(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. 

1.   “And another angel came and stood at the altar.” 

a.   This other angel seems to approach the altar and take incense in a rather priest-like fashion. “Who this angel was is not mentioned, nor have we any means of determining.”[1] Many notable commentators are of the opinion that this angel is the Lord Jesus Christ, while others are persuaded that this is not our Lord. 

b.   I tend to agree with Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, who write in their commentary, “another angel--not Christ, as many think; for He, in Revelation, is always designated by one of His proper titles; though, doubtless, He is the only true High Priest, the Angel of the Covenant, standing before the golden altar of incense, and there, as Mediator, offering up His people’s prayers, rendered acceptable before God through the incense of His merit. Here the angel acts merely as a ministering spirit (Heb 1:4), just as the twenty-four elders have vials full of odors, or incense, which are the prayers of saints (Re 5:8), and which they present before the Lamb. How precisely their ministry, in perfuming the prayers of the saints and offering them on the altar of incense, is exercised, we know not, but we do know they are not to be prayed TO. If we send an offering of tribute to the king, the king’s messenger is not allowed to appropriate what is due to the king alone.”[2] 

c.   However, the very fact that this angel’s identity is not revealed to us, as well as knowing that Jesus did appear as the angel of the LORD during Old Testament times, causes me to think that it is not critical during our era that we know precisely who this angel is. If this knowledge were critical to us, we would be given more information with which to make our determination. 

2.   “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. 

a.   Look back to Revelation 6.9-10 and note the cries of those saints under the altar: 

9      And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

10    And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 

b.   It could be that the prayers offered here with what we are told is “much incense” are the prayers of the tribulation saints, those people who will trust Jesus after the Rapture and who will be martyred before the second coming of Christ. 

c.   What we have now, in this verse, are the prayers of these martyred tribulation believers, crying for vengeance in accordance with the will of God, now being presented to God. 

(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. 

1.   Notice, incense and prayers comes after passing by the way of the brazen altar of sacrifice. Prayers are offered up on the basis of sacrifice. No sacrifice, no prayers. 

2.   How would that apply to these people’s prayers? Simple. Had they not come to Christ first their prayers would not be offered up to God. 

3.   This is yet another passage of Scripture that shows us that the unconverted can pray, that the unconverted should pray, but that there is no guarantee whatsoever that the prayers of the unconverted will be heard by God. 

4.   It is the child of God who is exhorted by Hebrews 4.16: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. 

(8.5)    And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. 

1.   Notice that here the angel begins the same way the angel did in verse 3, but instead of offering up more incense and prayers, he casts the censor down to the earth. Friends, I think this is a very accurate picture of God’s wrath being the other side of the coin of grace. 

2.   Receive Christ and the censor is used to offer up your prayers to a God Who hears and answers. Reject Christ and the censor is used to cast down wrath from heaven, as further evidenced by voices, lightnings, thunders, and earthquakes.

[1] Albert Barnes, Albert Barnes’ NT Commentary, (Bronson, MI: Online Publishing, Inc., 2002), [email protected]

[2] Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary, (Bronson, MI: Online Publishing, Inc., 2002), [email protected]

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