Revelation 8

Revelation 8

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The Seventh Seal and the Golden Censer

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.

The Seven Trumpets

Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.

The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.

The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter.

The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of their light might be darkened, and a third of the day might be kept from shining, and likewise a third of the night.

Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!”

(ESV)


Revelation 8 Commentary

by Hank Workman

The reprieve of the picture from chapter 7, this magnificent worship, changes as Revelation 8 opens with the 7th and final seal is cracked.  And what it brings is silence for half an hour. All of the angelic adoration ceases; the scene of great worship becomes mute; silence envelops the command center of the universe.

There are a few possibilities that exist for this 30-minute lull.  The scroll had now been opened completely and perhaps even turned over – all of heaven could see God’s glorious plan unfolding.  Perhaps the hosts were simply awestruck at what they saw.  Or possibly it was the bracing of what was yet to come – “Be still and know that I am God.”  For you see, the eventual blasts of the trumpets bring complete devastation so maybe silence was acknowledging and honoring God as well as to what was about to happen.

Then angels were given 7 trumpets.   This is particularly an interesting thing to consider as John was a Jew and would have understood a trumpets place in Jewish history.

The trumpet sounded at Mount Sinai when the law was given and was also blown when the king was anointed and enthroned.  And of course, trumpets were blown at the falling of Jericho.

Fascinating and powerful stuff:  Law was given, anointing of a king, conquering a stronghold.

Also found in the book of Numbers – specifically, chapter 10 – trumpets are said to have 3 different uses.  They were used to call people together, announce special times or celebrations and announce a war.

“When you arrive in your own land and go to war against your enemies who attack you, sound the alarm with the trumpets. Then the Lord your God will remember you and rescue you from your enemies. 10 Blow the trumpets in times of gladness, too, sounding them at your annual festivals and at the beginning of each month. And blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and peace offerings. The trumpets will remind the Lord your God of his covenant with you. I am the Lord your God.”

Numbers 10:9-10

The giving of these trumpets in heaven and ultimate sounding certainly would announce a declaration of war as well as the fact that God’s anointed King was enthroned in glory and about to judge his enemies.  As trumpets declared defeat to Jericho they would ultimately bring defeat to this world of Babylon.

As the book of Revelation shifts scenes continually, once again once the trumpets were handed off another sight is revealed.  Let’s jump back to chapter 5 just a moment.

“And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.

Revelation 5:8

The elders held gold bowls filled with incense, filled with the prayers of God’s followers.

Now look at the rest of this section as the final seal has been opened, and trumpets given to angels – what is mentioned.

“Then another angel with a gold incense burner came and stood at the altar. And a great amount of incense was given to him to mix with the prayers of God’s people as an offering on the gold altar before the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of God’s holy people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out. 5 Then the angel filled the incense burner with fire from the altar and threw it down upon the earth; and thunder crashed, lightning flashed, and there was a terrible earthquake.”

Revelation 8:3-5

Before the sounding of the trumpets – the prayers of the people are presented before the throne.

Within the tabernacle and temple, the golden altar stood before the veil of the Holy of Holies.  This was where the incense was burned and the priests poured out their prayers before the Holy God.

On the great day of atonement, the high priest would put incense on the coals in the censer and with the blood of the sacrifice, pray before Yahweh and enter the holy of holies (Lev 16:11-14).

This was the ministry Zacharias was performing when an angel appeared and told him his prayers had been heard and he and Elizabeth in their old age would bring forth a son whom they were to name John.

The burning incense on this altar was a picture of prayer ascending to God.

“O Lord, I am calling to you. Please hurry! Listen when I cry to you for help! 2 Accept my prayer as incense offered to you, and my upraised hands as an evening offering.”

Psalm 141:2

it is here that an angel has taken the incense mixed with the prayers of God’s people and offered them before the throne of God.

For centuries Followers have been praying “Your kingdom come, your will be done…on earth as it is in heaven.”  Revelation 6 has the martyrs under the altar praying for God to vindicate them. Now, in Revelation 8, these prayers are about to be answered as they were received, presented before God then kicked to the earth – showing God’s judgment and the effects about to unleashed.  The storm was about to hit.

And within this very strange event, there is encouragement to be found for God’s people.  Although sin abounds, although persecution takes place, although wrong is right within this world, and we are filled by liars and deception – still the prayers of God’s children are accepted and received in His sight.  The prayers of His people are heard and answered within His time, within His Holy Plan.

As someone once said, the purpose of prayer is not to get man’s will done in heaven but to get God’s will done on earth – and in this case – even if it involves judgment.

