The Sound of Silence

October 22, 2023

Father, we come to You at the beginning of the sermon not simply because we think that’s what we ought to do but because we need Your help, I need Your help. Father, give us good hearts. May we put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted Word which is able to save our souls. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

You know that I love history and I’m teaching this Sunday school class going through the Middle Ages. Next week, I was telling the class this morning, not to miss next week as we look at one of the bad popes. I have a book, it’s called Bad Popes, and one of the worst is Pope Boniface VIII. One of the things that I love about history is at least in looking back you can see how the pieces go together. There are still lots of things we don’t know and lots of things that we can’t determine, but sometimes you can see how the pieces go together in a way that they couldn’t have known when they were living it. So Pope Boniface was one of the bad popes and he lives in infamy even among most Roman Catholics, I would think, in part because Dante places him in one of the deepest pits of Hell in Dante’s Inferno. Dante is finishing that up around 1321 and it takes place at 1300 when Pope Boniface VIII is the Pope.

One of the things that in hindsight the Pope shouldn’t have done, and there’s a lot of reasons for it, but he banished Dante at one time because he was on a different side of a political dispute. If only the Pope would have known that Dante would write one of the most enduring pieces of literature that will probably be read as long as there is life on earth, he might have been nicer to Dante. So just be careful, you just might want to think, as I treat this person, what if they go on to write an epic poem and they put me right in the pit of Hell? Of course, it’s hopefully not that bad for you.

But we don’t always know when we’re living through these moments, what small little fulcrum, what small little event or action, goes on to prove to be decisive. I bet that many of you have some desire to make a difference in the world. At some point, if you graduated from high school or college, somebody probably gave you a speech about making a difference in the world. Isn’t it easy to be very discouraged when you look at the state of the world? You have war in eastern Europe after Russian invaded Ukraine more than a year ago. You have war in the Middle East after Hamas coordinated a series of gruesome attacks on Israel two weeks ago. And from a Christian perspective, we can look at just a number of cultural trends, perhaps related to sex or marriage, and they seem to be heading in the wrong direction. You can add to the list inflation, lawlessness, division, a political class that doesn’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence. You can have a long list of reasons to be discouraged and you may think to yourself, it’s all so big and it’s so massive and I don’t know how the problems happened, I don’t know how they’re to be solved, how in the world could I make a difference?

Not just countries and wars and presidents and generals and bombs, but what about God’s whole plan for the world? It doesn’t get any bigger than that. Someday when all that’s left is eternal bliss for God’s people, and the history of this fallen world will be behind us, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to look back and see that you made some difference in what happened and what transpired, some big, some small, probably for almost all of us seemingly infinitesimally small. Yet somehow you made a difference.

Romans 8, Revelation 8, Romans 8 would too, Revelation 8 shows us how we can play a part, an indispensable part, in God’s plan for the world. We’ll come to that in the second half.

Now before we read the text, let me remind you where we are. We’ve had seven seals, six have been opened and then there was a pause for chapter 7 to look at who can stand. We had the same picture. First we had the church militants, we had a picture of the Church on earth which is likened as a holy Jewish army, counted and numbered is what John hears, and then they are pictured as the Church triumphant in heaven, a multi-ethnic assembly of worshiping saints. That was the interlude.

Now we come back to the seventh seal in chapter 8. Revelation 8. Follow along, the first five verses.

“When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.”

When the seventh seal is opened, after all that we’ve seen with the four horsemen of the apocalypse and then the martyrs with the fifth seal and the judgment with the sixth seal and people great and small fleeing mountains fall on us, when we have all of that and finally come to the seventh seal in verse 1, be honest, it seems a little anticlimactic. Almost a little lame. Almost like you aren’t sure if you should laugh, you shouldn’t, but it almost feels like you might want to when it says, “The Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven, ehh, I don’t know, about half an hour.” It’s a strange way of putting things. After all that we’ve seen and all that John has experienced, then we have, ehh, about a half hour of silence.

So what’s going on with a half hour of silence? Well, in part it’s meant to demonstrate the short time. So this is the half hour before the hour. Nine times in Revelation John speaks of “the hour of judgment that has come” or is coming, so the hour is the judgment, so half hour is a time before the judgment. It’s a limited duration. They’re waiting the half hour before the hour. So that’s part of it.

