Revelation chapter 8

The Sound of Silence

“When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence throughout heaven for about half an hour. – Vs 1 NLT

Out of all the fantastic imagery found in this chapter, the ten words found in the second half of this verse jumped out at me the most. In the previous chapters John has witnessed the ceaseless praise going on before the throne of God. There are angels, elders, and saints dressed in white, all standing before the throne of God, giving him never-ending praise and glory. There is a “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9 NIV). They are crying out in a loud voice,  “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Revelation 7:10 NIV). Remember, this is a crowd of individuals so large, you can’t count them. Now, imagine the noise level. On top of that, you have the four living creatures and the 24 elders singing before the throne, “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were killed, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become God’s Kingdom and his priests. And they will reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10 NLT). And as if that wasn’t enough, there are “thousands and millions of angels” singing before the throne, “The Lamb is worthy – the Lamb who was killed. He is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing” (Revelation 5:12 NLT).

Can you imagine the sound? It would have been deafening. Beautiful, but deafening. And then suddenly, SILENCE!

With the opening of the seventh seal, there is suddenly silence in heaven. Most likely for the first time in eternity! The praising stops. The singing ceases. No one is saying anything. Do you catch the significance of this moment? John says that there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. It must have seemed like an eternity. For the first time in all of time and even before time began, God was not receiving praise. The sense of anticipation is palpable. Something significant is about to happen. Judgment is coming on the earth. John goes on to describe what that judgment is going to be like. The silence seems appropriate. It is as if the angels, elders, and saints all stop and hold their collective breath as Jesus opens this seventh seal. They know what is about to happen. The stored up wrath of God is about to be unleashed. His long-delayed judgment is coming. It is an event prophesied in part in the book of Zephaniah. “Stand in silence in the presence of the Sovereign LORD, for the awesome day of the LORD’s judgment has come” (Zephaniah 1:7 NLT). Zechariah penned a similar warning: “Be silent before the LORD, all humanity, for he is springing into action from his holy dwelling” (Zechariah 2:13 NLT).

He is springing into action from His holy dwelling. The day IS coming when God will judge mankind. He will not put up with all that is going on forever. He is not powerless or indifferent to the sinfulness of mankind. He is simply waiting for the perfect timing in His diving master plan. Christ must first return to take home His bride, the church. Then the great tribulation must take place. But after that, the day of judgment will come. Preceded by a time of deafening silence. Because what will follow will be like nothing the world has ever seen before – or will ever see again. The unrestrained judgment of God. The thought of it should cause all of us to stop and reflect.

Father, I can’t even begin to understand all the imagery in this book. I don’t know when all of these events will take place. But I do know they will. And I do know that Your judgment is going to be full and complete. There will be no one who disbelieves in You at that point. It will be the beginning of the end. This passage reminds me to stop and think occasionally about the reality of the future. There is a day of judgment coming. Right now, all I can hear is the noise of this life. And at times it is deafening. It is all we can hear. But help me to stop and meditate on the fact that You are going to bring judgment in the end. You are a holy God who will complete what He began. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org