Revelation Censer Angel
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37. Revelation Censer Angel
Revelation 8.5-9

"Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake. The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up. The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed." (Revelation 8.5-9)✞

Altar Coals

Angels RepresentationAngels are spiritual beings from before the Creation of the Universe who act as messengers, ministers, and guardians to Almighty God himself. This Revelation angel takes the censer or an incense burner made for burning solid incense. The angel fills the censer with coals from the altar and dashes it on the ground. The altar in the Jerusalem Temple is described in Leviticus 6.12-13, "The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out." "Three separate piles of wood on top of it. The largest of these burns all the portions of the sacrifices. The second fire provides the coals for the altar of incense within the sanctuary. The third is the "perpetual fire," which constantly burns on the altar." The incense altar does not receive any sacrifice, and they take no coals from it. The altar of incense exists solely to fulfill the commandment that there be a permanent fire burning in the Temple. The Persians called it Orismada, continual or holy fire, and in public pomp, they would carry it before kings with great solemnity. There is no commandment regarding the type of wood used on the altar except that the Rabbis forbade olive wood and grapevine wood, as these do not burn well anyway and need to be conserved because of their commercial value to the people.

Peals of Thunder

Lightning BoltsThe casting of fire on the earth is the prelude to the "peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake," which are the introduction to more terrors. This word 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.' As I watched, he went in." In Revelation, a man in a linen cloth, who may have been the same censor angel, takes coals from between the cherubim or winged angelic beings and scatters them over the city. Fire and burning coals are associated with 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 so that he might speak for God.

Angels Presence

Angel Wood CarvingThe Revelation censer angel brings coals to represent new woes. "The prayers of the saints return to the earth in wrath," writes the Biblical scholar H. B. Swete (1835-1917). The idea in John of Patmos' mind is that the saints cry out to this angel for vengeance upon those who have tortured and killed them. "The seven angels" are known as "the angels of the presence" and are sometimes thought to be the names of the seven archangels, the senior angels. The traditional names of the seven archangels, according to Enoch and Tobit 12.15, are "Uriel, Raphael, Raguel, Michael, Saraqael, Gabriel and Remiel." Apart from their traditional names, we know little about them except for Gabriel and Michael's appearance in the New Testament. There are seven, a number symbolic of completeness mentioned in these old texts. They are called "the angels of the presence" which means that they enjoy the unique honor of being close to God himself. In an Asian court, it is only the most favored courtiers who have the right to remain in the king's presence. To be a courtier is a special honor. To be in the king's presence means not only exclusive rewards but also immediate readiness to be dispatched on an errand or service elsewhere. We, too, should aspire to be "angels of the presence" on earth, ready to go without a moment's hesitation at our Lord's command!

Angel Trumpet Blasts

TrumpetsThunder, lightning, and earthquakes accompany the seventh of Revelation's angel trumpet blasts. Great things are about to happen in Heaven. In the visions of both the Old Testament and the New Testament, seven trumpets blown by angels one at a time are signs of God's intervention in history. The trumpets are referred to in Greek as "salpingosor" or "salpinx," a straight, narrow bronze tube with a mouthpiece and a bell. They do not resemble modern trumpets. The player produces the buzzing sound of the horn by blowing air through partly closed lips. The "Angel trumpet blast" is like a smoke alarm that awakens us from sleep or warns us of danger. "The trumpet of God" will sound when Christ comes again. 1 Thessalonians 4.16 tells us, "For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first." As in Matthew 24.31, we read, "And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." God finally gathers in the elect. These trumpets' images take us back to the scene at Mount Sinai when Moses gives the Law of God to the people. We read in Exodus 19.16, "On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled." The law is given to Moses and then to the people accompanied by great peals of a trumpet blast, thunder, lightning, and a thick cloud on the mountain.

Day of the Lord

AngelsThe angel trumpets may have been like silver trumpets made by Moses in Numbers 10.2, "Make two trumpets of hammered silver, and use them for calling the community together and for having the camps set out." The ancient Hebrews' traditional sacred horns are the "shofar" made out of a ram's horn. Trumpets also become an permanent part of the apparatus of the "Day of the Lord." On that day, the great trumpet will summon back exiles from every land. As we read in Isaiah 27.13, "and on that day, a great trumpet will sound. Those perishing in Assyria and those exiled in Egypt will come and worship the Lord on Jerusalem's holy mountain." Seven trumpets sound on the Day of the Lord in Zion, and the holy mountain's alarm. Joel 2.1 gives us a picture of the last days in these Old Testament visions, "Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand." Saint Paul also speaks about the last trumpet in 1 Corinthians 15.51-52 "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed - in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed."

Coming Judgements

SeaIn Revelation, each of the first and second angels' trumpet blast alarms sounds out upon the earth as signals of coming judgments. The sound of the trumpet always denotes military strength. It is, therefore, an instrument to signal directions in battle, to advance or retreat. God still sounds his warnings to human ears. It may be like the trumpet fanfare, which announces the arrival of royalty. An angel trumpet blast is a fitting symbol to express the coming of the King of Eternity. In Revelation 8, all kinds of devastation take place and destroy a third of ships. A trumpet blast alarm could also be a summons to battle. God is always summoning us to take the side of truth and become soldiers of the King of Kings. "The trumpet" marks God's active involvement in punishing evil in the world. Trumpets produce repentance and faith. Here, we have a picture of the elemental forces of nature hurled in judgment against the world.

Earth, Sea, and Rivers

Trumpet BlastIn the Book of Revelation, seven trumpets sound, one at a time, to cue apocalyptic events seen by John of Patmos in his vision of the Revelation of Christ Jesus. John of Patmos describes the events that follow in detail. At each trumpet blast from the angels, an attack happens in a different part of the world. The destruction that follows is not total, for this is only the prelude to the end. The blast of destruction falls on the earth, then upon the sea, then upon the freshwater rivers and springs, and later on the heavens. Every part of the created universe feels the tide of destruction.✞

Blood Rain

Online BibleThe first angel pours out blood rain of hail and fire mixed with blood on the earth. Similar well-documented occurrences have occurred elsewhere. As we so often see, John of Patmos' visions are understood by him in the light of his own experiences in life. John may recall a part of this picture of the blood rain from actual events he had seen or heard about in that part of the ancient Near Eastern world. A form of blood rain describes "hail and fire mixed with blood." More than once, some Southern Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Italy, or Morocco have reported it. More recently, in 2014, a mild red blood rain descended like a thick smog engulfing parts of England, notably Liverpool. Many people suffered from breathing problems as a result.

Red Sahara Sand

DesertThere is also a record of blood-red rain in Italy in 1901. The reports say that "fine red sand was blown from the Sahara Desert caught up into the upper air, then when the rain came, the fine red particles of sand descended with the rain and looked just like blood." These high air currents carry sand from the Sahara across Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, and even Canada and the United States. The additional elements of hail and fire mixed with blood appear to be part of a supernatural origin for which we have no immediate explanation.

Plagues Egypt

Ten Plagues of EgyptOnly once before, during the ten plagues upon Egypt, in the seventh plague of hail, do we encounter a similar calamity caused by hail. Exodus 9.23-26 tells the story, "When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, the Lord sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed down to the ground. So the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt, hail fell, and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. Throughout Egypt, the hail struck everything in the fields - both people and animals. It beat down everything growing and stripped every tree. The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were."

"Revelation Censer Angel"
by Ron Meacock © 2020

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