- Sermon Notes
When Silence is Power
July 12-12, 2020
Revelation has been an encouragement to Christians ever since John wrote this vision while he was exiled on the island of Patmos.
The church was suffering terribly. Believers had already been persecuted heavily under the Roman Emperor Nero, and under Emperor Domitian the church was about to suffer again.
In that day, Rome ruled with an iron fist. They were an invincible and immovable power. Jerusalem was in ruins, the temple destroyed, Jews and Christians alike were taken by the thousands to Rome to be killed in the coliseum.
This book strengthened their faith. They were reminded that God was sovereign and reigned over all nations, even the ironfisted Rome.
This book strengthens faith of believers today. This world is in trouble. The storm clouds we have seen on the horizon are raining trouble on the earth. But storm clouds that are greater still are forming; these are just the beginning of birth pangs.
Faith is strengthened when you see how all this ends. We are now living in what could be called the trouble before the trouble. These birth pangs will grow greater in intensity and closer together as the time of the end draws near. The Antichrist will arise who will bring peace and safety. But then, while they are saying “peace and safety” terror will come upon them suddenly like a thief in the night. That’s what we are seeing now in Revelation. It’s the revealing of Jesus Christ through the events that take place when the wrath of God is poured out on the earth.
In his vision given to him by God, John is taken by the Spirit into heaven. He saw a sea of glass like crystal upon which he saw a great throne. He who sat upon it had a scroll in His right hand with writing on the inside and the back. It was sealed with seven seals.
No one was found worthy to open the book and break the seals. At first this causes John to weep, but one of the elders said, “Stop weeping, the Lion from the tribe of Judah has overcome so as to open the book and break the seven seals.” But when John looked, he saw not a Lion, but a Lamb as though slain.
As the Lamb breaks each of the seven seals of the scroll of the book, each one unleashes an event of the coming seven-year Tribulation which is the wrath of God poured out on the world.
The first four seals reveal the four horsemen of the Apocalypse that brought first the deceiver, the Antichrist, then people slaying one another and war, then economic collapse and finally death and Hades.
When the Lamb breaks the seventh seal of the scroll, it will set forth seven trumpets, each of each of those 7 trumpets will declare more apocalyptic events of the wrath of God during the Tribulation.
However, after the sixth seal of the scroll is broken, the bondservants of God living on the earth at the time receive a seal on their foreheads. We are then given the actual number…144,000 who receive this mark on their forehead. These are 144,000 Jewish believers in Jesus Christ who become witnesses of the gospel.
After this, John sees a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
Then there is worship in heaven as all the angels standing around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures fall on their faces before the throne and worship God, saying, “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be unto our God forever and ever. Amen.”
Then, in Revelation chapter 8, Jesus, the Lamb, breaks the 7th seal, the last of the seals that sealed the scroll that was in the hand of the Almighty who sat on the throne.
When the 7th seal is broken there is silence in heaven for half an hour. The sound of this silence is powerful; no one moves, and no one speaks as the awe of God is seen in what was revealed when the 7th seal was broken.
I. Cease Striving and Know That He is God
- Heaven was filled with wonderful worship. Myriads upon myriads praised God; the four living creatures continually gave glory to God, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was, and who is and who is to come.”
- Over and over they worshipped the Almighty and the Lamb. Worship is profound; it touches the soul. You were made to worship.
Illus – Matt Redman tells the story of death row inmates in Indonesia who came to faith in prison; they became full-on Christians who were even transforming other people’s lives. Despite protests from around the globe, the authorities in Indonesia decided to uphold the death penalty. But when the day came to face the firing squad, something extraordinary happened…
- Worship is beautiful, it makes the soul sing. But when the seventh seal is broken there is silence; complete and awesome silence.
- There are other examples in scripture, when Israel first entered the promised land, they came up against Jericho. They marched around the city for six days in complete silence. On the seventh day, they marched around the city seven times and on the seventh time, seven priests sounded seven trumpets; and the city fell.
A. Silence is powerful worship
- There is so much noise in this world. People are angry, there’s shouting and fists are raised, and it feeds the frenzied lifestyle that comes in our modern age.
Illus – Today, with our constant access to devices, we can fill up every waking minute with news, with tragic events, wars and rumors of wars!
- Many know little of the power of silence.
Illus – Matt Redman was recording a worship song and as it reached its peak of holy expression, the worshipers began to become quieter until a holy silence fell upon them all. The presence of God was powerfully expressed in silence.
Psalm 62:1-2, My soul waits in silence for God alone; from Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
Psalm 37:7-8, Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret–it leads only to evil. NIV
- In other words, be still…and wait on God to move.
