Revelation Chapter 8
|chapters 1-3||candlestick||high priest|
|chapters 4-5||table of showbread||sacrifice|
|chapters 6-8||altar of incense||intercessor|
Note that it all happens in the holy place. Yet to come in the book of Revelation is Christ in His role as judge in the setting of the most holy place at the Ark of the Covenant."Much incense" could much be needed because it is being offered with much prayer?
The altar of incense was 18 inches square and three feet high. It was overlaid with gold. There were horns at the corners and a border around the top keep the coals on it. The incense was burned morning and evening.
"And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand." (Rev 8:4)
The rising smoke of incense symbolizes prayer ascending to the throne of God:
"And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours (margin = incense), which are the prayers of saints." (Rev 5:8)
"Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice." (Psa 141:2)
"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." (Rev 8:5)
Here is an interesting and often-misunderstood verse. What was cast to the earth? Note that the word "it" is supplied. We often hear references to "the throwing down of the censer" and a connection to the close of probation - does that make sense? This action in verse 5 is followed by warnings. The location is still in the holy place, at the altar of intercession where prayers are ascending to God.
Are there any scriptural clues, anything similar to this verse that can help us understand?
"In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me." (Isa 6:1-8)
What is happening in that passage? - Isaiah realized and confessed his condition, his lips were anointed and he was then ready to go with a message of warning. Can you see any similarities to the situation in Revelation 7 and 8? There was one coal to anoint Isaiah's lips. Perhaps a whole (big) censer full is required to anoint the 144,000. It is interesting that the word "purged" in Isaiah 6:7 is from the Hebrew word "kaphar" which is most often translated as "atonement."
It is important to recognize that verse 5 is not referring to the close of probation - that would be inconsistent with the fact that what follows is trumpets of warning.
It makes no sense to fill the censer with fire and then threw it - the censer - to the earth. In normal use, if the censer is filled with coals it is for the purpose of adding incense to it to make smoke. The coals are used in this case for a different purpose.
"And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound." (Rev 8:6)
How much preparation does an angel need to do to blow a trumpet? Here is a clue that there is more to it than simply an angel blowing a trumpet.
"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." (Rev 8:7)
Here, we need to go back to Rev 7:3
"Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads." (Rev 7:3)
Are the earth, sea or trees hurt in the blowing of the trumpets? We can see that they are in the following verses. But why is it that always one-third of the items are affected? There may be a clue in this verse:
"And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born." (Rev 12:4)
This clearly is an act of Satan long before the trumpets of Revelation. This may be indicating that Satan in involved in this destruction.. It may also be a way of saying that God is still providing a degree of protection from the actions of Satan, the destroyer. Take note that in this understanding we are upholding the truth about the character of God - He is not the destroyer.
Once the 144,00 are sealed, are the angels commanded to hurt the earth? - no they are commanded to release the "winds" that result in events that hurt the earth - the angels are holding the winds to keep them from blowing.
Satan is always trying to deceive people with His counterfeits. We will see later that He will attempt to counterfeit even the Second Coming. If he was to do that it would make sense that it would suit his purposes of deception to precede that with events that could be seen to be a fulfillment of the seven last plagues.
Most people of the world that are not familiar with the Bible or the book of Revelation have only a vague concept of end-time-events and their order. Most people who have any concept of end-time events see it like this:
We see the seven trumpets as warnings to mankind. Could it be that Satan's reaction to the sealing of God's servants (the 144,000) and the sounding of their messages would be to inflict destruction and disaster upon the earth to divert attention from these messages and to set the stage for his impersonation of Christ's Second Coming? Basically, the events described under the trumpets (not the trumpets themselves) can be seen as Satan's reaction to God's efforts to warn and save mankind.
So, if this idea that the trumpets are a counterfeit of the plagues is true we should see some similarities between them. Here is a comparison between the trumpets and the plagues.
|Trumpets (Revelation 8-11)||Plagues (Revelation 16)|
|1||8:7 hail, fire, blood on 1/3 of trees, grass (cast upon the earth)||16:2 sore on those with mark (poured out upon the earth)|
|2||8:8 burning mountain into sea, becomes blood||16:3 sea becomes blood|
|3||8:9 1/3 of rivers, fountains of water bitter||16:4 rivers and fountains of waters became blood|
|4||8:12 1/3 of sun, moon, stars darkened||16:8 sun scorches with great heat|
|5||9:1-12 darkness; tormented 5 months||16:10 darkness; gnawed tongues for pain|
|6||9:14 river Euphrates||16:12 river Euphrates|
|7||11:15 great voices in heaven||16:17 great voice out of the temple of heaven|
|7||11:15 kingdom of God||16:17 it is done|
|7||11:19 lightnings, voices, thunderings earthquake and hail||16:18, 21 voices, thunders, lightnings, great earthquake and hail|
It is interesting that the description of the trumpets is followed by a description of the woman clothed with the sun (Rev 12:1) and the description of the seven last plagues is followed by the description of the woman arrayed in purple and scarlet (Rev 17:4)
The hail of the first trumpet does not seem to correspond to the description of the first plague as closely as for the following trumpet/plague pairs but both are cast upon the earth. Also, earth, trees and grass are all used at times to represent people. The first trumpet does include hail which would certainly turn people's thoughts to the plagues.
