And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. (Revelation 8:1)
How long is half an hour in heaven? Is it the same as half an hour here on Earth? Have you ever experienced half an hour in complete silence? I do not think I ever have; there are always some audible sounds even in the quietest times: the sound of the wind, bird songs, distant traffic sounds, etc. I cannot imagine total silence for even a short time, much less half an hour. I imagine it would be rather unnerving.
The Lamb has opened six seals to this point and unleashed all kinds of havoc around the globe. The white horse introduced the Antichrist. The red horse brings war to the earth. The black horse introduces worldwide economic collapse along with extreme inflation. The pale horse adds death from hunger, disease, and pestilences. The fifth seal introduces us to the Tribulation saints that have been martyred for their faith in Christ. The sixth seal brings down heaven in the way of falling space rocks, the darkening of the sun and moon, and an earthquake that shakes the entire planet. The whole world reels from the judgments that have come upon the planet.
Now, the Lamb opens the seventh seal and there is total silence in heaven for half an hour. All of heaven stands still. As if in shock from the past judgments, those in heaven are awestruck at what is about to come. If you thought the first six seals were bad, you have not seen anything yet. The worst is yet to come.
“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, emphasis mine). The seven trumpets herald seven more judgments far worse than those seen so far. Arguably, by this time we are at the midpoint of the Tribulation and entering a time of “Great Tribulation.” Of this time, Jesus said, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21, emphasis mine). No wonder the prospect of what comes next causes silence in heaven.
Now John looks “And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand” (Revelation 8:3-4, emphasis mine). The writer of the book of Hebrews informs us that the Tabernacle, and subsequently the Temple, was constructed after the pattern of that which was in heaven. In the Tabernacle and in the Temple, there was an altar before the Holy of Holies upon which incense was burned continuously. The sweet-smelling smoke of the burning incense represented the prayers of the people going up before God. Here, in the heavenly temple of God, the prayers of the saints constantly rise before the Lord. John does not specify whether the prayers are those of the Tribulation saints who remain on the earth, those of the martyred saints beneath the altar, or the saints of all time. Regardless, it is comforting and encouraging to know that our prayers are constantly before the throne of God. The priest responsible for bringing our prayers before God is none other than Jesus Christ. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
In the model prayer, Jesus said, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). That particular prayer is about to be answered in full. “And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound” (Revelation 8:5-6). Brace yourself for what comes next!
Reader, are you prepared for what is coming to the world? You do not need to go through the Tribulation, God’s wrath, that is coming upon the world. Read my page on “Securing Eternal Life,” and ask Jesus to save you from the wrath to come.