|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:1-6 The seventh seal is opened. There was profound silence in heaven for a space; all was quiet in the church, for whenever the church on earth cries through oppression, that cry reaches up to heaven; or it is a silence of expectation. Trumpets were given to the angels, who were to sound them. The Lord Jesus is the High Priest of the church, having a golden censer, and much incense, fulness of merit in his own glorious person. Would that men studied to know the fulness that is in Christ, and endeavoured to be acquainted with his excellency. Would that they were truly persuaded that Christ has such an office as that of Intercessor, which he now performs with deep sympathy. No prayers, thus recommended, was ever denied hearing and acceptance. These prayers, thus accepted in heaven, produced great changes upon earth. The Christian worship and religion, pure and heavenly in its origin and nature, when sent down to earth and conflicting with the passions and worldly projects of sinful men, produced remarkable tumults, here set forth in prophetical language, as our Lord himself declared, Lu 12:49.
Verse 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; and the smoke of the incense with the prayers of the saints went up, etc. (Revised Version). The prayers, accompanied by the incense, and typically purified by it, are received by God. He hears the prayers; and the judgments against the wicked, which follow in the trumpet visions, constitute the answer to them. This makes more probable the view that the following visions are judgments against the world, and not (like the seals) trials to the Church.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the smoke of the incense,.... For the incense being put, as it was used to be, upon burning coals of fire, caused a smoke to arise like a cloud, Leviticus 16:13; so that the whole house, or temple, was filled with it (d):
which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God out of the angel's hand; alluding to the incense the priest took in his hand, and cast upon the burning coals; and shows how that by the smoke of the incense, or the virtue of Christ's mediation, the imperfections of the prayers of the saints are covered; and how they are it perfumed and made acceptable to God; and so are said to ascend up before him, and to be regarded by him, as the prayers of Cornelius were, Acts 10:4; now all this is expressive of the wonderful affection of Christ for his church and people, and care of them; that before the angels sound their trumpets, and bring on wars and desolations into the empire, Christ is represented as interceding for them, and presenting their prayers both for deliverance for themselves, and vengeance on their enemies.
(d) Misn. Yoma, c. 5. sect. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. the smoke … which came with the prayers … ascended up—rather, "the smoke of the incense FOR (or 'given TO': 'given' being understood from Re 8:3) the prayers of the saints ascended up, out of the angel's hand, in the presence of Gods" The angel merely burns the incense given him by Christ the High Priest, so that its smoke blends with the ascending prayers of the saints. The saints themselves are priests; and the angels in this priestly ministration are but their fellow servants (Re 19:10).
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