The epoch of this seal, is sometimes regarded as anterior to that of the trumpets; and those are often supposed to be included in the events of this seal; but no conclusive reason has ever been given for removing it from its obvious position as the closing one, of a series of successive periods, commencing with the gospel, and extending to the end of the world. If the first six are successive in their respective order, analogy would require that the seventh be thus considered.
Under the sixth seal, the great men and rich, are seen fleeing to the rocks for refuge from the wrath of the Lamb; and the risen saints symbolized, are in the Saviour's presence; but the infliction of the wrath of God on the wicked is not there symbolized. The events of that seal come down as far as those in the 19th chapter, which precede the marriage of the Lamb, 19:7.
The half-hour's silence, is the first thing indicated under the seventh seal. Being so expressly noticed, it would seem to be of some significance. As a period of symbolic time, on the scale of a day for a year, "about half an hour," would equal a week's duration -- corresponding to the time which intervened between the entrance of Noah into the ark, and the commencement of the deluge, Gen.7:1-4. As the period evidently synchronizes with the parable of the Saviour, when "the Bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage, and the door was shut" (Matt.25:10), -- the others being still without, -- it would seem to symbolize the time, between the entrance to the marriage of the Lamb (19:7), and the going forth of the Word of God with his armies, to judge, make war, and to slay the remnant with the sword, 19:11-21. It would be a period of holy joy to the righteous in the Saviour's presence, and of awful suspense to the wicked.
The seven angels, to whom were given seven trumpets, being introduced here, have doubtless caused the events of this seal to be regarded as anterior to the first trumpet. As those immediately following, evidently synchronize with occurrences of the closing epoch, the angels can only be introduced here in anticipation of the symbolization which they are to unfold under the sounding of the successive trumpets -- the same as the seven angels with the last plagues are introduced, before the epoch of the commencement of their allotted work, 15:1.
The golden censer was the instrument in which incense was burned in the Jewish worship. Incense symbolizes prayers (5:8). The offering of much incense with the prayers of all saints and the smoke of the incense ascending up before God, indicates the acceptance of their offerings in heaven -- the act being before the throne, and not on the earth. The acceptance of their prayers, also implies their own acceptance, when presented "faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy," Jude 24.
The fire from the altar, symbolizes the instruments of divine justice; and the filling the censer with coals after the acceptance of the saints, and the casting of both the censer and fire to the earth, indicate that thenceforth there would be no more acceptance of prayer from those left on the earth, but the speedy infliction of impending judgments.
The "voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake," which followed, evidently synchronize with the same events which follow the seventh trumpet: when the "wrath of God" has come, with "the time of the dead that they should be judged;" and when those are to be destroyed who have destroyed the earth, 11:19. They are the same, also, as those under the seventh vial, (16:18); and symbolize the final overturn and commotion, previous to the cleansing of the earth and the ushering in of a better day: Then will the
"fire purge all things new,