The Joyful Noise of Trumpets
“With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord! … He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity (vv. 6–9).- Psalm 98
Scripture uses trumpets in many places to announce the Lord’s judgment. Trumpets were blown as Joshua led the Israelites in procession around Jericho, proclaiming that the day of judgment on Canaan had arrived (Josh. 6). Second Chronicles 13 tells us that trumpets were blown as Jeroboam and his army were defeated for going against the Davidic king. Jeremiah heard the trumpets of battle as God prepared to judge Jerusalem for its transgressions (Jer. 4:19–31).
Due to these associations with judgment, it is no surprise that the Feast of Trumpets came to be celebrated as an anticipation of that last day when the Creator will right all wrongs and cause eternal justice to fall upon the enemies of His people. That will be a dreadful day for the impenitent, but for those who have been declared righteous, it will be a day of glory. Today’s passage depicts the joy and celebration that will occur when the perfectly righteous Judge brings the Feast of Trumpets to its fullest consummation. In its original context, Psalm 98 may have been written to celebrate the return of Israel from the Babylonian exile, an event that is connected to the latter days (Deut. 4:25–31). On account of the impenitence of most Israelites, the return in 538 BC did not result in the glorious age of righteousness; thus, the faithful remnant saw in Psalm 98 an anticipation of a greater restoration that was to come.
Like the trumpets sounded at Feast of Trumpets, which looked forward to that final day, trumpets will be sounded on the great day of judgment (Ps. 98:6). But what is most notable about the prediction of the end in this psalm is that many of the enemies of Israel will also see the salvation of the Lord. When the Creator finally makes visible His invisible reign in its fullness, even the ends of the earth will benefit from His redemption, along with the faithful remnant in Israel of course (v. 3). Under the new covenant, we see how God is extending this salvation to the whole world, namely, by transforming the hearts of the Gentiles and incorporating them into the true Israel of God, that community of Jews and Gentiles who trust in the great son of David (Rom. 11). Though we wait for that final trumpet blast, the Lord’s addition of the Gentiles to His church has brought the final fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets closer than it was under the old covenant (13:11).
Paul tells us that God will judge us according to our righteousness on that last day (Rom. 2:1–11). Yet if we depend on our own works that day, all hope will be lost for us. Instead, we must depend on the imputed righteousness of Christ, which is ours by faith alone in the person and work of our Savior (2 Cor. 5:21). Let us be clear that His righteousness is the only way for any human being to pass through the fire of His judgment unscathed.
Passages for Further Study