8:5 THROWING DOWN THE CENSER
“And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it to the earth; and there were voices, and thundering, and lightning, and an earthquake. And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound” (Revelation 8:5,6). At the beginning of chapter four the focus shifted from events on earth (the history of the church, as portrayed by the messages to the seven churches) to events in heaven (“come up here and I will show you things which must take place” Revelation 4:1). Heavenly events included the seating of the court (chapter 4), the challenge to the opening of the Book of Life (chapter 5), and the investigative judgment of the dead and the living (chapters 6 and 7). With the throwing down of the censer the attention and timeline is shifted back to events taking place on earth.
The last view of God’s people on earth was the
Obviously the 144,000 would have been a part of
This is no doubt what the Apostle Paul referred to in 1 Thessalonians 5:3, “for when they say, ‘peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.” Just as labor pains are progressively more intense, there is an escalation in the severity of the destructive judgments through the seven trumpet plagues and into the seven last plagues, culminating in the seventh plague when God announces, “It is done!” and His “people shall be delivered” (Revelation 16:17, Daniel 12:1). But Paul emphasizes the “sudden destruction” which initiates the time of trouble. This sudden destruction begins with the first trumpet.
What is Satan trying to accomplish in bringing destruction upon the world? One purpose is to bring pain and grief to God by harming His children. Satan also seeks to misrepresent God, promoting the idea that God brings about the evil that in fact Satan himself causes, trying in this way to convince people that God is not worthy of their love and devotion. In the specific case of the seven trumpets, this destruction takes place after the sealing of the 144,000 (see below), and this group is a special demonstration to the universe of God’s ability to sanctify a people who are steadfast in their love and loyalty to Him, even in the face of severe trials. Satan wants desperately to cause the 144,000 to lose their faith and turn their backs on God, and within the chaos and afflictions of the seven trumpet plagues he will seek opportunities to discourage or destroy the 144,000 and to keep people from responding to their message.