“God Answers the Prayers of All His People
with Judgment Upon Creation”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Revelation 8
Revelation chapter 8. As you turn to Revelation 8, you are most likely turning to the first half of the tribulation period that is to come upon the whole earth.
The Bible teaches that there is a time coming that will be unprecedented in world history. There will be disaster as the world has never known. Many if not most of the world’s population will die during this time, the tribulation period… the period of God’s great pressure upon the earth. And all who continue choosing to rebel against God in the tribulation period will die at when the period comes to an end. So, we are in the first part of the Tribulation period in Revelation chapter 8.
Now, the book of Revelation is useful for God’s people today. It is not meant for just those who live during that awful period of God’s judgment of the earth. John in his visions of the future gives us encouragements today. He also shows us the nature of God and His hatred of sin. In Revelation, we see the need for repentance and for giving glory to God.
In fact, the book of Revelation contains the highest concentration of the word “repent” in all the Bible. So, the theme I choose for Revelation is “Give God Glory Because He Brings Judgment and Salvation at the Consummation of the Ages.”
Giving God glory is man’s responsibility in the book of Revelation.
One way we can give God glory is through our prayers. We can pray and God will answer our prayers by His grace.
When we see answers to prayer, it is an enjoyable thing. When we pray for the lost and receive answers to our prayers, how encouraging is that? When you have a particular need and you see God answering in unique ways that only He can, you’re thrilled that God is totally in control.
But there is nothing like the answers to prayer that are in Rev. 8.
In chapter 8, God is judging sin out of answers to His people’s prayers. Those who dwell on the earth have rebelled against God and His Christ. So in chapters 4 and 5 of Revelation, we learn that we should worship God who is about to judge the earth.
In Revelation 6, we learn that God is judging the earth through what’s called the seal judgments. In heaven, John sees a vision of the God the Father with a scroll in His hand. That scroll is sealed 7 times. This is clearly a very important document and only one who is worthy can open those seals. And the Lamb of God approaches Him to take the scroll.
He is the only One found worthy to open that scroll. And once He does, the judgments of God begin.
The last of those seal judgments is in chapter 8 verse 1. And the last seal judgment will usher in all the 7 trumpet judgments. Let’s read this chapter.
Revelation 8:1-13 1 When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. 3 Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake. 6 And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound them. 7 The first sounded, and there came hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were thrown to the earth; and a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up. 8 The second angel sounded, and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea; and a third of the sea became blood, 9 and a third of the creatures which were in the sea and had life, died; and a third of the ships were destroyed. 10 The third angel sounded, and a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of waters. 11 The name of the star is called Wormwood; and a third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the waters, because they were made bitter. 12 The fourth angel sounded, and a third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars were struck, so that a third of them would be darkened and the day would not shine for a third of it, and the night in the same way. 13 Then I looked, and I heard an eagle flying in midheaven, saying with a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!”
So, clearly we have the judgments of God upon the earth during this first half of the tribulation. But the main point of this whole chapter is found in verses 3-5.
Here, an angel comes and stands before the altar in heaven and he holds the golden censer with much incense. He adds the incense to the prayers of all the saints. And then in verse 4, the prayers of all the saints go up before God along with the smoke of the incense.
The prayers of God’s people go up before God and then the angel takes the censer and fills it with the fire from the altar and then throws that censer to the earth. Because of that in verse 5, there are these natural phenomena: thunder, sounds, lightning, and an earthquake.
And the 7 trumpets prepare themselves to sound and 4 of them do in verses 7-12.
So, in verses 8:1-5 the saints’ prayers are answered. They arise before God. The response to those prayers arising before God is that the angel throws fire from the altar to the earth. Prayers go up in verse 4 and judgment comes down in verse 5. The prayers of God’s people are answered.
We have the 4 Trumpets in verses 6-12. And that will be our text this morning.
