Revelation 8:3-4

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Rev 8:3 And 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.
Rev 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.

Introduction

I know that I said last week that we would be covering the first and second trumpets this week. But I now realize that I have not commented on the angel with the golden censer who is given much incense to offer up with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which is before the throne. We simply cannot go on with this study until we deal with and understand why these prayers are offered with much incense and understand what the significance is of “the prayers of all the saints ascending up before God out of this angel’s hand”.
Last week we saw that the seven angels standing before the throne of God, to whom are given seven trumpets, are the spiritual reality of the seven priests blowing seven trumpets in the sixth chapter of Joshua and the priests who blow the trumpets to call the people together and to blow alarms for travel and for war. What we learned is that only the priests, the sons of Aaron, were ever to blow the trumpets.
This week we will learn that the same thing is true concerning anyone who is permitted to handle the holy implements in the house of God or approach the golden censer and the golden altar within the house of God.
The first question we need to ask is…

What Is A Golden Censer?

It is very interesting to note that the Greek word for ‘censer’ is actually the Hebrew word for frankincense. So the spiritual significance of the one is the spiritual significance of the other. Notice what Strong’s says about this word.

libano tos
lib- an- o- tos’
From G3030; frankincense, that is, (by extension) a censer for burning it: – censer.

Here is what Strong’s reveals about the word from which ‘frankincense’ comes.

G3030
λιβανος
libanos
lib’- an- os
Of foreign origin [ H3828]; the incense tree, that is, (by implication) incense itself: – frankincense.

So the Greek word for ‘censer’ actually comes from the Hebrew word for frankincense. But notice the origin of the Hebrew word for ‘frankincense.’

H3828
   
lebo na h  lebo na h
leb- o- naw’, leb- o- naw’
From H3826; frankincense (from its whiteness or perhaps that of its smoke): – (frank-) incense.

The word ‘frankincense’ comes from the Hebrew word 3826, which comes from the Hebrew word for “the heart.”

H3826
libba h
lib- baw’
Feminine of H3820; the heart: – heart.

Everything within the tabernacle was made of pure gold. So the golden censer is in the house of God and is in the holy of holies in the house of God.

Lev 16:12  And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail:
Lev 16:13  And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not:

It was upon the mercy seat “between the cherubims” that the Lord dwelt.

1Sa 4:4  So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

So these “prayers of all the saints”, which are offered with much frankincense, are very aromatic and are a “sweet smelling savor” to our Lord, because they are also from the heart. Theirs are truly sweet smelling and heartfelt prayers. As such they know that it is their calling to be “beaten very small,” and “crushed to powder” in order to be the most aromatic and pleasing to our Lord. It is this “prayer of all saints” to be found aromatic and pleasing, that reveals who are…

… Those who minister in the priest’s office

Now let’s look at what all of that means to our God and to our relationship with God.

Exo 30:22  Moreover the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Exo 30:23  Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred [ shekels], and of sweet cinnamon half so much, [ even] two hundred and fifty [ shekels], and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty [ shekels],
Exo 30:24  And of cassia five hundred [ shekels], after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin:
Exo 30:25  And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil.
Exo 30:26  And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony,
Exo 30:27  And the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense,
Exo 30:28  And the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot.
Exo 30:29  And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy.
Exo 30:30  And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office.
Exo 30:31  And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy anointing oil unto me throughout your generations.
Exo 30:32  Upon man’s flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it: it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you.
Exo 30:33  Whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut off from his people.
Exo 30:34  And the LORD said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; these sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like weight:
Exo 30:35  And thou shalt make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together, pure and holy:
Exo 30:36  And thou shalt beat [ some] of it very small, and put of it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy.
Exo 30:37  And as for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be unto thee holy for the LORD.
Exo 30:38  Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people.