As I ponder the impact of these verses from Revelation I am struck by one thing overall.  The different ideas and concepts of what happens or how it happens that Believers can get so caught up in do not matter.  What matters is that one day Jesus is coming back.  This is what matters.  And it is imperative that Jesus is the Center of our life.  It is important that we are ready in season and out of season for when He comes.  We must have the Spirit of Christ living within us.  We must be diligent in our prayers for they are received.  There is an urgency.  Jesus is coming back.

Since we never know when Jesus will return, each generation must live in expectancy of His coming.  He is coming back.  He will return.  We must be ready.  And we must continue to cry for His Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.

So be it.

Revelation 8

Revelation 8 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

Continuing on the theme from Chapter 7, John either heard or saw something with every seal that was opened. Here in Revelation 8, the seventh seal is broken and he hears and sees nothing for 30 minutes. A half an hour of time is not long at all, but when it’s complete silence, it seems like an eternity. What is the reason for the silence? As with most of Revelation, there are many views. I lean toward this being a dramatic pause before the outpouring of our Holy God.

“But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.”

Habakkuk 2:20 NASB

Be silent before the Lord GOD! For the day of the LORD is near, For the LORD has prepared a sacrifice, He has consecrated His guests.

Zephaniah 1:7 NASB

“Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD; for He is aroused from His holy habitation.”

Zechariah 2:13 NASB

We can’t ignore the parallels between prayers and judgment. In Chapter 6, it’s the prayers of the martyrs that trigger the opening of the sixth deal. Here, it is the prayers from all (living and dead) believers that literally ignites the altar of incense before the throne of God. It’s fascinating the consider that God places His desires upon us and as we respond faithfully in prayer, He then uses those prayers to ignite His righteous judgments on the penetrating evil that has plagued humanity since the beginning. The smoke then creeps up into God’s holy nostrils as He prepares to unleash His wrath.

The altar, which has always symbolized God’s mercy, becomes the source of His judgment. The sounding of the trumpets, common in the OT, is a declaration of war. The severity of the trumpets seems far more volatile than the seals were. Although the seals were more symbolic in their description, the trumpets give vivid details as to what is actually taking place on Earth.

The first four trumpets seem to indicate a reversal of the creation process. Trees, grass, the sea, sea creatures, ships, rivers, springs, the sun, the moon, and stars are all affected by the first four trumpets. Wormwood is a plant from the middle east which is extremely bitter. Here, it indicates that the water source will be severely damaged sending the world into crisis. The three ‘woes’ at the end of the chapter may very well foreshadow the next three trumpets set to be blown.

Why Judgment?

All that is wrong in our world will never be made right again until judgment comes. This is reflected in our prayers every day. We pray for evil to be eradicated. We pray for peace. We pray for unity. We pray for closeness to God. And the list goes on and on. Think about all that you pray for on a daily basis and then consider, can all those prayers be answered without God’s judgment coming? Most likely, many of your prayers are based around God finally destroying all evil and suffering.

Here, in Revelation 8, we find that our prayers go up and God’s judgment comes down. This is why the assurance of our faith in Jesus is so important. If we are not assured that we are found in Him, we would never pray for judgment because that would be like praying God’s wrath upon ourselves. But for those found in Jesus, we should welcome God’s judgment upon this sin-filled earth knowing that we will receive strength to endure from Jesus Himself. The genuine prayers of God’s people will hasten the end times.

The following verses describe a time when God will finally respond to all those prayers.

Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.  7  The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.  

8  The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood.  9  A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

Revelation 8:6-9 ESV

These events are not natural disasters. This is not a meteor shower or a nuclear bomb. Certainly, God can use those things, but everyone on earth will recognize this judgment as coming from God.

What is the result of the first two trumpets? Ecological ruin. Notice that it is not directed at people. It is the trees, the grass, and the sea. Let look at what Jesus said regarding these events…

“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves,  26  people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Luke 21:25-26 ESV

On some levels, this is simply a warning of what is to come. People should look around at the ecological destruction and turn to God in repentance. However, we read later in Revelation, people will prefer to die rather than repent.

Although humanity is not the direct target, they will be affected greatly by these initial trumpet blasts. There is a hard line being drawn at this point which will force people to double down in their effort to rebel against God or turn to Him in repentance. For some, this may be the only way they will turn. For others, it will only antagonize them. But either way, this is a real judgment. There will be real destruction and pandemonium. The widespread damage is a prelude to Jesus’ return and, as hard as it may seem, should give believers hope that His Second Coming is only moments away.

Additional Resources

Revelation 8 Sermon
The Boxcutter Podcast – Revelation 8: The Trumpet Blast Heard Round The World

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