But the saints’ answered prayers are the main point in verses 1-5. The angels offer the prayers before God and then what happens after the prayers are offered is judgment. So, I’d like to preach on “God Answers the Prayers of All His People with Judgment Upon Creation.”
TRANS: First, we have the answers to the prayers of God’s people in verses 1-5.
Prayers of God’s People Answered (8:1-5)
Look again at Revelation 8:1 When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
The 7th seal is broken which will usher in the 7 trumpet judgments, 4 of which we have in our chapter this morning.
Reverent silence in light of the answers to God’s prayers
But when the Lamb breaks the 7th seal, there is silence for half an hour.
But why such silence? The 7th seal is broken. And as its broken, the contents of the unique scroll is revealed! This is the inheritance judgment contract between the Ancient of Days and the Lamb of God. The Lamb of God has been given all nations as His inheritance, Ps. 2:8 says. And it is through the judgments of this 7-year period that all the nations of the earth will be given to Him. And this is the final seal that must be broken before the contents of this inheritance judgment contract is revealed.
And the seal is broken … the contents revealed to those around the throne of God in heaven, and because of the judgments about to be revealed, knees may bend, worship might happen, but there is utter an astonishment and reverence that results in a silence in heaven for 30 whole minutes.
Zechariah 2:13 “Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord; for He is aroused from His holy habitation.”
The judgments of God are to be revered and honored. This is meant to give us a sense of hush and reverent silence before God as He we read about how the Lamb is about to put into motion the remaining divine judgments.
So, in verse 5 we’ll see the beginning of the answers to our prayers. But this reverent silence prepares us for the answer in judgment.
TRANS: So, there is silence before the giving of the 7 trumpets to the 7 angels, verse 2 now…
The giving of the 7 trumpets which bring about the answers to the prayers of God’s people (v.2)
Revelation 8:2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.
During this time of silence on earth, there are 7 trumpets formally handed out. Each one receiving a trumpet in utter silence, knowing what is about to take place. They stand ready to sound in order to put in motion the judgments of God. God Himself gives the angels these trumpets.
We know God gave them the trumpets because it says “7 trumpets were given to them.” Who gave them the trumpets? It is God. This phrase occurs often in the book of Revelation and most if not all times it refers to God. So, God’s control over all the judgments in Revelation is made abundantly clear.
So we have a reverent silence and during this silence, we have a formal presentation of these trumpets.
TRANS: But before the sounding of the trumpets, the prayers of God’s people are answered.
Prayers offered (8:3-5)
Revelation 8:3 Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne.
So, another angel who is not a part of those 7 angels steps forward. This other angel stands at the altar. We’ve seen an altar in Revelation before in chapter 6 where John sees martyrs underneath the altar.
Revelation 6:9-10 9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
These are the cries of God’s people who were killed during the tribulation by those unbelievers “who dwell upon the earth.”
So this altar is in heaven. So, we get a picture of heaven. Exodus 25:40 tells us about the tabernacle in heaven. Here, God shows Moses the archetype or the true pattern of the tabernacle. God shows Moses the true tabernacle in heaven and Moses is to make the earthly tabernacle in the same way. The LORD says … “See that you make them after the pattern for them, which was shown to you on the mountain.
Hebrews 8:4-5 4 The priests … serve [merely] a copy and shadow of the heavenly things …. God says “THAT YOU MAKE all things ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN WHICH WAS SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN.”
So, clearly there is a real tabernacle in heaven that has in it a real altar. And likely what we’re seeing in this passage is not the tabernacle, but the Temple in heaven.
Now, back to Rev. 8. Notice in verses 3-5 again and let’s establish the connection between the prayers and the incense.
Revelation 8:3-5 3 Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
So this angel at the altar is holding a golden censer. The OT priests used golden censers, as well, and this is because that Moses saw the pattern in heaven. And now, we are observing the real thing!
