"Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came forth peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake. Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them." (Revelation 8.5-6)
Angels are spiritual beings who act as messengers, ministers and guardians from before the Creation. This Revelation angel took the censer, sometimes called an incense burner made for burning solid incense. The angel filled the censer with coals from the altar and dashed it on the ground. The Altar in the Temple in Jerusalem had, "three separate piles of wood on top of it. The largest of these was where all the portions of the sacrifices were burned, the second fire provided the coals for the Altar of Incense within the sanctuary, and the third was the "perpetual fire" which constantly burned on the altar." No sacrifice was placed on the incense altar, and no coals were taken from it.
This altar existed solely to fulfill the commandment that there be a permanent fire burning there. As the Law stated in Leviticus 6.13, "The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously, it must not go out." There was no commandment regarding the type of wood to be used on the altar except that the Rabbis forbade the use of olive wood and grape vine wood, as these did not burn well and needed to be conserved because of their commercial value to the people.
This is the prelude to the "peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake" which are the introduction to more terrors. The picture is similar to the vision in Ezekiel 10.2, "The Lord said to the man clothed in linen, 'Go in among the wheels beneath the cherubim. Fill your hands with burning coals from among the cherubim and scatter them over the city.' And as I watched, he went in." In Revelation, a man in a linen cloth, may be the same censor angel, takes coals from between the cherubim (or winged angelic beings) and scatters them over the city. This vision reminds us of a vision in Isaiah 6.6, "Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar." The prophet's lips are touched with a burning ember from the fire.
The Revelation censer angel brings coals to introduce new woes. "The prayers of the saints return to the earth in wrath," says the Biblical scholar, H. B. Swete (1835-1917 AD) The idea in John's mind is that the saints will cry out for vengeance upon those who had tortured and killed them through this angel. "The seven angels," known as the angels of the presence, are sometimes thought to be the names of the seven archangels.
The archangels' names according to Enoch and the Apocryphal Book of Tobit 12.15 are traditionally known as Uriel, Raphael, Raguel, Michael, Saraqael, Gabriel and Remiel. Apart from their traditional names we know little about them except that there were seven, a number symbolic of completeness. The fact that they were called "the angels of the presence" means that they enjoyed the special honor of being in close proximity to God himself. In an oriental court, it was only the most favored courtiers who had the right at all times to be in the presence of the king. To be a courtier was a special honor anyway. To be in the presence of the king not only meant special honor and rewards but immediate readiness to be dispatched on an errand or service elsewhere. We too should aspire to be angels of the presence.