Revelation Chapter Eight
1And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
Author: Please see my comments on the seventh seal in Revelation chapter 6.
2And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
Author: Seven angels stood before the throne of God, in the Holy Place, and these angels were given the comprehensive messages of the seven trumpets.
3And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
Author: Another Angel, this is Christ coming to minister for His people before the golden altar of the Holy Place. An ordinary angel can not care for the tasks of the intercessory ministry of Christ in the sanctuary in heaven above, the only Angel that can do this is the Angel of the Lord – Michael – who was Jesus Christ on Earth.
The issue of the golden censer is a significant issue in the Bible. The censer is a device for carrying coals of fire and which a priest can carry easily. The priest burns incense upon the censer and spreads the odor of the incense all over the sanctuary and far out unto the peoples surrounding the sanctuary. See Numbers 16 regarding the censer both positive and negative.
The censer would also be attached to the golden altar of incense which was placed on the west side of the Holy Place of the sanctuary nearest to the Ark of the Covenant which was inside of the Most Holy Place. The Altar of incense was made of Shittim wood covered with pure gold. The gold tells us that this piece of sanctuary furniture had to be in the Holy Place due to it not being made of brass which would indicate its earthly position. This altar had four horns and it had a crown of gold around it indicating its connection to the royalty of God. (Exodus 37:25-28).
The Altar of Incense is where the priest burned the incense to intercede for the sins of God’s people each morning and evening. (Exodus 30:1-10). This offering of incense will be a perpetual incense offering throughout your generations. The incense burnt on the Altar of Incense was described in Exodus 30:34-38 and was it was forbidden for anyone else to make anything like it in the congregation. This incense symbolized the prayers of the saints (Revelation 5:8) and it also symbolized the righteousness of Christ that came up with the prayers of the saints. (Revelation 8:4).
Notice the following quotation from Volume 1 of Selected Messages 344 “As you near the cross of Calvary there is seen love that is without a parallel. As you by faith grasp the meaning of the sacrifice, you see yourself a sinner, condemned by a broken law. This is repentance. As you come with humble heart, you find pardon, for Christ Jesus is represented as continually standing at the altar, momentarily offering up the sacrifice for the sins of the world. He is a minister of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man.
The typical shadows of the Jewish tabernacle no longer possess any virtue. A daily and yearly typical atonement is no longer to be made, but the atoning sacrifice through a mediator is essential because of the constant commission of sin. Jesus is officiating in the presence of God, offering up His shed blood, as it had been a lamb slain. Jesus presents the oblation offered for every offense and every shortcoming of the sinner.
Christ, our Mediator, and the Holy Spirit are constantly interceding in man's behalf, but the Spirit pleads not for us as does Christ, who presents His blood, shed from the foundation of the world; the Spirit works upon our hearts, drawing out prayers and penitence, praise and thanksgiving. The gratitude which flows from our lips is the result of the Spirit's striking the cords of the soul in holy memories, awakening the music of the heart.
The religious services, the prayers, the praise, the penitent confession of sin ascend from true believers as incense to the heavenly sanctuary, but passing through the corrupt channels of humanity, they are so defiled that unless purified by blood, they can never be of value with God. They ascend not in spotless purity, and unless the Intercessor, who is at God's right hand, presents and purifies all by His righteousness, it is not acceptable to God. All incense from earthly tabernacles must be moist with the cleansing drops of the blood of Christ. He holds before the Father the censer of His own merits, in which there is no taint of earthly corruption. He gathers into this censer the prayers, the praise, and the confessions of His people, and with these He puts His own spotless righteousness. Then, perfumed with the merits of Christ's propitiation, the incense comes up before God wholly and entirely acceptable. Then gracious answers are returned.
Oh, that all may see that everything in obedience, in penitence, in praise and thanksgiving, must be placed upon the glowing fire of the righteousness of Christ. The fragrance of this righteousness ascends like a cloud around the mercy seat.”
