Seventh Seal: Silence in Heaven (series: Lessons on Revelations)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

“And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.”

“And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.”

Book of Revelation
By: Tom Lowe Date: 1/13/16

Lesson: III.B.8: Seventh Seal: Silence in Heaven (Revelation 8:1)

Revelation 8:1 (KJV)

1. And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.


Chapter 7 was an interlude. At the end of chapter six, the sixth seal had been opened (6:12). Here at the beginning of chapter 8, the Lamb opens the seventh and last seal. The breaking of this seal produces a deep silence in heaven, a silence which is caused by the prayers of God’s beleaguered saints on earth. But God holds up the entire process of judgment while He receives and weighs the prayers of His own. That is one opinion, but not the one I and many others have put forward. (see below) John says, “And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.”


1. And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

This verse is a continuance of the revelation (prophecy) which began in chapter one with the “Vision of Christ among the Lampstands” —a vision in which God speaks directly to the Apostle John of the end times. The first thing we notice is that “there was an intensely dramatic silence in heaven that lasted about the space of half an hour.” The absolute stillness is even more dramatic and effective than the thunder and the lightning. This silence may have three meanings:
1) It may be a kind of breathing-space in the narrative, a moment of preparation before another shattering revelation comes.
2) There may be something much more beautiful in it. The prayers of the saints are about to go up to God; and it may be that the idea is that everything in heaven halts so that the prayers of the saints may be heard. Even the music of heaven and even the thunder of revelation are quiet so that God’s ear may catch the whispered prayer of the humblest of His trusting people (see introduction). However, most likely, this is the silence of breathless expectancy, as all of heaven waited for the hand of God to move. The psalmist had written, “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes” (Psalm 37:7; NLT).
3) The hosts in heaven had just worshipped the Father and the Lamb with a tremendous volume of praise (Revelation 7:10-12). The scroll had now been opened completely, and perhaps even turned over; and all of heaven could see God’s glorious plan unfolding. Perhaps the heavenly hosts were simply awestruck at what they saw.

This verse connects the first two series of judgments. The silence in heaven is striking, considering the extraordinary activity and noise in the previous heavenly scenes. Silence in scripture indicates respect, submission, and anticipation (Habakkuk 2:20; Zechariah 2:13; 1 Corinthians 14:34). This particular silence is, according to one commentator, “silence before the great storm of God’s wrath.” The seventh seal has no features of its own. Rather, it contains and serves to introduce the trumpet judgments.

Notice that the silence is in Heaven, not on earth. The Bible tells us of a coming day when all the earth (Habakkuk 2:20), and all islands (Isaiah 41:1), and all flesh (Zechariah 2:13) will be called upon to be silent before God. We are not there yet; this is not the day of silence on the earth. There are many voices and varied noises which in effect prevent men from hearing the Word of God, but that day when all creation remains silent before God will surely come. The silence in Heaven of which our text speaks precedes the silence on earth. In chapters five and six all of Heaven resounds with the praises of redeemed men and of angels, giving Glory to the Lamb. Here there is a stillness and silence. No voice is heard; no motion is seen. Subsequent to the silence, God will speak. “He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath…” (Psalm 2:5). Now it is man’s turn to speak. God has spoken. “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” (Hebrews 1:1, 2). But the next time His voice is heard throughout all the earth, judgment will fall upon the unbelieving world of man.

In John’s vision, God is about to deal with the sin that is in the world. At the opening of the seventh seal—which was the last on the scroll (5:1)—their response is silence. Why silence? I think it is very simple. The four and twenty elders ceased their singing. The “voice of many angels round about the throne” (Revelation 5:11) was stilled. Cherubim and Seraphim ceased to praise God. The host of Heaven stood in awe. Think, my friend! Think of Heaven standing in complete silence for the space of half an hour! Can you imagine the judgments of misery, blood and woe poured out upon mankind, so terrible that the very sight of those judgments renders all Heaven speechless and silent?

This silence, my friend, is “the lull before the storm,” for God’s intensified judgments were about to be hurled to the earth. “Be silent before the Sovereign Lord, for the day of the Lord is near. . .” (Zephaniah 1:7; note also verses 14-18, especially verse 16, “A day the of the trumpet”). “Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling” (Zechariah 2:13). “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.” (Habakkuk 2:20). As someone has said, “The steps of God from mercy to judgment are always slow, reluctant, and measured.” God is reluctant to judge for He is slow to anger. Judgment is His strange work. Isaiah writes: “The Lord will rise up as he did at Mount Perazim, he will rouse himself as in the Valley of Gibeon—to do his work, his strange work, and perform his task, his alien task” (Isaiah 28:21). What is strange about God? That He judges, that He is a God of love, judging His creatures. “For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!” (Ezekiel 18:32). This silence marks the transition from grace to judgment.

God pity those who will be here upon this earth when the seventh seal is removed! Will you be here? If you are not born again, you may be. But you can be saved this moment if you will only believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior (Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9; John 5:24). “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

Why are there seven seals—not six, not three, not one. I will not pretend to know the mind of God, but I suggest that seven is used here because “seven is God’s number,” the number of perfection. In the book of Revelation, we have the account of God bringing to a close the affairs of man. God will make a perfect end to all sin, sorrow, unrighteousness and unrest. He will deliver the whole creation from the curse which was brought upon it by the sin of Adam (Romans 8:22). What the first Adam lost through disobedience to God’s command, the second Adam purchased back through obedience and death on the cross. The opening of the seventh seal winds up the consummation of God’s vast plan of providence and grace in redemption.

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