Prayer Before Judgment

Revelation 8

image courtesy of Public Domain Pictures

Revelation 8:1-6 (KJV)  And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.  [2]  And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.  [3]  And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.  [4]  And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.  [5]  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.  [6]  And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

As we have studied through the Book of Revelation we have seen Jesus address and then take His Church from the earth. We watched as John looked into Heaven and saw a scroll with seven seals. In Revelation chapter five we saw Heaven mourn as none were found worthy to open the seven sealed scroll. Then Jesus came forth, and we read that all Heaven rejoiced:

Revelation 5:9-10 (KJV)… they sung a new song, saying, Thou {O Jesus} art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;  [10]  And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

In chapter six Jesus began to open the scroll, seal by seal. As the seals are opened the Anti-Christ is released on the earth and along with him war, sickness, famine, and death. In the midst of the horror of the Great Tribulation we see:

Revelation 7:9-12 (KJV)  After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;  [10]  And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.  [11]  And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,  [12]  Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

These are the saints who are saved out of the Great Tribulation. God wants to show us that before the great judgment falls on the earth that there are many who He will cause to be saved. But as we come to chapter eight we see:

Revelation 8:1 (KJV)  And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. 

Heaven to this point is seen as a place of worship and praise, a ceaseless activity of joy. But as Jesus opens the seventh seal there is silence in Heaven for about the space of half an hour. This is significant, because Heaven is a place of eternity, a place of one long and endless day. There are no clocks in Heaven. Our earthly lives are marked by time. We use phrases like:

wasting TIME
spending TIME
saving TIME
we have TIME on our hands
we make up for lost TIME
and act like we have all the TIME in the world!
You may be thinking I wish the preacher would shut up.
Don’t he know his TIME IS UP?

No, it’s not! I’ve just started. Heaven is “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp” (Revelation 21:23; 22:5). To God time is insignificant. He nor His Heaven is controlled by time. We are told:

2 Peter 3:8 (KJV)… one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

Yet here we see silence in Heaven for about half an hour. This is a dramatic pause, something that never occurred in Heaven before and will never occur again. Why this silence?

  • The Silence Signifies That A Terrible Judgment Is About To Fall. We are told in 2 Peter 2:5 that Noah was a preacher of righteousness. He preached as he built the Ark. For 120 years he preached. Then 7 days BEFORE the great flood God told Noah to get in the Ark, for He said “in seven days I will cause it to rain on the earth for forty days and forty night, destroying all life (Genesis 7:4). The silence in Revelation 8 precedes a terrible judgment on the earth.

Revelation 8:2 (KJV) And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.

Who are these “seven angels”? We are not told in this context, but we have clues as to what they represent. Context is key. The last time we saw “seven angels” in this Book was in the first three chapters of this Book. Do you remember:

Revelation 1:20 (KJV)  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.

As the Lord Jesus addressed each of the seven Churches:

Ephesus
Smyrna
Pergamos
Thyatira
Sardis
Philadelphia
Laodicea

He does not address the Churches directly, but through their angels. Christ says “unto the Angel of the Church in” … write. There were seven Churches addressed showing the seven types of Churches throughout human history. The Churches were candlesticks, and each Church had an angel. Now we see seven angels. I do not believe this is a coincidence. These seven angels are before the Throne of God and to them is given seven trumpets. The Angels of Revelation 3-4 were in Christ’s hand, and these Angels are before the Throne. The trumpets they are given are being used to signal judgment. Numbers 10:1-12 tells us that trumpets were to be used to notify the people of Israel that certain events were about to occur. Trumpets were used to all to battle. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 14:8 (KJV)  For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

I believe these seven angels are representative of the Church of Christ. You may not agree, but I believe this is appropriate. Jesus told those who believe in Him:

2 Timothy 2:12 (KJV)  If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:

and King David wrote: Psalms 8:4-6 (KJV)  What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?  [5]  For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor.  [6]  Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

It is to the redeemed that God gives His Kingdom. God did not set satan over Eden, but Adam. Adam gave away Eden by disobedience, and satan became the god of this world because of his foolishness, but God never intended angels to rule earth. Man was given dominion. God became man to redeem fallen man, and so to reclaim the earth. So now as God prepares to punish the world Christ’s Church stands with the Lord they love.

  • The 30 Minutes Of Silence Emphasizes The Importance Of The Prayers Of The Saints As God Judges The World.

Revelation 8:3 (KJV) And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.  

Prayer Is Important

Before judgment falls the prayers of all saints are offered on the altar of God. Have you ever wondered as to how God regards your prayers? Does He hear them? Does He care? Here we see that yes, God not only cares, but stores our prayers up in Heaven. Our prayers are not wasted, but cherished by God.

What are the prayers that God hears? They are not frivolous prayers. A parent had his child pray for show for the visiting preacher. With a grin on his face the child went around the table. “God bless his food, and her food, and his food, and my food”. There was no sincerity to the prayer, just a prayer for show, to let the important visitor see that “such a good job I did training my child”. It is like the prayers of the Pharisees who – praying to be seen of men – used great and swelling words to impress the listeners – but God was not listening.

