And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. – Revlation 8:1.
Of the many hard-to-decipher passages in the Book of Revelation, verse 1 of chapter 8, is one of few attempt to interpret. The Seventh Seal is a monumental event in Heaven, but what does it mean? Why is there silence? This article will attempt to explain the meaning of the silence in Heaven and explain why it is a critical aspect not just of end times events but of the life of every person who has ever lived.
The Meaning of The Silence in Heaven
In our article, Who Are The Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse?, Beginning and End detailed the meaning of the first four seals of Revelation 6. The Seven Sealed Book was given to The Lord Jesus Christ upon His triumphant ascension and return to Heaven, having defeated Satan, death and the grave in His death, burial and resurrection. Jesus Christ is the only one found worthy to open the book and it is given to Him as He took His seat of honor at the Right Hand of God the Father. From there, the first four seals were opened, unleashing a series of spirits who bring judgments and tribulation to the world throughout the entirety of the church age. The 5th seal is then opened which brings the spirit of persecution and martyrdom that Christians have experienced from the first century AD and continue to today.
The opening of the 6th Seal triggers the Rapture and the Day of The Lord, the time at which God will pour out His wrath on the unbelieving world. Revelation chapter 6 ends with the powerful people of the world fully understanding that the cataclysmic global earthquake and events of the 6th seal are of divine origin:
And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? – Revelation 6:12-17.
This shaking of Heaven and Earth is the time that God rises to personally intervene and judge the centuries of sin and evil of unbelieving, unrepentant humanity. It is also a wake up call to Israel to return to the worship of the God of their fathers. Hence we see first the Rapture and then the sealing of the 144,000 Jewish witnesses, who will share the Gospel of the Kingdom with Jewish people and the world in the first part of the Day of The Lord/Great Tribulation. These are the events of Revelation Chapter 7 and serves as the backdrop for Revelation Chapter 8 and the opening of the 7th seal.
A Sign of Coming Judgment
The silence in Heaven is a sign of God’s impending devastating judgment. When a people or nation or even the world is so far gone into rebellion against God with no repentance, The Lord removes His Holy people and allows for a period of “silence”, right before His judgements are unleashed onto the world. How can this be so? Well The Bible instructs on how to interpret and understand Scripture:
Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: – Isaiah 28:9-10.
The Bible is to be interpreted by using Scripture to interpret Scripture – that is, using parts of the Bible to understand similar parts. The Apostle Paul summed this method up stating:
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. – 1 Corinthians 2:12-13.
So where can examples or types and shadows of this Heavenly silence be found in Scripture? The first example is in the Days of Noah.
The Silence Before The Flood
The Days of Noah were infamous for being a time of global, rampant rebellion against God. Humanity, plagued by their own sinful lust and the influx of Nephilim giant hybrids, had become so deep in sin that the Bible says, “..God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5). God then instructed Noah to prepare an ark because in the years to come, The Lord was going to destroy the entire world with a flood. Noah, was a “preacher of righteousness.” He was not just a believer in The Lord, he committed his life to preaching belief in God to those in his society. But once the ark was prepared, God brought the preaching of His faithful servant to a close:
the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female… For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth. And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him. And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth. And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood… There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah. And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth. (Genesis 7).
So once the ark was complete, God instructed Noah to take all of his family and all of the animals and enter into the ark for seven days. The passage in Genesis goes back over this detail to emphasize its significance.
In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark; They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort. And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in. (Genesis 7).
Not only was Noah commanded to enter the ark seven days in advance, on the same day he entered and got every person and creature on board, God shut the door Himself. The chance to hear the preaching of repentance before the worst judgment the world had seen was over. No longer would the preacher of righteousness, who knew the flood was coming, be able to warn anyone. Instead, the completed ark sat in silence for seven days, with no one going in or out.So the sinful, rebellious world were left in ignorance. The Lord Jesus Christ confirms this in Matthew 24:
But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. – Matthew 24:37-39.
The devastating flood came which destroyed all people, nephilim and creatures from the Earth, except for those who were safely aboard the divinely-designed ship. The silence of God preceded utter judgment and destruction. This pattern is seen again in an even more powerful way in the book of Joshua.
