8:5 censer. The censer had contained sweet incense, representing the age-long accumulation of hitherto-unanswered “prayers of all saints” (Revelation 8:4). The same censer, which had brought the prayers up to heaven, now carries fire from heaven to the earth. The prayers are about to be answered via the final purgation of evil from the earth with the fire from heaven sent as a forewarning of the ultimate fires of hell (note Hebrews 10:26-29; II Thessalonians 1:7,8; Matthew 13:41-43; Luke 12:49).
8:5 lightnings. The brief respite from God’s judgments no doubt encouraged the earth-dwellers, like Pharaoh of old, to harden their hearts yet again. Suddenly, another storm strikes, with thunder and lightning (but still no rain), along with a milder earthquake and “voices”—perhaps warning calls from the angels (compare Revelation 14:6-7).