The Renaissance painter and inventor Leonardo da Vinci once observed, “Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.” Silence can be emphatic. A pause in a sentence concentrates our attention on what is said next. In the same way, the silence that follows the opening of the seventh seal is a signal that what is about to take place is especially significant. What comes next? Not thunder or lightning, but “the prayers of all God’s people”. Our prayers may only be whispers, but they have the potential to harness the power of heaven.
The fact that the censer used to offer the prayers of God’s people is the same one that initiates the judgments of the seven trumpets implies a connection. Could it be that these seven judgments are a response to those prayers? These judgments follow those of the seven seals and increase in intensity.
The first four trumpet judgments are directed primarily at creation. They also echo the judgments on Egypt before the Exodus. Hail and fire mixed with blood destroy the earth’s vegetation (cf. Ex. 9:18–26). An object “like a huge mountain, all ablaze” falls into the seas, destroying a third of all life there (v. 8). A great “star” falls from the sky and embitters a third of the planet’s water supply (vv. 10–11). Sun, moon, and stars are also affected so that their light is diminished (v. 12).
Are these natural or supernatural events? It seems likely that they could involve both. They are ecological disasters in the sense that they have a devastating effect on the planet and its inhabitants. But they are directed by God and initiated by His agents. In this way creation is both affected by the consequences of humanity’s sin and participates in its judgment. Yet it all begins with prayer.
Do you doubt the power of prayer? It is true that we cannot manipulate God with our words. But in some mysterious way the answers to our prayers are woven into the outworking of God’s plan. Notice how many times the prayers of God’s people have already appeared in the narrative of Revelation. What do you need to pray about today?