The Time of Fearful Silence
Revelation 8:1

Why silence in the last seal opening?

   "And when he [the Lamb] had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour." (Rev. 8:1)

    Silence seems to be an unusual way to conclude a description of judgment. See other commentaries, go. To understand, we will first show what this scene in the opening of the seventh seal means in relation to the other six.

The seal openings show the following about the judgment

Seals 1-4 Classes of people who are judged  (See earlier explanation).
Seal 5 Judgment begins with the righteous dead.
Seal 6 The judgment work of testing and preparation. The wicked living at the end of time call for rocks and mountains to hide them from the One on the throne and from the Lamb (who are judging re0506,7. The righteous living (144,000) are sealed and so judged.
Seal 7 Silence a time for people to confirm their choice revealing its permanence. Both righteous and wicked demonstrate that their decisions are final. Compare re1211b, jb1315, re1609ff, re2211.
Also check the chart with chapter 7 0713go
Another chart shows the various classes who are judged 0611c

Why the messenger will be silent
    Three angels fly in heaven with end-time warnings (Rev. 14). Another angel comes down from heaven filling the earth with glory as he makes the final appeal (18:1). When all have made their decisions more persuasion would not cause anyone to turn from their choice of evil. The messenger is silent until the rewards for good and evil are given (Rev. 22:11-15; Isa. 62:1, 2).

Noah's half hour

   Our verse says that there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. In figurative prophecy a "day" is a literal year (see explanation). How long then is a prophetic half hour? 1 week.

1 day 1 year
1 hour = 1/24 of a day 2 weeks
½ hour 1 week
    This is our clue to the source of the symbolism. Now consider the following passage:
   "And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth. For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth. . . . And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in." (Gen. 7:1-4, 16).
   The seven days would have been a time of soul searching for those sealed inside the ark while the sun shown as usual. It would also have been a time for those outside who may, at first, have wanted in, to show their true characters. After this time, the atmospheric heavens would break their "silence" with the rain Noah had preached about for so many years.
   "But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." (Matt. 24:37-39)
   In the flood story we have the same three periods as at the end of time:  warning,  a brief silence, and  salvation for the righteous and punishment for the wicked who refused God's grace.
   The time of silence is also associated with a time of protection re1417. And the time of Zacharias' silence re0905.

Will the actual time be a literal week?
    We can't say. We may understand the text to indicate that it will be relatively brief. The word "about" in "about half an hour" may be a clue that we should avoid specifying a literal time. It was a literal time for Noah. And from his story we can see it as a brief time just before Jesus comes to take us with the angels (ark) and when the world will be physically destroyed (flood). Comparing with the story of Jacob's trouble, we may see it as a time of soul searching.

Silence in Jacob's trouble

   "And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, [and] the mother with the children. . . .  And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." (Gen. 32:9-11, 24-28, KJV. Compare je30; na0210.)
   This night before he would encounter his angry brother, Jacob had chosen to be alone. Satan must have been pressing him with the guilt of his sin of deception in receiving the birthright. Jacob, alone and discouraged, pleaded with God. Then the intruder came to test him. How would Jacob react to total helplessness to protect himself? In physical disability, too, he somehow sensed that he had been wrestling with God, which would have been Christ. Would he feel sorry for himself or realize that, no matter what happened, no matter how dark his situation, He could claim spiritual strength.
   As Jesus was dying, He was cut off from the Father's approval. He had no assurance that His sacrifice was being accepted or even that He would come forth from the tomb. He depended totally on faith in the promises given earlier in union with the Father. Those who face the final test perhaps you and I will not make the sacrifice He made but will pass through a similar period of severe trial, cut off from every human support. While mocked, persecuted, and threatened with death, they will not be alone. Jesus went through that experience so we won't have to. "I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matt. 28:19). It will be their time of silence from heaven.
   "Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:45, 46).  "And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." (Mark 8:34).
   If we are faithful day by day, God will give us the strength to be true in any trial He allows to come to us. (1co1013; is4110-14).

Silence ended

    Satan will claim that, under tough circumstances, the commitment of God's purified people will fail. As they remain faithful during their time of extreme trial, the last seal is broken. The silence in heaven is ended. God's people are exonerated, and the Lamb is seen worthy to save them. They become His crown, the proof of His right to be their king!

   "For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God." (Isa. 62:1-3)

Be still and know

   Psalm 46 helps us understand the silence in heaven. It describes the opening of the 6th seal (the earth in chaos and the wicked who try to hide) and the opening of the 7th (the silent experience of the righteous in connection with it). ps046 (practically the same chart).

Psalm 46
Supporting passages
1  God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Assurance for the time of trouble Dan. 12:1, Ps. 91
2, 3  Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. Courage for the terrible trouble on the earth. (both physical and social) Rev. 6:14, 17
 4  There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. Assurance of the reward for the faithful Rev. 22:1; Isa. 62:12
 5, 6, 7  God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early [at the break of dawn]. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. The night of Jacob's trouble for the righteous. Assurance of victory as Jacob had from his God at daybreak Gen. 32:24-28 (quoted in text above) and Jer. 30:6, 7
8, 9  Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Under the 6th seal, the Lord responds to the unrestrained wickedness with cosmic chaos. He will stop those who would destroy each other and especially the righteous. 1118de Rev. 17:13, 14
10, 11  Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Time of silence (of Jacob's trouble) reveals the unshakable fidelity of the sealed ones. The revelation of God's full power to bring righteousness to those who give Him their whole heart will exalt Him. Rev. 8:1, 2; 11:15
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