Revelation 8:1-7
(Rev 8:1 KJV)
And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

Revelation 8 begins the second of the parallel visions which John saw. The first vision contained chapters four to seven. This is the second vision which is more severe than the previous vision. This is known as progressive revelation, where God builds on one subject and increases the knowledge concerning it. Revelation is about the time from the first advent to the second coming of Christ. It is a book made up of parallel visions, each one more revealing and intense than the previous one till we get to the end of the book of Revelation when we see the finality of this sinful world and the New Heavens and the New Earth.

In Revelation 7, which ended on a note of loud and continuous joy in heaven by all the redeemed believers because we saw the first vision of Revelation ending with the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and all the believers in heaven. Now we come to Chapter 8 and the first verse is in stark contrast to the loud praise in chapter seven. Here John see the seventh seal opened and once again he will see the intensity of the persecution of the believers and the judgments which will be meted out to those who are the oppressors. The seventh seal is now opened and we are once again at the beginning of the parallel vision. The opening of the seventh seal was the beginning of seven very intense judgments to be meted out. These judgments are so awesome that they evoke a short time of silence in heaven. Previously we saw great joy being spoken but now Heaven becomes silent while the judgments are given to the seven
angels to carry out. Now in Heaven there is no time because Heaven is eternal but we are given the time period of a half hour which is for the purpose of our understanding.

(Amos 5:12-13 KJV) For I know your manifold transgressions, and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right. {13} Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time.

In the book of Amos in chapter five, God is chiding the house of Israel for their many sins and He is going to judge the nation of Israel for their sins but He tells the prudent, which we would see as the saved, to keep silent while He will be doling out the judgment. In Revelation we see a similar scenario. While God prepares the judgments on the world, the entire body of believers in Heaven are silent because they have asked the Lord for recompense for the evil done to them (Rev. 6:10) and now the time has come so their prayers have been answered and therefore they are silent before the throne.

(Acts 21:40 KJV) And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,

The Apostle Paul on Mars Hill was ready to give a defense of the Gospel and the people in attendance had become very silent so Paul was able to speak. Then in Acts 22:2, we read:

(Acts 22:2 KJV) (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,)

Paul spoke in the Hebrew tongue and when the crowd heard that, they kept more silent. It is the same principle in Heaven in Revelation 8:1. The Saints have been praying for the judgment of God to fall on their oppressors and now that sentence is ready to be passed, they, like the Hebrews on Mars Hill, have become silent so the last seal and seven trumpets could now be unleashed on the earth.

(Rev 8:2 KJV)
And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.

John sees the seven angels standing before God receiving their orders from Him. Each angel was given one trumpet and each trumpet will be a judgment. These seven angels may also be the ones who give out the vial judgments in the next parallel vision.
Seven is the perfect divine number so once again the judgments will be divine in nature and will affect those whom God sends them out to affect. This vision does not cover the entire world which means that the second vision is also limited in scope, further than the previous one but less than the next one. In other words, the intensity of Godís judgments are not yet complete and full.

(Rev 8:3 KJV)
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.

Here we see a different angel coming, not one of the seven who had the trumpet judgments. This scenario is similar to what we saw in Revelation 5:8:

(Rev 5:8 KJV) And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.

Right before the releasing of the seven seal judgments, we see that the twenty four elders had golden vials filled with incense which were the prayers of the Saints plus they also bowed before the throne of the Lamb. In Revelation 8:3, we see that before the releasing of the trumpet judgments, there is also a scene in heaven where there was a mixture of the prayers of the Saints with incense. The censers in Solomonís temple were made of gold.
(1 Ki 7:50 KJV) And the bowls, and the snuffers, and the basins, and the spoons, and the censers of pure gold; and the hinges of gold, both for the doors of the inner house, the most holy place, and for the doors of the house, to wit, of the temple. As we previously read, we saw that the souls of those who were martyred for the cause of Christ were under the Altar. That Altar was before the throne of God and the prayers of the martyred Saints had prayed that Justice would be done for them. So the prayers at this altar are now mixed with incense.