This censer is an open pan made out of gold. It has a long handle or something else with which to hold it. In the Old Testament, the golden censer was used to transport coals of fire from the great brazen altar in the forecourt outside to a smaller altar of incense in the holy place standing just before the veil between the holy place and the holy of holies. So the priest would transport the coals of fire from outside the Temple to the inside into the holy place in the Temple.
And so, verse three, the angel is given much incense. And again, the way it’s worded their helps us to understand that God himself is giving this incense to the angel.
Revelation 8:3 [this is the angel with the censer and it says that] much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne.
This practice of incense burning has an Old Testament background to it. In the OT, the incense used in Temple worship was made out of a unique combination of four kinds of sweet smelling substances. It was unique in that no one outside of this Temple worship was to produce or own this kind of unique incense blend. This was only to be used in the Temple and to use it outside of the Temple for common purposes would cause one to be subject to legal problems, like being cutting off from the people. The incense then is no light matter.
The incense would be scattered over the coals on the altar of incense and the incense would ignite and release a cloud of smoke that would have a sweet smell to it and it would arise up, symbolically, before God.
The priest in the Old Testament would do this at every morning and at every evening sacrifice. And incense is tied to the prayers of God’s people and Luke chapter 1 shows how incense is tied to the prayers of God’s people.
You can turn to Luke chapter 1. And here we will learn the close connection between the burning of the incense and the prayers of God’s people. This is the story of Zacharias and Elizabeth. Zacharias is a priest and he is performing his priestly service before God at the appointed time.
Verse 9 teaches that during his appointed time of service, he was chosen by lot to enter the Temple of the Lord and burn incense. Let’s read Luke 1:9-10 9 [Zacharias is performing his priestly service … verse 9… according] to the custom of the priestly office. He was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering.
So you can see that there is a tie between prayer and the burning of incense. Zacharias is inside the Temple offering this incense and outside the Temple, the whole multitude of the people would pray.
Psalm 141:2 says … May my prayer be counted as incense before You
And later tradition says that during the offering of incense, the people prayed …“May the merciful God enter the Holy Place and accept with favor the offering of his people.” So, there is a close connection between prayer and the offering of incense.
Now, back to Revelation Chapter 8.
Because of what we saw in Luke chapter 1 and Ps. 141, what we see in Revelation 8:3-5 is not surprising. There is a tie between the incense and the prayers of God’s people.
Look at it again, Revelation 8:3-4 3 Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add [that incense] to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand.
So God gave much incense to the angel. The angel is standing at the altar, not a human priest. The angel is in the heavenly Temple. So verse three says that the angel was given this incense so that he might add that incense to the prayers of all the saints.
And then he places both upon the hot coals that were upon the golden altar which was before the throne of God.
And so he places the prayers of the saints and the incense upon the hot coals of the golden altar. And verse four says that the smoke of the incense, along with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand.
After that, Revelation 8:5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar,
The angel takes the censer and fills it with the fiery coals from the altar. And after he does that … keep going verse 5 …
He throws it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
And so the prayers of all the saints went up before God. And the answer to the prayers is in verse five. The answer to the prayers of God’s people is the beginning of the trumpet judgments. God answers the prayers of His people. We will apply this at the end of the message, but likely here the prayers recorded as it were are prayers that concern the coming of the Lord’s kingdom. We are commanded by Christ to pray for the coming of His kingdom. We’ll apply this at the end of the message.
And because of these prayers verse six the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. The following judgments are the answer to the prayers of God’s people.
What follows in verses 6-12 are 4 of the trumpet judgments.
The first one is in verse 7, the second trumpet sounds in verse 8, the third angel sounds his trumpet in verse 10 and the fourth angel sounds in verse 12.
Trumpet #1: Earth’s Vegetation Burned Up
When the first angel sounds in verse seven, the earth’s vegetation is burned up. Revelation 8:7 The first sounded, and there came hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were thrown to the earth; and a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.
So when the first angel sounds, hail, fire, and blood are mixed and they are thrown to the earth. And the result is that a third of the earth was burned up and a third of the trees burned up and … get this … All the green grass.
