Throughout the Old Testament, we have seen times when Israel gathered to the sound of a trumpet. In almost every case, the trumpet was used to either wage war or to anoint a new king. The trumpet was the instrument that gathered.
In the Book of Revelation, we have trumpets that represent the major messages of the Lord going forth. Looking back in Church history, we can see these trumpets being blown by messengers, creating powerful moves of God that dictated the course of the Church through history.
We also have the repeated example of how some Christians heard the sound of the trumpets and responded, and how those who did not hear the sound would often rise up in opposition to these new movements which were led by those who heard the sound. Even so, each trumpet sound resulted in a great advance for the Gospel and the recovery of truth to the Church. Each one also brought about a separation in the Church between those who were going forward and those who wanted to remain where they were.
Recently, I was in Geneva, Switzerland. Whenever I am there I try to visit the chapel and cathedral where both John Calvin was the patriarch of a movement and John Knox preached while in exile for two years. These two men were of such prophetic authority that they could preach in a small setting yet impact the whole world. They did this without
the Internet or television, and their impact continues hundreds of years after their deaths.
They were a part of a small group who blew a great spiritual trumpet that not only changed the course of Church history but also human history. Their message not only reformed the Church but also resulted in the birth of democracy, higher forms of justice and law, and some of the basic principles of science that have released a great increase of knowledge.
It is always a marvel to me when I stand in the little chapel where they preached. The chapel was located in what was at the time, an obscure little village far from the mainstreams of civilization, and yet it had held a power to change the whole world. The only way this can be explained is - they preached a truth which time had come. They blew a trumpet where the sound originated in Heaven and had eternal qualities that ensured its lasting impact.
The key to such a message is not the audience but the origin of the message. Therefore, our basic devotion should not be to just do great things but to do the Lord's will. If we do His will, we will likely do great things.
How Should We Respond to Those Who May Not Hear What We Hear?
It is fitting that one of Calvin's most important contributions to the march of truth throughout the ages was his doctrine of original sources being required to validate a message. Of course, Calvin's goal of establishing original sources as the basis of truth was to get Christians to see past the dogma and traditions of the Church and to hold the Scriptures as the only basis of true doctrine in the Church.
As men read the Scriptures and compared its teachings to the practices of the Church, the Church had to make radical changes to conform to the Bible. This resulted in what we call the Reformation or the reforming of the Church. We are told, what is loosed in Heaven or the heavenly places gets released on earth as well (see Matthew 16:19), so not only was the Church reformed but world governments as well.
It is also interesting and important to understand how all of the great Reformation preachers wanted to reform the whole Church rather than form a new movement separate from the present Church. However, not everyone in the Church could hear the sound of this trumpet, and those who could not hear resisted it violently.
For a time, it looked like the Reformation could have been stamped out by persecution, but it grew stronger and stronger as it followed Calvin's teachings to sink its roots deeper and deeper into the Scriptures, the original source. If the Word Himself would respond to the temptations of the devil with "it is written..." (see Matthew 4:6,7), how much more should we be devoted to the Scriptures as the only "original source" for the doctrine of the Church and the power that can resist any enemy.
The illumination of truth released through the Reformation was great, but far from complete. Many succeeding movements have helped to carry the restoration of truth further and further. We are still in need of reformation, and it is still going on. Just as each reformation movement that started out by trying to reform the whole Church was rejected by those who could not hear the trumpet and went on to form new movements, this is still the case today.
New movements, even though they are born from hearing the trumpet of God, always cause a division in the Church. So how should we respond to those who may not hear what we hear and who may even persecute us for presuming to hear more than they do?
The Apostle Paul wrote in his most important Epistle, the Book of Romans, that even though the Jews had become hardened so that they resisted the Gospel and persecuted its messengers, they were beloved for the sake
of the fathers because they had been custodians of the oracles of God. Paul, therefore, warned the Gentiles who were marching forward with the New Covenant not to become arrogant toward the "natural branches," or they, too, would be cut off (see Romans 11:21).
Becoming arrogant toward those who may not see or hear what we do is a trap, which causes many to be cut off from further advancement.
Honor Our Fathers and Mothers: The Commandment with a Promise and Fruit that Remains
The only commandment with a promise is to "honor our fathers and mothers," and the promise is "so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth..." (see Ephesians 6:2-3).
Nowhere does it say we should only honor great fathers and mothers or even good ones, but simply the ones we have been given, good or bad. Almost all will be both good and bad, just as some of the greatest heroes in the Bible also made some of the greatest mistakes.
Obeying this commandment enabled King David to establish a throne that would last forever because Jesus is now seated on "the throne of David." That is longevity! He called Saul his father and honored him, even when Saul was trying to kill him. As cruel as Saul's persecution of David had been, David honored him and his house even after Saul was dead. Saul's persecution was one of the primary factors that worked such a grace in David's life that the Lord called him a man after His own heart and made him the most celebrated ancestor of the Lord Jesus.
I have studied Church history for many years and I am yet to find a single move of God that was not persecuted by the previous move of God. Usually this occurs because a spirit of jealousy comes upon the previous move of God, similar to that which came upon Saul, causing him to persecute David. Like all of the Reformers who sincerely hoped to
reform the whole Church and not leave it, but were driven out with no choice but to start a new movement, this has been a repeating cycle in Church history.
Unity is important and is one of the primary desires of the Lord for His people. However, our "love of the truth" must sometimes trump our desire for unity if we are not going to be deceived and are going to be a part of the present purposes of the Lord. Once we see the truth we are responsible to obey it, and sometimes this means that we will be driven out and persecuted by our predecessors, even by the very ones who gave birth to us in the Lord.
Not many of those who have gone forward have done so without reacting to their persecutors with retaliation. However, for those who can maintain David's attitude toward Saul and the Apostle Paul's attitude toward his worse persecutors, the Jews, who he loved so much that he said he would even give up his own salvation to see them saved, they will bear fruit that remains like David and Paul, which is continually increasing to this day.