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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

June 18, 2014

Revelations 8:1-5

  1. Let's do a quick recap. John is getting a revelation from Jesus Christ of things that would happen very soon (Revelation 1:1-3). This is the point that we cannot miss. Many of the things written in this book would happen soon. We also know that some of the things written in the text are for a future time in relation to the 1st Century. Some things that were going to happen after the first century have actually already happened in relation to us. This is something that we must keep in mind. The book was to be an encouragement to a persecuted people that God had not forgotten them and that God would make right the wrongs of the world. The book is filled with symbols that have to be carefully understood. And it is difficult to always get the interpretations correct. In some cases we must challenge long standing traditional interpretations.

  2. In today's lesson, John is about to see the seventh seal opened. Remember that he has already seen six seals opened. Each seal acts as a witness to what God is doing. Each seal is a sign to the validity of what God will do. In Roman culture the seals on a will were sealed by witnesses to the actually last will and testament. In our revelation study, these seals are witnesses or signs of what God will do. As each seal is opened we are given a sign. Many of the signs of this “will” being opened are times of judgment. We can recall that as several of the seals were opened judgment came on the earth, in the manner of wars, famine, and natural disasters. These signs are also ways in which people can turn to God. It is not unusual in times of trouble for people to turn to the Lord. John also was able to see that the people of God come through any trouble that comes on the earth. John sees a vision of multitudes that are kept through and protected during the terrible times that come on the earth. This is good news to the people of God facing persecution. They needed to know that God was going to cover them and bring them through. They needed to be reminded to keep the faith.

  3. Verse 1. The seventh seal is opened and instead of an angelic host quickly calling for something or someone, there is silence. This silence could mean that the events about to happen at the opening of this seal are very traumatic. The seventh seal, the last seal, is opened and there is silence in heaven. The angelic beings have all stopped singing at the opening of this seal. The pause of silence is meant to emphasize the importance of this seal.

  4. Verse 2. After the silence John sees seven angels standing before God and each angel is given a trumpet. Trumpets are usually symbols of warnings or announcements. Something is about to happen. In this seventh seal we will see, seven angels, seven trumpets, seven plagues, and seven bowls. The angels will announce a terrible judgment on the earth. This is a scary vision.

  5. Verse 3-5. Quickly John is shown an image that should comfort the people of God. Prior to any of these seven angels blowing these seven trumpets unleashing a final and complete (indicated by the use of the number 7) the church is given some encouragement. John sees another angelic being, with a golden censer. A censer was a container in which things were burned like incense. The temple always burned incense to provide a fragrant aroma. This was symbolically seen as a way to cover the stench of death or sin. Here we see an angel is given incense to offer with the prayers of the saints. In Chapter 6:9 we know that he saints were calling out to God about "How long it would be until their blood was avenged.” Here the church is reminded that their prayers have not been forgotten, and their plight was remembered. They were told that their enemies would be dealt with. The angel took the censer and hurled it to the earth. The contents fell to the earth and with it came thunder and lighting. It is almost as if God had let the people's prayers for justice be heard by the inhabitants of the earth prior to the judgment. The prayers being a witness against the earth. Justice could not be executed without a witness's testimony. The judgment of the earth would be preceded by the prayers for justice by the persecuted church. God heard their prayers, and he allowed their prayers to be heard by the world.

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