But more than that, the half hour of silence produces a dramatic effect. It’s another kind of interlude. Remember, this is not a literal number in terms of how we will experience the end of the world that then there will be actual clock ticking around for 30 minutes, but this is how John experienced it. Remember, he’s hearing things and he’s receiving visions and then when the Lamb opens the seventh seal with all of this cacophony of noise and these brilliant colors, then silence.

You think of what this was like for John. He sees the Lamb open the first seal, conquest. Then war, then scarcity, then death, then martyrs, then the whole earth in upheaval, and people screaming, crying, running for cover, and then silence.

Imagine if I were preaching and suddenly I just stopped. [silence] That’s uncomfortable, isn’t it? That was only 10 seconds. I had in my notes, “stop for 30 seconds.” I couldn’t do it. [laughter] You know when we have the silent prayer of confession, I have to look at my watch and go, “Go at least 20 seconds, I know you’ve got at least 20 seconds of sin. You’ve got a lot more than that.” Because when there’s silence, it just feels like 5 seconds feels like ah, we better jump in. This must have been dramatic. 30 minutes. After all of that, John waiting, watching, wondering. The half hour felt like a long time.

Wouldn’t it feel… If you’re waiting to find out what the end of the world is like… Yeah, a half hour is a big break.

So this silence is about effect. But even more than that, it’s not just drum roll, please, and let’s get on with it, it’s more than just building anticipation. Silence, here’s the theological matter, silence is the only appropriate response to the full unveiling of God’s glory and justice. That’s what’s happening.

When faced with the ultimate outpouring of divine judgment, it’s as if the whole earth covers its mouth and stands in awe and terrified silence.

We’ve already had some of these verses in the liturgy this morning. Just listen how many times the Bible puts silence together with the unveiling of God’s glory, in particular His glory to judge.

You may remember Job: “I am unworthy, how can I reply to You?” After all of the questions, the barrage of questions that God gives to Job. He doesn’t ever answer in an intellectual way Job’s questions about suffering, but He answers in a theological existential way, that is, I’m God and you’re not. You have a lot of questions, and He rewards Job. Job was righteous. But here’s the answer, Job, to your suffering. The answer is not the one you were looking for, the answer is to understand that I’m God and you’re not. And he says, “I put my hand over my mouth, I spoke once but I have no answer; twice, but I will say no more.”

Isaiah 23:2: “Be silent, you people of the island.”

Isaiah 47:5: “Sin in silence, daughter of the Babylonians.”

Lamentations 2:10: “The elders of the daughter of Zion sit on the ground in silence.”

Amos 8:3: “In that day, declares the sovereign Lord, the songs in the temple will turn to wailing. Many, many bodies flung everywhere. Silence.”

Habakkuk 2:20: “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.”

Zephaniah 1:7: “Be silent before the sovereign Lord for the day of the Lord is near.”

Zechariah 1:13: “Be still, or silent, before the Lord, all mankind because He has roused Himself from His holy dwelling.”

This is silence in the face of someone and something that is other, surprising, mysterious, frightening.

We live in Mint Hill and we have a lot of trees around us and some woods behind us and that means there’s lots of deer all the time in the front yard, and I think we’ve counted as many as 12 deer at one time, almost every morning. They’re so used to eating different berries and whatever, I don’t know what deer eat, but they’ve got plenty of food to eat and we just live with them, try not to scare them. The cats scare them away. But it has happened before that I’m going out to my car to drive away somewhere and I sense there’s someone behind me, and like this far away, this far, you could almost touch it, is a deer. I’m looking, probably she’s looking, we’re both very scared. I don’t know what either of us are going to do. I’ve never killed a deer with anything, let alone my bare hands, and that deer has probably never trampled anyone, but there’s just that sense of you’re not me, I’m not you, what are we doing little dance of there’s something “other.”

