Revelation 8:1-5: The mightiest force in the world.
“When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.3 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.” NIV
Between the opening of the sixth and seventh seals, there has been an interval of one whole chapter. Now, with the opening of the seventh seal, a hush falls. It feels like a silence full of awe and expectancy; as though everyone is holding their breath. Will this now usher in the end? Well, not yet, but the process of movement towards the final days seems to intensify as the seven seals give way to the seven trumpets.
We have already noted in chapter 5:8, that the prayers of God’s people on earth are presented before His throne like incense. Don’t miss the point that:
- Prayer counts;
- Prayers reach heaven;
- Prayer shapes history.
‘The main point…is that the seven trumpets and what they bring will be part at least of God’s answer to the prayers of his people. The sequence of divine judgments, necessary for evil to be conquered and God’s glorious new world to emerge, is not a mechanical plan which will grind forward irrespective of human agency. God, as we have seen, is committed to working in the world through human beings. Prayer, even the anguished prayer of those who do not know what is going on, is a vital element in this mysterious co-operation (see Romans 8:26-27).’ Tom Wright: ‘Revelation for Everyone’, p.17.
Consider also the words of F.B.Meyer: ‘What a glimpse is here afforded of the intercession of our great High Priest! The smoke of the incense of his great merit arises with the prayers of the saints. Pray on, believer, though your voice be feeble and so much imperfection mingles with your efforts to serve God. The incense of Christ’s intercession is fragrant enough to make even you acceptable.’ ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.639.
With good reason could the missionary, Frank Laubach, describe prayer as ‘The mightiest force in the world.’