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September 6, 2021 2:00 am
I want to turn your attention to Revelation chapter 8.
Consider think I'll read the entire chapter with just going to consider the first five verses tonight. Revelation chapter 8 beginning in verse one. When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour and 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. So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. The first angel sounded, and hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth, and 1/3 of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up in the second angel sounded, and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and 1/3 of the sea became blood in 1/3 of the living creatures in the sea died in the third of the ships were destroyed in the third angel sounded, and a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on 1/3 and on the springs of water. The name of the star is wormwood. 1/3 of the waters became wormwood, and many men, many men died from the water, because it was made bitter. And the fourth angel sounded in the third of the sun was struck, 1/3 of the moon and the third of the stars, so that so that 1/3 of them were darkened third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night and I looked and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice 101010 to the inhabitants of the earth because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound God at his blessing to the reading in our consideration of his word tonight. The chapter opens with these words when he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
You remember that chapter 6 concluded with the opening of the sixth seal, and then there was this interlude in chapter 7 chapter 7 we saw the focus was upon the church first part of the chapter was the church militant upon the earth. The hundred and 44,000, symbolizing the church in its completeness that they were sealed and preserved unto the day of the Lord and in the latter half of the chapter also dealing with the church but not the church militant, but the church triumphant, the church gathered in heaven, a great multitude, which no man can number and there was one seal the remains to be open. Of the seven seals. Remember back to the early chapters of the book that there was the scroll in the right hand of God Almighty and it was the son of the Lamb who came and took the scroll and had the authority to open the scroll and the seals and reveals content and of those seven seals six have been opened and the content has been revealed and only the seventh seal remains silence.
Silence in heaven for about half an hour. John MacArthur and his commentary says the half hour of silence is the calm before the storm. It is the silence of foreboding of intense expectation of all of what God is about to do and that is not an uncommon thing we find that in Old Testament Scriptures. All site a few of them for you. Just to remind you that silence is something that God employees in his purposes of communicating truth and communicating his purposes to his people.
Psalm 76 verses eight and nine say this quote, the earth feared and was still when God arose to judgment. The earth feared and was still when God arose to judgment.
Habakkuk chapter 2 in verse 20 the Lord is in his holy temple.
Let all the earth be silent or him and then Zephaniah 17.
Be silent before the Lord God for the day of the Lord is near silence in heaven for about half an hour. That's quite a contrast to the thundering noise of worship that concluded chapter 7. Can you imagine being gathered from every tribe, tongue, people and nation multitude, which no man can number singing and worship to God how loud health thundering loud. That must then and then, in contrast, chapter 8 begins with silence, applause in anticipation of the outpouring of God's wrath that is yet to come in would seem to me to be appropriate for us to just to take a pause for a moment, not to be silent but to reflect and to think about what we have looked at and covered up to this point.
Chapter 8 begins the third major section book of the Revelation chapters 1 and three. The first section presented to us the glory of Christ as the Lord of his church presented Christ standing in the midst of his church and exhorting and instructing and admonishing his church and his church.
The seven churches of Asia minor representative of all the churches that existed and have existed any time in history, not just a word for the churches of Asia minor. John's day but a message for the church of our day that was.
Chapters 1 through three chapters 4 and five, there were these pictures of the throne of God in heaven, and the worship there. First of God the father for his work in creation and then secondly worship of the Lamb for his work in redemption and then chapter 6 the calamities on the world. The seals are broken in the first and the second and the third and the fourth seals the horsemen in the first horsemen. The one on the white horse I believe is characteristic of the gospel.
Marching through this world and triumphing in and being victorious in his conquest, and then the second and the third and the fourth horse. The oppositions that come against Christ and against his church and against his people. The fifth seal there in chapter 6 the cry of the martyrs is they cry with a loud voice, how long will Lord, holy and true, until you judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth. God takes note of their cry for justice and vengeance. The final judgment of the world began in chapter 6, and very quickly we looked at the six seals and if you had did not have a copy of the book of the Revelation and were just hearing this and knew something about the content of the book of the Revelation and how it's an unfolding of God's judgment and there are seven seals that make up that judgment and we come to the end of chapter that we come to the end of the sixth seal in chapter 6 you think well this must be a Bata seven or eight chapter book but is not 22 chapters in this book store. No, nowhere near the end of chapter 7 was that interlude that I made mention to between the sixth and the seven seals and then this third major section that begins here in chapter 8, it will present the seven trumpet judgments.
