Revelation Chapter 8:5
Revelation 8:5 – Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth.
From the last section, offering incense and taking fire from the altar of incense in the earthly tabernacle was a symbol of atonement for sin. This is supported in the passage below, where we see the fire from the heavenly altar of incense is God’s refining fire that can purge sin and take iniquity away:
Isaiah 6:5-8 – So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.” Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
The act of the angel throwing the fire from the heavenly altar of incense to the earth shows that the wicked will perish in the coming judgments that follow, which answers the prayers of the saints for justice (Revelation 8:3), while the righteous will be refined, both Jew and Gentile:
Zechariah 13:8-9 – And it shall come to pass in all the land,” says the LORD, “That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one-third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; and each one will say, ‘The LORD is my God.'”
Daniel 11:35-36 – And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time. “Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done.”
Malachi 3:1-3 – “Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the LORD of hosts. “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the LORD an offering in righteousness.”
Malachi 4:1-3 – “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,” Says the LORD of hosts, “That will leave them neither root nor branch.” But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves. You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,” says the LORD of hosts.
Recall from Revelation 4:5, visual and audible displays of lightning, thundering, and voices, depict the awesome power God has over His creation (Psalms 18:7-14, 77:16-20). Indeed, thunder occurring before lightning shows that God is able to work His power outside the laws He established in nature and the rest of His creation. God revealed Himself in these same audible and visual displays when He first revealed Himself to Israel:
Exodus 19:16-19 – Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice.
As discussed in the “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” study, the main purpose of the Tribulation is to bring Israel back to God, but also to judge the nations and destroy His enemies in preparation for His Kingdom. The “lightnings, thunderings and voices” are evidence that God is about to reveal Himself to His chosen people again. While judgment was not in view when God revealed Himself to the Hebrews the first time, we do see these same audible and visual displays appear between each set of Tribulation judgments, which ultimately turn the Jewish remnant back to the Lord before He reveals Himself to them physically, when He returns at the end of the Tribulation (Zechariah 12).
Note in the parallels below, “voices” and “noises” come from the same Greek word “phóné.” Also, after the first time the “lightnings, thunderings and voices” appear in Heaven, catastrophes hit the earth in the form of an earthquake and/or hail which intensify each time:
|Lightnings, Thunderings, Noises||When|
|Revelation 4:5 – And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.||Before the Seal judgments|
|Revelation 8:5 – 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.||Between the Seal and Trumpet judgments|
|Revelation 11:19 – Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.||Between the Trumpet and Bowl judgments|
|Revelation 16:18, 21 – And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth…. And great hail….||After the Bowl judgments before Jesus returns|
Indeed we see all of these elements when the Lord metes out judgment:
Isaiah 29:6 & 30:27-30 – You will be punished by the LORD of hosts with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with storm and tempest and the flame of devouring fire…. Behold, the name of the LORD comes from afar, burning with His anger, and His burden is heavy; His lips are full of indignation, and His tongue like a devouring fire. His breath is like an overflowing stream, which reaches up to the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of futility; and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err. You shall have a song as in the night when a holy festival is kept, and gladness of heart as when one goes with a flute, to come into the mountain of the LORD, to the Mighty One of Israel. The LORD will cause His glorious voice to be heard, and show the descent of His arm, with the indignation of His anger and the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, tempest, and hailstones.
Psalms 18:7-15 – Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of the hills also quaked and were shaken, because He was angry. Smoke went up from His nostrils, and devouring fire from His mouth; coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down with darkness under His feet. And He rode upon a cherub, and flew; He flew upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness His secret place; His canopy around Him was dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. From the brightness before Him, His thick clouds passed with hailstones and coals of fire. The LORD thundered from heaven, and the Most High uttered His voice, hailstones and coals of fire. He sent out His arrows and scattered the foe, lightnings in abundance, and He vanquished them. Then the channels of the sea were seen, the foundations of the world were uncovered at Your rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of the breath of Your nostrils.
God’s judgment will fulfill the purpose of the Tribulation; the wicked nations will be destroyed and the remnant of Israel will turn back to God, being refined, as discussed in the last section:
Jeremiah 30:7-11 – Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it. ‘For it shall come to pass in that day,’ Says the LORD of hosts, ‘That I will break his yoke from your neck, and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them. But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. ‘Therefore do not fear, O My servant Jacob,’ says the LORD, ‘Nor be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from afar, and your seed from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return, have rest and be quiet, and no one shall make him afraid. For I am with you,’ says the LORD, ‘to save you; though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, yet I will not make a complete end of you. But I will correct you in justice, and will not let you go altogether unpunished.’
As an interesting side note, the cherubim below God’s throne in Ezekiel’s vision, when God commissioned Ezekiel to warn the people of God’s judgment, looked like lightning and made loud thunderous noises when they moved:
Ezekiel 1:13-14 – As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches going back and forth among the living creatures. The fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightning. And the living creatures ran back and forth, in appearance like a flash of lightning.
Ezekiel 3:13 – I also heard the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another, and the noise of the wheels beside them, and a great thunderous noise.
It is possible these creatures are the source of the thunderings, lightnings and some of the voices or noises, save God’s voice in Revelation. While the seraphim verbally announce the four horses (Revelation 6:1-8), perhaps the cherubim announce the three sets of judgments and the return of the Lord through “noises, thunderings, and lightnings.”
“Thunderings … lightnings”: The thunderclaps, lightnings, and earthquake are the result of the fire from the altar, indicating that the action of heaven initiates a responsive action on earth. As the prayers for the saints for vengeance are taken from the altar, there are frightening sounds, flashes of light, and an earthquake on the earth, introducing the fact that the seven angels are about to sound their trumpets.
Fire from the altar of burnt offering means that God accepted the prayers of the saints. This “fire taken from the altar and cast to the earth”, is the fury of God. Our God is a consuming fire. God is angered, and He has decided it is time to punish those on the earth who have rejected Jesus Christ as their Savior.
Just as God finally destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah when they would not repent, there is a time when the fire of God will descend upon this earth in punishment.
“An earthquake”: Surely of equal or greater intensity than the one described in the sixth seal (see note on 6:12).
Throughout the Bible, all of these natural disasters mentioned (here in verse 5): “thunderings, lightnings, earthquake”, are God dealing with mankind. This is no different, and I believe these are literal. A terrible storm takes place above ground and a terrible shaking beneath takes place, as well. The Wrath of God has begun as the world enters into the Great Tribulation.
Are the Trumpet Judgments Literal Judgments? The best way to decide if the trumpet judgments are literal or symbolic is to study them in connection with the plagues of Egypt (as found in Exodus 7-11). Five of the plagues of Egypt are repeated in the book of Revelation. No one suggests that what happened in Egypt was not literal in its form of judgment on the rebellious Egyptians. Thus, we can conclude that the same thing applies during the Tribulation period and that the trumpet judgments introduce physical judgment on the earth. The only exceptions are those trumpets that introduce events beyond human understanding, and even they affect human beings physically.
image courtesy: Revelation 8-5 – slideshare
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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.