There are a few more thoughts on the Altar of Incense before we finish with this thought. Hebrews 9:1-4 conveys the idea that the golden censer is part of the Most Holy Place ministry even though the Altar of Incense is functionally a part of the Holy Place. This is discussed briefly in the book Early Writings, and it addresses the Holy Place and Most Holy Place ministries. In Early Writings page 32
“The Lord gave me the following view in 1847, while the brethren were assembled on the Sabbath, at Topsham, Maine.
We felt an unusual spirit of prayer. And as we prayed the Holy Ghost fell upon us. We were very happy. Soon I was lost to earthly things and was wrapped in a vision of God's glory. I saw an angel flying swiftly to me. He quickly carried me from the earth to the Holy City. In the city I saw a temple, which I entered. I passed through a door before I came to the first veil. This veil was raised, and I passed into the holy place. Here I saw the altar of incense, the candlestick with seven lamps, and the table on which was the shewbread. After viewing the glory of the holy, Jesus raised the second veil and I passed into the holy of holies.
In the holiest I saw an ark; on the top and sides of it was purest gold. On each end of the ark was a lovely cherub, with its wings spread out over it. Their faces were turned toward each other, and they looked downward. Between the angels was a golden censer. Above the ark, where the angels stood, was an exceeding bright glory that appeared like a throne where God dwelt. Jesus stood by the ark, and as the saints' prayers came up to Him, the incense in the censer would smoke, and He would offer up their prayers with the smoke of the incense to His Father. In the ark was the golden pot of manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of stone which folded together like a book. Jesus opened them, and I saw the ten commandments written on them with the finger of God. On one table were four, and on the other six. The four on the first table shone brighter than the other six. But the fourth, the Sabbath commandment, shone above them all; for the Sabbath was set apart to be kept in honor of God's holy name. The holy Sabbath looked glorious--a halo of glory was all around it. I saw that the Sabbath commandment was not nailed to the cross. If it was, the other nine commandments were; and we are at liberty to break them all, as well as to break the fourth. I saw that God had not changed the Sabbath, for He never changes. But the pope had changed it from the seventh to the first day of the week; for he was to change times and laws.”
This quotation indicates that the ministry of the altar of incense, and the golden censer functioned in both apartments of the sanctuary – the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. We will see this issue again in verse 5.
4And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.
Author: The righteousness of Jesus will come up with the prayers of all of the saints to God and will be moistened with the blood, and the righteousness of Christ. Thus all of our prayers are cared for by the intercessory ministry of Christ.
5And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
Author: At the end of the intercessory ministry of Christ He will fill the censer with fire from the altar and cast it into the earth. Then there will be voices, thundering, and lightnings, and an earthquake which all symbolize the speaking of God and His presence to accomplish a task. This will be the end of the intercessory ministry of Christ. This brings up an interesting question and that is did the intercessory ministry of Christ end in the Holy Place time of His ministry? The answer is no. It would appear that Christ is letting us know that there is a total package of His Altar of Incense ministry that will continue all through the time of the Holy Place and will go all through the time of the Most Holy Place phase of His ministry which will occur long after 1844. So during the time of the Holy Place (31 AD – 1844 AD) Christ continues to intercede for sinful man. After 1844, and at the end of probationary time we find the final display of His ministry as is quoted from Early Writings page 279
“I was pointed down to the time when the third angel's message was closing. The power of God had rested upon His people; they had accomplished their work and were prepared for the trying hour before them. They had received the latter rain, or refreshing from the presence of the Lord, and the living testimony had been revived. The last great warning had sounded everywhere, and it had stirred up and enraged the inhabitants of the earth who would not receive the message.
I saw angels hurrying to and fro in heaven. An angel with a writer's inkhorn by his side returned from the earth and reported to Jesus that his work was done, and the saints were numbered and sealed. Then I saw Jesus, who had been ministering before the ark containing the ten commandments, throw down the censer. He raised His hands, and with a loud voice said, "It is done." And all the angelic host laid off their crowns as Jesus made the solemn declaration, "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still."
