And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. – Revelation 8:1 ESV
When the seventh, and last, Seal is broken from the scroll, there is “approximately half an hour” of silence in heaven. Heaven, where cherubim never cease to proclaim God’s holiness – Silent. Heaven, where the angels sing and the elders throw their crowns down before the Lamb in praise and worship – Silent. What monumental event could possibly cause such silence???
The traditional view of the silence of heaven, is that when the seventh seal is removed, the judgments contained on the scroll are made visible. The scroll is the title deed of the earth and on it are the details how Jesus is going to take back His Kingdom. It contains all the judgments of God in His Great and Terrible Day of wrath. Heaven is reduced to silence due to a glimpse at the impending judgments facing earth.
The days of grace will soon be over as earth currently wobbles on the tipping point of the scales of God’s wrath. The church will be saved – snatched as one plucked out of the fires of destruction (Seal 6). We will rejoice and worship the Lamb of God for a very short span of time before we are silenced (Seal 7) at the enormity of what is coming on those who have been Left Behind.
Making War in the Heavenlies
I’m wondering if the silence has to do specifically with the greatest angelic battle of all time:
Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon,and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” (Revelation 12:7-12 ESV)
You can imagine that this war will be spectacular to watch. If all the angels are participating in this battle, that really only leaves God and the humans left to watch – silently. Or, if this battle occurs right before or during the rapture, we may not even be there yet to watch! Perhaps heaven is silent because it is emptied of angels and we haven’t yet arrived. Does Seal 7 open AT THE SAME TIME as Seal 6, or AFTER? This would dictate if we are not there yet, or are watching in silent awe. Immediately after – or during – the rapture of the church (Seal 6, Revelation 12:5), there is no longer a place (purpose) found for Satan in heaven as there are (temporarily) no believers left to accuse on the earth.
Silence Before Judgment in the Past
We have seen several times in the past that God allows a period of silence right before He unleashes judgment:
- As in the days of Noah – The time before the Global Flood was one of open, rampant rebellion against God. “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5 ESV). God finds one righteous man, Noah, and He instructs Noah to build an ark to escape the coming flood of His wrath. God waits patiently for Noah to build the ark. Meanwhile, Noah continually preaches righteousness amidst the contempt of his neighbors. When the ark is finished, God commands Noah and his family to enter the ark with the animals. God then supernaturally seals the door shut, and for SEVEN DAYS the ark sits in dry silence. On the seventh day, the floods break forth from the heavens and spring up from the deep (Genesis 7). Jesus warns us: As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:37-39 ESV. There are many possible connections to the days of Noah, but this could be one.
- Joshua at the Battle of Jericho – After the desert wanderings, the Battle of Jericho was the first battle the Israelites faced before entering the Promised Land. God gave Joshua very specific instructions, which Joshua relayed to the people of Israel who then carried it out:
“And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.”
“But Joshua commanded the people, “You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.” Joshua 6:2-6, 10 ESV
God commanded the Israelites to circle the city of Jericho silently, save for the blowing of trumpets, for seven days. The people did as commanded, and on the seventh day, after circling the city seven times, the people shouted on command. The walls of Jericho collapsed and the Israelites took the city.
How Long is “About Half an Hour”?
Will the silence be close to a literal half hour like in the Yom Kippur earthly temple service? Or could it be 7 days of silence like we saw in the days of silence as in the days of Noah and Joshua? Or could the half hour of silence represent the 10 days of “awe” between Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets / Rosh Hashanah) and Yom Kippur?
Maybe the silence is the gap of time between the rapture of the church and the confirming of the 7 year covenant with Israel (which starts the 70th week of Daniel), if there is a gap? This could be several days, to weeks, to months, or even possibly approximately 3 years.
If the “Day” of the Lord is approximately 7 years long, and the “Hour” of trial that is coming upon the earth (Revelation 3:10) is also referencing this 7 year time period, could “about half an hour” be about half of 7 years? That is, might the trumpets not start until shortly before the abomination of desolation event?
Alternately, is about half an hour equivalent to about half of 42 months (i.e. approximately 21 months)? Revelation 17:12 (ESV) states: And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. We know from Revelation 13:5 that the beast is given authority for 42 months: And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months (ESV). If one hour is 42 months, then approximately half an hour would be approximately 21 months.
I have tried calculating half an hour using various different codes and timelines, but have come up with nothing concrete. However long “about half an hour” is, it will be according to God’s perfect timeline.
The Silence is Broken
Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. Revelation 8:2-5 ESV
Regardless of whether the silence is due to observing the angelic war in heaven, or in foreboding awe of wrath, the wrath of God certainly follows the silence.
The Bible is infallible. I am not. I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture. I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details. I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!