apparently interpreted these scriptures to allow for looking after the needs of their animals including giving them food and water even on the Sabbath day. Jesus then got to His point was that the needs of a human being are much more important than that of an animal including that if the Pharisees would allow for doing good to an animal on the Sabbath there should be all the more reason for doing good to a fellow human being such as His healing the woman with infirmity in the synagogue.
Jesus also mentioned that the woman's infirmity was in some way a bondage from Satan the devil. He may have meant this infirmity was directly a result of this woman's or some person who was an adversary of hers being involved in activity glorifying the devil that today we might call being involved in occult or demonic activity or He could have meant that all diseases or infirmities are part of this fallen world with disease and death going back to the curse on our first parents Adam and Eve when they disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. The result of Jesus healing the woman was that many of the common people glorified God but some of the adversaries such as some of the Pharisees with their strict interpretation of the Law of Moses including what could or couldn't be done on the Sabbath became angrier at Jesus. The scripture reference from Luke 13 of the woman with infirmity that is the same word as weakness in 1 Corinthians 15 that Jesus healed on the Sabbath day in the synagogue is as follows:
And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him. Gospel of Luke 13:10-17
In Luke 4:40 at the beginning of the public ministry of the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ He healed many of their sickness or diseases. The word in Luke 4:40 is from the same Greek root word as asthesia for weakness in 1 Corinthians 15:43. Again what I believe this means is that for born again Christians or members of the true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ through faith in Him as our personal Lord and Saviour Jesus will give us a new eternal spiritual body that will not have any sickness that we might still have had when we left this world or that we had in our earthly bodies when He comes for His church if we are still physically living on Earth at the time of the rapture of the Church. This again can be taken as some encouragement to born again Christians including myself who have some major medical sickenss for which we have not been healed from in answer to prayer, by medical means etc. in this life in that we will be fully healed of those situations for our eternal spiritual powerful bodies. The scripture reference from Luke 4 of the Lord Jesus healing many people from the time of the beginning of His public ministry on Earth of their sicknesses or weakness is as follows:
Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them. Luke 4:40
Christians or those who become Christians should take courage that our Lord Jesus Christ has passed into heaven and is now our high priest or mediator for us before God the Father. This is after He successfully completed His first earthly ministry and endured His infirmities without any sin. Since the Lord Jesus Christ was God who took on a human although sinless human nature through His virgin birth and coming from heaven to earth in this way He is able to better identify with believers (in this Church age Christians who are either Jewish or non-Jewish (Gentile)) that if He had just stayed in heaven without an incarnation or body. Some of the infirmities or weaknesses Jesus endured was to get depressed or in the King James Version (heavy or have heaviness) because of disease and death as in the case of Lazarus at the time Jesus raised him from the dead in John 11 or because of sin of the human race in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:37) just before Jesus went to the cross to pay for our sins including to bear God's wrath that we deserve for the three hours of darkness on the cross so believers won't have to endure that forever in the lake of fire.
Jesus could have also had some infirmities such as hunger pangs when he fasted for 40 days at the beginning of His public ministry and could have had human infirmities such as a cold or flu or something like that although I am not aware of any specific reference in the Bible to it but that could still be suffered by Him to identify with us without sin on His part. Jesus also endured infirmity through the heavy schedule on Him in His public ministry when many people pressured Him for healing (such as Luke 4:38-44) and this could have been wearying for Him physically and mentally but this was still without sin but would help Him better identify with us as our high priest. Also Jesus definitely endured physically harm and pain when He was whipped and punched and crucified at the end of His public ministry (such as in Matthew 26:66-68, 27:26-35) but all without sin but that would help Him to better identify with people especially Christians or those who would become Christians who also suffer physical harm or infirmity to encourage especially Christians to better endure these things without sin. The word for infirmity in Hebrews 4:15 is the similiar Greek word for sick in Luke 4:40 and the same Greek word for infirmities in Luke 5:15. This should encourage Christians or those who become Christians to pray to God in Jesus' name to seek His strength when we suffer infirmity, sickness or weakness.
The word for infirmity that Jesus suffered and can identify with people especially believers in this life is the same Greek word as the word weakness in 1 Corinthians 15:43. When Jesus rose from the dead with His spiritual resurrection body He still had the scar marks from His cruxifiction and being pierced in His side but they would no longer be any pain or physical sickenss associated with them and was otherwise no longer showing any marks of His suffering leading up to the cross such as His being pummeled in the face which would have caused some scars or disfigurement until He died on the cross. I believe the spiritual bodies of Christians will not have any scars or disfigurement and will be in the prime of life but that Jesus chose to maintain the scar marks in His side and hands and perhaps feet as an eternal reminder to people of what He suffered to save us from our sins. Finally, that Jesus had infirmity in this life and rose again to life with a spiritual eternal body can give encouragement to Christians or those who become Christians (that has to be in this life) that He can identify with us in the hope of having this body of weakness transformed into a powerful spiritual body at the very soon coming rapture of the Church either through resurrection to life of departed Christians or through an instant change to the eternal body for the generation (most likely this one) who will be physically alive when the Lord Jesus Christ comes to take His true Church of all born again and by His blood redeemed Christians to heaven. The scripture reference from Hebrews 4 that believers should come to God through our high priest and His Son Jesus Christ in heaven to also get encouragement when we face physical or mental infirmity or weakenss in this life and that this word infirmity is the same word as weakness in 1 Corinthians 15 in contrasting this present earthly body with the powerful resurrection body for believers is as follows:
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16
In this passage in 2 Corinthians 2 the Apostle Paul mentions infirmities or weakness sent on him by Jesus through Satan the devil to prevent Paul from glorying so much in the revelations God was giving him that he would become ineffective in Christian service through pride. There are other instances of God sending the devil or evil spirits (demons) even on believers to either chasten believers or to test believers. For instance God allowed an evil spirit to bring some judgment on Israel because of King David's numbering of the armies of Israel instead trusting more in God for military success, God allowed Satan to test the man of God Job to show the faithfulness of Job under trial also to the devil in the book of Job and God allowed the devil to test the apostle Peter when Jesus was on His way to the cross to chasten Peter for his being overly self-confident but Jesus also limited how much Satan could test Peter.