(Rev 8:4 KJV)
And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.

In Acts 10:3-4, we see the principle of these prayers ascending up unto God. Cornelius was a saved man who prayed and in his vision, he saw an angel of God coming to him and telling him that his prayers had ascended unto God as a memorial.

(Acts 10:3-4 KJV) He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. {4} And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.

In Revelation 5:8, we read another account of the prayers of the Saints which are represented by incense.

(Rev 5:8 KJV) And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.

(Rev 8:5 KJV)
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.

Here we have the same censer which was filled with incense and the prayers of the Saints are now mixed with fire from the Altar. Fire always represents judgment. The prayers of the Saints who have prayed for God to act on their behalf has now been put into action. The combination of the prayers of the Saints and the fire from the Altar are now cast unto the earth. The thunder, lightning, and earthquake are all symbols of the judgment of God which is about to fall upon the earth. Just as Godís appearance on Sinai to the people of Israel, now all the world will quake at the presence of God. What started out here as a scene of intercession concerning the prayers of the Saints has now become judgment.

(Rev 8:6 KJV)
And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

With the releasing of the prayers of the Saints mixed with the incense and the fire from the altar, which were cast to the earth, the stage has been set for the seven angels with the second set of judgments known as the trumpet judgments.

(Rev 8:7 KJV)
The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.

The first trumpet judgment is patterned after Exodus 9:22-25 which was the plague of hail and fire. The mixing with blood is taken from Joel 2:31.

(Exo 9:22-25 KJV) And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch forth thine hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt. {23} And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt. {24} So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. {25} And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field.

(Joel 2:31 KJV) The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.

In the plague on Egypt, we read that this judgment had devastated all the vegetation in the land of Egypt except the wheat and rye were not smitten (Ex. 9:32). In the Revelation verse we read that one third of the trees were burnt up and all the green grass were burnt up by reason of the prayers of the Saints being answered by God in the judgments which are coming upon the unsaved world. Remember, the second set of judgments is showing more intensity than the previous seal judgments. The seal judgments spoke of one fourth of the earth being affected.

(Jer 17:2 KJV) Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills.

This first trumpet judgment is aimed primarily at the trees and the green grass as we see that one third of all the trees were burned up plus all the green grass. In the book of Jeremiah, God was also warning Judah about their idolatry. The trees were associated with the groves where Baal and other false religions were practiced by both Judah and Israel. In the judgments of the seven trumpets, there is mentioned that those on earth who were not killed had not repented of their sorceries and idolatries. While the first trumpet judgment may have a physical effect upon a limited part of the earth, we are also seeing that God will be sending judgment upon all those who are idolatrous and who are involved in false religions. In our times we are seeing the prostitution of true Christianity as it is increasingly turned into a social religion by having the sting of the Gospel removed and the teachings of salvation reinterpreted. The Lord Jesus Christ has been removed from the majority of churches but there is still a remnant of faithful churches which have not embraced false gospels. As God judged Judah and Israel for their idolatrous ways, the churches which have embraced false gospels in our day will begin to feel the judging hand of God upon them.

(Jer 14:5-6 KJV) Yea, the hind also calved in the field, and forsook it, because there was no grass. {6} And the wild asses did stand in the high places, they snuffed up the wind like dragons; their eyes did fail, because there was no grass.

In Jeremiah 14, God is telling us that Judah had suffered because of a great dearth. The fact that there was no grass for the animals to feed on had caused great damage to the livestock population. In Revelation, when God burns up all the green grass, He is telling us that the true Gospel, which feeds the believers will become increasingly difficult to find. In Psalm 23, we are told that we will be beside green pastures. However, as God removes those pastures and burns them up in judgment, the true believer will also have a hard time in this world because of the absence of the true gospel. The unbeliever will rejoice in this as we will see in Revelation 11.