Even though the 7th seal was opened, it is not the continuation of the 6th seal but the prologue of the 7th trumpet, like the opening of another scene. The visions in Revelation come in groups of 7 and each group of seven is usually separated in sets of 3(4, 2, 1). The last set is separate, and is different from the former visions. The background of this scene takes place in the heavenly sanctuary. At the beginning of it there is a very long silence.
DIVISION OF THE TWO GROUPS OF PROPHECIES
1 When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
Half an hour is a very long time of silence. Half an hour is not very long but half an hour of silence could seem like an eternity.
When we expect a prayer to be answered, we think that since we have already prayed so many times, our prayers should be answered. It might seem to us that we have been waiting for a very long time but in heaven it was only half an hour and God had already begun His work way before.
This half an hour separates the prophecy of the 7 seals and the prophecy of the 7 trumpets distinctively.
The message of the 7 trumpets is entirely different, because a trumpet is related to wars, and to gathering the people of a country; therefore, the prophecy of the 7 trumpets focuses on a world war. The last trumpet call emphasizes the gathering of God’s people to Himself, to leave the sufferings of this world and to be taken up to His heavenly sanctuary.
PREPARING TO REVEAL THE PROPHECY OF THE 7 TRUMPETS
2 Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.
這裡沒有說是哪七位天使。有人引用以諾書那七位天使長。其實天使有很多，不一定是那七位。從啟示錄看見，很多末世的審判、災難或異象，都由天使負責帶動出來。約翰看見很多位天使，卻沒有辦法叫出名字。只說是站在神面前的七位天使。表示這七位天使位份也很高，僅次於四活物( 基路伯) 。以後倒七杯的也是他們，他們在末後工作很多。
Here it does not specifically say which 7 angels. Some people say they are the 7 angels from the book of Enoch. Actually, there are so many angels that these 7 could be different ones. In Revelation we see that many judgments, tribulations and visions of the end of days are brought up by angels. John saw many angels, he could not call each one by name. He only said that they were the 7 angels that stood before the Lord, which indicates that these 7 angels were of a higher rank, second only to the 4 living creatures (Cherubim). These are the same ones that would pour out the 7 cups; these angels did a lot a work during the end times.
7 angels, each angel had a trumpet. Trumpets were the instruments that made the loudest sound in those days, it could be heard from very far away.In the Old Testament, a trumpet sound was used to gather the multitudes for a great assembly, to participate in a festival, to gather the troops for war, or to announce the new year, etc. The rapture, is also the gathering of the believers by God to come before His throne; therefore, the last time the trumpet is blown is the command for the last gathering. Paul, especially mentions that when the last trumpet is blown, it is when the church will be raptured. He didn’t mention any other trumpet sounds.
THE PRAYERS ARE BROUGHT BEFORE GOD BY ANGELS
3 另有一位天使拿著金香爐站在祭壇( 應該是香壇，稱為金壇) 旁邊，有許多香賜給他，要和眾聖徒的祈禱，一同獻在寶座前的金壇上。4 那香的煙和眾聖徒的祈禱，從天使的手中一同升到神面前。
3 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne.4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God ‘ s people, went up before God from the angel ‘ s hand.
我們的禱告由天使把它變為香火，插在香爐上，擺在香壇上。那煙就是我們的禱告，飄送到神的施恩座前。Our prayers are transformed into burning incense by the angel, the incense is put into a censer and it is placed on the altar. The smoke of the incense are our prayers, going up before God ‘ s mercy seat.
This is another angel,is not one of the 7. Those 7 angels are the ones that wait for God ‘ s command to go out and handle other matters. This angel performs his duties inside the sanctuary. They perform different tasks. The Catholic Church worships angels leading to the opposition of many believers. Others go to extremes, they are afraid to mention angels. Either worshiping and praising angels or denying their existence is wrong.
