Monday, 21 December 2020
When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Revelation 8:1
With the sealing of the one hundred and forty-four thousand and then the heavenly scene of the great white multitude of Chapter 7 complete, Chapter 8 will go from the heavenly realm back to the earth as the seven trumpet judgments follow from the opening of the seventh seal. But the opening of that seal comes first. And so, John begins with, “When He opened the seventh seal.”
This takes the reader back to Chapter 5 where it was noted that the Lamb was found worthy to take the scroll, open its seals, and loose the judgments contained therein. Chapter 6 showed the opening of the first six seals. That was followed with the redirect to the heavenly scene noted above.
Now, with the Lamb’s opening of the seventh seal, John says, “there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” The verb translated as “was” signifies “came to pass,” or “began to be.” It is the opening of the seal that brought it about.
The sequence of events from the previous opening of a seal shows what is probably the intent. As noted, at the end of Chapter 6 came the opening of the sixth seal. Chapter 7 then diverted to the heavenly scene which began with the angels holding back the winds of destruction. This pause of silence is the result of the opening of the seventh seal and appears to correspond to the holding back of the winds. In other words, the pause is reflective of the sealing of the one hundred and forty-four thousand.
The events are not chronological, but categorical. An example of this is that the book of Ruth follows the book of Judges, but its events occur during the time of the Judges. Thus, the main events of Judges are laid out, and then the information of Ruth (that occurred during Judges) is filled in afterwards. Likewise, the event of the sealing is laid out (with its corresponding withholding of the four winds), and then noting the silence in heaven (that corresponds to the withholding of the four winds) is filled in afterwards.
The opening of the seventh seal, then, may actually precede the sealing seen in Chapter 7. The word translated as “about a half an hour” is found only this once in the New Testament. It is a specific division representing a short period of time. One may equate it then to the calm before a storm. Something is coming and everything falls silent in anticipation of it. Because the tribulation period is centered on the people and the land of Israel (the church has already been raptured), we can see a prophetic parallel from the book of Zechariah –
“And the Lord will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem. 13 Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for He is aroused from His holy habitation!” Zechariah 2:12, 13
The sealing of those called out from the tribes of Israel separately from the great multitude in Chapter 7 indicates this. However, they are not all that are saved in the tribulation. That is why the great multitude is also mentioned in that heavenly scene.
This silence precedes the next major set of events, that of the trumpet judgments. Before they are sounded, however, there will be the offering of incense. As seen already, and as will be seen, incense represents prayers. At the opening of the fifth seal, the martyrs cried out for the avenging of their blood. They are obviously saved believers, and they then correspond to those in the great multitude of Chapter 7.
Therefore, the silence now recorded is connected to that. Again, taking these events as purely chronological is not a sound way of viewing what is going on. The Bible is giving a sequence of events, but it is one that spans the tribulation period. Concepts that are explained in short verses and paragraphs are revealing spiritual truths in a categorical manner.
Life application: Most of the earth is coming against the nation of Israel and against the purposes of God. The land of Israel, and specifically Jerusalem, is where Jesus is returning to. When He does, He will establish His kingdom and rule from there. Before this occurs, the world is destined to face great trouble – all for having rejected His offer of peace which is found in Jesus Christ.
During that time, there will be many who will be saved, but most of them will die for their faith in Christ. Very few will enter the millennium without having been martyred. How much better to get right with God now by calling out to Him through His Son. He is the offer of peace that will keep you from the horrors that are prophesied to come. He is JESUS!
Thank You Lord for allowing us to see the great and awesome scene portrayed in the book of Revelation. Surely, it will take place at some point in the future. You have given us the information to know what is coming so that we can choose to make the right decisions now. May many humble their hearts and be receptive to the message before it is too late. Amen.