“And 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, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand. And the angel took the censer; and he filled it with the fire of the altar and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake. And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound them.” ~Revelation 8:2-6
After Jesus broke the seventh seal on the scroll, and it was now fully opened, there was silence in heaven, which John thought lasted about a half an hour. Seven trumpets were then given to seven angels standing before God. Seven is God’s number, the number of completeness and perfection. And another angel approached “the golden altar which was before the throne”, carrying a golden censer. Incense and the prayers of the saints were on the altar, and the smoke “went up before God”.
The Bible tells us that our prayers are like an offering of incense to God~
In Psalm 141:2, David writes~ “May my prayer be counted as incense before Thee; the lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.”
Revelation 5:8~ “And when He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”
Then, in Revelation 6:10, the Tribulation saints who had been martyred are underneath the altar~ “and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?'”
And in Proverbs 20:22~ “Do not say, ‘I will repay evil’; wait for the LORD, and He will save you.”
Romans 12:19~ “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,’ says the Lord.”
Why should we leave the vengeance to God? Because He is perfect, all-knowing, and just- we react in the anger of the moment. His perfect timing is always best. He can see everything, and He knows when wickedness should be repaid. His justice is pure and righteous, not out of anger or hatred like ours might be.
In verses 3-4, this incense is mixed with prayers from all of the the saints– all of the prayers spoken throughout history!? Is it perhaps the time when God will answer those prayers, those cries for justice? He has just given earth a break from His wrath, a heavenly half hour of silence, to repent. Now the angel fills the censer with fire from the altar which is before the throne of God and throws it down to earth, “and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound them.”
Woe to those on earth who have rejected the Lamb and the One who sits upon the throne.