We take this as literally going to happen in the future. Now, in verse five we have an earthquake. A large enough earthquake could shake the whole earth. In 2011, the Japanese earthquake did just that.
Because of that earthquake, the Earth’s axis shifted by up to 25 cm. The length of a day shorten by about 1.8 microseconds and it also changed the tilt of the Earth. And more powerful earthquakes than that will be hitting earth in the book of Revelation.
And we know that an earthquake of significant size can trigger volcanic eruptions. Violent volcanic eruptions produce massive plume clouds of volcanic debris and ash. What can happen is that the rock fragments, ash, and other particles collide in this volcanic plume cloud. The result is the production of static charges as these particles collide.
And the result of all of this is the production of lightning within, not a normal cloud, but within a volcanic plume cloud. This phenomenon has been observed by scientists.
So when the angel takes the censer and fills it with the fire of the altar and throws it down to the earth there follows thunder, sounds, and flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.
What can happen is that earthquake can cause volcanic eruptions and volcanic eruptions can, within themselves, produce lightning and as well release large amounts of water that can help fuel typical thunderstorms. And that could be why you have hail and fire mixed with blood.
The blood could be either literal blood or a red colored substance, like the lava from a volcanic eruption. This would also explain the fire that is in the mix with the hail. The volcanic eruption produces great amounts of water and can fuel the thunderstorms that produce large amounts of hail.
Or, it could also be that God is doing this individually and miraculously by His direct hand.
But either way, the destruction upon the Earth is great. With a third of the Earth’s land surface burned up as well as a third of the trees and all the green grass, there would be great disturbances of mankind.
TRANS: So the first angel sounds and the Earth’s vegetation is burned up. Now, the second angel sounds in verse eight and it is not the Earth’s land surface that is harmed, but the oceans. The oceans turn to blood.
Trumpet #2: Oceans turned to Blood
Revelation 8:8 The second angel sounded, and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea; and a third of the sea became blood,
John sees this vision as the second angel sounds his trumpet. And he sees something like a great mountain burning with fire thrown into the ocean.
This is an asteroid. If a large enough asteroid hit in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, not only would the Western side of our country be destroyed, but there would also be a relentless succession of tsunami waves traveling at the speed of a jet aircraft that would be much higher than the Empire State building.
Sounds like something out of Hollywood, but scientists are projecting that if a ‘great mountain’ would hit the ocean, this would happen. On top of that, the material from this super-hot asteroid that would be ejected by the impact of this would go up into the atmosphere and would re-enter all over the globe and chunks of material would be hot enough to produce infrared light. And the heat from this material would start fires all over the globe.
And the impact the Scripture says in verse eight in this location is that the sea becomes blood and a third of the creatures that were in the sea and have life died and a third of the ships were destroyed. So, either this is literal blood or a red-like substance from the asteroid.
Keep in mind as John is seeing these visions, he attempts to describe them as best as possible for us. He’s not necessarily scientifically interacting with the chemical structure of his visions. It could be literal blood as it says or a blood-like substance.
Imagine the strength of this tsunami after this kind of asteroid hit. This would cause destruction of the shipping industry.
TRANS: So trumpet number one affected the Earth’s vegetation. Trumpet 2 affects the ocean and kills off a third of the creatures in the sea as well as a third of the ships. And now the third angel sounds and it’s not vegetation and it’s not in the ocean, but the damage is to fresh water supplies. The fresh water turns bitter and deadly.
Trumpet #3: Fresh Water Turned Bitter
When the third angel sounds in verse 10, a great star walls from heaven. It’s burning like a torch. This word for star can refer to other types of astronomical bodies, not just larger-than earth gaseous bodies. And when it comes to the earth, it falls on a third of the rivers and on springs of waters.
In verse 11, we are given the name of the star. “The name of the star is called wormwood.” And a third of the waters become wormwood and many men died from the waters because they were made bitter.”
