Prayer and Judgment
Remember, the purpose of prophetic writing is not to entertain the curious, but to encourage the consecrated.
Jesus was found as the only one worthy to open the scroll of God the Father sealed with seven seals. The scroll is God’s purposes for history and Jesus began opening the seals and revealing Father’s plans and purposes.
We’ve seen that Jesus has been in charge of history and moving history to is climax and conclusion as the one opening the seals at his will.
From Jesus’ opening of the sixth seal until now John has been describing this period of “great tribulation”.
We’ve seen the great upheaval of the normal functioning of nations and rulers, what Jesus referred to as “great signs in the heavens”. Jesus’ kingdom upsets the functioning of fallen man and the kingdom of darkness. So… In this context, therefore, this poetic language appropriately refers to the great changes that were about to take place in the world, when Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed. It speaks of the Son of Man entering into his kingship, and his angels gathering in his new people from all the earth. The fall of the temple is thus presented, in highly allusive language, as the end of the old order, to be replaced by the new régime of Jesus, the Son of Man, and the international growth of his church, the new people of God.
We’ve seen a great salvation from all nations and from Israel.
Now we turn to the opening of the seventh seal.
1. Silent pause to listen
I found no commentators who made this observation. Much has been made about dramatic pause that makes the judgments that are about to come more impressive (Mounce p. 170).
Mounce seems to cut this idea off without an offer of reason.
There has been much activity through six seals then suddenly the seventh seal opens to quiet and the prayers of the saints.
Here is a great and marvelous benefit of the Gospel:
That God the Father, Creator of the universe, King Jesus who died and rose, would stop and listen to his creatures.
Here is the picture I have in my imagination: A busy father working hard to benefit is children and tagging along in rapture at their father, the children reach up and tug on daddy’s sleeve. Rather than shrug it off as unimportant and foolish questions from a little one, the father stops his vital work and kneels to listen. Why, because that’s his child and he cares.
Father is masterfully crafting history for his glory and our good. His work is vital. But when we call on him he does not turn a deaf ear. Rather he hurries to listen.
A. Call on him, he is near (see the Psalms)
B. Ask him for all the promised to give (John 15:16)
C. Don’t stop asking him, faith prays (Luke 18)
2. Saint’s prayers for right are powerful and effective 8:1-5
6:9-11 shows the saints who have been martyred praying to the Lord and asking how long until he avenges their blood.
A. Jesus hears the prayers of the saints abused for justice 8:1-4
B. Jesus responds to his saints prayers for justice by bringing justice 8:5
1. We pray for the salvation of our tormentors and we do not seek their harm
2. We also pray for justice to be done on our behalf
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, [n]“Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
(Romans 12:19-21 ESV)
[n] Heb. 10:30; Cited from Deut. 32:35; [Ps. 94:1; 1 Thess. 4:6]
3. We take courage and persevere because Father has our back
3. Father brings fearful judgment 8:6-9:19
The seals, trumpets and the bowls all have a (four + three format). That is four judgments on the earth plus three spiritual / cosmic / heavenly judgments.
By what means these judgments come, the text does not say. But whether they come by supernatural causation with no human means or by supernatural causation with human means, one point becomes clear: Jesus is in charge of and is bringing judgment.
So, you may interpret these judgments literally or figuratively, just stay as true to the text as possible.
In these judgments there are allusions to the plagues of Egypt and that drives home a point as well: Jesus will again bring punishment on those hostile powers that oppress his people.
“We are dealing here with that montage of divine judgments upon a recalcitrant world which leads to the return of Jesus Christ as sovereign Lord.”
A. 6-7 This is a reproduction of the 7th plague against Egypt (Exodus 9:24)
B. 8-9 The result of this judgment is similar to the first plague against Egypt (Exodus 7:20-21)
C. 10-11 Whatever the means of this judgment, besieged cities suffer from lack of water. If taken
literally this could be some large meteorite hitting the earth. But we can’t speculate.
D. 12 This plague resembles the 9th plague against Egypt (Exodus 10:21-23). Some say the
darkness could be caused from billowing smoke from cities. Ultimately the cause is the righteous
judgment of the Lamb.
E. 9:1-12 Shows judgment being the increase of demonic activity plunging rebellious man into
further depths of sin and depravity as God’s patience draws to a close.
F. 9:13-19 Shows judgment in the form of this massive army of demonic hosts authorized to take
life or by invading armies who are unleashed on the land.
1. Either by their own means or by the means of deceiving nations into war
2. These armies are prevented from doing their work by angelic hosts until Jesus
G. Don’t miss the Gospel
1. Judgment is just (Jesus has been patient)
2. Judgment is severe (Jesus offered a way of escape and warned that this was coming)
3. Judgment is deserved (our parents chose death for us and judgment is deserved)
5. Follow Jesus like it matters
You don’t think judgment is just? Look at how man responds to judgment.
4. Man is woefully unrepentant and Jesus is amazingly gracious 9:20-21
 D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), Mt 24:29–35.
 Robert H. Mounce, New International Commentary on the New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI / Cambridge, UK, Eerdmans, 1977) Revelation 8:6-12.