Revelation 8:1 and the Half Hour of Silence

(1)  When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

                   It is finally time for the Lamb to break the seventh seal on the scroll (his written covenant with Israel). When the last seal breaks, the scroll is now unbound, and its contents unraveled. This is a full revelation. When this moment happens, we might expect loud crashing of thunder, but there is only silence in heaven. Silence for “about half an hour.” This half an hour, while a part of the vision which John is seeing, has no appearance of being a symbolic number. It seems that John is simply recording the details of this vision, and how there was silence “for about half an hour” after the Lamb opened the last seal. What a captivating scene in the throne room of God. We have seen so many uncountable saints and heavenly beings surrounding the throne, they sing to the Lord, they cry out praise to their God, but now there is only silence. Why?

                   Looking back at the Old Testament, it is not too challenging to deduce the meaning of the silence. Habakkuk writes of the righteous judgments of God, he said “the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him” (Habakkuk 2:20). Isn’t silence a sign of respect? Yes, and it is also a sign of fear. The psalmist makes this point as well: “From the heavens you uttered judgment; the earth feared and was still” (Psalm 76:8). Further, when God was about to commit judgment on old Jerusalem, Zephaniah said “Be silent before the Lord GOD! For the day of the LORD is near; the LORD has prepared a sacrifice and consecrated his guests” (Zephaniah 1:7). When Zechariah spoke of restoration for Jerusalem, he said “Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD, for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling” (Zechariah 2:13).

                   The covenant scroll is now fully exposed. Before, each seal revealed glimpses of the covenant, and showed that, on every point, the Jews were found guilty. Now that the covenant is exposed, so is the evidence that the Jews are in reproach and must face the consequences specifically laid out in the contract (Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Leviticus 26:14-46). “But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you” (Deuteronomy 28:15). So now, taking the information that we learned from the Old Testament prophets, the silence demonstrates the respect and fear for the great Judge on the throne as he enters into judgment.

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