“On the road again…..I just can’t wait to get on the road again”.
Well, gang, we are back on the Revelation road. After a few excursions into the Old Testament to visit with Nehemiah and Daniel and a week off because life got crazy for me, we are returning to the book of The Revelation. Let’s do a quick reminder of where we find ourselves.
We began in January with Chapter 1 and have worked our way through chapters 1 – 7 of the Revelation that Jesus gave to the apostle John. We finished Revelation 7 by watching Jesus, the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world, take a scroll from the hand of God and begin to open the seals that bound it.
The opening of each seal brought forth increasing devastation and destruction upon the earth. But, as someone said, “You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!”
Revelation 7 offered a beautiful interlude where the 144,000 Jewish witnesses were sealed. We were given a glimpse of heaven and the redeemed around the throne. Now, lean in and watch Jesus open Seal 7 in Revelation 8:1-5 (ESV).
When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.
And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne,
and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.
Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.
Silence in heaven for about half an hour. No worship, no music. Nothing. Just silence. May I offer you a quote about the silence? It is taken from God’s Final Word: Understanding Revelation by Ray C. Stedman, and the quote is by Earl Palmer:
It is the silence of mystery and intense waiting….There is communicated in a very dramatic way in this quietness the full and awesome authority of God. Everything must wait for his kingly move.
Judgment will begin when God decrees it.
Just as quickly as the silence began, it ends and seven angels are given seven trumpets. The sounding of these trumpets will be the subject of upcoming lessons, so I’m going to defer comments on them for now. I want to focus on the eighth angel for a moment.
The place this angel stands is highly significant. In the Old Testament tabernacle compound there were two altars: the Brazen or Bronze altar and the Golden altar.
The Bronze altar was positioned outside the Holy place in the courtyard. It was on this altar that sacrifices for the sin of the Israelites were made. That is not the altar being referenced in this passage, for there is no need for a sacrificial altar in heaven. Jesus has made the ultimate and final sacrifice.
The Golden altar in the Old Testament tabernacle was positioned within the Holy Place, just in front of the heavy curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. The purpose of the Golden altar was to burn incense as an offering to God. Very often in Scripture incense is connected to the prayers of the saints.
Given the previous destruction, and that yet to come, these verses paint the picture of a sweet, fragrant incense and the prayers of the saints wafting upward to God. They are a beautiful reminder that God hears our prayer, especially in the middle of trail and tribulation.
After the incense and prayers are offered up, the same angel fills his censer full of coals from the altar and hurls it to earth. This censer is a symbol of God’s wrath and the throwing of it sets off a new wave of destruction on earth that includes another earthquake.
There is a parallel passage in Ezekiel 10 that tells of coals being scattered over the city of Jerusalem just prior to the glory of the Lord departing the temple. These coals will bring judgment on the city, just as the fire from the censer in Revelation 8 will bring judgment on the earth.
This is a good place to break for today. Next week we will begin to see the trumpet judgments occur. Until then, friends.