Lesson 14 - The Seventh Seal

Lesson 14 - The Seventh Seal

(Revelation 8:1-13)

After the parenthesis in chapter 7, the seventh seal is opened and silence was in Heaven for about half an hour.  The scene is now in Heaven.  The final judgment was about to take place and silence was the response to what was about to happen on earth.  Everyone was in a state of awe and expectation awaiting the retribution from God upon those who had killed the believers.  The anticipation of God’s judgment was often met with silence in the Old Testament. (Habakkuk 2:20 - 3:3; Zephaniah 1:7-8,15,17-18; Zechariah 2:9-13)

John then saw seven angels, each with a trumpet as they prepared to blow them, signifying a judgment upon the earth.  Before this happened however, another angel came and stood before the altar in Heaven.  This angel offered incense along with the prayers of the believers from the Tribulation on the golden altar that was before God’s throne.  Incense was often used in Old Testament worship.  It is used symbolically to add a sweet smell to the prayers in order to make them more acceptable to God.  (Exodus 30:34-38)  These are most likely martyred believers who are asking for retribution upon the evil ones on earth.  This angel was also holding a golden censer, which is a type of firepan for holding hot coals.  (I Kings 7:50; II Kings 25:15; II Chronicles 4:22; Jeremiah 52:18-19)

Prayer is the grace system of communication with God for the believer.  The purpose of prayer is to communicate with our Heavenly Father.  God communicates with us through His Word.  We communicate with God through prayer.  God, therefore, expects all believers to pray.  We are actually commanded to pray without ceasing, which means to have a consistent prayer life. There are correct principles and procedures for praying, and it is important that we learn and use these principles and procedures. (I Thessalonians 5:17; Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6; Hebrews 4:16)

Prayer is for believers only.  In order for a person to address God as father, they must first have a family relationship with Him.  This relationship is possible only by placing your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.  Once this relationship exists, the believer has every right to communicate with his or her Heavenly Father.  This, of course, is what God wants us to do. (Galatians 3:26; John 1:12)

All prayer is to be directed to the Father, in the name of the Son and in the power (filling) of the Holy Spirit. Both Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are praying and making intercession for us, therefore, we direct our prayer to the Father. This is how Jesus taught His disciples to pray. (Matthew 6:9; John 14:13-14; Ephesians 6:18; Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:26-27)

Long prayers are to be done in private. Public prayer should be short and to the point.  The Pharisees were fond of lengthy prayers so that other people would see and hear them being “holy.”  The Bible says that they already had their reward (being seen of people).  When we pray, it should be done in private to God. (Matthew 6:5-7)

There is an order for prayer.  The first item of our prayer should always be to name or admit our sins.  This restores the control of the Holy Spirit and fellowship with God.  The believer is now in a position to be heard by God.  This should be another encouragement to keep “short accounts” (name your sins immediately) with God.  (I John 1:9; Psalm 66:18)

Secondly, we should give thanks for the spiritual and material blessings that God has graciously given to us.  This includes divine discipline and divine guidance.  We should then pray for others, intercessory prayer.  This means we must know the needs of others, which would necessitate an up-to-date prayer list.  Prayer for the unbeliever is primarily for their salvation.  Since God does not force a person to believe in Christ, our prayer should be that they will hear a clear Gospel message.  We could also pray that God would provide us the opportunity to present the Gospel.  (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:28; Ephesians 6:18; James 5:15-16)

Finally, you should pray for your own needs, petition.  Remember that there are some things that you don’t have to pray about.  For example, we are commanded to be filled with (controlled by) the Holy Spirit.  We are controlled by the Holy Spirit when we have named or admitted our sins to God, and we are executing the Christian Way of Life.  So we don’t have to pray, “Fill me with your Holy Spirit,” which would show our lack of knowledge of God’s Word and is an insult to God.  If there is not a direct solution to your need in the Scriptures, then take it to God in prayer. (Philippians 4:6)

There is tremendous power in prayer.  It is the privilege of every believer to have a part of another person’s life or ministry through prayer.  We all need the prayer of others.  Therefore, it is important that we all develop a consistent prayer life.  In James 5:16 it tells us that the effective, continuous prayer of a righteous person has great results.  (Acts 12)