Wormwood is an herb, a shrub. It is extremely bitter. And if the star literally contains this wormwood, it would make the water become undrinkable. This would especially be the case if a third of the waters become wormwood. But it could be that the material that makes up this star is bitter and causes the bitterness of the fresh water supply. You don’t need much wormwood added to water to make it extremely bitter and wormwood is deadly.
TRANS: So we have the land surface burned up, the oceans turned to blood and shipping destroyed, and the fresh water supply is deadly. What is left? The heavens, outer space!
#4 Trumpet: Sun moon and stars shine for only 2/3
Revelation 8:12 The fourth angel sounded, and a third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars were struck, so that a third of them would be darkened and the day would not shine for a third of it, and the night in the same way.
It is difficult to interpret what’s going on here. It is likely that the Sun, Moon, and stars were struck in such a way so that they are only able to shine for two thirds of their normal time.
This would cut down on the number of hours during the day that the sun would shine. This would cause disturbances in vegetation and crop production if the sun was only able to shine for this long.
So, those are 4 trumpet jdugments that will happen during the 7 year tribulation period before the second phase of the full coming of Christ to reign upon the earth. Christ is about to reign upon the earth but first He brings judgment upon those who have rejected Him.
Now, what’s the point of all of this?
Here’s the point. God is judging the Earth. Why? In this passage, we see that God is judging the Earth and bringing in His kingdom because of the prayers of his people.
Again, this all began when, in verse three, an angel came and stood at the altar having that golden censer and he offered and on the hot coals of that altar incense along with the prayers of all of the saints.
And those prayers of all the saints ascended up before God and what happens next is the answers to those prayers. The angel takes the censer and fills it with fire and throws it to the Earth.
Then this brings in the four angels to sound their trumpets and this brings disaster upon the earth.
So the point again is that…
“God Answers the Prayers of All His People with Judgment Upon Creation”
So how does this work? Are you taking the Lord’s prayer seriously? Matthew 6:9-10 9 “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 ‘Your kingdom come.
We may not like judgments upon the earth, but God owns the earth.
Perfect beings cry out in heaven in Revelation 4:11 “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”
Are you praying for the coming of the kingdom of God? God is making an eternal record of the prayers of his people concerning the coming of Jesus Christ to rule upon the Earth. He knows who prays. Will your prayers be in that number?
Your prayers , like incense, are a sweet smelling fragrance to Him. Pray, pray for the coming of the Son of Man to righteously take back what is His rightfully His.
We are commanded to pray for the peace of Jerusalem which will only be fulfilled in the millennium and the new heaven and the new Earth.
John prays as we should “even so, Come Lord Jesus.” Will you take Jesus seriously and pray for this? If you do, the silence in that half an hour before sounding of the trumpets, may be broken by the voicing of your prayers as they as said before God once again at the end of time.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Revelation 8
Let’s turn to Luke 17-18 as we close.
At the end of Luke 17, beginning in verse 22, Jesus predicts his second coming.
Let’s read Luke 17:22-27 22 And He said to the disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23 “They will say to you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not go away, and do not run after them. 24 “For just like the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day. 25 “But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 “And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.
And then, in the very next section in the same discourse in chapter 18, Jesus teaches a parable in order to show his disciples that they should pray and not to lose heart.
Jesus says Luke 18:2-8 2 saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. 3 “There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ 4 “For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.'” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge *said; 7 now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? 8 “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
Will He? Will you lose heart and not pray? Will you be distracted and not pray for the coming of the Son of Man?
Jesus’ point here is that we are to live in light of the end. We should press on and endure for Christ’s sake and long for the return of God to manifest his power by his righteous judgments. And the way that you await the end of times is by your persistence in prayer concerning the coming of Jesus to reign upon the earth. Do you want righteousness to prevail upon the earth? Do you long for the coming kingdom? When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? If the Son of Man were to come today, would he find you faithful … Faithful in your watching and waiting, and praying for the coming of the Son of Man…