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The Christian Counter

Why Will the Censer in Revelation 8:5 Be Thrown Down?
 


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“Another angel, who had the golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightening and an earthquake.” (Revelation 8:3-5)

 

John saw an angel conducting a service at the golden Altar of Incense. Then, John saw the angel take the censer and after filling it with fire, hurled it to the Earth “and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightening and an earthquake.” What service did John see? What is the meaning of this event?

 

John saw the termination of “the daily” in Heaven’s temple, that is, John saw the termination of corporate intercession on behalf of Earth. The termination of corporate mercy may be a new concept for some people so we are going to examine this important topic. Many Christians are not aware of the fact that the plan of salvation operates on two levels: the corporate level and the individual level. When most Christians read John 3:16, “For God so loved the world…” they do not realize that is a corporate statement. God deals with Earth as a single unit. Jesus reconciled the world to the Father through His death. (1 John 2:2) God also deals with people as individuals. The point is that a day is coming when the limits of God’s patience with Earth’s violence and decadence will be reached. When that day arrives, Jesus will stop interceding on behalf of the world as a corporate body and God’s wrath against all mankind will break out. This wrath will come in two phases: the seven first plagues and the seven last plagues. During the seven first plagues, salvation will be extended to the people of Earth, but corporately speaking, Earth itself will be doomed for destruction. To understand the importance and seriousness of the angel hurling the censer to Earth, we need to examine six biblical concepts that flow together to make sense of this highly important service.

 

1. Full Cup Principle: God grants a period of grace to every group of people throughout history. However, if that group fills up its “cup of sin” with degenerate and violent behavior, God acts and destroys that group of people. The action He takes is fair and just. It is not an arbitrary act; instead, it is based on eternal law. This law mandates that when a group of people (even angels) reaches the point where they no longer submit to the demands of the Holy Spirit, that group must be destroyed. Review this text: “Then the Lord said [to Noah], ‘My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.’” (Genesis 6:3, insertion mine) The Lord told Noah that His patience with mankind had reached its limit because He “saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” (Genesis 6:5) So, the Lord told Noah that the end of the world would occur in 120 years – and it did. Many groups since the days of the antediluvians have filled up their “cup of sin” and God destroyed them. (For further study on this subject, please go into the reading room of this site and there is a seven-part study on this comprehensive discussion on this topic.)  

 

2. Jesus’ Present Role in Heaven: Review these verses: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.  After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in Heaven…. Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them…. The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man…. If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” (Hebrews 1:3, 7:25, 8:1,2,4,5) The author of Hebrews says that Jesus became our High Priest and sat down at the    right hand of the Father after He “provided purification for sin.”  Presently, Jesus serves in Heaven’s temple, “the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man” whereas the temple built by Moses was “a copy or shadow of what is in Heaven.” This is why Moses was warned that he must not deviate from the pattern that God gave him because the services conducted in the earthly temple must accurately parallel certain processes in Heaven’s temple. God has given us a model of the processes that occur in Heaven’s temple and we need to understand these processes in order to appreciate the dimensions of salvation.                                                                  

 

The wisdom of using models is simple and powerful. In fact, NASA does this regularly. Many of the satellites circling Earth have identical models sitting in special clean rooms so that if a problem occurs out in space, scientists can accurately diagnose the problem by examining an identical satellite on Earth. Similarly, once we understand the fundamental operation of the earthy temple, we can understand the services in Heaven’s temple.             

 

3. Salvation’s Model: The earthly temple model had two altars to teach mankind that salvation requires two levels of atonement. The golden Altar of Incense was placed inside the first room of the temple (called “The Holy Place”) and it served as the corporate altar. Israel’s priests conducted atonement services for the sins of the whole camp at this altar each evening and morning. The bronze Altar of Burnt Offering was located outside, near the entrance of the courtyard. This altar was used to atone for the sins of the individuals. (Leviticus 4) So, God set up two altars in the earthly temple, each with a different purpose – one for corporate atonement and one for individual atonement.                           

 

Most Christians understand the role of the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering because it is easy to understand that Jesus died in our place and is our flawless Lamb of God substitute. (Deuteronomy 15:21; 1 John 3:5) However, most Christians do not understand that God’s law demands the immediate execution of sinners – on the very day of sin (Genesis 2:17) and the atonement offered on the golden Altar of Incense represents a stay of execution. Think about this: Sinners are not killed on the day they first sin because Jesus began corporate intercession on behalf of Earth before anyone was born!                      

