“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 gold 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 gold altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up in the presence of God from the angel’s hand. The angel took the incense burner, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it to the earth; there were rumblings of thunder, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.” Revelation 8:1-6
Will you join me in prayerfully considering these verses?
Do you find it interesting that there was silence in heaven for about half an hour? Even praises were silenced? Take a look at Revelation 4:8. “Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty – the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.” Amen!! And whenever these living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the One seated on the throne, the 24 elders fall down, worship, and cast their crowns saying: “Our Lord and God, You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because You have created all things, and because of Your will they exist and were created.” (Revelation 4:11) But, when the seventh seal is opened, there is s i l e n c e. Can you imagine it? It is interesting to note that the word silence here means ‘an involuntary stillness or inability to speak’. This is quite different than ‘a voluntary refusal or indisposition to speak’ (Strongs).
Here are some other places in scripture where we see silence is required:
“Stand in silence in the presence of the Sovereign LORD, for the awesome day of the LORD’s judgment is near.” Zephaniah 1:7
“Let them sit alone in silence beneath the LORD’s demands.”
What reasons can you think of to be silenced because of the Lord? I am reminded of Romans 11:33…it is one of my favorites. “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways!” What else is there to say? Speaking of the ‘depth’, Paul knew the mysteries of the kingdom of God better than most yet he confesses he is at a loss; despairing to find the bottom, he humbly sits down at the limit of his understanding, and adores the depth (abyss). This indeed will cause a person to be silent, marveling at the depths of God (1 Corinthians 2:10). Human vocabulary is completely insufficient to describe His wonder and it thrills me to know this.
Let’s take a look at the incense. In Exodus 30 it is referred to as sacred. The ingredients used to prepare the incense (fragrant spices of starte, onycha, and galbanum, along with pure frankincense) were then to be season with salt, pure and holy. Do you recall that our speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6) and that we should walk in sacrificial love as Christ did which was a sweet-smelling aroma? (Ephesians 5:2)
God told Moses to place the gold altar for incense in front of the ark of the testimony (Exodus 40:5) and that this would be the location He would meet with him (Exodus 25:22). It is fascinating to read that when the Temple of God in heaven was opened, the Ark could be seen! In our focus verses in Revelation, the angel came to the gold altar in front of the throne with a large amount of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints. The burning of the incense mixed with the prayers of the saints (the prayers are to be incensed, so as to (typically) render them pure and acceptable to God) went up in the presence of God – IN HIS PRESENCE! Can you imagine that He wanted that altar to be next to His throne? The angel then mixed the incense with the prayers, added fire from the altar and then hurled it all to earth. The impact our prayers must have when mixed with the fire from the holy altar of heaven! Dynamite!! We are privileged to be able to see the fulfillment of some of our prayers now but some of them will just have to wait until the One that sits on the throne informs the angel that it is time to get the gold incense burner!
I just have to tell you – I am about to jump out of my seat right now reading this!! “On the morning of the third day, thunder roared and lightning flashed, and a dense cloud came down on the mountain. There was a long, loud blast from a ram’s horn (here is our trumpet), and all the people trembled.” (Exodus 19:16) The Lord was coming down!!! Glory!! Verse 18 tells us that all of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the LORD descended in the form of fire! Tell me you are jumping out of your earth suit right now! In our verses in Revelation, the angles are preparing to sound their trumpets and the Lord WILL COME and vindicate his saints!!! Whew! I love the idea of the Lord coming down with such drama!
(This is an amazing song, but… I will warn you that a few images might be difficult to watch for some people. If you do view it, make sure you watch to the end – it is my favorite part!)
Here are some other places in Scripture that speak of thunder, lightning, and earthquakes:
“From the throne came flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder.” Revelation 4:5
“Then, in heaven, the Temple of God was opened and the Ark of his covenant could be seen inside the Temple. Lightning flashed, thunder crashed and roared, and there was an earthquake and a terrible hailstorm.” Revelation 11:19
Here it speaks about the demonic spirits gathering all the rulers and their armies to Armageddon and the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air. “A mighty shout came from the throne in the Temple, saying, “It is finished!” Then the thunder crashed and rolled, and lightning flashed. And a great earthquake struck – the worst since people were placed on the earth.” Revelation 16:17 The wording at the end of this verse has a similar sound to Matthew 24:21 speaking of the Great Tribulation, “For at that time there will be great tribulation, the kind that hasn’t taken place from the beginning of the world until now and never will again!”
DIVAs. we must be ready. The more I read this book the more I am drawn in like never before. How about you? To me, that is nothing more than a work of the Spirit. I plan to sit a while in silence now and a d o r e the Depth. Meanwhile, the seven angels with their seven trumpets are prepared…are you?
In His grace,
Thank you Lord for sustaining this website for two years this week! ALL glory, honor, and thanksgiving to the One that makes everything possible!