If it’s that with a sweet, elegant, North American deer, imagine the unveiling of God and His glory. Something other. Someone majestic, beautiful, mysterious. Perhaps men like seeing the church doors open and there’s your bride, all in white, coming down and you probably, maybe you did the pictures beforehand or you tried not to see her in her dress, and there’s this big unveiling. I’ve had the privilege of standing next to many grooms when the doors open and dad is coming down with his bride and they all look kind of the same, like [sound effect] [laughter], kind of look like, really, wow, whoa. Pastor, let’s do this before she realizes what she’s doing.

That’s right, that’s right. This is beauty, majesty. Or something massive.

When you go to the beach and you stand at the edge and the ocean as far as you can tell goes forever. Or the stars at night when you’re in someplace that’s very dark. Or a mountain peak that looks out on the rolling hills. Or if you’ve ever been to the Grand Canyon. You go and you stare into that geological abyss. It doesn’t make you chatty.

Or you go to one of the great cathedrals in Europe and people, whether they have a sign or not, usually instinctively start to whisper, they’re quiet. Even non-Christians. Just a sense of someplace majestic and soaring and it’s old and all of that, you want to be quiet.

When you stand face-to-face with something other, something beautiful, something mysterious, majestic, massive, power, glory, you’re quiet.

So all the earth, heaven and earth for half an hour with judgment to come, quiet.

If you and I knew what is truly coming on the earth, if you and I knew what God was really like, we would not talk back.

I love this definition from Martyn Lloyd-Jones who once defined a Christian as someone whose mouth has been shut. Of course, that’s not all there is to say about a Christian and there’s plenty of psalms that are psalms of lament and so we put the full orb of Christian discipleship around it, and yet there’s something very profound about that definition. A Christian is someone who has learned that God is God and he or she is not.

Some of you, maybe some of us, we’re used to talking back. We want to talk back to the TV. We want to talk back to the drivers. The world’s full of bad drivers, everyone except the person in your car, unless it’s your spouse and then there are more bad drivers. You talk back to your parents, talk back to your boss, you talk back in your heart even to God. We are used to, we want the last word, we want the final word. We’ve got more to say, we’ve got more to defend ourselves. Lloyd-Jones is right. Part of being a Christian is you’ve learned to keep your mouth shut. You know that God is God and you are not. God gets the last word. God gets to say who God is and what God does and who we are in relationship to God.

All the earth here in Revelation 8 is silent because it’s the only appropriate response to the unveiling of God and His glory and in His judgment.

Some people think this last seal is an empty seal, that the contents of the seventh seal are actually the seven trumpets, kind of Russian dolls. That’s partially true. They are interlocking pieces. We’ll see again and again in Revelation one set of sevens ends and introduces the next set of sevens. So it’s true, the seventh seal calls forth the seven trumpets. But don’t think that all the seventh seal is what the seven trumpets do. The trumpets are going to show us again God’s plan for the world in judgment.

What we have in the seventh seal is again the ending of human history, which then turn to the seven trumpets which are going to show us a replay, as it were, the same scene from a different angle, or the recapitulation of a musical score, or you might think of it as a spiral staircase every ascending upward.

Seven seals give way to seven trumpets. The trumpets in the Old Testament signaled God’s presence, and in particular God’s judgment. There were trumpets when God descended on Mount Sinai in Exodus. Trumpets warning the people for battle in the book of Numbers. You remember seven priests with seven trumpets on the seventh day, which were the instrument, literally the instruments of Jericho’s destruction in the book of Joshua. The priests blew the trumpet before war in 2 Chronicles. So trumpet is a signal that God is showing up and He means business.

Now look at verse 5. We know in particular that this is a final judgment, and here’s one of the arguments again for how we should read Revelation and why we can’t just map out from start to finish just a big timeline and each chapter follows the next in some chronological sequence. Rather, we have repeating, we have recapitulation, and here’s one of the clearest examples of it. This phrase in verse 5, “and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.” That’s theophany language; theophany means God appearing. This is the same language used when God shows up on Mount Sinai. This is how you describe what happens when God shows up.

Here in Revelation it’s also when God reveals His glory, it’s a signal for His final judgment. The appearance of God on the throne in chapter 4, verse 5, flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. So Revelation 4:5, because there’s God and His unveiling, and He’s described, now notice those three things, flashes of lightning, rumblings, peal of thunder. That’s Revelation 4:5. Look again at Revelation 8:5 because this is the kind of spiraling staircase. We are going to have the repetition of these same phrases except each one gets a little more intense.

