Word on Fire

Paul writes to Timothy

'I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you'
(2Tim 1:6)

so, to help the church with this, we offer this brief word, because

“Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord'
(Jeremiah 23:29)

The Goblet of Fire

The movie of the moment is J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Now, before I go further, let’s mention Pornography – only for this one reason: there’s hard-porn (i.e. really disgusting stuff) and there’s soft-porn (supposedly milder, but still sin). In terms of the occult I’d say that there’s hard-occ and soft-occ. Rowling and her Potter character probably represent soft-occ, but it’s still occult-focussed, leading people (especially children) into witchcraft and demonism. Young Harry Potter is a parody, a distortion, of the true Potter, the Lord God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (see Isaiah 64:8, Jeremiah 18:5-6, Romans 9:21). In this movie, Harry is chosen to champion Hogwarts in a wizardry tournament (more opportunity for Rowling to interest viewers and readers in Satan’s schemes). Harry is chosen, lottery style, when his name is pulled from the Goblet of Fire. That’s all I’m going to say about the movie, because the Word of God is my focus, dear reader, as I hope it also is yours! Instead, I want to look at the real, biblical Goblet of Fire!

Revelation 8:1-5 (NIV)

When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 2And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. 3 Another angel, who had a 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. 4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand. 5 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 lightning and an earthquake.

Some preachers might speculate that the 7 angels are those mentioned in the apocryphal books of Tobit and Enoch, the angels being Uriel, Raphael, Raguel, Michael, Sariel, Gabriel, and Remeiel. But speculation is pointless, and the Apocrypha, although included in some versions of the Bible, isn’t part of the accepted evangelical canon of scripture. What is of significance is that the angel responsible for the censer is not one of the seven. We’ll come to who he may be in a moment, but first let’s see what he’s doing.

The angel is offering up ‘incense, together with the prayers of the saints’. In Rev 5:8 we’re told that, in terms of imagery, the incense is the prayers of the saints. The Psalmist similarly says ‘May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice’ (Psalm 141:2). Are you lifting up prayers to the Lord like smoke rising from your prayer room? Perhaps if you are, they may be the same prayers as those that the martyrs offered up at the heavenly altar:

‘I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth”’ (Rev 6:9-10)

How long, O Lord, until you bring revival? How long, Lord, ‘til the nations bow down? How long, Lord, ‘til your faithful are vindicated? How long, Lord, ‘til you release me to be your servant as you promised? How long, Lord, must we wait to see a greater revelation of your glory here on earth? How long?!!

If, like us at Heavenfire Ministries, you’re joining with those voices, then take heart that there’s an ‘angel’ (which literally means ‘messenger’) taking our prayers, and offering them before God the Father. It’s Jesus, praise his holy name! Jesus is the Lamb opening the Scroll of Life (this is the seventh seal of that scroll), yet because of the complex apocalyptic nature of Revelation, he is also the ‘other angel’. He is the ‘other angel’ in Rev 10:1 and 18:1, and glory to him, he’s here in chapter 8! We welcome you Lord! He is performing a priestly role by offering incense, and Jesus is our High Priest. It’s Jesus pictured here, our only intercessor and mediator (Hebrews 7:25; 1Tim 2:5). He’s the one who, by his Spirit, intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will (Romans 8:27). Brothers and sisters, it is our Father’s will that our Saviour Jesus should give our prayers some heavenly help!

But what is our Lord and High Priest doing with our intercession? He’s adding heaven’s fire to them. Firstly, this is to make our prayers acceptable (see Leviticus, and the book ‘Seeking Heaven’s Fire’ – all offerings are acceptable only by fire). Secondly, the addition of fire is in order to bring God’s answer to the earth: ‘Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth’. The Book of Life demands that an answer be brought on the earth, because God wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1Timothy 2:4).

The scene in heaven is one reminiscent of that in which God gave the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:16-19). Just like then, the peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake are revelations of God’s presence, power, and majesty (see also Rev 11:19, Rev 16:18, Exodus 9:22-26). They’re manifestations of his desired presence in the lives of his people, and signs of coming judgment on the wicked. At Sinai, there were those who refused to hear the voice of the Lord (Exodus 20:18-19). Like then, there will always be those who refuse to hear God, to repent and to glorify him. For them, there is another ‘goblet of fire’, the fourth bowl of wrath (Rev 16:8-9). Egypt and Pharoah represented the wicked in the book of Exodus, and we see their future portrayed graphically in The Revelation following the priestly intercession of Jesus.

When commentaries speak of the hurling down of the contents of the censer/’goblet’ of fire, they sometimes say that this represents God’s judgment. We should be aware that it isn’t the action itself which executes judgment, but the seven woes, poured from seven bowls, accompanying the blowing of seven trumpets, that do so. These trumpets are sounded in response to the hurling of the censer on the earth. Trumpets, biblically, almost always represent the proclamation of God’s Word. Children of God, our prayers of ‘How long?’ are going to be answered by fire coming down to enable our proclamation, our witness, our prophetic utterances. We speak the very words of God (1Peter 4:11), and he makes his appeal through us (2Corinthians 5:20). When we receive heaven’s fiery response to our prayers we become unrestrained co-labourers with God in bringing truth, justice, and his divine rule on this earth. Nations will tremble, and spiritual powers and authorities will bow down. Manifestations of his majesty and glory will follow (Mark 16:20). Are you offering up those prayers? Are you believing that Jesus is interceding? Are you receiving the added fire as your answer? Then sound the trumpet! Send the fire, Lord Jesus!