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May 2, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“The twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”—Revelation 5:8 (NKJV)
Let’s be reminded of our heavenly surroundings. God is seated in the center of heaven on His throne. His Spirit is present before the throne. Four incredible creatures hover at each corner of the throne. There are 24 elders seated on 24 thrones that surround God’s throne. Surrounding all of this is a mass of angels beyond number as well as a multitude of those who’ve been saved out of the Great Tribulation who serve in the temple. Did I mention there’s also a temple?
We would agree there’s a lot going on in heaven! And we may even question if heaven is so active that it doesn’t take much notice of us in our day-to-day lives. But notice the verse above tells us that the 24 elders each have a golden bowl, and these bowls are filled with “the prayers of the saints.”
Lest there be any confusion, a “saint” is defined as anyone who has called upon Jesus to be their Lord and Savior (1 Corinthians 1:2). If you’re a Christian, you’re a saint! And God’s Word is telling us that your prayers don’t ricochet off the ceiling or get vacuumed into a black hole somewhere in outer space, but that they ascend like incense and are collected by the 24 elders. But they don’t just sit there; watch what happened next to them: ”Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne” (Revelation 8:3 NKJV).
The temple contained an altar where incense would be burned before God’s presence. We’re told an angel is assigned to take the prayers of all the saints and place them upon the altar, which is right before God’s throne! Watch the effect: “And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand” (Revelation 8:4 NKJV).
With all that is happening in heaven, our prayers are given a front-row seat before the very throne of God! They’re presented as a fragrant offering that God delights in and cannot ignore! That is what happens to your prayers. They may not seem significant or consequential here on earth, but they are front and center in heaven.
Allow the geography of heaven to serve as a reminder of how important your prayers are . . . because you’re that important to the One on the throne!
DIG: Where do we factor into heaven’s set up?
DISCOVER: What does this indicate about God’s heart for us? How will this change you?
DISPLAY: Look back on everything we’ve studied from this passage in Revelation. Reread the entire passage and consider what each aspect says about heaven and about the Lord.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.