The return of the Lord for His Bride, the Church, is the most clear in the Scriptures:
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 together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord (I Thess. 4:16-17).
Here we see the shout and also the sound of a trumpet.
We have already discussed the trumpet in connection with the dramatic Feast of Trumpets, which symbolizes the Rapture. But we might look further into that peculiar biblical symbol to fully appreciate its significance. The Rapture of the Church will be a kind of repeat performance. God had previously delivered His Chosen People into their Promised Land when Joshua led the Israelites against Jericho. The walls of Jericho have been found: they were 11 feet thick! How were the weak and wandering tribes of Israel, with their old men, women and children, going to assault this frontier city, so well prepared for just such an attack? Well, we realize what weapons they used and we realize a great truth thereby:
And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him (Josh. 6:5).
What a comparison that verse makes with the Rapture of the Church. Indeed, "the people shall ascend up"! The clincher of the type is the name of the leader. We don't often appreciate that "Jesus" is a transliteration of the real name of our Lord. His name in Hebrew was "Yeshua", which translates in English to "Joshua". In both cases, then, God used the trumpet to deliver His people to their Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua. Other Scripture explaining the fact of the Rapture also mentions the trumpet:
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 corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality (I Cor. 15:51-53).
Indeed, as Paul exalted:
O death, where is thy 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 (vs. 55-57).
We shall not die, it should be explained. We all received our eternal life the moment we were saved. We may die physically, but "the dead in Christ will rise first". We shall live on with the Lord in His Kingdom and eternity. Our Bridegroom has indeed prepared a wonderful place for us. How marvelous that "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed".
Now when the Lord comes for us, we are to have oil lamps ready and waiting. Oil in the Bible is the Holy Spirit, and we are to have the oil and be ready to travel even in the dark of night. The parable of the ten virgins (Matt. 25: 1-13) is correctly applied to the Kingdom, but has marvelous application to this wedding story. In that parable, there were ten virgins "which took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom".
And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps (Matt. 25: 2-4).
The bridegroom in this parable acted in accordance with the Jewish tradition of totally surprising the bride and catching her asleep:
While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept (v. 5).
But then he comes with a shout:
And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him (v. 6).
We will see by the ensuing verses that only those virgins with their lamps trimmed with oil were able to go with the bridegroom. The others, suddenly realizing that they were not properly prepared, went out to purchase oil, but they were too late:
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But He answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not (vs. 10-12).
The message is very clear: We must be filled and baptized with the Holy Spirit - (we must be true believers in the Lord Jesus) - to go with Him when He comes!
The oil was established as a very essential ingredient as far back as the building of the Tabernacle in the wilderness:
And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause lamp to burn always (Exodus 27: 20).
We can learn a great deal from the above Scripture. We are just like the lamp stand in the Tabernacle. We are set aflame once when we believe in the Messiah, but as we walk, we must constantly take in the oil - the Holy Spirit - in order to keep our flame burning brightly. The flame is a beautiful symbol of the Christian faith. With one flame I can light all the candles in the world and mine will not be diminished.
Understanding the symbol of the oil and the symbol of the trumpet as well, we are in a position to see how powerful we really are in this world. Gideon went forward with only 300 men and attacked a force of Midianites totaling over 100,000! Gideon, like the U.S. Marines, came forward with "a few good men", but the Lord had armed these soldiers in a special way. Remarkably, they won that battle with their peculiar attack:
And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon (Judges 7:20).
Armed with God's symbol of deliverance, the trumpet, and the symbol of the Holy Spirit, the oil in the lamps, Gideon's army prevailed over the pagans. God had chosen to have Gideon attack with such a small force so that the glory would certainly go to Him. And likewise, we carry the Holy Spirit in the same sort of pottery jars used by Gideon's men:
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us (II Cor. 4:7).
When we break the earthen vessels that are our earthly bodies, the light pours out of us and the oil within convicts the unbeliever. We are a small army, like Gideon's but outfitted with God's special weaponry, we are invincible in this spiritual battle.
But we must be absolutely certain that we have the oil -the virgins with the empty lamps could not go into the bridal chamber with the Lord. The Lord Himself concluded that parable:
Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh (Matt. 25:13).
There are a lot of empty lamps around. There are huge churches where the Holy Spirit is never mentioned nor the Word of the Lord preached. They are lamps with no oil. They shall hold services as usual on the Sunday after the Rapture.