After the message has gone out to everyone, and Christ Himself, is satisfied that all have been warned then His intercessory ministry can stop and He will then throw down the censer signifying that all have been saved who will be saved. Before the close of probation the intercessory ministry of Christ is available for all sinners, and for all people struggling to do His holy will.
6And the seven angels that had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
Author: Now that we have seen the efforts that Christ will put forth to save all, then the trumpets can begin to sound during the Holy Place time of Christ’s ministry. Intercessory activity is still available during this time. God is calling all to respond to His intercessory ministry in the form of the efforts under the Candlestick, under the table of Shewbread, and now under the ministry of the Altar of Incense. Now God will also call His people through the efforts of the Trumpets for they also are a call to repentance and to the intercessory ministry of Jesus.
The Bible uses the concept of trumpets in several interesting ways. Numbers 10:1-10 tells of how that God instructed Moses to make two silver trumpets to communicate messages about war, to call to meetings, to alarm, or to break or set up camp. Judges 7 tells how Gideon used trumpets in a three phase form to conduct war against the Midianites. Gideon used the trumpets, the pitchers, and a torch to set the stage to have victory over his enemies. God also uses trumpets to alert people to the coronation of kings, and to communicate instructions during war, as well as trumpets being a symbol of the voice of God or the voices of God’s people to communicate His messages to the world. (See II Samuel 15:10; II Kings 11:14; Jeremiah 4:5-6, 21; Exodus 20:18-20, Joel 2:1; Hebrews 12:18-21). God also uses trumpets simply as musical instruments (II Chronicles 20:22-30; Psalm 98:6).
But perhaps the best use of trumpets, to communicate the purpose of the Seven Trumpets of Revelation 8-11 is that of the trumpets used to overthrow Jericho in Joshua 6. In this example God is using trumpets to communicate pending judgment and to give people time to make a decision, to repent, and to go into action against sin in the life. God had His people march around the city of Jericho one time a day for 6 days and then on the 7th day march around the city of Jericho seven times, all of the while 7 priests are blowing trumpets on the 7th day. This time period was to strengthen the faith of God’s people and to call the sinners in Jericho to repent and to get into Rahab’s home before their probation closed on that seventh day. The trumpet calls at Jericho was a type of the end of the world and the call for sinners then, and in the time between 31AD and 1844 AD.
Finally, one of the important functions of trumpets in the Bible is the call to worship and an awareness of the intercessory ministry of Jesus. This quality is essential for us to remember as we study the trumpets. The trumpets were a part of the Daily and the need for all to accept what Jesus has done for us and what He is doing for us in heaven above. Numbers 28-29 tell us about the Daily ministrations of Jesus even during the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement especially Numbers 29:1-11. In Desire of Ages 572 the following quotation states “…From the multitudes gathered to attend the Passover, thousands go forth to welcome Jesus. The greet Him with the waving of palm branches and a burst of sacred song. The priests at the temple sound the trumpet for evening service…” This statement clearly conveys the idea that the temple sounded for the evening sacrifice, and we would assume that the priests sounded the trumpet for the morning sacrifice as well. In fact all sanctuary activity was communicated by the sound of the trumpets. (Numbers 10:10). This quotation states that trumpets called for the evening sacrifice and we can safely assume that trumpets called to the morning service as well. Thus each day trumpets called us to remember that Jesus is interceding for us and that all power is available to each and every sinner.
7The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
Author: As we start the study of the Trumpets it would be helpful for me to attempt to explain an interesting point of perspective on my part. I believe that the trumpets sounded in the time of the Holy Place (31 AD – 1844 AD) to call the world to repentance and to alert them to the coming of the Day of Atonement in 1844. I also believe that there was an understanding of the Trumpets from the view of the Millerites that was time focused – meaning that the focus of the Millerites was on the development of time (The Great Controversy page 335) – that the 2300 day prophecy was accurate and the time concepts that went into it were accurate. The focus was on prophetic time. I also believe that after 1844 God raised up a prophet Ellen G. White who revisited the events of the church before 1844 in her books Early Writings and The Great Controversy. In these books God wanted to help us to focus, not so much on time, but on the developmental processes of the church in the wilderness and the harlot church of Rome. I will list two different sets of data based on perspective and time. I will first present the Millerite pre-1844 perspective and then the post 1844 perspective of the prophecies as viewed through God’s prophet Ellen G. White.