If you remember the way the book of the Revelation is constructed.
There are the seven seals. The seventh seal leads into the seven trumpet judgment get to the end of the trumpet judgments. The seventh trumpet judgment leads into the seven bowl judgments just a continuation more descriptions, more revisiting of these times in history where God will pour out his judgment with this third major section again what that will present the seven trumpet judgments will run from chapter 8 through chapter 11, then there's 1/4 section in chapters 12 through 14 where we will deal with the Dragon and the beast interesting material there to consider.
There's 1/5 section in that fifth section is in chapters 15 and 16 and there we find the seven bowl judgments.
So again we have the seven seals.
The seven trumpets that are blown the seven bowl judgments that report out and the relationship between the three is that they are not building on each other in terms of sequence were not to read the book of the Revelation chronologically, but John is giving us visions is giving us visions without commentary without explanation. We wish there was more commentary divine commentary would would eliminate a lot of confusion and bring a lot of clarity if John were to say I saw this and it means that he doesn't do that. He just gives us the vision described for us and we have these recorded force, but I believe the book of Revelation is not to be understood chronologically, but to be understood as a is a sequence of cycle that there is judgment that is described and then John revisits that in concentric circles and is out a little bit more with a little more detail and he continues to do that throughout the Revelation that explains why we can get to the end of chapter 6 and six of the seven seals are open and why we continue to move on for another 13 or 14 chapters because John is going to give us more detail and with each vision that he describes for scar going over the same. If time in the church history, it will culminate in the coming of Christ and the day of his wrath. But there is an intensification. There is greater detail that continues to unfold as he describes these visions, the cycles, so it's almost as though he gives us a glimpse of it revisits again with another angle. More detail, but it's repetition with increased detail. Let me just try and point out to you for their some I think that are still struggling thinking that no II just am not gonna. I'm not gonna buy this. I think it I've always understood that it's to be read chronologically and I am having a hard time letting go of that show you something your member in the six seal we have this language. Chapter 6 verse 12. I looked and when he opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood in the stars of heaven fell to the earth as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll, which is when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of out of its place in the kings of the earth. The great men, the rich men, the commanders of the mighty man. Every slave every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains and said to the mountains and rocks, fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb for the great day of his wrath has come in who is able to stand. Now that is a description not of temporal judgment, but that is a description of final judgment when Christ comes to judge this wicked unbelieving ungodly world now.
I've said that before in your sin okay when we get to the trumpet seals notice what said I read the entire chapter for reason were going to look at his five verses but I wanted to make reference to notice what he says in verse eight of chapter 8 and the second angel sounded, and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and 1/3 of the sea became blood in the third of the living creatures of the sea died in the third of the ships were destroyed. Verse 10 then the third angel sounded, and a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on on 1/3 of the rivers and on the springs of water, I say going to wait a minute. We just read in chapter 6 and the six seal that the stars.
The stars of heaven fell to the earth. One of the stars in heaven fell to the earth why the stars falling in chapter 8 verse 10 in the sounding of the third trumpet you see if you're going to insist on reading it chronologically you're going to run into difficult and again what John is describing in this vision is a revisiting of what he described in the six seal the stars falling.
Similarly, he gets down there the cataclysmic fall of the cosmos there in chapter 6 and the six seal there's no recovery from that when the sky rose up like a scroll when the mountains and there's earthquakes like is described. Chapter 8 verse 12 and the fourth angel sounded, and 1/3 of the sun was struck, 1/3 of the moon, and 1/3 of the stars, so that 1/3 of them were darkened and I looked, I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice will see again that's language that is already been given earlier so it's again revisiting it. It really makes no sense to insist on chronology here okay the seven seals with looked at six of them.
The seven seals is a is a whole collection highlight the judgment of God with a particular emphasis on God's restraint of judgment for the sake of the salvation of his church.
