It’s a real shame that so many Christians in our time see Revelation as God’s people always under attack, and the consummation of this age as an assault on believers, for nothing could be further from the truth. I’m not a betting man, but if I was, I’d bet the house that John would be surprised and saddened by this, for he wrote Revelation is an encouragement for Christians.
When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.
Based on these words, I’d bet Jesus would be right there with John.
Think about it: the plagues of Egypt must have been frightening for the Israelites as well as for the Egyptians, but as soon as the plagues were complete, they were able to leave Egypt and head for the Promised Land. As Christians who are learning more about the Revelation story, we have come to understand these first six trumpets as plagues, with the understanding that as soon as they are complete, we will see the consummation of the Kingdom of Heaven; the culmination of redemptive history, what could be better than that?
Yes, there are problems in this life, and our world is a mess; there will be hardships, but those hardships aren’t anything like the end of the story. The end of the story is nothing short of glorious, and you have a seat at the party.
We haven’t really talked about it yet, but maybe we might find another interesting aspect to the Revelation 8-9 story if we do so…
And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.
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. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. 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.
Consider this picture, the censor with the incense that is the prayers of all the saints of God is offered on the altar to God and cast down to the earth. What comes next, beginning in verse 6?
The sounding of the trumpets.
The events we’ve been looking at are in answer to the prayers of the saints: Your prayers!
I’ve made much of the Satanic and demonic nature of what is going on in this age, and any reasonable person might ask why God is allowing all of this to take place. Do you see it? In reply to our cries for deliverance, He allows the enemies of God and His people to do their worst, within limits, and in the end, they destroy themselves, and are powerless before the final judgment of God.
Now isn’t that an interesting thought for a Sunday?