Before we start to attempt to interpret the trumpets I would like to list out some of the concepts in my view of the trumpets. This list of concepts is as follows:
1. The pre – 1844 view peoples did not have a view of the intercessory ministry of Jesus as a dispenser of grace to the peoples of the world. They did not understand the sanctuary in heaven and did not understand about the Bible’s view of grace as applied to sinners especially in light of the errors that were dispensed by the Church of the Middle Ages.
2. The pre-1844 interpreters of Revelation did not understand the role of the sanctuary and the Day of Atonement in the outline of the book of Revelation thus there were many concepts missed in their view of the events of the trumpets and the events that took place before 1844.
3. Many of the pre – 1844 interpreters did not understand the doctrine of the second coming would mean.
4. Many of the pre – 1844 interpreters did not understand what doctrines like the Sabbath, the Investigative Judgment, the Cleansing of the Sanctuary were and thus were unable to incorporate them into their views of the events of the Trumpets.
5. The pre – 1844 interpreters did not have the blessing of the presence of a prophet of God to direct their thinking or give them a Great Controversy view of the events in which they were living.
6. Many of the events of which the pre – 1844 interpreters lived through were not understood correctly but which accomplished the trials of Revelation 10 in the seven Thunders. These events accomplished an experience similar to the great disappointment of the Disciples at the Triumphal Entry of Jesus and their subsequent disappointment at Calvary.
7. Now that we have seen the events that occurred through history and the events surrounding 1844, and we have had a prophet that has come along to help us to understand what occurred, especially after the Great Controversy visions of 1848 and 1858 we have a different perspective than those men and women of God before us. Jesus’ prophet helped her to look at the events between 31 AD and 1844 AD and give us a view of the things He wanted us to focus on which will help us in these last days.
8. The goal of each group of people in the church through time is to share the light given to them by God and then add each new light on top of the truths that God has given before us. We are not to remove truth but to advance with truth as God reveals it to us.
9. The Trumpets follow a basically similar pattern to time periods as that of the Seven Churches and the Seven Seals. God wanting to repeat and enlarge His symbols to communicate His message about Jesus and His redemptive ministry for His people.
In the first Trumpet the Millerites viewed the Trumpets as judgments upon the Western Roman Empire. They saw these judgments as occurring after the casting down of the censer in Revelation 8:5. This view resulted in the perception of focusing on Gentile conflict upon the Roman Empire. This view lead them the pre-1844 interpreters to conclude that the destructive activities of the Goths under the leadership of Alaric in 410 AD was the focal point of the First Trumpet.
In the post-1844 view the 1st trumpet (31 AD – 70 AD) would speak to the attempt of God to bring His people Israel to a point of repentance before their probation ended in 34 AD. Jesus commanded the disciples to minister to the Jewish people in Israel before going out to the world. (Luke 24:47; Acts 1:4; The Great Controversy pages 17-28). When Israel rejected the trumpet calls of love to repentance by the ministry of Jesus, and then the ministry of the disciples then judgment came upon them in the destruction of Jerusalem and the scattering of the people throughout the world. Judgment was to begin at the house of the Lord and great was the judgment on Jerusalem and Israel for crucifying Jesus and His disciples. The trumpet call went out to the rest of the world – do not offend the Righteous God, nor despise His call for mercy.
8And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;
Author: In the Second Trumpet (70 AD – 313 AD) the pre-1844 view was that of Genseric king of the Vandals. The pre-1844 interpreters felt that a burning mountain was a symbol of the destruction of a nation that had persecuted God, and His people. These interpreters felt that this nation was a seafaring nation and thus felt that the Vandals, whose headquarters was in Carthage and along the North African seacoast was the best fit to be the Second Trumpet.