This chapter begins with God through the apostle Paul recording an experience of someone who was caught up to the third or highest heaven into God's presence and saw wonderful visions of God and heaven that he was not allowed to share with people on earth. There is debate who this person was whether he was Paul himself or someone else but I personally think he was probably the Apostle Paul. Paul mentioned he could glory about this even if it was himself with that experience in his new nature in Christ but that generally he wouldn't glory or boast in himself in the revelations such as spiritual truths God gave him about the Church that he wrote in the epistles in the New Testament but that he would instead glory in his infirmities. This is a good idea for all true Christians although it isn't easy and I personally still have an infirmity that I have sought or prayed to God through Jesus to remove quite a few times but still have but that may nevertheless make me more effective in Christian service to keep me more humble despite continuing insights God gives me by His Holy Spirit into His word the Holy Bible. Whether we are studying God's word the Holy Bible and evangelizing or teaching from the Bible in ministry to believers or using some other spiritual gift we have as Christians or come to apply when we become Christians there is the temptation to glory in ourselves with spiritual pride for our service to God instead of remembering that it is only God through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ who has saved us and given us the new born again nature and who can enable us by His Holy Spirit and the new nature to carry out effective Christian service to God and so we shouldn't be so quick to take glory or credit ourselves for these things.
For the apostle Paul the infirmity was probably some problem with his eyes as he hints at that a couple times such as saying hypothetically he would pluck out his eyes for better spiritual growth of some of the people in churches he planted or that he had large handwriting. Each time in this scripture passage in 2 Corinthians 12 that the word infirmity or weakness is used it is from the Greek word astheneia or a related word which is also the word used in the above passages for weakness, sickness or infirmity concerning some infirmities of people that Jesues healed in HIs first earthly ministry and of the weakness of this earthly body mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:43 compared to the powerful spiritual resurrection bodies that Christian believers will be changed into very soon at the rapture of the Church to end this current Church Age or dispensation. Lastly Paul by the Holy Spirit shares that he is stronger in Christ and his new nature in Christ or more effective in Christian service while he still has to endure in this life his infirmities including not just his probable eye affliction but some hardships such as necessities like lacking food etc. or persecutions for Jesus' sake. The scripture passage of Paul's infirmities or weakness making him more effective for Christian service and that he boasted in and that we as believers would also do better to glory in but that I could also do better this way to keep us from spiritual pride in our service to God in 2 Corinthians 12 is as follows:
It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory, I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such an one I will glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strenght is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 2 Corinthians 12:1-10
A final reference to the rapture that also refers to a trumpet is in Revelation 4. It is also good to note the trumpet as said to be talking with the apostle John which he would hear as will people who are believers in Jesus when the rapture happens with the aid of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Although this scripture passage only involves the apostle John I believe it is symbolic of the entire church being caught up at the end of the Church Age and just before the Great Tribulation on Earth begins.
The context in Revelation of the apostle John being caught up is also very important. It occurs immediately after chapters 2 and 3 which are about the current church age or dispensation and is followed by a scene around the throne of God with elders wearing crowns and casting them at God's feet probably symbolizing the judgment for rewards and crowns or loss of them for Christian service for believers in Heaven immediately after the rapture. This is then followed in Revelation 5 by a scene of believers most likely the Church praising God and Jesus (the Lamb) in Heaven and the Lord Jesus Christ being chosen to unloose the seals for God's judgment on the inhabitants of Earth and then in Revelation 6 the beginning of God's judgment on the inhabitants of Earth with the beginning of the Great Tribulation or 70th week of Daniel. This reference to the rapture with mention of a trumpet is in Revelation 4 as follows:
After this(the description of the 7 churches) I looked, and behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither(to here), and I will show thee (you) things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit; and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. Revelation 4:1-2
An excellent and Biblically and scientifically sound book on the subject of the resurrection body is: The Resurrected Body - Y2K and Beyond A New Concept of the Resurrected Body from Biblical, Theological, Philosophical, and Scientific Perspectives by John B. Wong University Press of America ISBN 0-7618-1563-5 cloth The author is an evangelical Christian with one PhD in medical surgery and two PhD degrees in Theology. It is a very informative and sound book but quite academic and expensive but one of the best books on the subject at about $80 CDN including delivery costs from United States. The only bad thing about this book is the author doesn't go in very much into how these bodies could be used to explore the stellar or astronomical heavens. The author can be reached at JohnBWong@aol.com
For comments, questions, advice or more information contact Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org Contact Spirit and Truth Ministries