“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)
“And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. 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. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. 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. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound” (Rev. 8:2–6).
The seven seals of the scroll have been opened, and we come now to the next round—the seven trumpets. Seven angels stood before God (which would be standing before the throne), and each was given a trumpet (v. 2).
Another angel came, and because His functions at the altar are priestly in nature, most commentators assume that this is a representation of Christ in another of His offices. Another argument for this is that it would be odd for a mere creature to be presenting the prayers of the saints to God. That is reserved for our great High Priest. Still less would it be appropriate for a mere angel to answer those prayers.
At any rate, this angel comes and stands at the altar, carrying a golden censer. He is given much incense, which He mixes with the prayers of the saints, and presents it on the golden altar before the throne (v. 3). The smoke of the incense, mixed together with the prayers of the saints, ascend up to God from the hand of the angel (v. 4). And then, in an obvious answer to prayer, the angel fills up the censer with fire from the altar, and casts it all down upon the earth (v. 5). As a consequence, there was a dramatic impact on the earth—voices, lightning, thunder, and an earthquake (v. 5). With that preliminary judgment completed, the seven other angels prepared themselves to sound their trumpets (v. 6).
The prayers represented here are no doubt the prayers of the martyred saints who were under that same altar back at the fifth seal. They were crying out for vengeance, and were told to be patient for “a little season” (Rev. 6:11). That season of waiting is apparently now complete, and it is time for their prayers to be answered.
Given that the prayers being answered here are prayers from first century martyrs, we may conclude that this battery of judgment coming from the seven trumpets are judgments that are going to be falling on Jerusalem in the course of the Jewish War (A.D. 66-70).