Seven trumpets, but with a highlight they will highlight the victory of God's judgment over the world. And then there is another switch, another nuance where the bowls are considered in the bowl judgments they will depict the just wrath of God's judgment over all of his enemies that will usher in the new heaven and the new earth souls go back and again were going to consider the first five verses in his we do let me ask you some questions when ask you some questions about how you view your prayer life. Do you view your prayer life is something that is effectual you view your prayer life is something that really does matter. Do you view your prayer life is something that God takes into account and works in concert with to accomplish his will and purposes on the earth. Wonder how many of us really do think that way about your prayer life because I think if we did think that way about our prayer life.
We would be far more consistent far more faithful far more fervent, far more zealous in our prayer life. But I think too often we think will what differences my prayers, making it it is God is sovereign.
He's determine the beginning from the end than what what what purpose do.
My prayers have out of my prayers work and all of that and it's mysterious for certain, but it is because we believe God is sovereign, that we pray you one pray to a God who wasn't sovereign, you would be inclined to pray. If there were obstacles in the way of God accomplishing his purposes know we are encouraged and motivated to pray because we believe that God is sovereign in the God who has determined the end, whatever that might be is also determine the means to the end and the means to his purposes in this world include the prayers of his saints, we have some lessons here about prayer in a very which seems to be a very strange place, a very unusual place as the trumpet judgments are about to be unleashed here it the beginning of chapter 8 where we have this pause, we notice in verse two and I saw the seven angels who stand before God and to them were given seven trumpets, seven angels, we don't know their names.
Many commentators believe that there they are archangels will if they are archangels. We know the names of two of the archangels there's Michael the Archangel, and there is Gabriel the Archangel, and beyond that Jewish tradition tells us of some other names that are drawing on extra-biblical material that doesn't really way on our discussion here tonight but seven angels who stand before God they serve God. They do his bidding. They are before God, and to them were given seven trumpets and was the anticipation with anticipation is that these angels are going to sound forth those trumpets and announce the seven trumpet judgments. But before that happens there something else that happened and what is that verse three says, then another angel unnamed, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar, so this singular angel. Another angel causes an interruption here, seven angels, with trumpets ready to blow and they are interrupted by the activity in the presence of another angel, 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 that same singular angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and through it to the earth and there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. Strange language, but not all that strange when we consider the gospel accounts of what we find in Luke chapter 12 in verse 49 were Jesus said I came to send fire on the earth.
I came to send fire on the earth is a prophetic statement about judgment and again this is in answer to the prayers of the church there in the fifth seal in chapter 6. Remember the saints under the altar. How long the Lord, holy and true, until you judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth.
Here's the answer to that.
Here we have the final judgment of the seventh seal.
Christ is responding to the prayers of his church and he is answering the martyred church.
Those who are spoken of their in chapter 6 in the fifth seal, I want you to notice that the prayers of the saints is mentioned two times in conjunction with the activity of this angel in verses three through five.
Notice first three he was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints, and then again in verse four and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angels pain. So what is going on here. Well, we have the picture of the activity of the high priest, it's being referred to here let me remind you of what is told us in Luke chapter 1 chapter 1. Listen to chapter 1 verse eight through 10. This is Zacharias in his priestly activity.
So it was that while he was serving. While he Zacharias was serving as priest before God in the order of his division according to the custom of the priesthood.
His lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord, and the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense, while the people stood outside praying.
Zacharias burned incense inside was a connection there with his burning of the incense symbolizes the ascending of those prayers before God and that's what is being referred to back here in Revelation chapter 8 so I two lessons for you tonight about prayer, number one have already alluded to this.
But let me tease it out a bit more prayer is the means by which God accomplishes his purposes in history. Prayer is the means by which God accomplishes his purposes in history. This is not some peripheral parochial time in history.
This is the end of human history. This is on the precipice of God, pouring out his final judgment and there is applause and it's an intentional pause and there's an interruption here to remind us of the significance of the prayers of God's people in the accomplishment of God's purposes on the earth. Prayer is an earthly means whereby God is going to accomplish his will and again let me read it then another angel verse three, 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 this the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth and there were noises, thunderings, lightning, and an earthquake. What really does matter in this world. Prayer really does matter in this world. Prayer really does make a difference God is going to use the prayers of the saints, and again saints is not a super not a category for super saints, the prayers of all the saints. That's all the children of God. All the blood bought people of God, all without exception. This is what we are to give ourselves to. This is how we do warfare. This is how we participate in the purposes of God in history through prayer.
Now I don't know about your prayer life. You may be very content very satisfied with your prayer life. My hunch is that most of us see room for improvement.