“The holy anointing oil,” just like the “much frankincense,” “offered with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne” is very special to God. “Whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut off from his people” is the warning concerning the holy anointing oil. “Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people” is the warning given concerning the holy perfume, with “much frankincense”. Both the anointing oil and the perfume are only to be used in the holy place, the altar of burnt offering and the laver. It is used only by the priests and is never to be used or even smelled by the Levites, who are not priests, or the people who are of the camp of Israel.
Notice what is done to these spices and the frankincense, and notice the location of those who are granted this anointing and who are granted to smell this perfume.

Exo 30:36  And thou shalt beat [ some] of it very small, and put of it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy.

All meat (meal) offerings were to be made only with finely ground flour and with oil and frankincense.

Lev 2:1 And when any will offer a meat offering unto the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon:

The spices and the frankincense are both fragrant, even when they are whole. But they are far more fragrant when they are “beat very small” and burned with fire in a censer. Spiritually speaking this anointing and this perfume are only known by those who have been “beaten very small”, are being burned with fire, and are “in the tabernacle”. Spiritually speaking it is only “in the tabernacle… that the Lord meets with us.” So when we read of the “golden censer”, and “the golden altar” and “much incense”, we need to understand that all of these are “in the tabernacle”, and all of these are for “the priests, the sons of Aaron” and for them only.

Exo 30:30 And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office.
Exo 30:32  Upon man’s flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it: it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you.
Exo 30:33  Whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut off from his people.
Exo 30:38  Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people.

Like Joseph in his “coat of many colors” with his dreams of rulership over his own brothers in Abraham, this is what is meant by all the symbols surrounding the events of this eighth chapter of Revelation.

Heb 13:10  We [ who “minister in the priest’s office in the house of God”] have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.

Ministering in the priest’s office within the house of God is exactly what we are being told we are to be doing throughout this revelation of Jesus Christ.

Rev 1:6  And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Rev 5:10  And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Rev 20:6  Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

So the angel with the golden censer, the seven angels with the seven trumpets, the “kings and priests” of Rev 1:6, the four beasts and four and twenty elders who say that the Lamb has “made them to be kings and priests unto their God” in Rev 5, and the “blessed and holy priests of God” who come up in the first resurrection and “reign with Christ a thousand years” are all one and the same. They are all the sweet smelling savor of “much incense which ascends before God with the prayers of all the saints.”

Why Are “The Prayers Of All Saints” Mentioned Here?

Why were not the prayers of all saints mentioned back in chapter six where the first six seals are opened up to our understanding? The answer is that the opening of the seals are but the briefest overview of “the things which are written therein”. The four horsemen of the first four seals and then the last three seals are all but an introductory outline of these seven trumpet judgments which precede our introduction to our God. These seven trumpets fill in the details of the seventh seal. The “seventh seal” is an integral part of the sealing of the sayings of this prophecy. If this seal is not opened, then we will not know what is written therein, which we are commissioned to read, and hear and keep, because we understand that the time is at hand to do so (Rev 1:3).
This seventh seal consists of these seven trumpet judgments. It takes all seven seals being opened before this book is opened up to us. There is no other way we can know what we are to “read, hear and keep”. The very thought that “no one is found worthy to open the book” causes us to “weep much” because we have already been told that the time is at hand for us to read, hear and keep the things written in the words of this prophecy. We have already been made to realize that our very salvation depends upon reading, hearing and keeping the things which are written there.

Rev 5:1  And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
Rev 5:2  And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
Rev 5:3  And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
Rev 5:4  And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
Rev 1:3  Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

Now all the saints know that our Lord wants us to read, hear and keep the things written in this book. That being the case, one of the prayers of all saints is that we faithfully keep the sayings of the prophecy of this book.”

Rev 22:7  Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

Another prayer which “all saints” have is “ Thy will be done, in [ our] earth as it is in [ our] heaven”.

Mat 6:7  But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
Mat 6:8  Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
Mat 6:9  After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Mat 6:10  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Mat 6:11  Give us this day our daily bread.
Mat 6:12  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Mat 6:13  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

God Himself does not “lead us into temptation”, but God Himself certainly does send evil spirits to do so, and the sum of His word makes this very clear to all who have been granted eyes that see and ears that hear what Joseph told his ten brothers who had sold him into Egypt for twenty pieces of silver.

