WHEN SILENCE ISN’T GOLDEN
Lord, I wait in silence before You; show me Your presence.
Read Revelation 8
The Seventh Seal and the Golden Censer
8 When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.
3 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
6 Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.
7 The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.
8 The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, 9 a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.
10 The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water— 11 the name of the star is Wormwood.[a] A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.
12 The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.
13 As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: “Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!”
a Revelation 8:11 Wormwood is a bitter substance.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHave you ever been in silence so strong it seemed “loud”? What do you think the silence in heaven was like?
Remember chapter 6 when Jesus, the sacrificed Lamb, was the only one who could open the seals? He opened six seals, and each one delivered a more severe punishment to an unrepentant world. Now there is a calm before the storm, as God allows more time for the world and its people to repent, before the final Day of Judgment.
The seventh seal is opened—and heaven holds its breath in a deathly silence (1) as the glorious worship is halted. John is trying to describe things that were so very terrible, things he’d never before witnessed. Look at some of these scenes and the words he uses to convey just how awful they were. What noises replace the worship (5–13)? And if you thought that was bad, verse 13 tells us that there is worse to come.
Reading these desperately sad descriptions of such terrible punishment gives us a sense of urgency. It’s not “just a story” or merely an allegory or fantastical tale. It is a preview, or unveiling, of what is to come, and even though we don’t fully understand it, maybe it gives us a more real sense of urgency of how the time is drawing near. We need to tell others the Good News before it is too late.
Whom might you tell about Jesus today? Sometimes all we need to do is tell the story of God’s grace in our lives.
Lord, You have given just a glimpse of what is to come. May I strive to help people get ready for Your coming.