We need reasons to be motivated to pray to give our assignment ourselves to extended times for prayer and I don't know of a passage more more appropriate to encourage us to motivate us in prayer than this one. So they prayed the saints, prayed, and I wonder what they were praying. The angel took the prayers of all the saints what he suppose those prayers were in light of the action. God took through the angel in verse five. Why believe there I don't II. We don't have their prayers recorded but I think those prayers probably covered at least four categories. I think those prayers were for Satan to be destroyed for sin to be defeated for their deaths. That is the martyr's death is to be avenged in number four for the coming of Christ. I think at least those for no doubt were part of the prayers of the saints are being referred to their in verses three and four when Christians pray God sent fire upon the earth when the saints pray God sent fire upon the earth. Prayers the prayers of the saints were decisive. They were instrumental they were necessary in God's ordering of things for the accomplishment of his will. I don't know how you think, but at times we can feel pretty hopeless and helpless in the face of the adversity that were seeing in our day. What are we to do in the face of threats to our religious liberty. What are we to do in the face of the moral erosion is going on all around us. What are we to do in the face of the proliferation of attacks upon Christians far and near. I heard language this week of talking heads that were drawing parallels and similarities between right-wing Christians and the Taliban where being viewed were being portrayed in the media as dangerous were up were we need to be online alert.
These people are terrorists there a threat to the security of the nation. A really that's what's going on in our day.
Back to the passage. What is the function of the incense in the passing in verse three and four, the angel having the golden censer, came and stood at the altar was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the same and in verse four and the smoke of the incense incense is added to the prayers and offered then to God in the lesson here. I think for us is that something needs to be done with our weak and feeble, sometimes selfish and misguided prayers to make them acceptable before God and of the Bible says the fervent effectual prayer of a righteous man avail of much but prayer is hard work.
Prayer is not easy. Prayer is often met with difficulty. So the question is what will make our prayers powerful and effectual.
If the fervent effectual prayer of a righteous man avail of much what will make our prayer powerful and effectual will the answer for us is not an angel. Nowhere in the Bible. Are we instructed to pray to an angel. Nowhere in the Bible are we instructed to pray to a departed saying St. Christopher St. whoever know what will make our prayers powerful and effectual is the mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Bible says we have one mediator between God and man. The man Christ Jesus and I like what Paul says about this matter of prayer in Romans chapter 8 verse 26. There's a lot of things I like about it. One of the things I like about it is the fact that Paul identifies himself in this dilemma in the struggle in this difficulty in this need for the mediation of God to make our prayers effectual. Listen to what he says and I'll put emphasis on the pleural pronouns. He says likewise the Spirit not an angel, but the spirit also helps in our weaknesses. What are those weaknesses he says for we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Verse 27 for he who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the spirit is because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God, so there should be some encouragement for us here on a couple of levels. Number one.
The fact that God is going to take our weak and feeble and selfish and misguided prayers and the going to be mediated through the ministry of the Spirit of God to make them acceptable before God. That is a great encouragement and a further encouragement here is that this isn't just for we Christians. Newbies. This is for all of us because if Paul says this identifies himself in this with we and our then there's hope for you and me. This language is language from the day of atonement, Leviticus chapter 16 and verses 12 and 13 fact I want to turn there and reduce couple of verses to you because of the similarity remember the day of atonement. One day a year when the high priest would go into the holy of holies, and he would bring blood and offer it for himself and force people listen to Leviticus chapter 16 verse 12 this is again talking about the high priest then he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from the altar before the Lord with his hands full of sweet incense beaten fine and bring it inside the veil and he shall put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the testimony lest he die.
That's the activity of the high priest on the day of atonement. He was to take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the Lord and do what add two handfuls of incense and bring it inside the veil and put the incense on the fire before the Lord.
It was God's appointed way to purify the offering and it is pointing forward the day of atonement. This ritual is pointing forward to the time when Jesus Christ will come and shed his blood for the cleansing of our sins and it's the same cleansing blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses our prayers and makes them acceptable and a sweet smelling aroma before God. You see that this angel is symbolically taking incense, mixing it with the prayers of the saints and offering it before God. Again, I was not the mediation of the Angels. I've Artie made reference. It's the spirit of God, who is the one who intercedes on our behalf and makes our prayers acceptable before God. So lessons about prayer. Wonderful lessons God is going to accomplish his purposes. Through our prayers and God is going to we have this confidence that God is going to hear our prayers and God is going to receive our prayers. These two lessons one. God is going to accomplish his purposes on the earth through our prayers.
