SEVENTH SEAL, Part 3
I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven
trumpets. 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. 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. Revelation 8:2–5.
seventh seal opens in a period of about half an hour of silence. The time of its
opening and the duration of the silence are indefinite. We identified the
silence as the ecumenical attitude that swept over the church world in general
during the 20th century and which still exists today. This spirit has so
diminished the effect of the gospel to the point where spiritual and moral
values in the world have been reduced to a point of ineffectiveness.
this is the condition during the approximate half an hour, this condition is not
the focus of the seventh seal. The focus of the seal is seven angels to whom
seven trumpets are given.
represent ministers or ministries of the church built by the Glorified Christ.
We find seven angels, each given a trumpet. The seven angels do not represent
seven separate ministries, but a collective ministry called to sound out the
messages of the seven trumpets that follow in this chapter through chapter 11.
that verse 2 just says that trumpets were given to the seven angels. Given the
condition of silence, this ministry did not know what to do with the trumpets.
This is undoubtedly the result of about half an hour of silence in which it was
deemed inappropriate to place our view of scripture and religion above someone
else’s view. The ministry has become ineffective and reduced to cowardliness
in the face of the surrounding spiritual and moral decay. Nevertheless, the
Glorified Christ has place trumpets in their hands and He intends for them to
sound them out.
we see the seven angels with the trumpets standing there in the silence being
timid and afraid to disturb the status quo another angel appears in verse 3 to
motivate these angels to sound their trumpets.
Is This Angel?
angel is different from the others seen here under the seventh seal as he has a
golden censer and he approaches the altar, which is said to be the golden altar
in verse 3.
is a censer? Barnes writes that it is “The fire-pan, made for the purpose of
carrying fire, on which to burn incense in time of worship.” In the tabernacle
and temple worship a priest would carry incense in a silver censer into the holy
place and pour out the incense on the golden altar that stood in front of the
vail that sealed off the Holiest of Holies in which was the ark and the Shekinah
glory of God.
the censer this angel has is made of gold, which was carried only by the high
priest on the Day of Atonement. Adam Clarke verifies this for us:
was a preparation peculiar to the day of expiation. On other days it was the
custom of the priest to take fire from the great altar in a silver censer, but
on the day of expiation the high priest took the fire from the great altar in a
angel enters the seventh seal in the capacity of the high priest of the gospel
day. Who is this angel? Hebrews 3:1 tells us, “Therefore, holy brethren,
partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our
confession, Christ Jesus.”
Christ is our high priest. Adam Clarke comments:
the Jews the high priest was considered to be also the apostle of God; and it is
in conformity to this notion that the apostle speaks. And he exhorts the Hebrews
to consider Jesus Christ to be both their High Priest and Apostle; and to expect
these offices to be henceforth fulfilled by him, and by him alone.
gives a lengthy comment of the concepts of apostle and high priest. Briefly, the
idea behind the word apostle here is: “THE one sent by God.” Of the high
priest he writes:
great object of this epistle is, to compare the Lord Jesus with the high priest
of the Jews, and to show that he was in all respects superior. This was
important, because the office of high priest was that which eminently
distinguished the Jewish religion, and because the Christian religion proposed
to abolish that. It became necessary, therefore, to show that all that was
dignified and valuable in that office was to be found in the Christian system.
This was done by showing that in the Lord Jesus was found all the
characteristics of a high priest, and that all the functions which had been
performed in the Jewish ritual were performed by him, and that all which had
been prefigured by the Jewish high priest was fulfilled in him.
the Revelation, angels represent ministers or ministries. How can the Glorified
Christ be represented by an angel? In Romans 15:8 we read, “Jesus Christ was a
minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made
unto the fathers.” (KJV) Christ was a minister, the word here is not the word
for angel it is the word diakonos,
meaning a waiter on tables and signifying a Christian teacher and pastor. The
name Christ conforms to the Hebrew concept of Messiah. Christ as Messiah came to
minister to the Jews confirming the promises God made to the fathers. Clarke
lets us know that this ministering was the gift of salvation.
Christ, by coming according to the promise, has fulfilled this truth, by making
good the promises: therefore, salvation is of the Jews, as a kind of right
conveyed to them through the promises made to their fathers. But this salvation
was not exclusively designed for the Jewish people; as God by his prophets had
salvation is not confined to the Jews. In Romans 15:16 we read “That I [Paul]
should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel
of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being
sanctified by the Holy Ghost.” (KJV) Through the Apostle Paul Christ was
ministering also to the Gentiles. Clarke observes:
is a plain allusion . . . to the Jewish sacrifices offered by the priest, and
sanctified or made acceptable by the libamen
offered with them; for he compares himself, in preaching the Gospel, to the
priest performing his sacred functions—preparing his sacrifice to be offered.
