THE ANGEL AT THE ALTAR
Revelation 8:1 And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. 2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. 3 And 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. 4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.
The entire first two chapters of the Book of Hebrews deals with the difference between angels and the Son of God. This was needful in that day as the Martyr Stephen referred to the Jews as those who have received the law by the disposition of angels. (Acts 7:53) It helps us with this passage to see the distinction between the seven angels and the other angel at the altar.
We also see that the silence in heaven was Almighty God pausing all previously allowed intercession based on the blood of bulls and goats, while awaiting the completion of the work of the only true Mediator between Himself and mankind. 1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
For the Lord Himself informs us that his Father was never pleased with the approach to Himself from the sacrifice of animals blood. But He was awaiting the only true and acceptable sacrifice of the Humanity of God – the Lord Jesus Christ! For even though rivers of animals blood flowed, they never took away one single sin! Hebrews 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 ¶ Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. 8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
For those sacrifices were there under the shadowy figure of the law to point to the innocent Lamb taking away the sin of the guilty sinner! Hebrews 10:1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
Also we know that the High Priest handled the golden censer. And Jesus Christ is our High priest. Hebrews 8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; And he that sits at the right hand of the majesty on high is Christ! Hebrew 1:2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
And knowing that the word “angel” is the word messenger, we see that this angel is mentioned separately from those seven angels, as he is the very “messenger of the covenant” of whom Malachi spoke in Malachi 3:1. And that person is none other than the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ!
For the Holy Lamb of God is the “he” who is said to “open the seventh seal” in verse one of our text. Afterward heaven falls silent as all intercession from the old economy, supported only by the blood of bulls and goats, ceases. And let us go back and see just what happened when he opened the previous sixth seal. Revelation 6:12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; 13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
That great earthquake represents everything which is not established on the solid foundation of faith in Christ being removed, so that his kingdom with its true foundation could be established. Hebrews 12:27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 For our God is a consuming fire. Matthew 7:25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
And as far as that phrase, the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; we clearly understand that these are but the words of the Old Testament prophets, who could only describe such a catastrophic event in such terms as these. For this was nothing less than the changing from the natural kingdom into the eternal and spiritual kingdom, which required such an unbelievable matter as the Humanity of God to die.
Consider the words of the Prophet Joel as he sets forth the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the salvation of the souls of men which followed in the kingdom of grace. Joel 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. 30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. 32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.
And then the phrase, the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, refer to the portion of the angels, deceived by Satan, along with him, found no place in the spiritual realm, but lost that first estate, as there was no place provided for them there anymore. This took place at the Lord’s victory at the cross! John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. 32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 33 This he said, signifying what death he should die. Hebrews 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Christ went to the cross to prepare us a place! I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:2,3) But that is also when he made sure that Satan no longer found any place as the god of this world! (2 Corin. 4:4)
Revelation 12:7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
Therefore we clearly see that the silence in heaven referred to in our Revelation 8:1 verse represents the transition from the old covenant into the new. The Hebrew writer refers to this as “the time of reformation.” (See Hebrews 9:10 listed below.) And as soon as the blessed Lamb gave his victorious cry, “It is finished!” recorded in John 19:30, there is begun his final and complete intercession as he ministers the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints up to the Father, out of his nail scared hand! Bless His holy name! For our prayers are now attended by the Holy Spirit and the Son Himself!
Romans 8:26 ¶ Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
And it shall ever be, as Christ, our Mediator ever liveth! Hebrews 7:22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. 23 And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: 24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. 26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;
For these glorious and powerful changes could never have been instigated until after Christ’s death, burial, resurrection and ascension! Please carefully consider this glorious portion of the scriptures which clearly set this forth.
Hebrews 9:8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: 9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; 10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. 11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Hebrews 9:15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. 16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. (Therefore it was essential that Christ must die for the new spiritual kingdom to be installed!) 17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. 24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
Dear Reader, do you fully realize that we actually have a living, breathing Human Being sitting at the right hand of the majesty on high, representing us before Almighty God? The first Adam, who was the representative head of the human race brought death in among us. But this Last Adam, THE Man, who is very God, has brought us into eternal, everlasting, glorious life acceptable to have fellowship even with His Father! Romans 5:15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
2 Corinthians 9:15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. 1 Peter 1:8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: As one song writer phrased it, “How shall my tongue describe it? Where shall its praise begin?”
All glory to God and the Lamb forever!
Pastor Gene Breed
January 20, 2023