“When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.”
Revelation 8 paints a sober picture and before the events unfold, Heaven goes silent for half an hour. These events are a series of judgments that are unleashed upon the earth. While it, no doubt, grieves the heart of God to judge the sinful men He sent His own Son to save, these judgments are released as the prayers of God’s people arise like incense before the throne of God.
Revelation 8:3-4 “Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.”
For thousands of years, the hearts of God’s children have been crying out against the injustices of men. In war-torn parts of the world, men’s hearts cry out; they are saddened and exhausted by constant uprisings, as others vie for power, position or wealth. They are weary of watching their sons and daughter die. They are weary of losing their freedom to share Christ with their neighbors and friends. They are weary of the persecutions that rise against them. Their hearts cry out to heaven, where their prayers become like sweet incense before the throne of God. In peaceful parts of the world, men’s hearts cry out against injustice and immorality. They are tired of wickedness running rampant; tired of evil being called good and good, evil. Tired of hearing of millions of wombs being assaulted and babies aborted. As their hearts cry out, they too, become like sweet incense arising to the throne of God.
Revelation 8:5 “Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.”
All that follows, is the just recompense of living sin-filled lives. All the injustice that man has brought upon man will one day be reckoned, as God righteously deals with the sins of man. While my heart and yours echo these cries for justice, we are all guilty of committing the very injustices we cry to be made right. Fortunately, there is a glorious escape from the judgement provided in the cross. Every heart that cries out for His mercy will be pardoned from all sin and escape the righteous judgment to come.
Questions for Revelation 8
The main theme of Revelation is God revealing His Son as rightful King of men and creation as He brings to an end or to completion the fallen world. In chapter 6 we began the Great Tribulation, the time of God’s final terrible dealings with the current world system. Yet in spite of the terrible calamities of this time, we see in chapter 7 that there are a tremendous number of people who receive God’s offer of forgiveness during the tribulation.
1. Six seals were opened in chapter 6; here in chapter 8 the seventh is opened. What happens immediately after the seal is opened? What does the seventh seal lead directly into (verse 2)?
2. Look at verses 3 and 4. The prayers of the saints are offered with incense. Incense is symbolic of prayer in the Scripture. Look up Exodus 30:8, 1Thes 5:17, Luke 18:1-7, and Ephesians 6:18. What do these teach us about prayer? How often? Is prayer valuable to God? How valuable is it to you?
3. When the censer is thrown to the earth, what happens? These events are an ominous sign of the judgments to come as the trumpets sound.
4. As the first angel sounds his trumpet, what happens? Consider the effect that this would have upon people’s lives.
5. As the second angel sounds in verses 8-9 we are told of a great meteor or comet crashing into the sea and of the terrible destruction it cause both to marine life and nautical industry. How do you think these things would affect life on earth?
6. As the third angel sounds, another meteorological phenomenon takes place that results in a poisoning of water sources. The poisoning could be radiation, viral, bacterial, or something else, but it ultimately results in death for some people. Water is essential to life. Wormwood on the other hand is always associated with bitterness in the Bible. Contrast this water with the water Jesus promises in John 7:37-39.
7. What is the result of the fourth angel sounding? Regardless of the exact way that this happens, the result is the same: greater darkness, less light. Read John 3:18-21
8. Three trumpets are left to be sounded. And the angel warns “Woe, woe, woe” to everyone who will endure what is coming. God is faithful to warn us when we are heading into trouble by disobeying Him. Is He warning you to return to obedience to Him? If He is, it is because He loves you and wants to protect you from the consequences of sin.
Ezekiel 28- Israel