 

4. How Individuals Became a Corporation: Adam and Eve were created as separate and distinct beings. (Genesis 1) Each person was endowed with half of the power needed to procreate. (Genesis 1:28)  After their marriage, they did not lose their individuality; but instead, they became officers in a corporate unit called “family.” No person loses his or her identity or accountability to God in marriage. In fact, the Bible teaches that two people can be married and one be lost and the other saved. (Luke 17:34) Similarly, one spouse can go to jail and the other remains free. Therefore, a family unit, according to God, requires the union of two individuals, a man and a woman. The Bible says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) The union of a man and woman reflects the image of God. The Godhead is a corporation made up of three Gods – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. They make up a family unit called “God.” (Deuteronomy 6:4) Their threesome as one God parallels the twosome of a husband and wife becoming one flesh.       

 

5. Sudden Death: God warned Adam, as president of the human corporation, that no one should eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The penalty for violating this law, God said, would be death by execution on the very day that sin occurred. (Genesis 2:17)  Because no one died that day, Genesis 2:17 has been distorted in many different ways. Nevertheless, the scriptures are clear – the penalty for sin is sudden death. This law is eternal and it cannot be changed. However, on the day Adam and Eve sinned, their execution was temporarily postponed by special circumstances.                                      

 

Let us consider the special circumstances that permitted their stay of execution. Eve’s sin was a third degree felony. She was led into sin through deception. Adam’s sin was a second-degree felony, since he willfully sinned because of his love for Eve. Lucifer’s sin was a first-degree felony because he defiantly sinned. *  Lucifer’s angels also defiantly sinned. They had committed the unpardonable sin. (Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:12-18; Matthew 12:31,32) For a legitimate reason, God did not kill Lucifer and his followers the day they sinned either. Instead, God cast them out of Heaven, allowing them to live so that sin might flourish for a predetermined period of time. Of course, at the end of the age of sin, Lucifer and his followers will be annihilated. Similarly, Adam and Eve were not killed on the day they sinned. However, at the end of the age of sin, all of the wicked will be annihilated. The law cannot be changed. However, these two temporary stays from execution demonstrate that the Father is purposeful and merciful in His administration of law.                                                                                                                                         

 

The laws created by an all-knowing God cannot be changed. Ask the people on death row in any prison; a stay of execution does not change the demands of the law. Rather, a stay of execution is a legitimate delay in executing the demands of the law. Because Jesus offered to die in their place, God stayed the execution of Adam and Eve and their future offspring. This is the meaning of corporate intercession. The Bible says that Jesus was slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8) Jesus was as good as annihilated from the beginning of the world, but He came to Earth 4,000 later to actually die. Jesus died when the Father decided the timing was perfect. (Galatians 4:4, Romans 5:6)  There should be no question about God’s character of love. The father is not arbitrary. He is committed to the rule of law in His universe and the death of Jesus proves that His laws cannot be changed.                                                                                              

 

Sin has been permitted to exist for a short season (6,000 years is a minuscule slice of time when compared to eternity) because Jesus was allowed to corporately intercede on behalf of the human race the day that sin began. The Father granted a stay of execution so that He could demonstrate the horrific properties and consequences of sin. Everyone in the universe has the knowledge of good and evil. Of course, wicked people cannot understand the properties of sin because these matters are spiritually understood. (Daniel 12:10; 1 Corinthians 2:14) God’s biggest problem at the moment is not the presence of sin; God’s biggest problem at the moment is preventing the second rise of sin.              

 

Think about this. After sin has run its course, and the differences between good and evil are clearly understood, what virtue could there be in permitting sin to exist within God’s kingdom for a single day? Will God remove the power of choice from His children to prevent sin from happening again? No! God is a God of love! So, how does God prevent His children from sinning again? This is a serious question.  God’s laws are not righteous because He says so – they are righteous because they have been demonstrated to be so! Carefully consider this: After sin has been destroyed and the sin problem has been fully resolved, the penalty for any future sin will be carried out on the very day that it occurs. If sin occurs and the sinner immediately annihilated, everyone will clearly understand the necessity fro destruction and the righteousness of doing so! It will be as though God said, “We’ve been there, done that – and I am not allowing sin to contaminate my house and hurt my children anymore.”

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