Verse 10: Like the crowds that lined Jesus way shouting Hosanna! (save now!) on Palm Sunday, this multitude worships the Father and the Son because of the salvation they have now received. Verses 11, 12: The angels (Rv 5:11), the twenty-four elders (Rv 5:8) and the four living beings (Rv 5:8) lie prostrate on the ground and join this multitude in a worship event similar to the one in chapter five (5:12,13). Verses 13, 14: One of the twenty-four elders quizzes John asking if he can identify the people wearing white robes. When John replies he cant, the elder tells him they are believers who were martyred during the antichrists kingdom. Verses 15-17: Though these martyrs experienced great suffering at the end of their lives, they have now stepped into an eternity of blessing. They will never again be subjected to persecution and suffering. Never again will they be hungry or thirsty and the sun will not beat down on them, nor any heat (Rv 7:16; Ps 121:5; Is 49:10). Isaiah promised, He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces... (Is 25:8) and John now hears that this Lamb will be our Shepherd who will give His followers living water (Jn 4:14) and tenderly wipe away their tears. The season of suffering for these martyrs is gone forever.
Revelation 8 (intro)
Introduction: The breaking of the seventh seal is a major turning point. Now that all seven seals have finally been removed, the scroll can be opened and the prophecies it contains activated. The scroll contains the many prophecies about Jesus which remain unfulfilled. At His first coming, Christ served as our atoning lamb but now with the open scroll in His hands, He will rise up as a triumphant Lord returning to destroy His enemies, gather the righteous to Himself and initiate a new era of human history. The centuries of waiting are over. The day of vengeance of our God (Is 61:2) has arrived. The sun is setting on the favorable year of the Lord (Is 61:2), that long season during which God withheld His final judgment. So, one would expect the opening of the scroll to cause Christ to immediately descend from heaven to shatter the power of the nations with a rod of iron (Ps 2:8, 9; Rv 2:26, 27). But even after the scroll is unrolled, the love of God still yearns to save every possible soul, and instead of bringing instant judgment, we will see Him impose His wrath gradually in order to warn the world and give people one last chance to repent.
Verse 1: No explanation is given as to why all heaven falls silent at the opening of the scroll. But the contrast between a heaven in which the angels, elders, living beings and multitudes are silent as opposed to boisterously worshipping is shocking. At one moment, the roar is deafening and then suddenly there is complete silence. When Jesus took the scroll from the Fathers hand, heaven erupted (Rv 5:7-14), but when He opens all fall silent. To understand why, we need to see the silence as an integral part of the prayer services in the Temple in Jerusalem. Each morning and evening when the nation was called to prayer, a priest would offer incense on a small altar located just in front of the Holy of Holies. After hot coals have been carefully taken from the altar of sacrifice in the courtyard and spread on the golden altar, an officiating priest was left alone holding a bowl of incense in the Holy Place. When a signal was given, ...the whole multitude of the people without, withdrew from the inner court and fell down before the Lord, spreading their hands in silent prayer. It is this most solemn period, when throughout the vast Temple buildings, deep silence rested on the worshipping multitude while within the sanctuary itself, the priests laid the incense on the golden altar, and the cloud of odours rose up before the Lord... (Alfred Edersheim, The Temple, Eerdmans Publishing, reprinted 1988, p.167). So from this description, we can picture all heaven kneeling with their hands spread out in silent prayer.
Verse 2: While all heaven is praying this way, seven angels with seven trumpets take their positions before God. Though the time for judgment has arrived, God has determined He will not pour it out all at once. Instead, He will initiate a series of partial judgments designed to warn the world and give them an extended opportunity to repent. His full wrath is momentarily restrained by His love. Verses 3, 4: In chapter 6:9-11, we heard the souls of martyred believers call for justice from beneath the altar of incense. At that time, they were told to wait patiently because there were more people who were going to turn to Christ. In this new vision, John again sees the same altar of incense. But in this case, the prayers that the angel offers up with the incense are the prayers of all the saints not just those of martyrs from the tribulation. In every generation, all true believers have longed for Gods kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven (Mt 6:10). These prayers have never been forgotten or ignored. They have been held in Gods heart waiting to be answered at the proper moment in history. His answer to this request has always been yes, but complete fulfillment had to wait for a future time. Now as the angel puts the incense on the coals, these prayers are heard so as to be fulfilled.
Verse 5: At this point, the image of the angel offering incense takes an interesting turn. In the Temple, the priest gathered coals from the bronze altar of sacrifice and then put two handfuls of finely ground sweet incense on top of the coals (Lev 2:2). The result was a dense cloud of sweet smelling smoke that billowed up to fill the area. But John in his vision sees the angel whos acting in the role of this priest, go back to the altar of sacrifice to collect more hot coals. After filling his censer again, he throws these down onto the earth. The action is violent and results in a thunderstorm and an earthquake. The storm of judgment which had been seen surrounding Gods throne earlier (Rv 4:5) has arrived on the earth.
Verse 6: Before we observe the judgments which come with each trumpet blast, its important that we distinguish what kind of trumpet is being used here. The Old Testament uses very specific Hebrew terms for different kinds of trumpets but the New Testament (Greek) does not. So its not clear what kind of trumpets these angels are sounding. Israel used trumpets in a variety of situations. They signaled the tribes of the Exodus to assemble and march. Warriors were called to battle. People were called to worship. People were called to introspection and repentance. The nation was called to festivals. The Jubilee Year was announced. So the question is, what is being symbolized when these angels blow their trumpets?
Verse 6 (continued): When used religiously, the rams horn (shofar) called Gods people together so He could be acknowledged as their King. When used militarily, silver trumpets called on God to help the soldiers with His presence. But there is another use of the trumpet which fits the context of this passage in Revelation better than either of these. Trumpets were also used by watchmen to warn of impending attack. In Ezekiel 33:1-9, the prophet is told to blow the trumpet (shofar) and warn the people that the Lord is bringing a sword upon the land. Here the prophet is pictured as a watchman on the city wall. When he sees danger coming, he is to blow an alarm so the citizens can rescue their lives. God then tells Ezekiel that he has been called to serve like one of these watchmen. He is to warn Israel that Gods judgment is approaching in order to give them a chance to repent before it arrives. In this circumstance, the trumpet is not being used by humans to appeal to God, but rather is being used by God to appeal to humans. The angels are warning the earth that the full force of Gods wrath is soon coming but that there is still time to repent and be saved. The end of the age is near and with each trumpet blast, humans will be forced to choose whether to harden themselves or repent.