So Revelation 4:5, lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder. 8:5, peals of thunder, rumblings, lightning, and, okay, here’s a new one, an earthquake.

Now keep your finger go there. Go to Revelation 11:19. I’m just showing you why we have to read this in terms of recapitulation rather than one sequential chronology. Because look at Revelation 11:19. We have the same imagery. God’s temple in heaven was open, the ark of His covenant was seen within His temple. Now notice there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. So if you notice we had three things mentioned God on the throne in Revelation 4, four things mentioned in Revelation 8, five things mentioned. So now we’ve added heavy hail at this description of the end, and then one more. Go to Revelation chapter 16, verse 18.

So we had the seven seals, that’s Revelation 8. Then we have the end of the seven trumpets, Revelation 11. Then the end of the seven bowls in Revelation 16, verse 18, “and there were,” sounds familiar by now, “flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, a great earthquake,” and notice the intensification, “such as there had never been since man was on the earth so great was the earthquake,” then go down to verse 21, “and great hailstones about 100 pounds each fell from heaven on people and they cursed God for the plague of the hail because the plague was so severe.”

So same things, flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, a great earthquake, but now the earthquake is the worse there’s ever been, the hail is the worse there’s ever been at the conclusion of the seven bowls.

Each one is describing the same reality. It’s language to describe God coming and the unveiling of His glory and His judgment. So it’s not that “end of the world, oh, ha ha, nope, world’s still here, it’s got to end again.” It’s showing the same thing. Seven seals, let’s look at it there. Seven trumpets, seven bowls, but each one as the book goes on is going to build and build and build as the book draws to its conclusion with the abyss in chapter 20 and the new heavens and the new earth in chapters 21 and 22.

All of this is to tell us, going back to Revelation 8, there is a day of final judgment coming and when it comes there will be no mistake that it has arrived, whether it is literally exactly like all of this with hail and earthquakes or the language is here to describe something cataclysmic, it will be clear that judgment is upon us.

So, you say how does any of this relate to my introduction about playing an indispensable part in God’s plan, about that little fulcrum, that thing that you and I can do to make a difference and to play a part in God’s plan? This all seems very epic, massive, cosmic.

Well, go back to chapter 8 and look at the middle. We looked at verse 1. We looked at verse 2 and talked about the trumpets. We looked at verse 5. But see what happens here in the middle, verse 3: Another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne. Then the smoke of the incense with the prayers rose before God from the hand of the angel and the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, threw it on the earth and… Then what happens? Peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.

Here’s what’s going on in this scene. It’s a bit strange to us, but it would have been easily recognizable to John and to any God Jew. Recall there were two altars in the tabernacle. One was in the courtyard actually outside of the tabernacle proper, that was the altar for burning sacrifices, so that’s one altar, to burn the sacrifice.

Then inside the tabernacle was a second altar, and that was for burning incense. So one altar outside the tabernacle in the courtyard for burning sacrifices and one inside the holy place before you entered the holy of holies there was a second altar and that was for burning incense.

So here we have an altar with a golden censer full of incense. So this is putting us into the holy place inside the tabernacle. This imagery that John is seeing would have been very familiar to him, just as if you were describing a pulpit or a table or a baptismal font or a basketball hoop or something or a car, so they know, ah, we’re inside the tabernacle, we’re talking about this altar of incense.

You have the word in the ESV a censer. It’s not a word familiar to most of us, but a censer is simply something that holds incense. In more liturgical churches, a censer is an enclosed box often swung with a rope by the priest. In the Old Testament the censer could be a small bowl or a dish or something like a shovel. Some translations in the Old Testament call it a fire pan because the fire, or more likely it’s not a flame but a live coal from the altar, would be placed in it. So censer, think of a box or a little bowl or maybe just even a little shovel that has some of the coal from the altar and has the aroma, the fragrant perfume of the incense.

So the fire in the censer is the result of the altar of burning incense. Notice what is the incense. Well, here it’s described as coming together with the prayers of the saints. But don’t think too hard about well, then, what’s the incense? The incense other places in Scripture is described as the prayers of the saints.