- Compare Revelation 8:5, 8 to Psalm 46.
Psalm 46:1-11, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the most high. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Come, behold the works of the Lord, who has wrought desolations in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots of fire. Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
B. Your prayers are God’s priority
- Silence in heaven is followed by incense added to the prayers of believers before God.
- What are some prayers that have been prayed by many generations?
- “How long, O Lord?” This is the prayer that the early church must have prayed. The Tribulation saints prayed this in chapter 6. Many right now have this prayer in their hearts.
- “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” That prayer is about to be answered in dramatic way. God’s Kingdom will come to the earth and He will reign from Jerusalem. Oh, we can’t wait for the day when His will is done on earth as it is in heaven.
- The scripture says that God attends to our prayer.
1 Peter 3:12, For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer,
James 5:16-18, The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. NIV
C. Incense is added to your prayers
- In verse 3 John saw an angel stand at the altar holding a golden censor and much incense was given to him to add to the prayers of the saints.
- It is interesting that the incense was added to the prayers of the saints. That explains a lot to us…
- The OT priests would come before the altar in the temple and offer incense to the Lord. They were adding incense to the prayers of the people. This became a picture of Christ because His intercession for us is perfect and is perfectly sweet before the Lord.
Romans 8:26, In the same way the Spirit helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself interceded for us with groanings too deep for words;
2 Corinthians 2:14-15, Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;
- There are several places in scripture that tell us that the prayers of the saints are like sweet smelling incense to the heart of the Lord.
Psalm 141:2-3, May my prayer be counted as incense before You; the lifting up of my hands as the evening offering. Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.
Illus – In the 60’s incense was popular because the sweet smell would cover up other smells of smoke that weren’t exactly legal.
It’s a good thing that Christ intercedes for me because my prayers would be more like —my will be done. My requests could have disastrous results, but He intercedes according to the will of God.The word “imitate” in the Greek is “mimic.”
II. Fire from the Altar will Set Things Right
- When you consider the evil that Hitler brought to the world or the injustice of evil men; and the evil cloud rising on the horizon, there is something inside that wants things to be set right.
- When the trumpets sound, fire will fall from heaven as the wrath of God is poured out on the world. Fire from God sets things right.
- How important is fire? “Our God is a consuming fire!” Hebrews 12:29.
- God spoke to Moses out of the fiery bush, fire fell from heaven and consumed their sacrifices, the altar in the temple was to have fire at all times…a picture of the temple in heaven.
Matthew 3:11, “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not worthy to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
- Fire from the altar is added to the incense before it is added to the prayers of the saints.
- The angel before the altar takes the golden censor filled with burning incense and hurls it to the earth.
- This is a picture of the prayers being answered. How long, O Lord? The answer will be fulfilled. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven… soon and very soon.
A. Trumpets declare victory
- God used the sound of a ram’s horn and trumpets made of silver throughout Israel’s history.
Illus – The sound of a trumpet was used in war to signal the troops, but it was also used as a prayer to God for help in the battle. A trumpet signaled the year of Jubilee; the year in which all debts were cancelled, and all slaves set free. (Lev 25:9)
The sound of a trumpet will call the church to meet the Lord in the air…
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
B. God answers prayer in greater measure
- When the trumpets sound, God will pour out His power on the earth and answer the prayers of saints.
- He answers prayer by promising a great victory.
Illus – Someone might wonder if God hears and answers prayer today; to which the scripture answers, yes – rest in faith on that rock of promise.
1 Corinthians 2:9, but just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.”
Illus – In the days of King Herod, an old priest by the name of Zacharias entered the temple to offer incense before the altar and an angel appeared on the right side of the altar. Zacharias had great fear, but the angel said to him, “Zacharias, do not fear for your prayer is heard and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you give him the name John.”
- Being without a child would be considered a curse, a consequence of sin. But Zacharias and Elizabeth were righteous and faithful to pray for more than 30 years. God’s answer was greater than they could have imagined – the forerunner of the Messiah would be their son.
Ephesians 3:20-21, Now unto Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
- When we pray, God attends to our prayer, and though it may seem that God tarries long in answering, God will answer in the right time, “walls will fall, trumpets will sound, debts will be cancelled, and victory will be ours.”
- “Lord, help us to be a people who truly trust in you and become a people who pray.”
1 When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.
3 Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might [a]add it to the prayers of all the [b]saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, [c]with the prayers of the [d]saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel [e]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.
6 And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound them.
7 The first sounded, and there came hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were thrown to the earth; and a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.