When the first of the seven last plagues is poured out, God's people will be protected (as in the seven last plagues which fell on Egypt). The plagues will fall after the close of probation and will not harm the saved. It will only hurt those with the mark of the beast:
"And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image." (Rev 16:2)
The first plague makes a distinction between God's people and the lost. For Satan to inflict sores on the unrighteous would only make a distinction between them and the righteous and would not suit his purposes of deception.
He wants to deceive people into thinking that this plague is a judgment on them from God for not imposing the mark of the beast more forcefully. He doesn't want to be seen as the one responsible for the destruction; in fact, he has most of the world convinced that he doesn't even exist. He wants people to see the destruction as coming from God (thus maligning the true character of God) and that it is because everyone is not keeping his version of the law of God which includes the mark of the beast.Why a Counterfeit?
Satan's objectives include that people take the mark of the beast rather than the seal of God. The mark of the beast is a big, and very-misunderstood topic which is well covered in this video The Mark of the Beast by Tom Stapleton of His Truth Seekers Ministry. Satan has another objective which is to receive worship and, I believe, he will go as far as to counterfeit the Second Coming in order to receive it.
"Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." (2 Thess 2:4)
He knows the order of events. In terms of major events and what most people understand, it is:
For Satan to counterfeit the second coming and make it seem at all convincing would require the insertion of some events that He has engineered:
I believe these false 7 last plagues are the events described after each of the trumpets. Notice that the trumpets themselves are warning messages from God. It is the events that follow each trumpet - Satan's reaction to the messages given - that will cause the harm.
So if he can bring people to believe they have just experienced the seven last plagues, his version of the second coming will be all the more convincing.
I don't want to digress too far from the trumpets themselves so let's now look more closely at the language used in describing the events following the first trumpet.
"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." (Revelation 8:7)
It is not clear what form the fire and blood will be that are to be cast upon the earth.Trees
Trees are often used to symbolize people. Note the following verses which all use the word "like" or "as" to compare people to trees:
"And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, ... his leaf also shall not wither; ..." (Psa 1:3)
"But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever." (Psa 52:8)
"The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. (Psa 92:12)
"For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, ..." (Isa 1:30)
"They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands." (Isa 65:22)
It is even conceivable that trees represent leaders as distinct from grass used to represent the common people.Grass
Here the seed or offspring who thirst (for righteousness?) come up as willows (trees) among the grass.
"For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses." (Isa 44:3-4
There are quite a number of other verses that liken people to grass:
"Therefore their inhabitants were of small power, they were dismayed and confounded: they were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the housetops, and as corn blasted before it be grown up." (2 Kings 19:26, Isa 37:27)
"The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever." (Isa 40:6-8)
"And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men." (Micah 5:7)
"For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:" (1 Pet 1:24)
See also: Num 22:4, Job 5:25. While there may be a spiritual way of understanding the effects mentioned in verse 7, it is no doubt describing literal effects upon the earth and its inhabitants. It will certainly get people's attention.
"And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: 9 and the third part of the sea became blood; And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed." (Rev 8:8-9)
This will likely be literally fulfilled resulting in great destruction on the earth. Again, the references to "thirds" may be a way of referring to partial rather than total destruction. God has not totally withdrawn His protection from the inhabitants of the earth.
"Behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain, saith the LORD, which destroyest all the earth: and I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain." (Jer 51:25)
The verse above is being addressed to Babylon. Jeremiah 51 is parallel to the fall of Babylon in Revelation. So there may be a connection in Revelation 8:8 to the end-time fall of Babylon.
Another burning mountain is mentioned in scripture:
"For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest," (Heb 12:18)
The mount referred to here is Sinai in the context of the giving of the Ten Commandments.
The sea can represent the populations of the whole world - we use the phrase "sea of humanity."
"And the 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;" (Rev 8:10)
Again, this may have a literal and a symbolic meaning. The most obvious understanding is a literal star (perhaps a meteor) falling to the earth. How it could fall on a third of the rivers and fountains of waters around the world is hard to grasp.
Symbolically, we could see Satan's fall from heaven as seeming to fit this:
"And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." (Luke 10:18)
"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!" (Isa 14:12)
"And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth ..." (Rev 12:4)
"The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches." (Rev 1:20)
Satan did fall from heaven and the fallen angels are likened to stars.
"Burning as it were a lamp:" might suggest, because of the wording, "as it were" a false interpretation of scripture. We are told:
"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." (Psa 119:105)
This could be referring to false interpretation of scripture which Satan, the fallen angel, would certainly be behind.
"And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter." (Rev 8:11)
Deuteronomy connects wormwood with false theology:
"Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood; 19 And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst: 20 The LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out his name from under heaven." (Deut 29:18-20)
"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." (Rev 8:12)
This experience of Joseph likens the house of Israel to the sun, moon and stars
"And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me." (Gen 37:9)
Could the fourth trumpet be referring to a deception of God's people?
"And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!" (Rev 8:13)
As bad as the events mentioned with the first four trumpets seem to be, those associated with the remaining trumpets are even worse.
Some translations render the word angel as eagle, an eagle being a harbinger of doom.
"For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together." (Matt 24:28)
It is interesting to note that the first angel's message of Revelation 14 includes a call to worship God who made heaven and earth, the sea, and the fountains of waters:
"And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." (Rev 14:6-7)
You can see the correspondence between the reference to what God has made in Revelation 14 and what has been hurt during the time of the blowing of the trumpets:
|First Four Trumpets (Rev. 8)||First Angel's Message (Rev. 14)|
|3. Fountains of waters||Fountains of waters|
|4. Heavens - sun, moon, stars||Heaven|