Others believe that the work of angels was only in the past. The Holy Spirit came, leading us to the truth, replacing the work of the angels. But after the Holy Spirit came, angels were still doing their job. In the Acts of the Apostles, the work of the Holy Spirit and the work of the angels is clearly seen. The Holy Spirit works deep in our hearts to change us and strengthen us. But the work of the angels is outside of us. When certain circumstances are against us or the enemy is trying to hurt us, then the angels would do their work.
God created angels to be His messengers. They are our friends in this life and our companions in the next. At the present, a very important task of the angels is to bring our prayers before God. Therefore this task is not performed by Mary or other saints, but angels.
THE PRAYERS AND THE SMOKE OF THE INCENSE ASCENDED BEFORE GOD
4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand.
聖所中有叁件器具，都跟禱告有關。( 一) 靠近聖所進口的銅祭壇；( 二) 靠近神寶座的金香壇。( 叁) 香壇上的七個金香爐。
There are three things in the sanctuary that are related to prayer. (1)The bronze altar near the entrance of the sanctuary; (2) The golden altar of incense near the throne of God. (3) The 7 golden censers on the altar of incense.
金壇就是香壇，前面只說是壇，翻譯者以為是祭壇。但祭壇是銅的，外面的祭壇、洗濯盆都是銅的，聖所裡的燈臺、香壇、香爐、基路伯都是精金的。這些金屬都有不同的意義。聖所外面所有的東西都是銅造的，都是為了審查、試驗的作用。或自我審查，就是省察自己而設。每一個事奉主的人，在進入聖所之前，都必須省察自己，審判自己，要 手潔心清來見神的面。在希伯來文可用一個字代表，就是｢ 審判｣。銅，是審判的金屬。
The golden altar is the altar of incense. In verse 3, it only says altar, the translator thought it was the altar for sacrifices. But the altar for sacrifices is made out of bronze. The altar for sacrifices that is outside the sanctuary and the wash basin are made out of bronze. The altar inside the sanctuary, the altar of incense, the censer and the cherubim are all made of pure gold. These metals have different meanings. All the things that are outside the sanctuary are made of bronze , their function is for examining and testing. They were made for the people to examine themselves. Every person that serves the Lord, before entering the sanctuary, must self-examine and self-judge himself so he can come before the Lord with a clean heart. In Hebrew there is a word that represents this, which is “judgment”. Bronze is a metal of judgment.
The utensils in the sanctuary,besides the Ark of the Covenant and the things inside it, are all made of pure gold. Pure gold is refined by fire and does not have any impurities. Those that are qualified to serve God have to be refined by fire and be pure.
It seemed that the job of the angels is to take care of the censers, but actually they are the ones who bring up our prayers to God. The prayers of all the saints, through the angel on duty, is brought to the altar of incense in front of the throne of God. Burning of incense was not invented by pagans. Originally, it was revealed to Moses by God to explain the process of prayer.
3 另有一位天使拿著金香爐站在香壇( 金壇) 旁邊，有許多香賜給他，要和眾聖徒的祈禱，一同獻在寶座前的金壇上。
3 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne.
People think that good prayers are supposed to be convincing beautiful phrases which include many Bible verses. Actually, our prayers are transformed into incense by the angel and put in the censer and placed on the altar of incense. Our prayers float to God’s mercy seat . It is not our words that come before God, but the voice of our hearts that reach God.
People might say,how come prayer is so complicated? Isn’t an altar of incense enough? Why are 7 censers needed? And why does it have to be connected to the altar of sacrifice made of bronze?
香壇是一座壇，它固定在寶座之前。離神的施恩座最近，所以神必定聽我們在香壇上的禱告。香爐是用來運送香火。香爐從祭壇運送到香壇，有一段距離。香爐上的香要在祭壇的炭火裡點亮，否則就是 凡火。例如劃火柴點的火，就是凡火。亞倫的兩個兒子拿答與亞比戶，就是犯了這種罪死了( 利未10) 。
The altar of incense is an altar which is located in front of the throne. It is the closest to God’s mercy seat, therefore, God will definitely hear our prayers that are offered on the altar of incense. The censer is used to carry the burning incense. There is some distance between the altar of sacrifice and the altar of incense where the censer is carried to. The incense in the censer must be lit at the altar of sacrifice, otherwise it would be considered strange fire. For example, fire lit by a match would be considered strange fire. The two sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu died because they committed that sin (Leviticus 10).
