Journey Through The Bible
Old Testament Reading: Deuteronomy 31-34
New Testament Reading: Revelation 8
When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand in the presence of God; seven trumpets were given to them. Another angel, with a golden incense burner, came and stood at the altar. He was given a large amount of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar in front of the throne (Revelation 8: 1-3).
The host of heaven had just worshiped the Father and the Lamb with a tremendous offering of praise. But when the Lamb opened the seventh Seal, heaven was silent for about thirty minutes. John does not tell us what caused the silence, but perhaps the heavenly host was simply awestruck at what they saw was about to happen.
When the Lamb breaks the seventh seal, it will unleash a new set of judgments - the Trumpet judgments. Trumpets may not be very meaningful to us today, but to John’s audience, they held significant meaning. Throughout the Old Testament, trumpets signified an alarm, a call to war, or the beginning of feasts.
Who can ever forget the seven trumpets made from rams’ horns that Joshua had the priest blow on the seventh trip around the city of Jericho? Just as the sound of seven trumpets brought the walls of Jericho down and brought the end to the city. Seven trumpets blown from heaven will bring seven judgments down on the earth, beginning the end to Satan’s Kingdom.
Another angel steps forward with a golden censer filled with incense and the prayers of all the saints as an offering to God on the altar before the throne. The phrase the prayers of all the saints (v3) could refer to every prayer that every Christian in every age ever uttered. But because of what transpires in verses five and six, it probably refers to the prayers for vengeance by the tribulation saints that were martyred mentioned in Rev. 6:9-10.
This special angel presented the incense and prayers to God. He then took the golden censer with the incense and prayers and filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it to the earth (v5). This action created a storm on the earth of thunder and lightning, along with an earthquake. This storm was just the start of what the Trumpet judgments would cause.
The first four Trumpet judgments follow quickly in succession. These are ‘natural’ judgments in that they affect the land, the saltwater, the fresh water, and the heavenly bodies. These four judgments parallel the plagues that God sent upon Egypt. And why not? After all, the entire world will be saying as did Pharaoh, “Who is the Lord that we should serve Him?”
At this point, a remarkable messenger will appear in the sky, proclaiming woe to the earth’s inhabitants. The three ‘woes’ in verse 13 refer to the judgments yet to come when the final three trumpets will be blown. It is as though the messenger was proclaiming “If you think this has been terrible, just wait. The worst is yet to come!”