Revelation Chapter 5: 8
Revelation 5:8 – Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
See Revelation 4, for commentary on the living creatures and the elders.
As soon as Jesus takes the scroll, the four living creatures and twenty-four elders lay prostrate in worship before Him, each having a harp. Harps in the Bible were widely used in worship and in a few instances when men prophesied (1 Samuel 10:5, 1 Chronicles 25:3). David had the power to drive away distressing spirits from Saul when he played his harp (1 Samuel 16:16, 23). It is clear from these examples that music transcends from the physical realm into the spiritual realm.
Recall from Revelation 4:4, the musically talented Levites served in the temple. These priests prophesied and worshiped through music (1 Chronicles 25). As shown in Revelation 4:4 and 4:7, the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures represent the Church and Israel. Both groups are priests before the Lord (Exodus 19:6, 1 Peter 2:4-9, Revelation 1:6, 5:10). It makes sense that the pattern on Earth is also found in Heaven, with musically gifted priests incorporated in both the earthly temple and the heavenly throne.
Priests were also commissioned to burn incense in worship to the Lord:
1 Chronicles 23:13 – The sons of Amram: Aaron and Moses; and Aaron was set apart, he and his sons forever, that he should sanctify the most holy things, to burn incense before the LORD, to minister to Him, and to give the blessing in His name forever.
The bowls used in the earthly temple were pure gold (Exodus 25:29). Zechariah saw a similar bowl in his vision:
Zechariah 4:2-3, 11-14 – And he said to me, “What do you see?” So I said, “I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps. Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left….” Then I answered and said to him, “What are these two olive trees – at the right of the lampstand and at its left?” And I further answered and said to him, “What are these two olive branches that drip into the receptacles of the two gold pipes from which the golden oil drains?” Then he answered me and said, “Do you not know what these are?” And I said, “No, my lord.” So he said, “These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth.”
The olive trees are the two witnesses found inRevelation 11:4. As shown in the following passages, the bowl is God the Father, the lamp stand with golden pipes and receptacles are Jesus, and the golden oil is the Holy Spirit. The seven lamps or candlesticks represent the Church (Revelation 1:20).
In Zechariah’s vision, the bowl is the source of the oil feeding the lamps on the lamp stand through the pipes. Likewise, the Father gives the Holy Spirit to the Church through His Son, Jesus Christ:
Acts 2:32-33 – This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.
Ephesians 2:14-18 – For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
While the pipes represent Jesus in Zechariah’s vision, in Revelation 1:12, Jesus also represents the shaft of the lamp stand that the lamps attach to. In both pictures, the lamps are dependent on the Son of God, to produce light to the world, and have access to the Father.
John tells us the golden bowls are full of incense, which represents the “prayers of the saints.” The Holy Spirit makes intercession for us in our prayers, carrying them to the Father:
Romans 8:26-27 – Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
It is through the Son, our mediator, that we make our petitions to the Father, by asking in His name:
1 Timothy 2:5-6 – For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
John 15:16 – …whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.
While it is widely thought that these prayers contained in the gold bowls are all unanswered prayers of the saints, the following passages suggest that prayers of incense are prayers for justice and judgment on the wicked:
Psalms 141:1-5 – A Psalm of David. LORD, I cry out to You; make haste to me! Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You. Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men who work iniquity; and do not let me eat of their delicacies. Let the righteous strike me; it shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; it shall be as excellent oil; let my head not refuse it. For still my prayer is against the deeds of the wicked.
Revelation 8:2-6 – And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with 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, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
The Lord modeled prayer for just and righteous rule on Earth:
Matthew 6:9-10 – In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Interestingly, prayers and incense appear in Scripture when the angel declared John the Baptist’s conception and birth. John’s mission was to prepare the people for the Lord’s righteous and just rule in the coming Kingdom:
Luke 1:8-13, 16-17 – So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John…. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
In summary of the last few sections, the elders and living creatures worship the Lord with praise and prayer because someone was found worthy to open the “purchase deed” of the earth. Since the Kinsmen Redeemer came to claim the “purchase deed,” He will be able to rule and reign in justice and righteousness over it.
“Harps”: These ancient stringed instruments not only accompanied the songs of God’s people (1 Chron. 25:6; Psalm 33:2), but also accompanied prophecy (compare 1 Sam. 10:5). The 24 elders, representative of the redeemed church, played their harps in praise and in a symbolic indication that all the prophets had said was about to be fulfilled.
“Vials full of odors”: These golden, wide-mouth saucers were common in the tabernacle and temple. Incense was a normal part of the Old Testament ritual. Priests stood twice daily before the inner veil of the temple and burned incense so that the smoke would carry into the Holy of Holies and be swept into the nostrils of God. That symbolized the people’s prayers rising to Him.
“Prayers of the saints”: Specifically, these prayers represent all that the redeemed have ever prayed concerning ultimate and final redemption.
All of Christendom will bow before the Lamb. We read that every knee will bow and every tongue confess to God (Romans 14:11).
It is a real comfort to know that every prayer that we ever prayed is stored in heaven.
image courtesy: Revelation 5-8 groomsdaypreppers-com
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We are now living in the absolute End Times as per biblical prophecy.
Our Lord Jesus Christ – King of Kings. 2nd Coming and return is IMMENENT!.
Please do not waist another a minute.
No matter what religion you serve, there is only one God.
If, you want to be assured that you will not have to endure the perilous times that will befall you.
Irrespective, of what sins you may have committed at any time of your life. If you humble yourself and ask for God’s forgiveness. He will forgive you and wash them all away and welcome you as his beloved son or daughter with open arms.
If you are not a child of Father God or have not asked Jesus Christ to come into your life yet?
I implore you to do this without delay.
Read this prayer of Salvation and ask God to forgive you now and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour and you will be assured of eternal life.