Revelation 5:8: And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the 24 elders feels down before the face of the Lamb, each one had a harp that they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

So don’t get hung up, is it that the incense represents the prayers or are they with the prayers. The symbolism is the same that this is a picture of the prayers of God’s people ascending into heaven. This was familiar poetic imagery.

Psalm 141 – O Lord, I call to You, come quickly to me, hear my voice when I call to You, may my prayer be set before You like incense. May the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

Incense, in other words, even in the Old Testament, became a metaphor for accepted prayer. Why? Well, two things really. One, because it wafts upward and you could see, just like if you light a candle and you can see the smoke going upward, so that speaks of prayer. And because it was of such a fragrant aroma that it wafted up into heaven and it was as if God Himself would breathe in deep and loved to receive the prayers of His people, just like this aromatic incense.

If incense doesn’t do it for you, you can think of your favorite candle, or better yet, think of barbecue. You go, yeah, barbecue. You go and when Trail Life does that magical thing that they do and they make their barbecue or you go and you get the Carolina barbecue, you can smell it for blocks and I hope you like it. I do. And it wafts up and you know exactly what’s going on in that establishment.

So incense, I would take Krispy Kreme donuts, your wife’s perfume, your husband’s cologne, barbecue, something that signals to you, chocolate chip cookies, we’ll just go on, you’re hungry, go on, and it goes upward and it’s good.

The prayers of God’s people are like the incense from the altar.

There’s an interesting use of incense in Leviticus 16. You may remember that’s the day of atonement passage. There the high priest takes a censer, so a little shovel, of burning coals from the altar and it says he grabs two handfuls of incense and he goes past the curtain. Remember the altar of incense is in the holy place. There’s a curtain. Once a year the high priest goes in to the holy of holies and it says he puts the incense in the censer, in the fire pain, over the coals and the smoke, so you’ve got this live coal and you’ve got two handfuls of incense, that’s going to make quite a small and quite a cloud, and he would do that once a year and it would conceal the mercy seat. That’s the name for the cover, the lid, on the ark of the covenant, and it says in Leviticus 16 he does that with the incense and the coals once a year to create a cloud over the mercy seat “so that he will not die.”

So many commentators argue that part of what’s going on there is representative, what’s the only way in which the high priest can enter the holy of holies and not die in the presence of God? He must be surrounded by the acceptable prayers of God’s people. That God in His mercy has seen fit to allow this high priest once a year to enter in to the holy of holies. It’s the link between incense and prayer.

Luke 1, Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, was chosen by Lot to go burn incense in the temple and it says when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. So there’s a long, centuries of this connection, between the burning of incense and the prayers of God’s people.

So let’s bring this to a close here. Here’s the big idea in Revelation 8 and why it has everything to do with you and I making a difference in the most cosmic sense. Notice God completes His final judgment as a result of His people praying. The seventh seal is broken, the final part of God’s plan to judge and save the world, to judge the wicked, to save the believing righteous, and all of this is carried out as the prayers of God’s people. Undoubtedly there’s a direct connection to the fifth seal.

Go back to Revelation 6. You remember the martyrs under the throne? Revelation 6:10, they cry out with a loud voice, “O sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before You will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

The prayers in particular of all those who were oppressed for the Word of God, persecuted on account of Christ. Their prayers having ascended into heaven. You notice what the angel does. It’s very striking. It’s unmistakable.

Verse 5. So he has the censer. What’s in the censer? Incense and prayers, or the incense that are the prayers of God’s people. Then he fills it with fire from the altar. So it’s this concoction, the prayers and the incense and the fire from the altar. Then quite literally hurls this fireball down to earth and it results in peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake, because God’s people prayed.

Now you may be saying, “I’m not sure I’ve ever prayed for that. I’m not sure I want to pray for that. Maybe the martyrs can do it. Am I really to pray for God’s final judgment on the earth? Am I really to pray for the end of the earth? I mean, that seems like sort of a mean thing to do.”