In the post – 1844 view we are introduced to a great mountain burning with fire. In Jeremiah 51:25 God states “Behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain, saith the LORD, which destroyest all the earth: and I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain.” Babylon who had been the weapon in the hand of God to destroy Jerusalem and the temple in which God’s name was, now was to suffer judgment from God for their role in the destruction of Jerusalem. (Jeremiah 50-51). This mountain which had persecuted God’s people in the First Trumpet was Rome. Now Pagan Rome was brought into judgment for they had neglected the Trumpet call of repentance offered to them during the sufferings of the Christian church when slain by the likes of Nero, and Diocletian.
9And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
Author: Under the persecutions of pagan Rome many people died. In the prophetic books of the Bible the sea is considered to be the nations of the Earth. Revelation 17:15. The ships would be those groups of people who were conducting spiritual business in the waters or churches carrying the gospel. (See Psalm 107:23; Isaiah 23; Ezekiel 27; Daniel 11:30,40; Jonah 1:1-17; Isaiah 60:9; Acts 27; Isaiah 33:20-24).
10And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
Author: In the Third Trumpet (313 AD – 538 AD) the pre – 1844 interpreters saw the devastations of Attila the Hun. They felt he was a great leader and that he was sent to overthrow nations by God as a punishment for their rebellions. The pre - 1844 interpreters saw the water of gall symbolizing the bitterness of that nation which had been conquered militarily. (Jeremiah 9:15-16; Jeremiah 8:13-16).
In the post – 1844 view the great star would be that of a spiritual leader who was not following the principles of God’s law and thus would be a fallen star. In The Great Controversy pages 49-50 an interesting character is introduced and that was the Emperor Constantine. It was through his nominal conversion that the church and state began to combine and create the “man of sin” of II Thessalonians 2:3-4 one who once was a follower of God and who turned away for the things of the world. A Bible example of this man of sin was that of Judas. (John 17:12).
11And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
Author: Constantine attempted to combine the truths of the Christian Church with the things of the world in order to bring peace and strength to the Roman Empire. The persecutions stopped and the people felt relieved that they were no longer being harassed by torture and death but instead they received the bitterness of compromise and the preparation for the greater sufferings that come from an impure relationship with God. Many lost their souls as a result of this compromise that made Bible truth obscure and they lost their hold on the ministry of Jesus through His Word.
12And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
Author: For the Fourth Trumpet the pre – 1844 interpreters felt that King Odoacer of the Heruli best fit interpretation of this Trumpet and felt that when the Roman Empire was being overthrown that its sun, moon, and stars (the national leader) were darkened. Ezekiel 32:7-12. These interpreters felt that the time period here was around 476 with the breaking up of the pagan Roman Empire.
For the post – 1844 view the Fourth Trumpet ( would be that time period between 538 AD – 1216 AD) This would be the time period of the development and consolidation of the Roman Catholic Church – as the leading church of the Middle Ages. We will see how this church was established in Revelation 13 and in Daniel 7 and how it turned away from God’s truths and refused the call of the solid Christians in the development of error. All during this time the Christians of the land called out to the church to reform and this cry continued until the Reformation started around 1000 to 1200 AD.
The errors of the Roman Catholic Church darkened the beliefs of the church leadership thus the name “The Dark Ages” should be applied to this church for the effect that they had on Bible truth. (See the Third chapter of The Great Controversy pages 49-60).
13And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!
Author: Now that the first four Trumpets have been stated the Bible warns the inhabitants of Earth about the next three trumpets, who are even worse than the first four, they are pronounced as woes – severe statements by the Lord Jesus Christ, just as He pronounced woes on the Jewish church that had become a harlot in Isaiah 1:21 and asked them to repent so that He did not have to send destruction upon them, so He also warned the church in the time His incarnation on Earth in Matthew 23. God wants His people on the Earth to repent and come unto Him. The time before 1844 was to alert the peoples then to find Jesus and those after 1844 to prepare so that they will be ready before the cleansing of the sanctuary is completed.