The fire from the incense must come from the altar of sacrifice,symbolizing that our prayers will only work through Christ ‘ s sacrifice. That is why we pray in Jesus ‘ name, we must pray in Christ, we cannot depend on ourselves.
The angel takes our prayers to the altar of incense by the throne.When we pray, we pray only for a short time but the angel changes our prayers into continuous prayer so that the smoke of the incense would float continuously before God. Our prayers continuously come before God even while we sleep or while we are doing other things. Paul said: “Pray continually.” Which indicates that the incense of our hearts should keep on burning, even though we are not uttering any words, there is a connection between our hearts and God, this connection is not broken.
We may have different kinds of prayers: Prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of confession, prayers of intercession, prayers of salvation, emergency prayers. But before God there is only one kind of prayer, it is the prayer as we open our hearts to God, the prayers which the angel brings before God’s throne of grace, those are the prayers that will get to God’s throne for sure. There are only two reasons why our prayers are not heard :
( 一) 不是在基督的名里禱告，不是從祭壇點亮的香，不是靠基督到神面前的人，不會蒙主垂聽。就像我們每天收到很多電郵，如果名字不認識的，看都不看就洗掉了。所以奉主的名禱告，是很重要的事。在主的名里禱告，神纔會聽。 像總統的坐駕不用經過檢查直接的開進去，在主的名里，在主的車子裡的禱告，也直接到達神面前。
(1)When our prayers are not in the name of Christ, when the incense is not lit at the altar of sacrifice, when we try to get to God but not through Christ, God will not listen to that kind of prayer. It is like when we receive a lot of emails which we do not recognize who the sender is, then we would just delete them all. Therefore, praying in Jesus’ name is a must. God will only listen to prayers in Jesus’ name. Like the President’s motorcade does not need to go through security and can just pass through, our prayers in Christ, our prayers in Christ’s motorcade, can go directly through to God.
( 二) 不是用聖潔的香點亮的禱告，主也不聽。舊約的聖所裡不是任何的香都可以用，是要根據主所定好的造香法，纔是聖潔的香，祂纔聞得到。詩人說：｢我若心裡註重( 或珍藏) 罪孽，主必不聽。｣基督徒偶然失敗、犯罪、跌倒，仍然會蒙垂聽。但如果心裡珍藏著罪孽，不肯悔改、不肯放棄，像收藏在保險箱裡面一樣，不肯拿出來對付，禱告就達不到神的面前。人不斷犯同樣的罪，像天主教徒故意犯了, 再到教堂去告解，這種認罪不會有功效。所以不是看怎樣禱告、用甚麽方式、姿勢禱告，是看誰在禱告，怎樣的人禱告纔重要。 孔子說：｢ 獲罪於天，無所禱也。｣
(2)God will not listen to prayers that are not lit with holy fire. In the Old Testament, only special incense made according to God ‘ s directions could be used in the sanctuary. That is the only holy incense that God would smell. The Psalmist said: ‘If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. ”Sometimes Christians will fail, sin or fall but God would still listen. But if sin is cherished in the heart and the person is not willing to repent and let go of the sin, that prayer will not reach God. When a person keeps on sinning, like Catholics who deliberately sin and then go to confession, that kind of confession is not effective. That is why, it is not how a person prays, or what kind of style he uses or what kind of posture he takes to pray but what is important is what kind of person is praying. Confucius said: “If you offend Heaven, there is no one you can pray to.”
THE RIPENESS AND FULFILLMENT OF THE PRAYERS
5 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.
