Coals of Fire Cast to Earth

Revelation 8:2-6
The End Times

In my last post, we briefly begin our journey into Revelation 8 and look back at a summary of the Four Views of the Seven-Sealed Scroll.  In this post, we will explore Revelation 8:2-6.  However, before we start digging, I want to share an overview of the Four Views on the Seven Shofars [1] contained in Revelation 8-10.  They will attempt to answer these two questions:  What events do the Seven Shofar Judgments represent and when do these events occur?

Historicist Approach:

  • The Shofars speak of a series of invasions against the Roman Empire.
  • The Sixth Shofar brings the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453 CE.
  • The little scroll represents the Bible being made available to the masses of Europe after the invention of the printing press.

Preterist Approach:

  • The first four Shofars correspond to disasters inflicted by the Romans on the Jews in the Jewish War (66-70 CE).
  • The Fifth Shofar probably depicts the demonic spirits rendering the besieged Jews irrational and self-destructive.
  • The Sixth Shofar refers to the Roman armies, who destroyed Jerusalem and slaughtered or deported all the Jews.

Futurist Approach:

  • Either literally or symbolically, the Shofars represent calamities that will be endured by the unrepentant inhabitants of earth during the coming Great Tribulation.
  • These may be supernatural judgments direct from the hand of God or merely the disastrous effects of man’s improper stewardship of the earth and abuse of technology (e.g. weapons of mass destruction).

Idealist Approach:

  • Catastrophes reminiscent of the plagues of Egypt befall sinful humanity many times in history, demonstrating God’s displeasure and, like Shofar blasts, warning worse thing to come upon the unrepentant.
  • Sinful humanity typically absorbs these injuries with defiance, refusing to repent.
Coals of Fire Cast to Earth

2 Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and they were given seven shofars. 3 Another angel came and stood at the altar with a gold incense-bowl, and he was given a large quantity of incense to add to the prayers of all God’s people 4 on the gold altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense went up with the prayers of God’s people from the hand of the angel before God. 5 Then the angel took the incense-bowl, filled it with fire from the altar and threw it down onto the earth; and there followed peals of thunder, voices, flashes of lightning and an earthquake. 6 Now the seven angels with the seven shofars prepared to sound them. ~ Revelation 8:2-6 (CJB)

Once again, in verses 2-6 there is a brief interlude that takes place which Yochanan describes in detail. As this parenthetical section occurs there is a period of silence in heaven.

In Revelation 6:10 we hear the saints crying out in a loud voice under the altar in heaven, “Sovereign Ruler, HaKadosh, the True One, how long will it be before you judge the people living on earth and avenge our blood?”  Here we see an angel (Yeshua) offering incense and acting as a mediator between God and man. The smoke of the incense rises before God from the hand of Yeshua – the prayers of the saints are answered and judgment is prepared.

I believe that the angel in this vision is Yeshua. Rabbi Sha’ul who tells us that “there is but one Mediator between God and humanity, Yeshua the Messiah, himself human, who gave himself as a ransom on behalf of all, thus providing testimony to God’s purpose at just the right time.” ~ 1 Timothy 2:5-6 (CJB)

The altar from which the angel filled the censer with fire represents the place of judgment and the fire represents the judgment of God upon sin.  We are told that the fire around the altar is now emptied upon the earth.

The seven angels who stand before God.  Seven “Angels of the Presence” have a well-documented history in Jewish literature, possibly commencing with Isaiah 63:9, which mentions “an angel of his [God’s] presence” (compare Luke 1:19, “I am Gavri’el,” the angel answered him, “and I stand in the presence of God.”), and Ezekiel 9:2, which speaks of “six men… with slaughter weapons, and one man among them clothed in linen with a writer’s ink well at his side,” to whom God speaks.  In the Apocrypha, Rafa’el identifies himself as “one of the seven holy angels” (Tobit 12:15). 1 Enoch 20 gives the names and functions of seven holy angels who watch: Uri’el, Rafa’el, Ragu’el, Mikha’el, Saraka’el, Gavri’el and Remi’el. The first four are called “ministering angels” (“mal’akhey-hasharet“) in the Talmud, the siddur, and the kabbalah; compare the fact that in vv. 7-12 four angels are singled out to announce the four “non-woe” shofar judgments. [2]

Now the seven angels with the seven shofars prepared to sound them.  William Newell says: [3]

These seven presence-angels, having waited until the incense (the power of Christ’s sacrificial work) and the prayers of all saints should be formally presented before God (8:3-5) as the means of direct judgment from heaven upon men (as before these were the means of salvation) are now ready to act. Until this time, the judgments have been preliminary and indirect: now we shall see direct visitations from heaven upon men.

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 8:1 [4]

Historicist Approach:

Historicists believe that the angel who offers the incense is Yeshua.  The saints are those slain by Rome during the Jewish Wars.

Preterist Approach:

Preterists see the incense-bowl filled with coals of fire as God’s judgment on the land of Israel during Rome’s Jewish war.

Futurist Approach:

Concerning the identity of the angel, most Futurists believe it is Yeshua as I have indicated above in my own interpretation.  Others, however, don’t have a problem with an angel performing the functions described.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists see these opening verses as a prelude to the Seven Shofars being introduced.  Lenski suggests that the incense “represents the intercession of Christ for His church, which adds power and efficacy to the prayers of the church.”

In my next post, we will explore Revelation 8:7 and the First Shofar.

Click here for PDF version.


[1] Material in this section is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg

[2] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern.

[3] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

[4] Op cit.

3 thoughts on “Coals of Fire Cast to Earth

  1. This may be a small thing, but I like that the translation you use calls them “shofars” instead of “trumpets.” There is a difference, definitely in the sound. A shofar, for me, goes right into my heart. I was a member of a church for a little more than 12 years where a gentleman would blow a shofar when the Holy Spirit moved him. (It is a charismatic Presbyterian church.) The sound of a shofar is an unforgettable sound. I believe that it was described as a sound that brings everything into alignment with God’s Will. (And that was certainly the desire that sound created in my heart.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • I whole heartedly agree with you. The sound of a well-made shofar can take my breath away.

      For this blog, my default version is the Complete Jewish Bible by David Stern. I will occasionally use other modern translation with the appropriate annotation. I also provide a Hebrew glossary as most proper names are rendered in Hebrew.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.