Getting the Seven Trumpets Ready, Revelation Chapter 8 Verses 1-6 (NASB)


    And when He broke the seventh seal,
This is the final seal on the scroll. When it is loosened, heaven can begin to see inside and the scroll starts to unfurl. Let's take time here to review the seven seals as they give a hint of the scroll contents.
The Seven Seals
Seal Number Reference Result
Revelation 6:1 ,2 Atheism
Revelation 6:3 ,4 War
Revelation 6:5 ,6 Famine
Revelation 6:7 ,8 Pestilence & Death
Revelation 6:9 Persecution
Revelation 6:12 Physical disturbances
Revelation 8:1 7 trumpets & 7 vials
    there was SILENCE IN HEAVEN for about half an hour.
Silence is NOT a normal state in heaven. When you read the previous chapters (Revelation 4:8), you are struck by all the praising, worshiping, and singing taking place in heaven. To have silence is unusual.

There are two views as to what causes the silence.

  • What heaven sees inside the scroll is so awful, it is stunned.
  • God wishes to listen to the prayers of the saints (Revelation 8:3) that He silences the heavens in order to hear them.
It is difficult to say from these two views, that either is the sole cause of the silence. Since God is all knowing (hearing), it seems a little restricting for Him to have silence to hear the prayers Himself. Rather, it may be for the benefit of the angels and saints already present.
As an aside observation, it is typical of the Revelation to have everything explained in precision. That is, the silence is for about half an hour ('not about an hour' or 'some period of time'). This would indicate that what follows with the trumpets is NOT symbolic but EXACTLY what will happen to the earth. The 'thirds' which follow in the rest of this chapter are accurate. If they were symbolic, then they would be 'some' and 'lots' of whatever are burned or destroyed, and the precision of time is not needed in this verse. This is because time is of consequence to earthly things or more precisely, due to the rotation of the earth on its axis; God has no time restrictions!
    And I saw the seven angels who stand before God;
Again, John is very precise when he uses 'the seven angels'; these seven angels are 'presence angels' and most likely are the same as the archangels. We know of two of them in our scriptures, while Jewish writings indicate the remaining five as shown in the following table.
The Seven Presence Angels
Name Reference Function
Michael Jude 9 ; Daniel 12:1; Daniel 10:13 General of the Heavenly Armies
Gabriel Luke 1:19 ; Daniel 8:16 ; Daniel 9:20-23 Presence of God ... Messenger
Uriel 1 Enoch 20:2-8; Tobit 12:15; Levi 3:7

Offering up of the prayers of the saints in Jewish thought is connected with archangels.
    and seven trumpets were given to them.
In Israel, the trumpet warned of danger. In Zephaniah 1:14-18 , it warns of the last days. See also Numbers 10:1-10 and Joel 2:1-2 .

Before every woe, a warning is given by an angel blowing a trumpet. Each trumpet was unique and contained its own warning upon a specific part of the physical universe.

Trumpets also are associated with revelation particularly the giving of the Law (Exodus 19:16-20) and the prophesy (Amos 3:6-7). Jericho prevented Israel from taking the Promised Land; it fell by the trumpet (Joshua 6:12-21 ); so, too, the evil one prevents or tries to prevent Christ from claiming His true inheritance. This is associated with seal seven. Satan uses the Gentile nations to hold on to this earth and to fight the Jews, God's Chosen. See Zechariah 14:1-4 and Luke 21:20-24 .

BUT GOD WILL OVERCOME! Isaiah 51:21-23 , Isaiah 26:20-21 , Isaiah 35:3-4 , Zechariah 6:9-15 , and Zechariah 13:7-9 .
    And another angel came and stood at the ALTAR, holding a golden censer;
Bible scholars are divided as to who this ANGEL is. Some believe that he may be Christ Himself; others believe he is just another ministering angel. There are several passages in the Bible which may lead one to believe that Christ visited the earth as a messenger angel.

Hagar, Sarai's maid, sees an 'angel of the Lord' in Genesis 16:9-13, and ends up referring to the angel as "Thou art a God who sees".

The initial encounter of Gideon was with the angel of the Lord in Judges 6:11-18. Later, 'the Lord' said He would be with Gideon.

The background to Samson's birth announcement in Judges 13:2-20, Manoah's wife saw the angel of the Lord who brought her the message of her new baby to be a Nazirite. When Manoah entreated the Lord if this true, he went through a most fascinating dialogue. The angel of the Lord said His name was incomprehensible (usually an attribute of Christ's name). Furthermore, the 'angel of the Lord' ascended out of Manoah and his wife's sight in the smoke of the ALTAR they had built. This is curiously parallel to the angel standing at the alter in this verse.

The high priest, alone, carried the censer, fire pan full of coals, as a sin offering for himself, Leviticus 16:11-14.

This mediating role is Christ's alone between God and man as Paul describes in 1 Timothy 2:1-7.