Sometimes people are perplexed by prayer.When their prayers are answered, they are very happy. When they cannot see God answering their prayers, they get upset. They work hard for a way out, because they think that their prayers have failed. Actually the prayer of the saints are before God day and night, when the time is ripe, God will command His angels to pour the incense of the ripen prayers onto the earth, indicating that the events of the prayers of the saints will be officially carried out by the angels.
第叁節說有很多香，表示有很多禱告。根據現代的統計80% 禱告是祈求，10% 是代求，5% 是感恩，4% 是亂求，1% 是認罪。其中認罪可能是太少一點，為自己的祈求也佔了絕大多數，所以難有復興。
Verse 3 says that the angel was given much incense, representing a great amount of prayers. According to modern times statistics, 80% of the prayers are of petition, 10% are intercessory, 5% are thanksgiving, 4% are random, 1% are confession. Prayers of confession has the least percentage and prayers of petitions for oneself has the largest percentage, that is why it is so hard to have spiritual revival.
香爐上也｢盛滿了壇上的火｣，也可以說是我們的禱告積聚夠多了，時機成熟，神就要行事了。The censer was also filled with fire from the altar; in other words, our prayers had been accumulating into such a great amount; that the timing was ripe, it was time for God to act upon it.
Prayer is similar to many drops of water rising to the sky;when the atmosphere is fully saturated with water, it will come down as rain. How can the prayers reach the levels of saturation and ripeness? It needs the prayers of many people , in one accord, like having a lot of incense in the censer. The fire at the altar of incense is not very powerful. Its strength does not depend on the power of the fire but on the large amount of incense that is continually lighted, the aroma of the prayers rise before the Lord continually. At the end, the fire of the altar of incense will be poured onto the earth, which means that God definitely answers prayers.
Peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake means unusual signs and wonders. The prayers at the altar of incense seem to be prayers of suffering saints, they were persecuted, martyred. God already knows their prayers, their incense , therefore the fire from the censer will be poured down onto the earth. God will judge and punish those who do wicked deeds.
When people go through difficult times, they will pray with all their might. The power of prayer of those who live in America is not much, because they feel they do not have many needs and think that they are self-sufficient. Originally , Chinese people who have gone through many years of political struggles usually don ‘ t want others to know their troubles and try to solve them
using their own ways.That is their way of self-protection. But in churches in China we see the opposite, they pour out their hearts as they pray, they have no secrets, they are not afraid that others might know of their troubles because they are in the midst of suffering, they are in times of persecution. There is no one else they can rely on, there are no doctors or hospitals they can depend on, that is why their prayers are very lively.
THE CONFLICT OF THE END OF THE WORLD STARTS
6 Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.
This s the time of preparation for sounding the trumpets. There is a difference between the 7 trumpets and the 7 seals. The main focus of the 7 seals is not in the timing, even though it is also foretelling the future. It describes great events that will happen at the end, the main point is the general mood, the trends, the ideology of the end of times. But the main point of the 7 trumpets is that it shows up at different times, each trumpet sound delineates a new period of time, so people will know the degree of progress. After the 6th trumpet is blown, the time is pressing, the 7th trumpet will sound at any time, we should not continue to think that there is still a lot of time left .
The “ 7 censers ” are the last “ 7 cups ” ,in the original language it uses the same word. In Chinese it is translated “ bowls ” , which is an incorrect translation , because the censer resembles something like a cup, not the shape of a bowl. Furthermore, the “7 cups” later on are also used to describe as “holding the wine of the wrath of God”, that wine is unmixed, it is pure, the wine of intense wrath will not be diluted , the punishment that God has for the wicked will not be diminished. There, the “censer” is already used as a “wine cup”.
The “7 trumpets” and the “7 cups” have different main points. The 7 trumpets emphasize the gathering of the people for war; 7 cups, are poured out because God answered the prayers of the saints so that the earth will experience the worse disasters ever, since the beginning of history.God uses this to punish the wicked.There it mentions that when the censer was poured out , the disasters came to the earth, to those who did not believe in God. Therefore, the seven cups are the events that will happen during the 7 years of great tribulation.