Revelation Chapter 8
The seventh seal, the golden censer and the trumpets
V 1. "And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour."
This silence in heaven means that all intercessory work has ended! It may take half an hour of prophetic time to mean 7 days in which JESUS and His angels travel to this earth.
V 2. "And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets." Trumpets are usually used to announce something! The arrival of judgment or war. In this case we think it is both climaxing with the war of Armageddon.
V 3. "And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne."
This is obviously an allusion to the temple of GOD where the altar of incense is located in the first apartment or holy place. Another angel is here introduced who is not part of the trumpeted angels. Doubtless the entire work of mediation for the people of GOD during the gospel era is here presented. This apparent from the fact that the angel offers his incense with the prayers of 'ALL' saints. This setting tells us that the scourges described in this chapter are certainly like plagues, yet they are not the seven last plagues because the altar of incense shows it to take place during the phase of CHRIST's ministry in the holy place before 1844 AD.
V 4. "And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand."
CHRIST is our Intercessor. The prayers that are placed in the golden censor of the Savior's merit are accepted by the Father. Perfumed with the fragrance of His righteousness, the incense ascends to GOD as a sweet savor.
V 5. "And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake."
That we are here carried forward to the end of time, is evident from the act of the angel in filling the censer with fire and casting it to the earth. By this act he shows that his work is done. This symbolic act can only refer to the time when the ministration of CHRIST in the sanctuary in behalf of mankind has forever ceased. These are words of hope and comfort to us; terrible scenes are introduced when the angels of the seven trumpets starting to sound:
V 6. "And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound."
V 7. "The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up."
Trees in the Bible are used as symbols for GOD's people [Psalms 1:3]. "That they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord." [Isa.61:3]. CHRIST'S act in cursing the fig tree had astonished the disciples. It seemed to them unlike His ways and work. Often they had heard Him declare that He came not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. They remembered His words, "The Son of man is not come to destroy men's live, but to save them [Luke 9:56] His wonderful works had been done to restore, never to destroy. The disciples had known Him only as the Restorer, the Healer. This act stood alone. What was its purpose? They questioned.
The cursing of the gig tree was an acted parable. The barren tree, flaunting its pretentious foliage in the very face of CHRIST, was a symbol of the Jewish nation. JESUS speaking of the end of the Jewish nation [er.31:31,36] "And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees; therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire." Matthew 3:10.
So here, in Revelation ch.8, GOD is dealing with an apostate and Lukewarm Laodecean church. Just as the Jewish Church had departed from the truth and did not notice the withdrawl of the spirit of GOD, was imbued with a different spirit, will also be cast in the fire of the seven last plagues.
All green grass. This shows the severity of the tempest dramatized as destroying much of the vegetation.
Hail and fire. reminds us of the plagues in Egypt Exodus 9:22-25.
V 8. "And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;"
The Roman Empire after Constantine the Great, was divided into three parts. Hence the frequent remark, 'a third part of men,' The division of the Roman kingdom was made at the death of Constantine, among his three sons, Constantius, Constantine II, and Constans. Constantius possessed the East, and fixed his residence at Constantinople, the metropolis of the Empire. Constantine the II held Britain, Gaul, and Spain. Constans held Illyricum, Africa, and Italy.
Mountain symbolizes a kingdom. Both Peter and John used "Babylon" as the cryptic name for Rome [1.Peter 5:13; Revelation 17:18]. Because it destroyed Jerusalem and its temple, it was to suffer its own fate. The moral fall of spiritual Rome refers to the church of Rome as we shall see in Revelation 14 and 17, and the 18th chapters.
V 9. "And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ship were destroyed."
We often refer to the Gospel ship that throws out the life-line or life-boat. But Protestantism has repudiated all its principles of the Reformation, is now compared to a ship drifting lost at sea without a chart and without a compass.
V 10. "And third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;"
V 11. "And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter."
Wormwood is a symbol of bitterness through sin and apostasy.
V 12. "And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise."
Shone not for a third part. The light of CHRIST and the Gospel as seen in Revelation 12 shines bright like the sun and the moon under her feet, representing the old gospel dispensation, had no light of its own, but reflects the light of the sun. in the age of great apostasy just before the end of the world, we see in Revelation 15:13 three unclean spirits working miracles. true Christians are compared to stars [Daniel 12:3]. But here is darkness prophesied.
V 13. "And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhibiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!"
Some scholars have advanced the idea that the first trumpet deals with the destruction of Jerusalem. The second with the fall of Western Rome, the third, with the pollution of the gospel by the papacy. The fourth trumpet deals with CHRIST's heavenly ministry being obscured by a false system of mediation.
On the fifth trumpet, it refers to the Arabs. likewise the sixth refers to the Turks.
There seems to be serious questions concerning it. For example, the first trumpet is applied to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. This event occurred 25 years before John began to write Revelation, and when he wrote he was shown "things which must shortly come to pass" [Rev.1:1]