There's no doubt that Paul established a very important principle and teaching when he expounded on the "mystery" of the principle that flesh and blood must undergo a final and dramatic change before fully inheriting the kingdom of God. We read in I Corinthians 15:50-55,
50 - Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
51 - Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 - In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet shall sound, and the deads will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
53 - For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 - But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 - O death, where is your victory. O death, where is your sting?
So a change in our physical bodies and life must occur before we can fully inherit the kingdom of God. And Paul made it absolutely clear this will happen at the last trumpet.
For many years I was always taught that this change would occur during the sequence of events described in I Thessalonians 4:13-18:
13 - But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope.
14 - For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.
15 - For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep.
16 - For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.
17 - Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.
18 - Therefore comfort one another with these words.
So those asleep or dead in the Lord and those believers actually alive are to be changed when this event in I Thessalonians occurs. I was taught this event is supposed to happen at least seven years or perhaps three and a half years before the final time of judgment on the earth.
But Jesus made a curious and intriguing reference to a trumpet in Matthew 24:29-31,
29 - But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
30 - and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth shall mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.
31 - And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
This is absolutely the last trumpet that Jesus describes here. No other trumpets are spoken of or even hinted at. Trying to logically follow it through, how can a trumpet sounding seven or three and a half years earlier be designated the trumpet (it would have to be the last) at which believers dead and alive are changed? The premise I am going on is that I was taught that the events in I Thess 4 are said to be when believers dead and alive are changed and put on immortality. Which Paul clearly showed occurs at the last trumpet (I Cor 15:52). So how can there be a last trumpet seven or three and a half years earlier BEFORE the last trumpet Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24:31?
And the trumpet of Matthew 24:31 occurs immediately AFTER THE TRIBULATION of those days (24:31).
Did I muddy it or am I making sense? I'm not a enemy to those who may believe different than I do now. We're all in this thing together. It can be discussed calmly and politley if we make an effort to do so. It's just that I'm becoming more convinced that a proper exegesis and analysis of these events may have more resting on them than many believe as it relates to the church and its calling near the end of the age.