The Battle of Jericho
The Book of Joshua is an amazing book for the student of the Bible. It is full of types and shadows of the end times. In many ways, the book runs parallel to the book of Revelation (for more information on this please our article: Joshua’s Great Battle: A Preview of War With The Antichrist). After being freed from the Egyptians by God in the Exodus, the Battle of Jericho was the first battle the ancient Israelites waged to actually enter the Promised Land. It is a type and shadow of the Battle The Lord Jesus waged and will wage to lead His faithful believers to salvation (at the cross) and His Millennial Kingdom (at Armageddon), when the Earth will be taken from Satan and return to Christ (just as Joshua was removing the Canaanite usurpers out of the Promised Land and returning it to God’s people).
God gave Joshua very specific instructions for how the battle was to fought. Joshua then relayed them in full detail to the nation of Israel:
And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout. So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp.
And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rereward came after the ark of the LORD, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets. And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days. And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times. - Joshua 6:2-15.
Notice that God instructs His people to circle the city of Jericho, without raising a weapon, for seven days. And Joshua is emphatic that the people remain silent. No one is to speak or utter a sound for the seven days. And then on the seventh day, after the city was circled seven times, the nation would shout, and the walls of Jericho crumbled to dust and the Israelites slaughtered their enemies in the city and burnt it to the ground.
And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the Lord hath given you the city….So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword. – Joshua 6:16-21.
The most impenetrable city in the world was defeated by supernatural judgment of God. And this followed seven days of silence. So again, the Biblical pattern is clear: there is a period of silence before Judgement of The Lord comes.
King David’s Plea
King David seemed to have a good understanding of this concept as shown in Psalm 28:
Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit. Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle. Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts. Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert. Because they regard not the works of the LORD, nor the operation of his hands, he shall destroy them, and not build them up.- Psalm 28:1-5.
David’s plea to the Lord highlights what can lead to The Lord being silent with a person. It is those who are headed for damnation (“who go down to the pit”). The unrepentant sinners who have no fear or understanding of God. David makes his case by reminding God of his prayer and worship of The Lord. He is proclaiming his belief in God as the sovereign ruler of his life. But those who are wicked, workers of sin, deceitful (“they speak peace to their neighbors, but mischief is in their hearts”), and do not acknowledge God (“they regard not the works of the LORD, nor the operation of his hands..”), they do not receive a Word from The Lord. And their ultimate end is destruction. So again, it’s clear that the silence of God precedes devastating judgment.
Psalm 50 provides a stern warning:
But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and casteth my words behind thee. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers. Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit. Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother’s son. These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver. – Psalm 50:16-22.
So again we see the pattern: rebellion against God, that rebellion reaching an extreme limit, silence from God, then judgment. Here God Himself, speaking through the Psalmist warns the sinner in deep rebellion that if they continue to forget God, they will be torn in pieces with no chance of deliverance.
The Wrath of God In Revelation
With these prophetic types and precepts the understanding of the silence in heaven becomes clearer:
And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. – Revelation 8:1-2.
In this future event that takes place during the end times the seven trumpets given to the angels who stand before The Lord each bring forth devastating judgments to the people on Earth. The trumpets, along with the vial judgments that follow, are the true outpouring of God’s wrath. The Earth itself will be damaged and poisoned, millions upon millions suffer and perish. The trumpets will be discussed in much more detailed in later installments of this series, but the point to understand is that just as it was in the days of Noah, and as it was at the battle of Jericho, the silence of God comes before He is preparing to unleash His wrath.
Is The Silence Really For A Half Hour?
It is this author’s contention that the silence in Heaven is not actually for 30 minutes. Hence the Scripture saying “about the space of half an hour.” The Apostle John makes the point that he is not marking an exact duration of time. Could the sequence of events be the 6th Seal with its Rapture, global earthquake and stellar signs, the opening of the 7th seal and then seven days of silence before The Lord’s wrath begins with the blowing of the trumpets and their unprecedented judgments on Earth? While this author will not be dogmatic and say it’s definitely so, the consistency is there. At the flood in Genesis, the silence of God was for seven days. At Jericho, there were seven days of silence until the city was circles seven times. In Revelation, the seventh seal is open, which leads to the silence and then seven angels are given seven trumpets to unleash God’s wrath. The types and shadows of Scripture certainly give some credence to the idea.
Pray For God To Not Be Silent
There are many mysterious verses in Scripture but the beauty of the Bible is that with God’s Holy Spirit and enough study, they can be understood. And while the Silence in Heaven is a future event, Scripture is quite clear that when we are in rebellion God can be silent with us. And that is a scary proposition. Make sure you are hearing from The Lord every day by studying His Word and praying consistently with repentance.
Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation.
In our next article we will look at “another angel” in Revelation Chapter 8 who stands at the Altar of God’s Holy Temple in Heaven.