But is it? Don’t you want to see the full unveiling of God and His glory? Don’t you want to see evil vanquished? Don’t you want to see justice executed upon the earth? Don’t you want to see all of the innocent vindicated? Don’t you long for the end of cancer? The end of drunk driving accidents? The end of leukemia? The end of death? Don’t you pray, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly”? You think you’re praying for Jesus to come and hug everyone?

Well, He will wipe away every tear and He will come to judge the living and the dead. He is going to put an end to all that is wicked, all that is bitter, all that causes suffering and frustration and He will reveal His full beauty, glory, majesty, and power. That’s why we pray, “Come, Lord Jesus.” That’s why we pray, “How long, O Lord, before this final seal is broken and You reveal Your power?”

So keep in mind these two great and awesome truths. Number one. God hears our prayers. Number two. God has arranged things so that prayer makes a difference.

The age-old question of why pray if God is sovereign, but it’s really the question of why do anything if God is sovereign. Why wear a seatbelt if God is sovereign? Why plant and use fertilizer and water if God is sovereign? Couldn’t He just bring manna from heaven? Well, of course He could. But normally He has purposed to work out His plan in history through appointed means, through a seatbelt, through an airbag, through a lock on your door to protect you, through water and fertilizer and sunshine to make the crops grow. He has ordained the end and the means and chief among those means that He has ordained for accomplishing His will is prayer.

Do your prayers feel weak? My prayers feel very weak. Sometimes giving me much more credit than I deserve as a pastor, people will, “Pastor, could you pray?” And I’m happy to pray, but sometimes there’s a sense of I’m not sure my prayers are doing much, but you’ve got to direct, I’ve got to work through some other work, you’ve got like the direct private e-mail to get to God. Or, “You’re a pastor, your prayers must just be rocket ships just launching up into heaven.” My prayers never feel like that. They feel just like spit wads, they just fall to the earth as soon as they leave my mouth, or they leave the thoughts in my head. That’s what our prayers usually feel like. It doesn’t feel like a great bombardment of heaven. They feel weak, they feel trifling, they feel small, they feel insignificant.

But what if, what if God has so planned as this passage tells us. There is an angel to gather all the prayers, your prayers and mine, now and throughout history of God’s redeemed people, so that not one of our prayers prayed according to God’s will, prayed from a humble believing heart, not one of those prayers falls to the ground. But even if it seems like they all fall like little more than dew on the grass, God has so ordained to grab each one of them – I want that prayer and that prayer and that prayer – and He takes them and He gathers them and He puts them together in a censer of His final revealing of His glory and His judgment, and your prayers from a humble heart. Brother and sister, family of God, those prayers that seem to be doing absolutely nothing and you’re distracted and you’re so short of attention, yet they waft up like incense, a sweet-smelling aroma, and God is pleased to receive them. Not only to receive them, to keep track of each one of them. The prayers of God’s people prayed according to God’s will from a godly heart always make it to heaven.

Though our prayers may feel like barely a whisper of significance here on earth, they result in crashing thunder and earthquake when God gets through with them in heaven. He takes all of those prayers and He puts them with the coal from the altar and He hurls it down to the earth. You and I participate in the most epic story, nothing less than the whole story of the created universe, we participate in that when we pray.

Someone listens to your prayers, and not just someone, not just anyone, but the God that we have encountered in chapter 6, the One from whom they run and flee, mountains fall on us for the wrath of the Lamb, that God, and the God that we have encountered at the end of chapter 7 who draws near to wipe away every tear from your eye. The prayers of God’s people are never wasted time, never wasted energy, and though we may not see much of what they do here on earth, God is adding to them, Christ interceding for us on our behalf, pleading before the Father based on His blood and His righteousness, so that our prayers in a manner of speaking move the hands of Him who moves the world.

Of course, God Himself cannot be moved, but he has ordained our prayers to do just that. God is listening and God is pleased when we pray. Cry out to Him, call to Him, and perhaps we see it in this life, surely we will see it in the world to come, that our prayers through Christ’s intercession have done more than we could ever ask or imagine.

Let’s pray. Father in heaven, we pray, come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Right every wrong, save Your people, cast down all who design to do wicked, especially those who would oppress Your people. Save and protect the faithful. We pray that You might reveal Your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.