Saturday, December 10, 2016

Revelation Advent -- December 10

When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. (Revelation 8:1-5, ESV)

Silence. The four living creatures and the twenty four elders were praising God throughout Revelation. But now they are silent. The great multitude that no one could number were crying out in joy with a loud voice, but now they are silent. Everyone on the earth who hid themselves in caves and in the mountains crying out, "wrath has come, and who can stand?" were now silent.

Why silence? Silence is an anticipation of God's action to come. For many, it is the expectant, hopeful expectation of God carrying out his promises, of consummation of salvation, rescue, the joy of his coming, the coming new heavens and new earth, and the joy of God dwelling with them forever. For others, it is the silence of dread. The silence of being caught and being stripped bare of any and all excuses, fully seeing the folly of their ways, dreading what they will hear and what they will face.

In this seventh seal we see an interesting interlocking of the trumpets with the seals. In many ways the trumpets will replay history from the first advent to the second coming of Christ. The trumpets will be another overlay, giving another perspective of the same period of history that the seals gave. The angels are being readied for the trumpet vision sequence. As the trumpet angels are being readied, another angel takes incense from the alter, where the martyrs reside that cried out, "how long?" Incense represents prayers, and the prayers of the saints, including those under the alter, are added to the incense censor. The angel heaves the censor down to the earth, resulting in lightning, thunder, and earthquakes -- more wrath and judgment on the earth. Those who wear the seal of God are protected, those who don't bear the full fury of God's wrath.

The interlocking of the seventh seal with the trumpets shows that the events associated with the trumpets come, at least in part, from the prayers of the saints. God will answer the prayers of his people. Sometimes it may seem to come slowly, but it will come. I am reminded of long ago, the prophet Habakkuk, who prayed for God's judgment, for God's intervention. God answered:

For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay.

“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him,
but the righteous shall live by his faith.”
(Habakkuk 2:3-4, ESV)

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