And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. (Revelation 8:1)
This past summer, my wife and I had the privilege of an extended visit with our grandchildren. For more than two months, our house was filled with five grandchildren ranging from fifteen months to five years old. We got up with them, spent most of the day with them, fed them, bathed them, and then slept with them. For sixteen hours of the day, there was nonstop noise as they played, fought, and nearly killed each other. The only time there was a little peace was when they were sleeping, but I am sure they were dreaming how they could make the next day as chaotic as possible. We love our grandchildren and had a great time with them, but there were times we wished we could have just a few moments of peace and quiet.
I thought about this as I read the first verse of Revelation chapter 8. If you are planning to go to heaven for a little peace and quiet, I promise your dreams are only half true. It is not normal for heaven to be a quiet place. In the fourth chapter, we are told of angels and elders that fall before God’s throne and give Him praise. In the fifth chapter, there are ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands that sing praises. In chapter six, there are souls of martyred saints under the altar in heaven that cry out with loud voices for vengeance. In chapter seven there are millions of Gentiles that stand before the throne also crying out and worshipping God. Heaven will not be a quiet place!
This makes the scene in heaven in the opening of chapter 8 very strange. For half an hour, heaven goes stone cold silent. In his Revelation study, my father commented on this verse saying: “John sees the breaking of the last seal of the book and a strange thing happens. Prior to this all heaven resounded with the singing and praising of the Lord. Suddenly there is a deathly silence in heaven for half an hour. Volumes are written trying to explain the meaning of this silence, all kinds of speculations are made, some of them plausible, some of them foolish. Perhaps the best illustration and explanation comes from nature itself. In Kansas I have seen storm clouds gather and soon lightning began to flash and thunder peal, wind gusting and howling then suddenly an eerie calm. The chickens would all run for cover and the farm animals mill restlessly. Then suddenly the storm would break forth in all its fury with all the heavens seeming to explode in blinding flashes, deafening roars of thunder and mighty torrents of water plunging from the clouds as the storm poured out its wrath. This, I believe is the significance of the silence in heaven; God is setting the stage to hurl His wrath and indignation upon the earth, as the world has never seen before.”
What a frightening thought this is! The ominous silence of heaven is the cautious, reserved calm before the storm. Heaven becomes deafeningly silent as it awaits the wrath of God. The justice of the Creator will be poured out on unrepentant sinners that have rejected the mercy, love, and grace of God. Although we love peace and quiet, something tells me this quiet half hour will seem almost like eternity itself. I am thankful that I will be waiting out the half hour in heaven rather than on the earth. Do you know where you will be when this happens? I encourage you to be silent for a few minutes and listen to see if God is calling. Be still and know that He is God!
Pastor V. Mark Smith