Revelation Censer Angel
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Angels Close to God (Revelation 8.5-6)

"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)

Altar Coals

Hot Coals from the altarThe angel, a spiritual being who acted as messenger, minister or guardian from before the Creation. He took the censer, sometimes called an incense burner or perfume burner is a vessel made for burning solid incense. He 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 it, and no coals were taken from it.

Permanent Fire Burning

Altar of IncenseThis altar existed solely to fulfill the commandment that there be a permanent fire burning on the altar. As the Law states, "And a fire shall burn there on the altar constantly, it shall not be extinguished." 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.

Peals of Thunder

Lightning BoltsThis 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, maybe 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.

Angels of the Presence

Angels representationThe 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 through the angel upon those who had tortured and killed them. "The seven angels," known as the angels of the presence, are sometimes thought to be the names of the seven archangels.

Archangel's Names

Angel Wood CarvingThe 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 for 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.

"Revelation Censer Angel"
by Ron Meacock © 2016

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