He came, and He took it out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.
8And when He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the
twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and
golden bowls full of incense, which are
the prayers of the saints. 9And they sang a new song, saying,
"Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain,
and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and
people and nation. 10"And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and
priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth." Revelation 5:7-10 (NAS)
Golden Bowls and Harps
Throughout the first five chapters of the
Revelation, John describes the symbolic objects,
animals, etc. that he sees in the vision.
These many visual images...from a lamb which
symbolizes Jesus to the sword which represents the
word of God...help give a word-picture of the ideas
that God wants us to learn from the Revelation.
The twenty-four elders who sit before the throne
of God and the four living creatures fell down
before the Lamb (Jesus). It says that each one
had a harp and golden bowl full of incense.
Let's look at the meanings of these two symbols:
Golden bowls full of
The explanation is given quickly in the text: These
"prayers of the saints." In the
time the Revelation was written, the followers
of Jesus (also called Christians or saints) were
under terrible persecution (refer to the preface
to this lesson for more information). As
we get into later chapters, we will see what is
done with the golden bowls and incense.
Note that the word "saint" is from the Greek
word #40 "hagios" which means sacred,
pure, blameless, consecrated. True
followers of Christ are not perfect, but have
been made pure or blameless through Jesus' blood
that was sacrificed...and through their belief
and obedience in Christ.
While the meaning of the bowls & incense is
directly spelled out in this passage, the
meaning of the harps is not specified. It
is possible that the harp is used to symbolize
voices in song to God. Revelation chapter
14 says that the voices of those who were
singing a new song before the throne "was
like" the sound of harpists playing on their
voice which I heard was like the sound of
harpists playing on their harps. 3And
sang a new song before the throne and
before the four living creatures and the elders;
and no one could learn the song except the one
hundred and forty-four thousand who had been
purchased from the earth." Revelation 14:2-3
Whether or not the
harps and bowls represent two of the ways in which
Christians worship (harps representing singing, and
bowls representing prayers), the point is that we
are not talking about physical harps or physical
bowls or a physical four-legged lamb. The
images are used to represent other things (e.g., the
four-legged lamb in the vision is representing Jesus
Christ, the one who died for our sins).
For more information on the worship of Jesus'
church, see Lesson 2.
For these followers who prayed to God during
these times, what a comfort it must have been to
know that their prayers (the prayers of the saints)
had been heard and were being held before the throne of
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