Gen 45:4  And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.
Gen 45:5  Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.
Gen 45:6  For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest.
Gen 45:7  And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
Gen 45:8  So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.
1Sa 16:14  But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.
1Sa 16:15  And Saul’s servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.

A God who sends evil spirits to cause us to do evil things to our brothers, is a God who is obliged to redeem us from the sinful, marred and dishonorable vessels He has first made us by His own hand.

Pro 16:4  The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.
Jer 18:4  And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
Rom 9:18  Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
Rom 9:19  Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
Rom 9:20  Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
Rom 9:21  Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

“One vessel to honor and another to dishonor” is not one person versus another person, rather it is “the first man” we all are versus “the last man” we all are becoming.

1Co 15:45  And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
1Co 15:46  Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
1Co 15:47  The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.

It is at this point that we are given to understand that God’s will for “all the saints”, and therefore “the prayer of all saints”, is that they “live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, keep the things written in this prophecy, keep the sayings of the prophecy of this book, add nothing to and take nothing away from the sayings of the prophecy of this book.”

Mat 4:4  But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Rev 22:6  And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.
Rev 22:7  Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
Rev 22:18  For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
Rev 22:19  And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
Rev 22:20  He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

So another of “the prayers of all saints” is that we live by every word and never add to nor take away from the words of the prophecy of this book.
Since all of the first six seals are but the introduction to the revelation that is yet to come in these seven trumpet judgments, we can see how this accords with Peter’s revelation that judgment has first begun and is already now upon the house of God:

1Pe 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
1Pe 4:13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
1Pe 4:14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
1Pe 4:15  But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.
1Pe 4:16  Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
1Pe 4:17  For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
1Pe 4:18  And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
1Pe 4:19  Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

“Much incense” means much unceasing prayers from the very hearts of God’s elect.

Mat 21:13  And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

You and I are that “house  of prayer” according to the scriptures:

1Pe 2:5  Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
1Co 3:16  Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [ that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
1Co 3:17  If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

The time has come that the judgment of the house of God must begin first in us. If we suffer as a Christian, we will glorify God on this behalf, because we are partakers of Christ’ sufferings, and His glory is being revealed within us. This is how “the prayers of all saints” are to be prayed.

1Th 5:17  Pray without ceasing.
1Th 5:18  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

“In everything give thanks???” Surely that does not mean what it says! But yes, it does. Psa 107 reveals to us those who pray “the prayers of all the saints.”

Psa 107:22  And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.
Psa 107:23  They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
Psa 107:24  These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.
Psa 107:25  For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
Psa 107:26  They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
Psa 107:27  They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end.
Psa 107:28  Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
Psa 107:29  He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
Psa 107:30  Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
Psa 107:31  Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

This is a perfect description of the events of the seven trumpets which are “His wonderful works to the children of men” into which, Lord willing, we will be looking next week.

Summary

We have seen that the Greek word for ‘censer’ is the Hebrew for ‘frankincense’. We also saw that the root of the Hebrew word translated as ‘frankincense’ is the Hebrew word for heart. We have seen that this word carries with it the sense of the sweet smelling, heartfelt prayers of God’s elect priests and kings, who will be in that blessed and holy first resurrection to rule with Him a thousand years on earth and then to rule with Him over angels in the white throne judgment lake of fire.
We have seen that it is only the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are permitted to offer incense in censors or to handle the incense and offer it before God.
We have seen that “the prayers of all saints” includes our gratitude and rejoicing that we have been given all things and that we have been given to understand that all things includes those things which bring us to our wit’s end, and are yet to be received with thanksgiving of all who are gifted to recognize that all things are “his wonderful works to the children of men.”
Finally, we have seen that the reason why the “prayers of all saints” are mentioned at this juncture in this revelation, is because  the first six seals are only the outline of the severe judgments that are these seven trumpets, for which we are to be grateful and for which we are to praise God and for which we are to rejoice and into which, Lord willing, we will begin our study next week.

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