In Revelation 8:5, after the prayers were offered, the angel took the firepan and filled it with hot coals from the altar and cast them to the earth.  It seems obvious that this had something to do with the impending judgment as an answer to the prayers of the martyred believers.  Fire is often used in Scripture to represent God’s judgment. (Ezekiel 10:2-7)

When these hot coals were cast to the earth there were voices, thundering, lightening and an earthquake.  Whether literal or figurative, this paints a clear picture of God’s wrath being poured out upon the inhabitants of the earth who oppose Him.   By the time the seven trumpet judgments are completed, which follow and are a part of the seventh seal, God’s purging of His enemies will be complete. (Exodus 19:16-19; Revelation 11:19, 16:18)

Revelation 8:6 tells us that the seven angels who have the seven trumpets are preparing to blow them.  Beginning in verse 7 the first angel blows his trumpet and hail and fire mixed with blood were cast to earth.  The result was one third of the earth’s trees and grass were burned up.  Perhaps this was a reference to meteorites falling from the heavens. Under the seventh seal, the first trumpet judgments removes one-third of the trees, probably included those fruit bearing tress.  This judgment also takes out the grass or vegetation.  Both of these are sources for food and God is bringing judgment on the rebellious unbelievers. (Exodus 9:25; Matthew 7:17; Jude 12) 

For the believer, he must still rely on God’s protection and provision.  One of God’s names in the Old Testament was Jehovah-Jireh, which means the Lord our Provider.  In Genesis 22:1-14 we have a perfect example of how God provides for His children.  As a test of his faithfulness, Abraham was told to take his only son Isaac to a high mountain and offer him as a sacrifice to God.  God was teaching Abraham a lesson about God’s Son Jesus Christ and His sudstitutionary death. Isaac was a type of the human race. (Genesis 22:1-2)  We see Abraham’s faithfulness in Genesis 22:3-6 and his faith in God’s promise in Genesis 22:7-8. Abraham was a type of God the Father. (Genesis 22:9-10; John 3:16; Romans 8:32; Philippians 2:5-8)

Abraham passes the “faithfulness test” in Genesis 22:11-12.  A ram is a type of Christ in Genesis 22:13 as it is sacrificed in place of Abraham’s son Isaac.  The meaning of Jehovah-jireh (God will provide) is seen in Genesis 22:14.

God not only provides salvation for those who choose to accept the substitutionary death of Christ as the payment for their sin, He also provides for the believer after salvation.  We see this in Exodus 16 where the children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness and grumbling about having no food.  God provides quails and then manna.    The manna was a type of Christ as the Bread of Life.  (John 6:30-63)

Now, let’s review the grace provisions of God for the Church Age believer.

  1. Life support - God keeps you and me alive for a purpose after salvation.  This purpose is to glorify Him as His ambassadors and  as witnesses for the “Supreme Court of Heaven” against Satan and his demons.  By trusting Jesus Christ as Saviour and fulfilling God’s plan for our life, we demonstrate to Satan and his followers the justice of God in sentencing them to the Lake of Fire. (Psalm 68:19-20)
  2. Temporal supply - God has promised every believer certain blessings regardless of their spiritual status.  Food, clothing and shelter are a few. (Matthew 6:25-34)
  3. Security in two stages - God provides physical protection in the devil’s world by means of guardian angels and government entities, to name a couple.  He also provides spiritual security by holding us in the “hollow of His hand” and giving us the sealing ministry of the Holy Spirit. (Hebrews 1:14; John 10:28; Ephesians 1:13-14)
  4. Spiritual provision - this involves the spiritual blessings of the 40+ assets received at salvation and temporal blessings such as family, finances, jobs, etc.  It also involves blessing by association at the workplace, at school, at home, in an organization and historical impact on a nation.  Undeserved suffering is also a spiritual provision, though it may not seem so at first glance, but it is a means of growth and increased dependence upon God.  And finally, dying grace, where God provides a maximum amount of His grace in a believer’s death, while being a testimony to those he leaves behind. (Ephesians 1:3-14)