Sunday, October 30, 2016

Revelation 8:1-5

Revelation 8:1-5
And whenever he opened the seventh seal, silence became in heaven as a half an hour.  And I saw the seven angels who have set in the presence of God and seven trumpets were given to them.  And another angel came and was set upon the altar while having a golden censer.  And much incense was given to him in order that he will give the prayers of the all holy ones upon the golden altar – the one in the presence of the throne.  And the smoke of the incenses went up out of the hand of the holy to the prayers of the holy ones in the presence of God.  And the angel has taken the censer and filled it out of the fire of the altar and he threw it into the earth.  And thunder, voices, lightning, and earthquakes became.

Thoughts for Today

First Thought:

Do you hear what happens in this chapter?  This is the completion of the seven seals.  Did you remember that we had only done six of the seven seals?  This chapter deals with the completion of the seventh seal.  What happens when the seventh seal is opened?  In a nearly anti-climactic way, the only thing that happens is silence.  But there is much we can learn about the silence.  Remember the story of Elijah in the cave?  God isn’t found in the earthquake, or the thunder.  God is found in the silence.  Furthermore, remember that in Jewish thought that the number seven represents completion.  What is John saying, especially considering that so much of the chapter between the sixth and the seventh seal had to deal with Christ and the salvation that comes through Him?  The breaking of the seventh seal brings forth the complete and full presence of God.  The breaking of the seventh seal shows the completeness of God’s plan as salvation is fully revealed to those who are in God.

How often do you think about the completeness of God in the fullness of salvation?  How does it feel to think about the Bible’s portrayal of silence as the place where God can be found the most present?  In what way is this challenging?

Second Thought:

Do you see the angel that comes forth?  He is given a censer to approach the altar.  There is a really neat continuation from the last chapter here.  Do you remember what the altar was used for in the Old Testament?  It was used for making sacrifices for the remission of sin.  In the temple of God in heaven, though, there is no mention of sacrifices being made!  Of course, there is no need of sacrifices because Jesus is the final sacrifice!  The plan of salvation is complete.  So this angel that approached the altar is given a censer so that he can present the prayers of the people.  In the completion of God’s plan, the altar becomes a place of hope as our prayers come before the presence of God.

How does our worship today represent the fact that the altar s no longer a place of sacrifice but a place of prayer?  What difference does this make to you and your salvation?

Third Thought:

Make sure that you understand the pattern being taught to us in this section.  The prayers rise up and fill the temple where the presence of God is.  Then, God’s response to the prayer comes out of the altar before God.  I don’t mean this to say that we can control God’s action.  We do not force God to act.  However, God responds to our prayers.  As a compassionate and righteous God, He is aware of our needs and aware what human beings are doing to one another.  His response comes to us from His altar.  What can we learn?  When we are in need, our most powerful tool is prayer.  When we have reason to rejoice, our most powerful means is prayer.  Our most useful way of connecting to God is through our prayer.

How do you use prayer in your life?  Do you pray more often when you are in need or when you have a reason to give thanks?

Passage for Tomorrow: Revelation 8:6-11
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