Revelation 8:1-5 We must stand by one another amid the tribulations while looking forward to the kingdom
When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
In Revelation 5:7, before God gave the book to Christ, God was reigning over the earth. After Christ resurrected, Christ took His place at God’s right hand and received the book of the seven seals from God. In so doing, Christ took over the reigns to rule over the earth. Here at God’s right hand, Christ began to gather the saints for the kingdom (see Revelation 5:9-10). The book with the seven seals contains all the names of those who are chosen to reign with Him in the kingdom.
When Christ breaks the first five seals in succession, He sets forth a series of events. These events; geopolitical conflicts, wars, financial turmoils, disasters, pandemics and martyrdom serve as tribulations to mould and refine the saints to enter the kingdom. For this purpose, the saints (on earth) pray to overcome the tribulations. When Christ breaks the sixth seal, the saints are raptured into heaven. Here, each saint is given a resurrection body to reign with Christ forever (Revelation 7:9).
When the full number of saints are received into heaven, Christ breaks the seventh seal to inaugurate the saints to rule from heaven. The half hour of silence reflects the reverential contemplation of the saints as they are being inaugurated into God’s kingdom. The psalmist said,
My soul waits in silence for God only;
From Him is my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken. – Psalm 62:1-2
The appearance of the seven trumpets signals the beginning of the next phase; to prepare the world for Christ’s reign. The seven trumpets that sounded in succession introduce another series of tribulations. These tribulations are more severe than the tribulations of the seals as they are designed to awake the people towards repentance.
The smoke of the incense and prayers rising towards God signifies the saints’ solidarity with the sovereign God. This is marked by peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
From this point on, Christ no longer reigns alone, for He reigns with His saints and priests forever. And the work of the saints no longer centres on kingdom formation but on preparing the earth for Christ’s kingdom and judgment to descend upon the earth.
We must stand by one another amid the tribulations while looking forward to the kingdom
In Luke 22:28-30, Jesus encouraged His disciples to stand by Him through the tribulations while looking forward to rule the universe with Him. And He said,
“You are those who have stood by Me in My trials; and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
The reverse is true that if we do not stand by Christ or our friends through the tribulations, we will also not rule with Him when He returns. The purpose of the tribulations is to test if we are able to stand by one another. The entire universe moves by the energy of love. If we desire to rule with Christ, then we must seize every opportunity to help one another when in need. In so doing, we prove ourselves as worthy of the kingdom.
However, some are actively involved in “charity” works, but they will not lift a finger to help their own brothers in need. Such people does not work out of love but out of a selfish agenda. Being loyal and faithful to one another is the truth that Jesus stood for. It was for the reason of being loyal to God and to His friends that He was martyred.
Before Jesus went to the cross, He said to the disciples,
“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.” John 15:12-14
Mentally scan through the people in your family, church and friends. Ask God to show you the people that He wants you to reach out to. Reach out to them to understand their needs and seek God’s wisdom as to how you can help them.
Dear Lord, I thank you for saving me from death. Because of what you have done, I desire to do the same to my friends and family. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.