“When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. (Revelation 8:1)
“The LORD is in his holy Temple; let everyone on earth be silent in his presence.” (Habakkuk 2:20)
Last time, we associated silence in heaven with our experience of “Shock and Awe” that God would win the cosmic conflict not by power or coercive force, but rather by condescending to become a human being, eventually surrendering his own life. There is perhaps one other dimension to this silence in heaven.
When we compare the seven seals, trumpets and bowls, there is a significant overlap. In particular, the seventh seal, trumpet, and bowl of wrath all involve a spectacular scene of the heavenly sanctuary. The seventh seal ends with “the golden altar of incense” and with “rumblings and peals of thunder, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake” (Revelation 8:3,5). Similarly, the seventh trumpet ends with a scene of “the Covenant Box” and with “flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail” (Revelation 11:19). And finally, the seventh plague ends with “a loud voice from the throne in the temple” and with “flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder, and a terrible earthquake” (Revelation 16:17-18).
In other words, the completion of each series of sevens describes two things: temple imagery and a scene of overwhelming power. Paul tells us that the temple refers to God’s people (Ephesians 2:21, 1 Peter 2:4-7, 1 Corinthians 3:17, 6:19, 2 Corinthians 6:16, Hebrews 3:6). The “flashes of lightening” imagery is used many times in the bible to refer to the immediate presence of God (Revelation 4:5, Exodus 19:6-8, Psalms 18:12, Ezekiel 1:4). It seems that what is being described at the conclusion of each series of sevens is the intimate union of God (symbolized by “flashes of lightening”) with his people (the temple).
John tells us, “when the seventh angel blows his trumpet, then God will accomplish his secret plan, as he announced to his servants, the prophets” (Revelation 10:7). What is this “secret plan?” Paul referred to it as “the secret he hid through all past ages from all human beings but has now revealed to his people. God’s plan is to make known his secret to his people, this rich and glorious secret which he has for all peoples. And the secret is that Christ is in you, which means that you will share in the glory of God” (Colossians 1:25-27).
The Message Bible puts it this way:
“This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time, but now it’s out in the open. God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory.” (Colossians 1:26-27)
To “share in the glory of God” is to experience healing and to reflect the character of God who is love personified. To be healed is the natural consequence of being reunited with God. John directly associates God’s “secret plan” and the seventh trumpet with healing and intimacy with God, Similarly, Paul tells us:
“Listen to this secret truth: we shall not all die, but when the last trumpet sounds, we shall all be changed in an instant.” (1 Corinthians 15:51)
God’s “secret plan” is to marry his bride and to become one with her.
The “silence in heaven” may not only refer to our “Shock and Awe” experience when we realize the humility of our Creator, but also to the resulting unity between God and His people who have witnessed God’s supreme kindness and love. When God enters into His temple (his people on earth), there is a symbolic “silence in heaven,” because God has reached His ultimate goal in this conflict – a face to face relationship between God and his people.
The LORD is in his holy Temple; let everyone on earth be silent in his presence. (Habakkuk 2:20)
Once we understand that God is just like Jesus Christ in character, the slaughtered Lamb, we will be moved to experience intimate union with God. “Everyone be silent in the presence of the LORD. He is waking up and setting out from his holy dwelling place.” (Zechariah 2:13)
The book of Revelation concludes with this single greatest promise and hope in the entire bible – to live face to face with God:
And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among His people! He will live with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them…And they will see His face.’ (Revelation 21:2-3, 22:4)
– Written by Dr. Brad Cole