Scripture reading for December 17th: Revelation 8:1-13
As the Lamb opened the seventh seal on the scroll, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour! (Revelation 8:1) The number ‘seven’ was a special number to the Hebrew people. It represented completion and fullness. It was the number of rest from the story of creation and the day of rest for the people of God, Israel. This silence signified rest, completion, and anticipation of the opening of the scroll by the Lamb.
After the silence, seven angels appeared before the throne and they were given seven trumpets. John then noticed another angel, “who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.” (Revelation 8:3-5)
This description from before the throne of God helps us as saints to understand how our prayers ascend before God. God loves to hear from His children. Their prayers are a sweet fragrance to Him, symbolized by the incense offered. John knew that the golden altar of incense in the temple was right before the veil. It was there that the priests offered daily prayers and burned incense. He was now seeing the reality of this in heaven!
In response to those prayers from earth, heaven shook the earth with fire from the altar! Prayers are powerful and release power from heaven to bring help and assistance in the battle against evil and sin. We must always pray and not faint. God’s delight is to help those who call on Him in trouble! (Psalm 50:15)
The silence in heaven was broken by the sounding of the seven trumpets. As each one sounded, judgments fell on the earth. These all seem to come in response to the prayers going up before God! Four angels sounded trumpets and then John saw an eagle flying in midair and calling out: “Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels.” (Revelation 8:13)