A Brief Silence in Heaven

Revelation 8:1
The End Times

In my last post, we concluded our journey in Revelation 7In this post, we briefly begin our journey into Revelation 8 and look back at a summary of the Four Views of the Seven-Sealed Scroll.

“When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for what seemed like half an hour.” ~ Revelation 8:1 (CJB)

The seventh seal contains the terrible plagues of the seven trumpets, which are even more horrible than those of the first six seals.  When the seventh seal was opened, there was a silence in heaven for what seemed like half an hour as if something momentous were going to happen at any moment.  Then the trumpet blasts.

When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for what seemed like half an hour. The occasion for this silence in heaven is the opening of the last of the seven seals that seal the little scroll of redemption, which is in the hand of the One upon the throne, as was previously read in Revelation Chapter Five. That seven-sealed scroll not only contains the terms of the redemption of the earth, but it also contains the awful judgments of God upon those who have spurned His redemption.  Keep in mind that the seventh seal judgment includes the seven trumpets, and the seventh trumpet includes the seven bowl judgments, indicating a progression in severity.  M. R. DeHaan writes:

As the seals were opened, one by one increasingly terrible judgments fell upon the earth until six had been opened. War, famine, pestilence, death, earthquakes, hailstones and fire had taken a toll of fatalities that swept a fourth of the people of the earth into judgment and death. One more seal remained to be opened, and the hosts of heaven, realizing it was the last and most terrible, stood in awe and expectation. They knew something of what lay ahead, though they may not have known all, but this they knew: they were about to witness the greatest time of sorrow the world had seen. This expectation accounts for the silence in heaven for half an hour. [1]

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 8:1 [2]

Historicist Approach:

Elliott identifies the silence as a brief interval between the opening of the seventh seal and the first barbarian invasion to be seen in verse 7.  He calculates that half an hour in heaven is precisely equivalent to seventy years of Roman history between 324 and 395 CE.  Barnes is slightly more credible in stating the half an hour was for effect to mark the solemnity of the events about to be reported.

Preterist Approach:

Preterists see the brief silence in heaven contrasts sharply with the noise of praise and song in chapters 4 & 5.  Conspicuously missing are the loud voices of the martyrs inquiring how long it would be before they were avenged (Revelation 6:10).

Futurist Approach:

Concerning this brief silence, Walvoord states it is like the silence before the foreman of a jury reports the verdict.  Ryrie observes this is the silence of expectancy for this is the last seal.  It is also a silence of foreboding that precedes the onslaught of judgments.

Idealist Approach:

Like Futurists, the Idealists opine that for a short time, heaven is in awestruck silence, anticipating the completion of God’s purpose.  It is the lull before the storm.  They also add that following this silence is the blowing of seven trumpets, recalling the fall of Jericho at the blast of seven trumpets.  That fall was preceded by a period of silence as the Israelites circled the city seven days without a sound.

Special Comparative Notes on The Seven-Sealed Scroll [3]

The Lamb and the scroll are introduced in chapters 4 and 5.  Only the Lamb of God, Yeshua proves to be worthy to break the seals of the scroll.  Chapter 6 marks a major change in the action as the Lamb successively breaks the first six of the seven seals.  The adherents to the four views do not agree about the time frame or import of this dramatic vision.  Even those within each camp often disagree regarding the details of the interpretation.

There is even a wide range of opinions about the exact identity of the scroll.  Historicists take it to represent “the purposes and designs of God”.  Preterists see it as the sentence of the judge being handed down for execution.  Futurists typically see the sealed scroll as the title deed to earth to be reclaimed by Yeshua in the final seven years of history.  Idealist interpreters have alternately identified it as “the redemptive plan of God” or “God’s last will and testament.”

The sharpest disagreements between the four views is in the timing of the earthly events that result from breaking the seals. Historicists spread the fulfillment of the prophesies over the entire age of the church beginning as far back as the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.  Preterists generally agree with the HistoricistsFuturists see in these chapters the beginning of the end-time Tribulation.  Dispensationalists believe that the church will already have been raptured.  Idealists do not look for specific fulfillments of the visions in Revelation.

Personally, I have been able to pick items of agreement from each of the views.  However, except for the Futurist view, I have found more areas of disagreement, especially with the Historicists and the Idealists.  It will be interesting to see if this view changes as we get further along in our unpacking in this series.

In my next post, we will explore Revelation 8:2-6 and the Four Views of the Seven Trumpets.

 Click here for PDF version.

[1] A Layman’s Commentary of Revelation by Don Jones

[2] Material in this section is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg

[3] Ibid.

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