Incense and fury
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.
And the smoke of the incense . . . ascended up before God out of the angel's
hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of
the altar, and cast it into the earth. . . . (Rev. 8:3-5a).
We discussed verse 3 (in the passage above) as part of the introduction to the trumpet calls, re0802c. We also showed how the censer is not necessarily thrown down with the fire re0802note. In Ezekiel we see a similar picture where fire is thrown down from the throne ez0103. Here, in the preparation to throw down the fire, we see angel with much incense from the golden altar.
(curtain) separated the holy place from the most holy place where the high
priest entered on the day of atonement near the end of the sanctuary year.
We can see the transition from the altar of incense in the first room of
the tabernacle to the censer which was carried into the second room, the
most holy place. How does fire being thrown down fit into the picture?
The fire would fall when the judgment in the most holy place ends and the
high priest comes out. Coals from the altar no longer quietly make the
sweet-smelling smoke. Fire from that altar is thrown to the earth causing
destruction and fury. I don't think we have long to wait for it to punish
Isaiah had an experience with coals from the altar. See is0601. The power of God which purifies those who seek it will also punish the wicked. We will either fall on the rock (Christ) or the rock will fall on us. (Luke 20:18).
of this time
If the censer no longer burns incense, no more prayers are being answered. "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book."
We seem to have a problem. Our verse describes the fire being thrown to earth. In the next verse, we read that ". . . the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound." (Rev. 8:6). If the warnings haven't been given, why would the Lamb be pouring out His final wrath, re0617? The resolution is in understanding the structure of the chapter. The first part is an introductory scene – a background for the trumpets, re0802a. To see, in verse 6, the preparation of the angels to sound the trumpets, we move back in time. The coming wrath is the motive behind the sounding of the trumpets. The angels who know the censor is to be thrown down and that souls are headed for destruction, thus prepare themselves to give the warnings. In the text, we have moved from the introduction, to the description of the blowing of the trumpets. See re1508.
The same truth pictured in Ezekiel
In Ezekiel 9 we find the terrible examination of the city which represents the investigative (or preadvent) judgment ez09.
In chapter 8 we find an escalation of abominations until men were found with their backs to the temple worshipping the sun (verse 16). They had filled the land with violence ez0818-0901. Probation for them had closed. Ezekiel also describes a time of judgment and punishment ez0903. Following this we see confirmation that human probation has closed and coals of fire were scattered over the city. "And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me. Then I looked, and, behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubims there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne. And he spake unto the man clothed with linen, and said, Go in between the wheels, even under the cherub, and fill thine hand with coals of fire from between the cherubims [the two angels represented at either end of the ark of the covenant ex2518], and scatter them over the city. And he went in in my sight." (Ezek. 9:11 - 10:2)
This has been a picture of the same time as seen in the introduction to the trumpet calls of Revelation.
Before Jesus returns,
will the righteous, stand without an intercessor?
When the censer fire is thrown down, intercession is over. The sealed ones have no more sins to confess, and the wicked have all made their final decision to remain hostile, Rev. 1401b&c, Rev. 22:11, 12.
This is the good news about the judgment. Not only is the judge on our side, the process doesn't end until we have made our final decision. For many, this time comes at death or when the ability to decide has passed, or when the Holy Spirit has withdrawn because the individual has made a permanent decision to reject grace (Matt. 12:31). For the future sealed ones, it comes when the decision for Christ is permanent.
The trumpet angels
"And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound."
We look at this issue in connection with the main source of trumpet imagery,