Friday, 15 January 2021
Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, Revelation 9:13
John had just noted the sounding of the fifth trumpet and the subsequent first woe. The swarm of locusts and the destruction they brought must have been amazing for him to behold. But now his attention is redirected to the heavenly throne room again with the words, “Then the sixth angel sounded.”
With the sounding of the trumpet, John continues with, “And I heard a voice.” The Greek reads, “And I heard one voice.” It is specific. There is one Mediator between God and man, the God/Man Christ Jesus. The symbolism of the golden altar was seen in Chapter 8 –
“Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.” Revelation 8:3, 4
The golden altar is the altar of incense. The incense is the prayers of the saints directed through Jesus Christ. The one voice John hears is said to be “from the four horns of the golden altar.” It is a remarkable statement.
In the construction of the altar of incense recorded in Exodus, the number of horns is never explicitly mentioned. Though implied, and unlike the brazen altar (the altar of sacrifice), the number was noticeably left off of the description of the golden altar. It was a significant omission. As four is the number of creation, the brazen altar having four horns signified the judgment on sin throughout creation. However, because Christ’s intercessory work is in heaven, no number of horns was stated. Thus, it reflected a transcendence from the earthly to the heavenly.
Now, however, the number of horns is explicitly stated. This is because the altar pictures Christ in His intercessory role. It is He who speaks for all people on earth – from every corner of it, north, south, east, and west. He alone brings the prayers of the saints to the throne. As it says, this altar is “before God.”
Life application: The events to come are happening because God’s judgment is due on the world that has martyred His saints and rejected Him and His offer of peace through Christ Jesus. When Christ mediates on behalf of His people, an answer is certain to come: judgment. And that answer is to be one of judgment. Israel has rejected the Lord, the people of the world have rejected the Lord. The events of Revelation are prophesied in advance to show what will happen to both as the events of redemptive history continue to unfold.
God does hear the prayers of His people because His people are in Christ. He will no more reject their calls than He will reject His own Son. However, how He responds is solely up to Him. We may think that He doesn’t hear, but He does. And we may think He is unresponsive to our needs, but He is not. The plan must come to its fulfillment, and we must be patient in the process. But God does hear our prayers because our prayers are mediated through JESUS!
O Lord God, You have opened our eyes to future events while keeping some things hidden. In this, we can speculate on what those things mean. But no matter what our personal opinion about the hidden things may be, those things which have been revealed belong to us as a heritage and a means of understanding what is to come. Thank You for these insights. Amen.