“And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel” (Revelation 8:3-4, ESV).
The tabernacle and temple sanctuaries in the Old Testament had two altars, one for bloody sacrifice in the courtyard and the other for smoky incense inside, adjacent to the veil into the Most Holy Place (see Exodus 27:1–8; 30:1–10).
In his vision of the heavenly sanctuary, the Apostle John saw only one altar fulfilling both functions. Incense was associated with the prayers of the saints in the earthly sanctuary: “Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!” (Psalm 141:2).
In John’s vision, not only martyrs under the heavenly altar but also suffering saints on earth cry out for justice. So, fire from the altar from which the saints’ prayers rise will be flung to earth in judgment, indicating that the judgments to follow answer the prayers of the saints.
What meaning, then, does John’s vision of the heavenly sanctuary at the time of the end hold for us today?
From this passage we know what happens to prayers that are offered to God. God hears your prayers and answers them!
And, God remembers your prayers until such time that He answers them, whether in the present or in the future.
When you pray, your prayers ascend to God where He collects them and then uses them to conduct the business of His Kingdom and to perform His Sovereign Will.
“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, ESV)
- As Prayers Ascend (debbiecroft.wordpress.com)