Revelation chapter 8 opens with a picture of seven angels standing before God, ready to blow their trumpets. Before the trumpets are blown, another scene is inserted. Its purpose is to explain the theological meaning of the trumpets.
Read Revelation 8:3-4 along with the description of the daily services in the temple in Jerusalem given below: a Jewish commentary on the Bible explains that at the evening sacrifice the lamb was placed upon the altar of burnt offering, and the blood was poured out at the base of the altar. An appointed priest took the golden censer inside the temple and offered incense on the golden altar in the Holy Place. When the priest came out, he threw the censer down on the pavement, producing a loud noise. At that point, seven priests blew their trumpets, marking the end of the temple services for that day.
One can see how the language of the evening service is used in Revelation 8:3-5. It is significant that the angel receives incense at the “golden altar which was before the throne” (Rev. 8:3, NKJV). The incense represents the prayers of God’s people (Rev. 5:8). Their prayers are now being answered by God.
Revelation 8:3-5 provides important information regarding the trumpets in Revelation:
- The seven trumpets are God’s judgments on rebellious humanity in response to the prayers of His oppressed people.
- The trumpets follow the death of Jesus as the Lamb and run consecutively throughout history until the Second Coming (Rev. 11:15-18)
Read Revelation 8:5 along with Ezekiel 10:2. How does Ezekiel’s vision of hurling fire upon apostate Jerusalem elucidate the nature of the trumpets in Revelation?
The angel fills the censer with fire from the altar and hurls it down to the earth. Significantly, this fire comes from the very altar on which the prayers of the saints were offered. The fact that the fire comes from that very altar shows that the seven trumpet judgments fall upon the inhabitants of the earth in answer to the prayers of God’s people and also that God will intervene in their behalf in His appointed time. The throwing down of the censer also may be a warning that Christ’s intercession will not last forever. There will be a close of probationary time (Rev. 22:11-12).