Lesson 29 – Revelation 8:1-5
Lesson 29 – Revelation 8:1-5
Revelation 8:1-5 – God has just handed Jesus the Scroll that tells about the end of the world. The book was so guarded that it was bound with seven seals. When Jesus began to break the seals, a picture, a movie-like scene, began to be played out before John and the heavenly host. What they saw was the terrible things that are to happen at the end of days. The first four seals showed the four horsemen of the apocalypse who are the messengers of the destruction that shall be brought on the earth by the antichrist. They show his gaining control of the world through war, famine, and economic controls. These events are characteristic of most ages, but are of unparalleled intensity in the Great Tribulation.
The fifth seal (Revelation 6:9) showed the martyrs who were slaughtered by the antichrist while he gained control of much of the earth and its economy (Revelation 6:6). The sixth seal showed the rumblings of God’s judgment being prepared and simply says, “the great day of His wrath is come,” the very threshold of the great tribulation (Revelation 6:12f).
Now we come to the seventh seal. We need to remember that the seals of a scroll are not part of the scroll. They are the seals that bind the scroll to hold it together. The seal judgments are events that happen before the events of the Great Tribulation itself takes place. Jesus called these preliminary events “the beginning of sorrows or woes” (Matthew 24:8)
Revelation 8:1 When the seventh seal is broken, there is silence. Prior to this moment John had heard a good deal of noise in heaven. There were ” sounds of thunder ” (Revelation 4:5). “The four living creatures are described as continually saying, ‘ Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God . . . (Revelation 4:8), the twenty-four elders are described as singing praise (Revelation 4:11).
In Revelation 5:2 John heard an angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘ Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals? ’ ” In response to the Lamb’s taking of the title deed to the earth (Revelation 5:5-13) the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders, the angels, and all of creation join in praising God. When the Lamb opens the seals, one of the four living creatures says with a voice of thunder, ‘ Come ’.
With the opening of the fifth seal came the cries of the martyrs for vengeance (Revelation 6:9-10), while the sixth seal there was the loud roar of an earthquake (Revelation 6:12). Then in the time between the sixth and seventh seals, an angel “cried out with a loud voice ‘Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads’ ” (Revelation 7:2-3) and so on.
After all of that loudness, as the final judgments are about to be released, silence falls on the heavenly. When the seventh seal is broken, nothing happens. Jesus stands there in stone silence. He does not move or speak. Neither does anyone else. The seal has produced no event the prophet Zechariah spoke of a moment like this in Zechariah 2:1-13.
Revelation 8:2-4 There are two catalysts of judgment. The first are seven angels who take their place before God and are handed by Him seven trumpets. These seven angels come forth when the seventh seal is broken. The judgments about to take place will be coming directly from God Himself. Trumpets always symbolize God intervention into human history. They are associated with many different events. In the Old Testament, trumpets were used to summon Israel for convocations (Numbers 10:2), to sound alarm in time of war (Numbers 10:9; 2 Chronicles 13:12; Ezekiel 33), at religious feasts (Numbers 10:10; Psalm 81:3), to announce news (1 Samuel 13:3), to acclaim new kings (1 Kings 1:34, 39), and in worship (1 Chronicles 16:6, 42; 2 Chronicles 5:12-13).
Zephaniah 1:14-16 associates trumpets with the Day of the Lord. The New Testament teaches that a trumpet will announce the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). God is about to move against a godless and evil world that has fully rebelled against Him and His Spirit. Having been introduced and given their trumpets, the seven angels did not immediately blow them. They had to wait for other important events to transpire. We need to keep in mind that the judgment of God is not just to accomplish God’s vengeance and justice but it also designed by God to drive men to Him we see this hinted at in Revelation 9:20, and Revelation 16:10 and this is the theme of Book of Judges.
The second catalyst for God’s judgment is the prayers of the saints. This is seen in the reference to the incense offered. The altar is the heavenly counterpart of the altar of incense in the temple, which also was made with gold (Exodus 30:3). It was the same golden incense altar seen by Isaiah in his vision (Isaiah 6:6) and by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 10:2). The Tabernacle and later the Temple was patterned after the design of worship in heaven (Hebrews 8:5).
The altar of incense in the tabernacle and the temple was the nearest thing to the Holy of Holies where God’s glory dwelt (Exodus 30:6). The golden censer or firepan was used by the priests twice daily (morning and evening) when they would take hot, fiery coals from the brazen altar (where sacrifices were offered) and bring them into the Holy Place to place on the incense altar (Exodus 30:7-8; 2 Chronicles 29:11; cf. 1 Kings 7:50; 2 Kings 25:15; Jeremiah 52:18-19). The hot coals would ignite the incense, which rose toward heaven, which is a picture of the prayers of the saints (Revelation 5:8).
This is what Zacharias, the father of John was doing when the angel appeared to him (Luke 1:8-10). The day is coming when God is going to answer the prayers of His people who have cried out to God for justice. Those who have been cruel and inhumane shall now suffer the most horrible punishment imaginable. Moreover, the punishment shall come from Him who is just and righteous as well as love. The question of Revelation 6:10, “How long?” is about to be answered.
Revelation 8:5 The angel takes fire from the altar, and mixes it in with the prayers of the suffering saints. Their prayers for vindication and justice and the fire of God’s holy wrath are mixed together and cast on the earth. This precipitates an enormous increase of violent thunderstorms and earthquakes. The Great Tribulation is now being launched (Psalm 19:9; Psalm 96:13; Matthew 11:22; Acts 17:31; Romans 1:18; Jude 14-15).