Interestingly, there never has been a reference to Christ ever appearing back on earth as an angel after His ascension. However, Paul indicates in Hebrews 13:1-6 that we may have entertained angels without knowing it. Was Christ one of them?

    and much incense was given to him,
The incense for the altar of incense (Exodus 30:1-6) was made of 4 spices: stacte, onycha, galbanum, and frankincense (Exodus 30:34-38). Some scholars equate this to the four offices of Christ: King, Servant, Son of Man, and Son of God. See Revelation 4:7. Thus, the much incense may be the prayers of Jesus Christ Himself before the THRONE.
    that he might add it to the PRAYERS of ALL the saints upon the golden ALTAR which was before the THRONE.
These prayers most likely are ones for revenge like those of the martyrs under the altar (Revelation 6:9) and the "cursive" psalms: Psalm 35:4-6, Psalm 59:13-15, Psalm 83:13-18, and Psalm 109:6-20. This type of prayer really does not have a place during the church age, but now with the seventh seal opened, it time for vengeance.

Incense also is very closely tied to Christ's name. Malachi, in Malachi 1:6-14, rebukes defiled offerings and the priests who permit them. He indicates that incense is offered to the greatness of His name.

As an observation, even the prayers coming from us are tainted with the sin curse. But the mixing of the much incense, Christ's prayers, covers our terrible sin curse odors with the sweet smelling fragrance of Christ's mediations. This parallels the blood of Christ making us spotless such that we can be presented before God, Revelation 7:9,14.
    And the smoke of the incense,
This smoke is coming from the censer, and apparently the angel has moved closer to God, inasmuch, the smoke is going up before God. Also implied in this is that heaven and the THRONE must be within the atmosphere. Incense cannot burn without oxygen (or atmosphere). Symbolists would argue otherwise. However, John is writing what he saw (Revelation 1:11).
    with THE PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS went up before God out of the angel's hand.
These are prayers of those who have accepted or are accepting Christ as Savior . Christ (Mark 11:22-25) changes them into SAINT'S PRAYERS as they are floated before the Father.

It is not unusual for prayers to be thought of as incense. David uses the same analogy in Psalm 141:1-2-4 .

Which prayers of the saints are mixed with Christ's?
Prayer Reference
Those in His name. John 16:18-24
Those who abide in Him John 15:7
Those with faith in God Mark 11:22-25

Also, it is significant that the prayers ascended out of the angel's hand. The hand is the "working element" of a Christian.

The HAND as a "working element".

We pray to Him with our hands 1 Timothy 2:8
We are counted by hand Jeremiah 33:12-13
We eat because we work with our hands Proverbs 19:24 ; 26:13-15
The good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. Isaiah 53:10-12
We give our offerings (alms) with our hands Matthew 6:1-4

Other than eating, the HAND of the angel was doing similar to what believer's hands should be doing.
    And the ANGEL took the censer;
This is the censer that has the prayers of the saints purified and filtered by the "much incense"
    and he filled it with the FIRE of the ALTAR,
It is not clear if there is only one altar in heaven, the incense altar. There is no need for a "sacrifices" alter because the supreme sacrifice has already taken place, Hebrews 12:28-29 . This altar is probably the one where the souls are seeking vengeance in Revelation 6:9 . This implies the FIRE symbolizes God in His holy and pure judgmental form. We are about to see another side of a loving and caring God.
    and threw it to the earth.
See the previous verse for some thoughts on where heaven is. The lull in heaven in verse 1 when the seventh seal was opened may also have been on the earth. If so, that lull is over!
    and there followed
    • peals of thunder and
    • sounds and
    • flashes of lightning and
    • an earthquake.
This is much like God's visit to Mt. Sinai in Exodus 19:16-20 . This is the tribulation saints vindication. Compare the consequences in Hebrews 10:26-31 , Luke 12:49-53 , and 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 . Note, too, there is no indication that there is any rain. This implies the fire continues on for some time, perhaps for the duration of the seven trumpets.
    And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound them.
The sequencing of the seals, trumpets, and bowls are not necessarily chronological, and neither totally parallel. The trumpets overlap or are contained within the seventh seal. Likewise the seven bowls (the third woe, Revelation 11:14) overlap or are contained in the seventh trumpet sounding.

Yet with God being beyond the constraints of time, John, who is time limited or constrained, probably had no other way of describing these occurrences. One thing is certain, at the seventh bowl, the proclamation is given, "It is done.", Revelation 16:17. The vengeance, as horrible as it is, has been completed.

A few more words about trumpets. They have been used as "futures" signals in Isaiah 27:13 , Joel 2:1 , Zephaniah 1:16 , Matthew 24:31 , 1 Corinthians 15:52 , and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 . Look for a balance between the literal and symbolic meanings given by the trumpets. Also watch for parallels to the Egyptian plagues in Exodus.
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright The Lockman Foundation, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 Used by permission."

References to the Revelation of Jesus Christ are in bold italics. All other references are in bold only.