And here is great encouragement. God hears our prayers and God receives our prayers.
This seems so elementary to us, but there are 100 times or we think you know his God heard me. My talking to myself on my prayers hitting the ceiling and bouncing back at me know. Dear St. there's no special category here.
This is the prayers of all the saints in verse three. This is the prayers of the saints in verse four, all the prayers of all the saints, God takes notice of, and they are sanctified by the spirit of God, and they come before God as a sweet aroma acceptable to him. Why, because we are acknowledging our dependence upon him. Our confidence in him were praying to him.
What good will that do well. It is the prayers of the saints that God's going to used to further bring about his purposes on the earth, so there's a cause and effect here in verse five. God is heard God's receive the prayers of his saints, and was going to do in response to that. He's going to send judgment in the form of punishment upon the inhabitants of the earth. Verse five then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it to the earth and there were noises, thunderings, and lightning, and an earthquake.
God is taken the heart to cry of the saints at the foot of his altar, and again I made mention to you.
Luke chapter 12 verse 49 where Jesus said when he was on this earth.
I have come to bring fire on the earth. Here is here is the manifestation of that the angel is only a servant sent forth by God to do his bidding.
May God prepare us and make us that willing that able to serve him to do his bidding, and to represent represent him. But you see it's not an angel is not an angel but is the Almighty that causes what an earthquake and earthquake. The Angels took the sensor filled with fire from the altar through to the earth and there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake same language over there in chapter 6 and the six seal through great earthquake 7000 people were killed going to tell us in chapter 11 in verse 13 as we make our way further into the book. Earthquakes are among all the other signs that usher in the end times. Jesus said in Matthew chapter 24 verses seven and eight. There will be famines and what and earthquakes in various places and he said all these are the beginning of birth pangs, so were seeing more clarity about God's judgment not only more clarity but greater intensity, greater manifestations of judgment that await an unbelieving rejecting of Christ and his gospel my God help us to not be in the company, but to be faithful to him, to represent him in this world and the main lesson tonight is an encouragement to our prayer life. It is, I think significant lady significant that we find that here in the beginning of chapter 8 interlude in chapter 7. This clause, the beginning of chapter 8 because God wants to reinforce in our minds and to our understanding the ministry of prayer. So, my God help us.
It's a sad day that more and more churches are dispensing from a prayer meeting night for the church together for prayer. Why, because people will come. That's a sad commentary.
If there was ever a time to pray.
Folks, it's now don't think don't entertain thoughts will what's the use. Why pray. Here's the reason why we pray.
Here's the reason here's the incentive God is going to use the prayers of his people in the accomplishment of his purposes on this earth and we have right here recorded force through the ministry of the Spirit of God that God not only hears our prayers. But God receives our prayers as we can is feeble and selfish and ill advised and is is they are at times so may God grow us in challenge us and motivate us in the days to come.
God is called a lot of elderly saints away from us and I don't know, in every case but I know in some cases, some of whom got called away from us for prayer warriors, one of the concerns I have is a pastor is who is going to step in and fill that role. Who is going to answer the call.
Who's going to say you know what I may not have the gift of teaching.
I may not be able to do this on may not be able to do that. Maybe even for some who haven't been able to come and be a part of people present services at beacon because of covert are you on the sidelines. Are you just relegated to another day maybe there be a time when you can, be back involved.
Give yourself to the ministry of prayer. It's vital. It's important, it's effectual. May God help us in the days to come let us pray father we bow to thank you for the privilege of prayer for instructing us in this matter.
We asked our God, that you would challenge us and grow us in this vital area how we thank you for preserving this for us and giving this force that we might be encouraged that in some mysterious way you accomplish your purposes on this earth through the prayers of your people is weak and sinful and lacking is we might be in those prayers would be all of that apart from the ministry of your spirit who takes our prayers mediates them, purifies them and presents and before you is a sweet and holy aroma before you. Thank you.
Spirit of God for your ministry on our behalf. Now may the church add their Amen to this benediction blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen