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Re 8:1-13. SEVENTH SEAL. PREPARATION FOR THE SEVEN TRUMPETS. THE FIRST FOUR AND THE CONSEQUENT PLAGUES.
1. was--Greek, "came to pass"; "began to be."
2. the seven angels--Compare the apocryphal
"I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels which present the prayers
of the saints, and which go in and out before the glory of the Holy
"I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God."
3. 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
just as the twenty-four elders have vials full of odors, or
incense, which are the prayers of saints
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.
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).
5. cast it into the earth--that is, unto the earth: the
hot coals off the altar cast on the earth, symbolize God's fiery
judgments about to descend on the Church's foes in answer to the
saints' incense-perfumed prayers which have just ascended before God,
and those of the martyrs. How marvellous the power of the saints'
6. sound--blow the trumpets.
7. The common feature of the first four trumpets is, the
judgments under them affect natural objects, the accessories of
life, the earth, trees, grass, the sea, rivers, fountains, the light of
the sun, moon, and stars. The last three, the woe-trumpets
affect men's life with pain, death, and hell. The language is evidently
drawn from the plagues of Egypt, five or six out of the ten exactly
corresponding: the hail, the fire
the WATER turned to blood
and perhaps the death
Judicial retribution in kind characterizes the inflictions of the first
four, those elements which had been abused punishing their abusers.
8. as it were--not literally a mountain: a mountain-like burning
mass. There is a plain allusion to
9. The symbolical interpreters take the ships here to be churches. For the Greek here for ships is not the common one, but that used in the Gospels of the apostolic vessel in which Christ taught: and the first churches were in the shape of an inverted ship: and the Greek for destroyed is also used of heretical corruptings (1Ti 6:5).
10. a lamp--a torch.
11. The symbolizers interpret the star fallen from heaven as a chief minister (ARIUS, according to BULLINGER, BENGEL, and others; or some future false teacher, if, as is more likely, the event be still future) falling from his high place in the Church, and instead of shining with heavenly light as a star, becoming a torch lit with earthly fire and smouldering with smoke. And "wormwood," though medicinal in some cases, if used as ordinary water would not only be disagreeable to the taste, but also fatal to life: so "heretical wormwood changes the sweet Siloas of Scripture into deadly Marahs" [WORDSWORTH]. Contrast the converse change of bitter Marah water into sweet, Ex 15:23. ALFORD gives as an illustration in a physical point of view, the conversion of water into firewater or ardent spirits, which may yet go on to destroy even as many as a third of the ungodly in the latter days.
12. third part--not a total obscuration as in the sixth
(Re 6:12, 13).
This partial obscuration, therefore, comes between the prayers
of the martyrs under the fifth seal, and the last overwhelming
judgments on the ungodly under the sixth seal, at the eve of Christ's
13. an angel--A, B, Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic read for "angel," which is supported by none of the oldest manuscripts, "an eagle": the symbol of judgment descending fatally from on high; the king of birds pouncing on the prey. Compare this fourth trumpet and the flying eagle with the fourth seal introduced by the fourth living creature, "like a flying eagle," Re 4:7; 6:7, 8: the aspect of Jesus as presented by the fourth Evangelist. John is compared in the cherubim (according to the primitive interpretation) to a flying eagle: Christ's divine %%%%