The prayer that God honors is the prayer that honors God.
The prayer that God honors is the prayer that honors God.
The prayer that God honors is the prayer that honors God.

Jesus said: (John 14:13-14) Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

John 15:7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

The prayer that abides in God and for His glory is cherished by God. The prayer that asks:

Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in Heaven!

is a prayer that God cherishes. We are told that it is the prayers of all SAINTS that introduces the judgment of the world. In various commentaries we read:

The fire comes from the very altar on which the prayers of the saints have been offered. This surely means that the prayers of God’s people play a necessary part in ushering in the judgments of God. “What are the real master-powers behind the world and what are the deeper secrets of our destiny? Here is the astonishing answer: the prayers of the saints and the fire of God. That means that more potent, more powerful than all the dark and mighty powers let loose in the world, more powerful than anything else, is the power of prayer set ablaze by the fire of God and cast upon the earth.” (Thomas Torrance, quoted in Morris, Revelation, p. 121)

This verse [5] dramatically pictures the fact that it is in answer to the prayers of the saints that God’s judgments will fall upon the earth. (George Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John, p. 125f.)

If the seven angels are symbolic of the Church, then judgment will be called forth on the world through Christ and His Church. These judgments are in response to the prayers of all Christ’s saints, those set apart by the Blood of the Lamb.

Prayer is so very important. Jesus taught us God honoring prayer when He told us to say:

Matthew 6:9-13 (KJV)  After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  [10]  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.  [11]  Give us this day our daily bread.  [12]  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  [13]  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

In this chapter God shows us that His people are important to Him. As judgment is unleashed on a thoughtless and uncaring world, it is the Church and her prayers that initiate that judgment. Pastor John Piper wrote:

There are at least two practical implications of this for us. One is what Jesus said in Luke 18:1, “We ought to always pray and not to lose heart.” This truth—that prayers are stored up on the altar of God and made the power for great divine interventions in history—should encourage us that it is not pointless to pray again and again, “Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

And I can’t help but conclude from this that the principle applies to answers to prayer in the shorter run—that is, as we pray for any given thing, our prayers are stored up on the altar of God with the prayers of others for that thing until they reach God’s appointed proportion and then God pours them out in blessing in the best way for all concerned. So that no believing prayer is in vain. Ever.

Revelation 8:4-6 (KJV)  And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.  [5]  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.  [6]  And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

Destruction Comes But God Is Still Merciful

Revelation 8:7-12 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. 8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the THIRD PART of the sea became blood; 9 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. 10 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; 11 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. 12 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.

As you read this section again with me, what is the most used word phrase in the text? It is the phrase “THIRD PART”. As destruction comes from the first four angels playing the first four trumpets we see that destruction is not total, but only a THIRD PART. Yes, the GRASS is totally destroyed, but only a THIRD PART of the trees. Only a THIRD PART of the sea becomes blood. Only a THIRD PART of the waters become bitter, and a THIRD PART of the creatures in the sea die.

The world has TOTALLY rejected the Lordship of Christ, but the love of God still offers Grace! Only a THIRD PART is destroyed. There is time left to repent and be saved!

The Bible tells us that ….

Romans 8:32 (KJV)  He that spared not his own Son, but DELIVERED HIM UP FOR US ALL, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Preach! God paid an immense price to save the soul of ever person who will receive it. Jesus paid the price for sin. God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell and bound them in chains of darkness. God spared not Noah’s world, but brought a universal flood on the ungodly while sparing those who received His Grace. (see 2 Peter 2:4-5). Now in this Great Tribulation the Lord punishes a third part, but spares two thirds. Why? To allow Grace to go forward. To give them one more chance.

He spared you, o lost soul, and has given you one more day to repent, if you would but come! Oh, how God would bless your souls if you would but come submitted to His Grace!

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount out poured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

God does not want anyone to experience a third part of the oceans blood, and a third part of the rivers bitter. God wants all who will – whosoever will – to receive Christ while you can. His Judgment is no illusion nor exaggeration – it is sure and pure, and it must be. Come to Christ and God will set you free of it! In today’s world people do not believe in the Judgment of God, nor for that matter, even in Hell. Pastor A.W. Tozer said:

The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions.”

Many think that God will not judge, God will not punish, the Judgment of God is an exaggeration. No, that’s not true. When we see Christ, bloody and bleeding, hanging in agony on that Calvary Tree, we know that Judgment is sure. When we see the mocking crown of thorns tearing His brow we know that God must judge, else the Cross was a horrible miscalculation.

If there is no judgment the Cross has no meaning. But there is judgment. There is a hell. There is a Great Tribulation. Turn to Christ and receive Him as Lord and Savior while you can.

If Christ is rejected, what is to come? We read:

Revelation 8:13 (KJV)  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!

Rejecting Christ what is left? Woe, Woe, Woe! There is the Woe of a life only vaguely fulfilled. Not life really, but mere existence, a fruitless search for happiness. There is the Woe of walking without God, without Christ, without hope in this life. Then there is the final Woe of future impending judgment, of damnation without end, of eternal separation from God. Do not wait. Repent. Turn now while there is time. Receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, and you shall be saved!

May God touch your hearts with His Word.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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