Revelation 8:4
And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.
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(4) And the smoke of . . .Better, And there went up the smoke of the incense for (or to, i.e., designed for, and to give fragrance to) the prayers of the saints, out of the hand of the angel, before God. The emblem of the rising column of smoke, in which incense and prayer now mingled, is the token that the prayers of the saints, now rendered acceptable, and no longer premature, are about to be answered. These prayers of God’s people, weak and imperfect as they are, are yet invincible weapons in the hands of Christ’s soldiers, and will be found mightier than any carnal weapons. As Jericho fell without Israel needing to strike a blow, so now the Israel of God will be seen to be omnipotent through true and faithful prayer. The charter of the Church’s power is in the words of Christ: “If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). The judgments that follow are not indeed specifically prayed for by the Church of Christ, but they are the results of their prayers, and prove the might of all prayer.

Revelation 8:4-6. And the smoke of the incense ascended before God — In an odoriferous cloud, with the prayers of the saints — A testimony of God’s gracious acceptance, both of the intercession of the great High-Priest, and of the prayers of his believing people, proceeding from devout hearts; and consequently of the continuance of his protection and blessing to his faithful worshippers. And when the angel had performed this office, in order to show the awful manner in which God would avenge the injury which his praying people upon earth had received from its tyrannical and oppressive powers, he took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar — Not of the golden altar, upon which there was no fire, (except that which was in the censer, and which burned the incense,) but from the brazen altar of burnt-offerings; and cast it into the earth — To denote the judgments about to be executed upon the earth, as in Ezekiel 10:2 coals of fire are taken from between the cherubim and scattered over Jerusalem, to denote the judgments of God about to be executed upon that city; and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings — Which seemed to break forth from the divine presence; and also an earthquake — The violent shock of which seemed to shake the foundation of the world; the usual prophetic signs these, and preludes of great calamities and commotions upon the earth. See Revelation 16:19. Accordingly, this being mentioned here previous to the sounding of the trumpets, was intended to foretel that many calamities were approaching, which should afflict the world and the church, notwithstanding the seeming secure prosperity of both, after the Roman empire had become, in profession, Christian. And the seven angels prepared themselves to sound — As the seals foretold the state and condition of the Roman empire before and till it became Christian, so the trumpets foreshow the fate and condition of it afterward. The sound of the trumpet, as Jeremiah says, Jeremiah 4:19, and as every one understands it, is the alarm of war; and the sounding of these trumpets is designed to rouse and excite the nations against the Roman empire, called the third part of the world, as perhaps including the third part of the world, and being seated principally in Europe, which was the third part of the world at that time.

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.And the smoke of the incense ... - The smoke caused by the burning incense. John, as he saw this, naturally interpreted it of the prayers of the saints. The meaning of the whole symbol, thus explained, is that, at the time referred to, the anxiety of the church in regard to the events which were about to occur would naturally lead to much prayer. It is not necessary to attempt to verify this by any distinct historical facts, for no one can doubt that, in a time of such impending calamities, the church would be earnestly engaged in devotion. Such has always been the case in times of danger; and it may always be assumed to be true, that when danger threatens, whether it be to the church at large or to an individual Christian, there will be a resort to the throne of grace.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). This only denotes the acceptableness of Christ’s intercession, and God’s people’s prayers, through the virtue of that intercession, unto God.

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.

And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, {b} ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.

(b) Our prayers are worth nothing, unless the true and sweet savour of that only sacrifice be especially and before all things with them, that is to say, unless we are first of all justified through faith in his Son, acceptable to him.

Revelation 8:4. As an agent of God, the angel is commissioned to ratify with Divine approval the petitions of the saints for the end; this involves retribution on the impenitent and hostile world. The prophet is sure such aspirations are in harmony with God’s will.

4. which came with] Again a misleading gloss: the most literal translation is, and there went up the smoke of the incense for the prayers of the saints, out of the hand of the Angel, before God. It went up for the prayers of the Saints, i.e. to consecrate and ratify them, to unite all His spiritual creation in the same supplication, which when thus united must prevail: or “for” may be equivalent only to “with.”

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. Revelation 8:4Which came with the prayers

An awkward rendering, followed by Rev., though with the omission of the italicized which came. The construction is ἀνέβη went up, with the dative case, to the prayers. "The ascending smoke had reference to the prayers, was designed to accompany them and render them more acceptable" (Winer).

Of the saints (τῶν ἁγίων)

See on Acts 26:10.

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