Golden censers and seven trumpets are the dominant images in chapter 8. Notice in verse 1 that when the Lamb opens the seventh seal there is silence in heaven for half an hour. It is, to my recollection, the only place in the Bible where silence is mentioned in heaven. The silence is ominous . . . it presages the great trouble that is to follow. I found the image of the censer, symbolizing the prayers of the saints rising before God, causing rumblings, lightening, thunder and an earthquake to be quite interesting. Apparently the prayers of the Saints have powerful impact.
The seven trumpets parallel the seven seals (and later the seven bowls). Remember that Revelation was not written to be read like a linear (chronological) story. The story cycles around in a spiral reminding us in a variety of ways that great difficulty and destruction will precede the return of Jesus Christ. Or, to put it another way, the violent way of the world will continue until the world is totally redeemed -- which we don't get to until the end of the book. Seven seals -- aggression, war, famine, pestilence, persecution, cosmic distress -- all deal with attacks on human beings. The seven trumpets -- damaged crops, damaged ocean, damaged rivers and springs, damaged light, locusts like horses, war -- mostly have to do with damage to the earth and its implications. This is not sequential but another telling of the same set of events and experiences. We will find a similar pattern when we get to the seven bowls later in the book.
We'll spend more time on the last three trumpets in chapter 9 on Monday, suffice it to say that there are great difficulties ahead before things get better. That's what my mother always said to me when I was young. If I came home from school complaining about how my day went my mom would look me in the eye and declare "tougher days are ahead." She could have written this section of Revelation because that is the message from John: tougher days are ahead . . . hang on, dig in, trust God and see it through.