June 6: Revelation 8
Deuteronomy 10; Psalm 94; Isaiah 38; Revelation 8
Do you find it hard to pray? We find incentives in the first paragraph of Revelation 8.
In ancient times, people worked. By that I don’t mean go to yoga class, order a latte, check Instagram, etc. I mean, you know, work: make one’s own food and clothing, wash one’s own dishes and clothing . . . And that was just before 9 am. Thus by evening, most households smelled like, you know, work.
Enter the ancient practice of burning incense for the evening sacrifice (3). The pleasing aroma of incense overcame the smell resulting from work.
God’s throne room also contains bowls of incense, which the angels burn before Him (3-4). Why would God require incense? The futility of Adam’s curse (Gen. 3:17-19) permeates our world. We labor under that curse, and our world stinks, literally to high heaven. Only one kind of incense alleviates that cursed stench before God: the “prayers of all the saints” (3, cf. 5:8). The angels gather our prayers and burn them before Him, and their pleasing aroma temporarily overcomes the stench of this world’s cursedness, in the very throne room of heaven (4).
Yet our prayers do more than that. The most cosmically significant events in all history turn on them. The “angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth . . .” (5). God hears our cries for justice and for the world to be resurrected. He hears, and He answers our prayers.