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7-2-23 On Earth As It Is In Heaven

On Earth As It Is In Heaven

David Peterson / General

Prayer / Revelation 8:1–5

Sermon type: Textual-Topical

Proposition: True prayer is always answered because true prayer involves union with God, the uniting of Heaven and Earth. When Christians engage in true prayer things happen. The world is changed.


1. Thunderstorms, the gods of myths

I. A Call to Wake Up (Revelation 8:5)

1. Physical events point us to that which is beyond these events

In this picture of terror, John has the vision of God using the elemental forces of nature to warn men and women of the final destruction to come.

Barclay, W. (2004). Revelation of John (Vol. 2, p. 51). Westminster John Knox Press.

2. They point us to the smallness of our lives and our awareness of great things

Revelation 8:5 (TNTC Re): It is not easy to see how the angel took the censer when he already had it (v. 3). Perhaps the thought is that earlier he had it for purposes of intercession. Now he took it for purposes of judgment. He filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth. The result was peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake (see on 4:5). The fire came from the very altar on which the prayers of the saints have been offered. This surely means that the prayers of God’s people play a necessary part in ushering in the judgments of God. ‘What are the real master-powers behind the world and what are the deeper secrets of our destiny? Here is the astonishing answer: the prayer of the saints and the fire of God. That means that more potent, more powerful than all the dark and mighty powers let loose in the world, more powerful than anything else, is the power of prayer set ablaze by the fire of God and cast upon the earth’ (Torrance).

Righteousness Exalts a Nation

Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.

Source: Thomas Jefferson in Notes on Virginia; Manners.Christianity Today, Vol. 34, no. 11.

To Compare North, South America

Roger Babson, the statistician, was lunching with the President of Argentina. “Mr. Babson,” the President said, “I have been wondering why it is that South America with all its natural advantages, its mines of iron, copper, coal, silver and gold; its rivers and great waterfalls which rival Niagara, is so far behind North America.”

Babson replied, “Well, Mr. President, what do you think is the reason?”

He was silent for a while before he answered. “I have come to this conclusion. South America was settled by the Spanish, who came to South America in search of gold; but North America was settled by the Pilgrim Fathers, who went there in search of God.”

—Christian Digest

Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (pp. 289–290). Bible Communications, Inc.

II. The Tragic Consequences (Revelation 9:3-4)

The trumpets go beyond the seals in their more detailed portrayal of the judgment of God on evil. It would be unwise to force the trumpet scenes into some sort of consistent pattern with the preceding series. John writes in the exalted idiom of an ecstatic experience. [Morris says that it would be a “great mistake to read this fiery, passionate and poetic spirit as though he were composing a pedantic piece of scientific prose” (120).]

But John is saying more than this. There are evil forces other than those latent in us, and those other forces, demonic forces, have scope when people turn away from God. ‘Such a picture etches forever on the soul one of the most terrible truths of life. It is this: whenever men go beyond their own humanity in committing their crimes, whenever they become so debased that they let themselves be possessed by a force of evil greater than human nature itself could conjure up, then human sin becomes inhuman, men are the offspring of beasts, and judgment lashes the soul with its most unspeakable terrors’ (Love).

There is another thought here, namely that repentance is in mind (v. 20). God uses the evil results of our sins to call us to repentance. John sees the release of the demonic forces from one point of view as the result of human sin. But from another it is God’s chastening, and God’s chastening is not aimless. Rightly received it should lead to amendment. John sees God, not the demons, as in control.

Morris, L. (1987). Revelation: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 20, pp. 125–126). InterVarsity Press.

We see here that serpents and scorpions may have been used to signify doctrinal deception because their bite or sting can cause mental delusion leading to death. Prov. 23:32–33 is adduced to supplement the imagery.

Beale, G. K. (1999). The book of Revelation: a commentary on the Greek text (p. 516). W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press.

Proverbs 23:32-33 NIV1984

32 In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. 33 Your eyes will see strange sights and your mind imagine confusing things.

The Quest for Significance Can Lead to Extremes

In 2021, several psychologists made an in-depth study into what drives people to political and social extremes. This can result in beliefs in a wide range of unsubstantiated and sometimes harmful conspiracy theories. The research paper was titled “Some People Just Want to Watch the World Burn.”

According to the study, bout 5% of Americans are considered “chaos-seekers.” They feel marginalized and have “an intense need for social dominance; they’re angry that they’re not on top.” There is a growing sense of anxiety that in a time of rapid change, ideological conflicts, and social unrest, they “feel their prospects in life have tanked. People who believe the system isn’t working for them.” They gravitate toward extremist views and include those on the political Right and Left.

The researchers named the model for extremism a “significance quest.” Many Americans “need to feel they matter and that their lives have purpose. These needs intensify when they feel powerless, as in times of stress and uncertainty or after a serious loss or humiliation. People will do nearly anything to restore meaning in their lives. All too often, meaning comes in extremist packaging.”

Many of the people studied reported being simply bored with their lives. “People who are adrift are likelier to seek exciting, risky pursuits that give them a sense of purpose and meaning. Diehard ideologies fit the bill.” The search for meaning led some to be “more sensation-seeking and more willing to support ideological violence.”

Source: Jena E Pincott, “Chasing Chaos,” Psychology Today (5-3-22)

III. The Answer, the Reign of God in his People

Revelation 8:1 (TNTC Re): It is possible that the silence is connected with the offering of the prayers of the saints (vv. 3–4, so Beasley-Murray) just as in 7:3 certain plagues were held back until the servants of God were sealed. The saints appear insignificant to men at large. But in the sight of God they matter. Even great cataclysms are held back while they pray. And the praises of angels give way to silence so that the saints may be heard.

300 Men Confess Pride

During the Great Awakening, when the Spirit of God revived much of our nation’s early faith, Jonathan Edwards was presiding over a massive prayer meeting. Eight hundred men prayed with him.

Into that meeting a woman sent a message asking the men to pray for her husband. The note described a man who had become unloving, prideful, and difficult.

Edwards read the message in private and then, thinking that perhaps the man described was present, made a bold request. Edwards read the note to the 800 men. Then he asked if the man who had been described would raise his hand, so that the whole assembly could pray for him. Three hundred men raised their hands.

Source: Bryan Chapell, Holiness By Grace, (Crossway, 2001), p. 80. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois

the natural may be temporarily overcome by the unnatural. But in the long run every organization collapses, and the natural endures and prevails by its own inherent strength; for life itself is on the side of the natural.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ethics

Every prayer and meditation, if it fulfils its meaning, namely, to reunite the creature with its creative ground, is revelatory in this sense. The marks of revelation—mystery, miracle, and ecstasy—are present in every true prayer. Speaking to God and receiving an answer is an ecstatic and miraculous experience; it transcends all ordinary structures of subjective and objective reason. It is the presence of the mystery of being and an actualization of our ultimate concern. If it is brought down to the level of a conversation between two beings, it is blasphemous and ridiculous. If, however, it is understood as the “elevation of the heart,” namely, the center of the personality, to God, it is a revelatory event.

Tillich, Paul. Systematic Theology, Volume 1: 001 (p. 127). University of Chicago Press. Kindle Edition.


1. Poem


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