Summary: The theme of this section of Revelation is that we, the church, are called to witness boldly for Christ no matter what is going on around us.
“Bear Witness Boldly”
Please turn in your Bibles to Revelation 8-11. We’ve got a lot to cover this morning and I want to get right to it. I wish I could spend a lot more time in this section of Revelation to give you more details but time constraints keep me from it. We’re just going to hit the highlights. And before we get started, I need to give you some important reminders.
Number one, Revelation is an unveiling. That’s what the title of the book means in the original language. God pulls back the curtain so that those of us on the earthly side of things can see what’s happening on the heavenly side of things.
Second, the style of writing used in this book is heavily dependent on the use of progressive parallelism – recapitulation, restatement, repetition. The easiest way to illustrate progressive parallelism is to think of the use of instant replay in broadcast sports.
We’ve taken instant replay to an almost absurd level. A contested call on the field or court or a spectacular play can be broken down frame by frame. We see it from every conceivable camera angle. Was he inbounds? Did his knee touch the ground before he broke the plan of the goal? Did the player commit an egregious foul? We see the play over and over again.
That’s what God does for us in Revelation. We see the same events from different angles. Last week, we looked at the opening of the seven seals. Today we look at the blowing of seven trumpets. In two more weeks, we’ll be looking at seven bowls being poured out. Each of these sections of the book of Revelation talk about the same basic things only they give us a view from a different angle. The seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the seven bowls are given as being chronological – they don’t follow each other in sequence. They are actually how things are happening altogether. Each of the three “sevens of judgment” is narrating the same sequence of events (not three different sequences).
The theme of this section of Revelation is that we, the church, are called to witness boldly for Christ no matter what is going on around us. The majority of the people in the seven churches to whom Revelation was originally written were undergoing horrible persecution. They were tortured and ridiculed. They lost their businesses, had family members shun them, and were generally treated as second class citizens. Yet, God says, “Don’t give up! I’m working and so should you as well.”
There is a humorous bumper sticker that’s been around for quite a few years. It reads: “Jesus is coming. Look busy.” That’s our job as the church. We need to get busy at witnessing. When Jesus returns, what is he going to find that you’re doing? So today, we look at six things from this section of Revelation that should motivate us to get busy and bear witness boldly to our culture.
Prayer is Powerful
We move from the seven seals to the seven trumpets. Our angle of vision is changed. We’re seeing the kingdom of God and the work of God from a different point of view. But before John tells us about about the trumpets, he talks about the power of prayer.
Rev. 8:2-5 – And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. 3 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
This is not the first time in Revelation where the prayers of the saints are mentioned. In Rev. 5:8, it describes the four creatures and the 24 elders holding bowls of gold filled with incense which John calls “are the prayers of God’s people.”
In context, these are prayers from God’s people to God himself and they are prayers which come before him for strength and spiritual nourishment. These are prayers of dependence: God, we need you. Life is hard. Things are bad. How long, O Lord, will you allow this evil to go on?
God treasures our prayers. They are not left to float around in eternity unanswered. He keeps them in treasured vessels. He is storing them up for a special time amd season. The message to the church is, “Don’t give up!” God hears your cry and he will answer your pleas in his time. Before God does anything, he wants to hear from his people.