Paul is the human minister, it was actually Christ ministering through him to
the Gentiles making them holy through the working of the Holy Spirit.
the description and action of this angel we are certain that he is none other
than the Glorified Christ. Matthew Henry comes to the same conclusion:
is very probable that this other angel is the Lord Jesus, the high priest of the
church, who is here described in his sacerdotal office, having a golden censer
and much incense, a fulness of merit in his own glorious person, and this
incense he was to offer up, with the prayers of all the saints, upon the golden
altar of his divine nature.
then, does the Glorified Christ intervene now in the seventh seal?
who becomes concerned about the silence. It is not the ministry; they have been
given trumpets after about half an hour of silence but they just stand there
doing nothing about the silence. It really is not the direct intervention of the
Glorified Christ as we see it. He appears really at the request of people other
than the ministry.
learn in verse 3 that Christ appears with the prayers of all the saints in the
golden censer. After about half an hour of this ecumenical and morally
destructive silence, all the saints start praying. They know that only the
Glorified Christ can break the silence. If the wrath of the Lamb was necessary
to call out His church under the sixth seal, only His judgment can break the
silence of the seventh seal. Clarke observes: “Judgments of God are now about
to be executed; the saints—the genuine Christians, pray much to God.”
the saints, the people of God in whatever church they may be, congregations of
the true church of God or in the man-made denominations and churches, are
grieved and oppressed by this silence and are praying in earnest and with great
confidence to our heavenly high priest and head of the church. They call upon
the assurance given in Hebrews 7:25, “Therefore He is also able to save to the
uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make
intercession for them.” They know it will take more than just another
reformation to deliver them from the spirit of the age. It will require the
direct personal intervention of Christ.
the high priest is given a full censer; when the prayers of all the saints fill
the censer verse 4 “the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints,
ascended before God from the angel’s hand.” Those prayers ascend directly
into the presence of the Godhead, the presence of the Triune God, Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit. When God receives the prayers of all the saints He declares
that it is time to break the silence. Verse 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.” Matthew Henry
suggests the following explanation of what is seen here:
prayers that were thus accepted in heaven produced great changes upon earth in
return to them; the same angel that in his censer offered up the prayers of the
saints in the same censer took of the fire of the altar, and cast it into the
earth, and this presently caused strange commotions, voices, and thunderings,
and lightnings, and an earthquake; these were the answers God gave to the
prayers of the saints, and tokens of his anger against the world and that he
would do great things to avenge himself and his people of their enemies; and
now, all things being thus prepared, the angels discharge their duty.
were noises, this definitely breaks the silence. What are these things that
break the silence? It is reminiscent of the appearance of God on Mount Sinai in
Exodus 19:16, “Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that
there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and
the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the
camp trembled.” To break the silence of the seventh seal the voice of God will
thunder out and strike illuminating light into His word reminding the Christian
world and all professed churches that He is the God of His Word.
earth of the Revelation is shaken once again under the seventh seal just as it
was shaken under the sixth seal.
This in effect will be a second Pentecost.
This in effect will be a second Pentecost.
angels were given seven trumpets. What is the significance of these trumpets?
the trumpet messages are what the seventh seal is about. From the appearance of
God on Mount Sinai in the Book of Exodus we learn that the sound of the trumpet
is an indication of the voice of God. God in giving the Ten Commandments on
Mount Saini was giving 10 moral rules that people were continually breaking
throughout history which was the cause of all misery and wrong doing in the
we look to the trumpets of the Revelation, we will see a similarity in purpose
for the church. The trumpets are God having us look back through the past of the
church to understand why we got ourselves into the mess we are in today under
the seventh seal. In these messages God is preparing the church of the Bible for
the return of Christ. Jesus in His eschatological discourse on the Mount of
Olives prophesied of the things we have learned in our study of the Revelation.
after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will
not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the
heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven,
and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of
Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send
His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His
elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew
parallels between what Jesus taught here and what we have seen in the Book of
Revelation are obvious. We have seen the tribulation resulting from the apostasy
of the early church and the low state of the professed church through the Dark
Ages. We have seen the Reformation and the Glorified Christ calling His people
out only to experience the wrath of the Lamb under the sixth seal. We are now at
the point in His teaching where the angels sound the trumpet and gather God’s
people together from one end of heaven to the other. This gathering prepares
God’s people for the return of Christ but it in no way predicts a date or the
time of His coming. Jesus said,
know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would
come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.
Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not
expect. (Verses 42–44)
ending our study of the seven seals we begin our study of the seven trumpets.
The trumpets are not simply a rehashing of what we have studied. The letters to
the seven churches of Asia showed us various conditions that can overtake the
church of God at any time in history, whether individual congregations or entire
movements. The seals show us the history of the Christian church from the Day of
Pentecost to the present day.
trumpets will show us the why behind these things and challenge us to take a
stand to be the church Jesus said He would build and to remain faithful to the
time of His coming.
That which is offered in sacrifice.