Historical Unfolding of Prophecy—The Book of Revelation
By Rick Joyner
Now we come to Revelation 8:1-5, the breaking of the seventh seal and the seven trumpets:
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 that 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.
There are many theories about the “silence in heaven for about half an hour.” One of the most plausible is that this is when everyone burns their end-time charts. Obviously, many will face the fact that things did not happen the way they expected. Rarely has any biblical prophecy unfolded the way expected, including the most prevalent about the first coming of the Messiah. We can expect the same to be true about His second coming.
We are told in Revelation that those who just read it will be blessed. It is a noble thing to study the prophecy of Scripture. However, it is a foolish thing to become arrogant and dogmatic about our perception of it. The Pharisees were the group with the greatest expectation of the Messiah, and they were His biggest opposition when He came. Great preachers and prophetic voices in the 1800s predicted the outpouring of the Holy Spirit but rejected it when it came. Why?
We see in part, we know in part, and we prophesy in part. It is hard for any of us to stay with partial understanding instead of carrying it to what we consider to be logical conclusions, but that is a manifestation of the pride of man. Then we start to esteem our doctrines and predictions above what the Spirit is saying or doing, especially when it is different from what we expected. In all of our studies, we must stay humble, easy to be entreated, and correctable.
Literalists view everything in Scripture as literal. Much of it is literal, but to see everything as literal would mean that grass is going to hell and the Lord is coming back for sheep and goats. We will misunderstand the prophecies of Scripture if we are unable to also discern and interpret the metaphors. These can have a literal fulfillment as well—which is often a signpost that tells us the time—but the metaphor is the message. The natural often reflects what happens in the Spirit.
Trumpets are usually metaphors for messages that go forth. Incense speaks of prayers and intercession, as explained in the Old Testament. If I stand back and look at the text above as a whole, the first impression is that this is a time of extraordinary prayer and intercession.
At the present time we have some of the greatest prayer movements in history. When Mike Bickle started the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, there were only a handful of places on earth with 24-hour intercession and worship. In the last two decades, the number of these places has grown to over 20,000. Now there are 24-hour prayer meetings in possibly every nation on earth, and in most nations, more than one.
We have other major gatherings of hundreds of thousands of people at events like The Call led by Lou Engle. These are not like the preaching contests that some large gatherings tended to be in the past—they are much more about intercession and worship interspersed with prophetic proclamations with an understanding of the times.
The Promise Keepers gathering in Washington may have had a million people, all praying and repenting before the Lord. The Call gathered hundreds of thousands in Washington, and many hundreds of thousands more in multiple cities where they filled the largest stadiums for intercession, worship, and repentance. If something like that had happened in biblical times, it would have been recorded in canon Scripture. Think about how powerful it would be to read something like, “A million men gathered before the king’s palace to humble themselves before the Lord and confess their sins.” This would have been one of the most amazing stories in the Scriptures, and we’re witnessing this in our own times.
Most of the great prayer ministries that have been raised up started out dry and laborious. The faithful persevered through the wilderness of dry places until now there is such fire on these altars that it is not hard to imagine the smoke from them filling the throne room of God. They are not only capturing the attention of the earth, but of heaven as well.
There has never been a time of prayer and intercession like the present. The result in this text in Revelation is that the fire from the intercession on earth went up to heaven, and then was thrown back to the earth as thunder, lightning, and a great earthquake, or shaking. Thunder is sometimes a metaphor for the voice of God in Scripture. Lightning speaks of revelation, how the things hidden in darkness are revealed. The great shaking speaks of the time in such places as Hebrews 12:25-29:
See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.
And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, "YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN."
This expression, "Yet once more," denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.
Have we built our house on the kingdom that cannot be shaken?