Today’s read is Revelation 8-9. The first verse of chapter 8 really belongs to the end of chapter 7, as it completes the prophecies about the seven seals.
Revelation 8:1 – When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
Yesterday, I introduced you to Revelation Logic. If you noticed, the timeline graphic of the “Overlapping Method” did not include the seventh seal but ended with the sixth. Seal #6, Trumpet #7, and Bowl #7 all describe the conclusion when God’s wrath is complete, and Jesus takes the throne. If this is correct, the seventh seal takes place afterward.
Those who hold to a purely chronological read would say this half-hour of silence is a dramatic pause, as the occupants of heaven (angels, saints, living creatures, elders) literally have no words for what’s to come next. They see the seventh seal as containing the seven trumpet judgments. Perhaps, but the explanation given by the Overlapping Method is worth considering. I’m going to quote from the commentary on 8:1.
In general, when we see imagery used in Revelation for which (1) no explanation is given, and (2) there is no obvious figurative meaning, it’s best to see if that imagery is alluding to something in the Old Testament.
Can we apply this principle to help understand the seventh seal? Perhaps so. Notice that the seal period may be described as follows:
A sequence of seven events.
All the work is completed within the first six events.
The seventh event is quiet.
Is there anything in the Old Testament that is similar to this? Yes, creation was a sequence of seven days in which all the work was done within the first six days, and the seventh day was a quiet day of rest.
Genesis describes God creating the heavens and earth over the course of seven days, with the seventh being an enigmatic “rest” day. At that time:
– God declared that what he had accomplished was good (Gen 1:31).
– God alone was king over the earth.
– Man had direct communion with God (Gen 2:16, Gen 3:9).
As for that seventh day of “rest”, God sanctified it, making it holy (Gen 2:3, Ex 20:11).
The account of creation in Genesis established a pattern of seven, in which the seventh is holy to God. This pattern is carried forward to weeks of days (in which the seventh day is holy, Ex 20:8-11) and even weeks of years (in which the seventh year is holy, Lev 25:4).
Could the similarity between the pattern of creation and the pattern of the seals have any bearing on understanding the “quiet” seventh seal? Yes, because there are strong similarities between them:
When the seals are finished, the kingdom of God will have come. Sin shall be eliminated, and things will once again be as they were when creation was finished. After this restoration:
– Again, everything will be good (Rev 21:27),
– Again, God alone will be king over the earth (Rev 22:3),
– Again, man will have direct communion with God (Rev 21:3, 7).
The coming of the kingdom represented by the seals will instigate a new creation. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away”; “And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Rev 21:1, 5).
The first creation was a great work of God that established the pattern of seven in which the seventh event is holy. It is no great stretch to think that the final great work of restoring creation (the Great Promise) might also follow this same pattern of seven. Thus, the quiet seventh seal in Revelation may be a holy time unto the Lord, causing the seals to mirror the account of creation in Genesis. His great work of restoring creation will be accomplished with six events followed by a quiet and holy seventh event, just as His great work of original creation was accomplished in six days followed by a quiet and holy seventh day.
With this view, we could see the thousand-year millennial reign of Christ on earth as that “half hour” of silence. What a great thought – a thousand years on earth passes in just a few moments from heaven’s perspective, bringing to a final conclusion God’s plan for this world. Heaven is silent, as all praise and worship and attention is focused on Jesus the King, ruling from Jerusalem. Satan is bound, only to be released for just a short time when the millennium ends, after which he will be sent to his final judgment in hell, never to cause trouble again! The saints from all the ages will then enjoy the new heavens and new earth – entering into a completely new existence in the presence of God the Father Himself.
Tomorrow we’ll take time to look at the rest of chapters 8-9, but that one little verse was too exciting to skip over. Regardless of how and when God’s timeline unfolds, we know the end of the story. For those of us who know and belong to Jesus, it’s a message of hope and anticipation – looking forward to the blessings of eternal rest when our work is done, but for the unbelieving world, it’s a message of their coming doom and destruction. Let’s not be selfish with the good news of the gospel. Rest is coming, but not quite yet!